Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Sunday, April 26, 2021

Tyson came out this weekend to much acclaim.

I’m tempted to see it, except that I’m not sure how fulfilling it’ll be to watch James Toback simply point a camera while Iron Mike vents. The interspersed archive footage of Tyson’s most famous on-camera moments should be entertaining, especially if they include my personal favorite gut-spill:

I wish one of your guys had children so I could kick them in their fuckin’ head, or stomp on their testicles, so you can feel my pain — because that’s the pain I have, waking up every day.

I really wanted to find this video moment online so I could include it in this post. The best I could get is this, and it doesn’t look to be embeddable.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 04/26/2009 08:12pm
Category: Celebrity, Movies, Other Sports, True Crime
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Monday, April 20, 2021

it's in the game
Even accounting for the off-the-cuff spirit of the radio interview he was doing, Al Michaels declaring his now-retired broadcast partner John Madden as the most important figure in National Football League history is rather curious.

Why? Let’s disregard Madden’s gold-standard videogame franchise and, at least partially, his Hall of Fame coaching credentials, and isolate the heart of Michaels’ argument:

But what he’s meant to the game over the past three decades as a communicator, not just a broadcaster, but as somebody who could make people more interested in the game, more excited about the game. He brought far more entertainment value to the game than anybody I can think of…

Here’s a guy who just cuts across every demographic. It’s too much of a cliche, I think, to call him an everyman. Yes, John was able to relate to every man, but John was also one of the most intelligent, book smart human beings I’ve ever been around. And a man who I think was a great observer. In a world where there was a lot of self-absorption, John was just content to sit in a lobby or sit in a restaurant and have dinner with a group of people and observe and listen to everything everybody else had to say. He was a curious man and of course everybody knows that he traveled across the country and was in contact with the kinds of folks you just don’t get to see when you make a 3,000-mile round trip in an airplane.

When news of Madden’s retirement from the broadcasting booth hit, among my first thoughts were how he compared with Howard Cosell. Not to directly compare Madden and Cosell, as they were about as opposite in onscreen demeanor as is possible in sports television. But think about it: Madden was more or less Cosell’s inheritor. Just as Cosell, in the ’70s and much of the ’80s, was synonymous with “Monday Night Football”, the NFL’s showcase TV presence (next to the Super Bowl), Madden became the face of NFL television shortly after Cosell retired and kept that position from the ’90s through this decade.

And Michaels? He happens to be the common link between Cosell and Madden, having worked with both on the national network broadcast stage on Monday (and Sunday) night. Obviously, he’s in a unique position, given his personal and intimate work experience with both these icons.

That’s why it’s so curious that Michaels would praise Madden as he did above, in those words. What comes across is a folksy, populist figure that the viewing audience loved to love, and that by extension loved to watch football as he interpreted it. That’s the basis for arguing that Madden superseded everyone else in popularizing the NFL.

That characterization also happens to be just about the antithesis of what Howard Cosell was. By no stretch could you call Cosell an everyman — he cultivated an elitist mien, and used that to engage the audience. And yes, that engagement was confrontational: He largely dictated to football fans instead of conversing with them, creating a persona that people loved to hate. Cosell achieved his NFL success in just about the opposite manner of Madden, and yet, he also did a lot to popularize the game. (Not that Madden didn’t have his haters, but nothing on the scale of Cosell.)

It’s worth noting that the differences between Madden and Cosell run even deeper: Madden came to television after a career as a coach, while Cosell arrived via what had been the more conventional route of sports journalism. And that’s perhaps the most telling indicator of Michaels’ praise of Madden — in effect, it endorses the sports media “jockocracy” charge that Cosell railed against during his life. Obviously, Madden is a product of that jockocracy — and, according to Michaels, who had a bird’s eye view of each, Madden is the gold standard in NFL on-air analysis.

In effect, Michaels has picked a winner in the long term, and it’s Madden, not Cosell. The jockocracy is triumphant.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 04/20/2009 03:07pm
Category: Celebrity, Football, TV
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Saturday, April 18, 2021

When I first heard that John Mellencamp had a 14-year-old son that just won the Indiana Golden Gloves amateur boxing division title, what came to mind?

This did: The video for “Authority Song”, which memorably featured a boxing motif (serving as a metaphor for a broader populist message):

It’s tempting to think that the little boy in the video was Hud Mellencamp, John’s real-life son. No dice, though: The video is from 1984, a decade before the future junior pugilist was born.

So for this rocker, life eventually imitated art. I assume Cougar Mellencamp has always been a fan of the sweet science, and encouraged his boy to take up the sport.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 04/18/2009 01:02pm
Category: Celebrity, Other Sports, Pop Culture
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Thursday, April 16, 2021

I was going to spend a good chunk of tomorrow morning in Queens, taking in a behind-the-scenes tour of the Mets’ just-opened Citi Field baseball barn. And yes, I was planning to live-Twitter about it via my iTouch (provided that there was a freely-accessible wi-fi connection, which I have to assume a brand-new state-of-the-art stadium would have).

Alas, it’s not to be. I got word late today that the Mets canceled the tour. They’re giving a raincheck for later this season, with the real possibility of free game tickets being thrown into the rescheduling. If so, hooray anyway!

And as it turns out, tomorrow probably won’t be an ideal day for substantive tweeting anyway. Because all indications are that Oprah herself will be sending her very first tweet, live on the Friday edition of her TV show (with help from guest-Twitterer Ashton Kutcher, of course — of course!). Given that Twitter already creaks under the strain of its existing user activity, chances are very good that the resulting onslaught of Oprah acolytes will crash the site before the weekend commences.

And that, naturally, will be but the first step toward Twitter’s eventual celebrity-induced destruction.

So, it looks like the Twitterati wouldn’t have gotten my report from Citi Field anyway. And perhaps it never will. Good thing I got this here blog.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 04/16/2009 09:22pm
Category: Baseball, Celebrity, Internet, New Yorkin', TV
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Monday, April 13, 2021

Ever since Tara practically dared me via a name-dropping tweet, I’ve mulled putting my version of a Tony Danza impression on video and up on the Web, for all to see.

Since I’ve now joined the 21st Century and gotten a webcam, I decided to go for it. So here, via YouTube, is my impersonation of everyone’s favorite TV Tony:

Admittedly crude, without any titling or other fancy video editing. In the interests of just getting it done, I’m submitting it raw. It makes me laugh at myself, which is no mean feat, so I must have done something right.

I won’t claim authorship of this little routine. I saw some comedian do it years ago, probably on Comedy Central; good luck finding the original. Anyway, everyone in comedy steals from one another, and since I’m not even a comedian, that gives me even further license to swipe.

The larger irony is that I’m not a fan of “Who’s the Boss?”. I just like the sound of that mock-emoting progression of “Mona, Angela, Samantha”.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 04/13/2009 11:41am
Category: Celebrity, Comedy, TV
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Monday, March 23, 2021

This off-the-cuff tweet, by yours truly, about the suicide of Nicholas Hughes didn’t elicit a reaction over in Twitterland. Let’s see if it gets any sort of response here in the regular Web/blogosphere:

I guess it would be highly insensitive to label this as “continuing the Plath family tradition”, right?

And for further context, Sylvia Plath’s poem about her then-infant son: “Nick and the Candlestick”.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 03/23/2009 12:14pm
Category: Celebrity, Publishing, True Crime
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Friday, March 20, 2021

Recently I was reminded of a favorite expression that I’d come across a few times in the past:

Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery.
And today? Today is a gift.
That’s why we call it the present.

Slightly sappy, but the wordplay scores big points in my book.

I’d probably heard it most often from, of all people, Mike Ditka during his ESPN screentime. He always invokes it while complaining about some player or other’s effort on the football field…

Not that Ditka ever claimed to have formulated it. In reality, this phrase was coined by the late Nigerian musician Babatunde Olatunji.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 03/20/2009 12:15pm
Category: Celebrity, Pop Culture, Wordsmithing
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Wednesday, March 18, 2021

It’s a little late in the game to come to this realization, but:

Ponzi schemin’ swindler Bernie Madoff’s last name? Not only should his clients/victims have been tipped off about how he’d “made off” with their money, but that pronunciation makes him yet another candidate for the Brown University name-vocation pairings list, ala the attorney named Lawyer and the oceanographer named Fish. Just sayin’.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 03/18/2009 10:43am
Category: Business, Celebrity, True Crime, Wordsmithing
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Tuesday, March 17, 2021

the master
Back when I recommended an extreme advertising/marketing makeover for the New York-famous Dr. Jonathan Zizmor, I did so because his ubiquitous subway ads (sample of which is pictured above) look so dated.

I didn’t realize until today, though, just how dated these rainbow-sporting monstrosities are, after doing the subway stare at one:

The three credit-card logos that Dr. Ziz accepts and displays on (at least some) of his trademark ads? Visa, American Express — and Master Charge.

That’s right — not MasterCard, but Master Charge. A brand that disappeared back in 1979.

I snapped a cameraphone pic of the transgressing ad, but it came out too cruddy to be worthy of posting here. However, it’s not too cruddy for a Twitter posting

I’m guessing that the Ziz uses the same homemade paste-up template for these ads that he’s used for the past thirty years, and simply never bothered to update certain graphical elements. Or maybe he’s accepting payment from long-term patients with a bunch of long-expired Master Charge “charge plates”, and has never caught on. Either way, why mess with success, right?

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 03/17/2009 12:45pm
Category: Advert./Mktg., Business, Celebrity, History, New Yorkin'
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Friday, March 13, 2021

Here’s the best, most punniest newspaper headline I’ve come across regarding the Bernie Madoff financial scandal:


Kudos to Metro, an otherwise colorless freebie daily. Captured the New York zeitgeist surrounding the Ponzi schemer nicely.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 03/13/2009 07:35pm
Category: Celebrity, New Yorkin', True Crime, Wordsmithing
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Tuesday, March 10, 2021

In noting that Andy Richter’s upcoming reunion with Conan O’Brien as sidekick on “The Tonight Show” represents more of an exception than a trend, NYT’s Alessandra Stanley pinpoints why the onscreen TV wingman is now superfluous:

But the demise of the second banana is also a fallout of the interactive age. Now that everyone feels entitled to a say — by blog, text message or call-in vote to “American Idol” — the audience has become the sidekick. Laughter and applause come on command, then a chosen few in the studio are rewarded with humbling on-camera cameos, whether it’s dancing with Ellen DeGeneres, turning stupid pet tricks with [David] Letterman or licking a lawn mower on [Jimmy] Fallon’s show.

So we’re all just a bunch of second bananas, reacting to the performers on-stage — whether that stage is television, YouTube, blog, or whatever. And since that reaction is broadcast for public consumption, it’s reinterpreted as participation in the extended whole. You don’t have to tell me: The tagline that I fashioned for this here blog — “Read. React. Repeat.” — is a paean to the Digital Age back-and-forth. (Sorta.)

As far as late-night specifically: What originally endeared me to “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” was, in fact, the re-introduction of the sidekick on that show. And since the O’Brien-Richter matchup operated more like a collaborative tandem than as the presumed mentor-tutor dynamic (as acknowledged by O’Brien himself), the relationship worked. Frankly, I think the former sharp comedic energy has been lacking since Richter left, and having him back bodes well for an 11:30 version of Conan (sorry, Mr. Letterman).

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 03/10/2021 12:48pm
Category: Celebrity, Internet, Pop Culture, Society, TV
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Monday, March 09, 2021

It’s getting harder and harder to take the Grand Old Party seriously these days. And it ain’t just me: Two-thirds of Republican voters see their party as essentially rudderless, just when the onset of the Obama Era demands a credible alternative.

And I’m thinking that turning to the political equivalent of a child preacher isn’t going to restore confidence in the right-wing faithful.

Because that’s all the sideshow that is 14-year-old conservative wunderkind Jonathan Krohn is — a bizarre attempt by the conservative core to somehow demonstrate that the next-generation cavalry is coming. All it signifies is that there must be a huge age-group void between the old lions of the Reagan Revolution and the present day, and that any intellectual reinvigoration of the American right is going to have to wait until after senior prom.

Until then, I guess the nattering nabobs of negativism stance will serve as a strategy placeholder (to borrow the best thing that ever came out of Spiro Agnew’s mouth — with no small irony that he was a Republican himself).

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 03/09/2021 12:00pm
Category: Celebrity, Politics
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Tuesday, March 03, 2021

back for seconds
You’d be tempted to conjure up F. Scott Fitzgerald’s oft-quoted maxim that “there are no second acts in American lives” while absorbing the news that Sean Avery is back in the National Hockey League as the New York Rangers claimed him on re-entry waivers from the Dallas Stars today, a move long expected.

But then, Fitzgerald was probably never a hockey fan. Plus, Avery is Canadian. So all’s fair game on Broadway for the rest of this season.

Since this is a reunion for Avery and the Blueshirts, it’s only appropriate to take into consideration the scandalous “sloppy seconds” slip that got him into trouble in Dallas, and dovetail it with his return to Madison Square Garden. Presumably, he’ll be watching his mouth a little more during his current NHL tour of duty.

UPDATE - Well, this just ain’t right ;)

Don’t ask me why the NYTimes/Blogrunner singles out this blog for such momentous news. It just does.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 03/03/2021 01:21pm
Category: Celebrity, Hockey, New Yorkin', Wordsmithing
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Monday, February 16, 2021

The accompanying money-thermometer is featured on MalePerm.com, a stunt-coif good-cause fundraising site that should be getting healthy hits now that the New York Times featured it in an article.

I’m intrigued by the selection of celebrity ‘dos to represent each level of dollar donations. I can’t find a definitive list, but from what I can figure, here’s the lineup:

$1,000 - Telly Savalas, a naturally follicle-challenged representation of the low end.

$2,000 - Looks like Dustin “Screech” Diamond, wearing a rainbow beanie atop his curls.

$3,000 - I’m stumped on this one. Best guess: Artie Lange with a long-haired perm-wig on.

$4,000 - Ann B. Davis as Alice from “The Brady Bunch” — a curious choice, given that the point here is to highlight male perm-tasticness.

$5,000 - Mr. Joy of Painting brillo-head himself, Bob Ross.

$6,000 - Not totally sure, but I’m betting that that’s Carrot Top in all his freaky glory.

$7,000 - Tom Selleck, in all his “Magnum, P.I.” glory.

$8,000 - Really hard to tell. I’ll guess Bob Dylan, as seen during his ’60s heyday.

$9,000 - Richard Simmons, sweatin’ to the permies.

$10,000 - Robert Reed, from his latter-day “Brady Bunch” performance (an according step up from the Alice level).

$15,000 - This quantum leap in giving apparently demands a comparable upgrade in perm stylin’, and Matthew McConaughey seems to be the pinnacle of that aesthetic.

I’m overwhelmed.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 02/16/2009 05:57pm
Category: Celebrity, Comedy, Movies, Pop Culture, TV
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Friday, February 13, 2021

Here’s the money quote out of the in-progress, as-of-this-writing Jelly Talks live session with Guy Kawasaki, in which he refutes the idea of outsourcing your social Web marketing to a third-party agency but volunteers to lend his Internet celebrity toward any start-up’s Twitter campaign:

“Tell you what: For 50 grand a month, I’ll be your Tweet-boy!”

Fifty thousand bucks for Kawasaki to pump out 140-character love-shots? I’d rather spend the money on… well, just about anything, frankly…

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 02/13/2009 02:33pm
Category: Business, Celebrity, Internet, Social Media Online, Tech
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Thursday, February 12, 2021

to the letter
Lots of huff-and-puff today over Joaquin Phoenix and his appearance on last night’s “The Late Show With David Letterman”, with some ranking it along with the most unhinged Letterman interviews ever, ala Crispin Glover and Farrah Fawcett.

I watched it. And I don’t buy it at all.

Oh sure, Phoenix shuffled out looking like a Sunday-best Unabomber, and he played the mumbling maladroit to the hilt. It all certainly happened, and made for funny TV.

But I don’t think it was unintended. Not only do I agree that Phoenix was hoaxing the whole scenario, I’ll go a step further and allege that David Letterman was in on the whole thing as well. I’ve got no solid proof, but just from watching the whole interview, I could tell there was no real tension between the two, and Letterman’s reactions to similar guest antics in the past always betrayed his extreme unease at any such “unplanned” situations. This time out, I got the strong feeling he was simply going through the motions, setting up Phoenix with rather softball jabs; if he were really ill at ease with what was happening, he would have cut loose on him far more severely. My guess is that Letterman and Phoenix coordinated the whole thing beforehand and simply played it out before the cameras.

Why? To manufacture buzz for both. I’m sure Letterman will get some mileage out of this in his next few monologues, and beyond. As for Phoenix, he’s known to be up to something, with his forsaking the actor’s life for an alleged career in hip-hop. And — surprise! — he’s even making a documentary of this whole process with his pal Casey Affleck.

In short, this whole thing is a nice big bag of phony. Cynicism strikes again!

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 02/12/2021 03:26pm
Category: Celebrity, Comedy, TV
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Friday, February 06, 2021

This week’s improbable common link between Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps and Japan’s venerated sport of sumo wrestling: Marijuana-smoking scandal.

Both parties are feeling the shameful fallout. But I see a potential synergy here, especially for Phelps. Consider this scenario:

The gold-medal champion is suspended for three months by USA Swimming from competition, he’s lost at least one major corporate sponsorship, and he’s even considering bowing out of the 2012 Olympiad. With everything falling apart around him, how would you expect Phelps to react? That’s right: Retreat to the mind-clouding escape that every bong-hit provides. And since he’s not competing, the subsequent munchies — on top of his famed daily 12,000-calorie diet — will catch up with him quickly enough. By May, we’ll be seeing tabloid photos of a dazed and confused 500-pound Phelps, wandering around and wondering what his next move will be.

And that next move would be… Sumo! With all that acquired bulk, plus the now-regular pot habit, he should fit right in with the Japan Sumo Association. Phelps will abandon the swimming pool for a new athletic endeavor, as the newest non-Japanese star to compete in the ancient ring. I’m betting he’ll reach championship status inside of five years.

He’ll need a new sumo name, of course. Maybe something like “Phelpsakaki”.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 02/06/2021 11:18am
Category: Celebrity, Comedy, Other Sports, True Crime
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Thursday, February 05, 2021

If you were worth a few billion dollars, don’t you think you’d find a better way to make your point than by releasing a host of flying, blood-sucking bugs on unsuspecting techies?

“Malaria is spread by mosquitoes,” [Bill Gates] yelled to the crowd before unleashing the insects, which were not carrying the disease. “I brought some. Here, I’ll let them roam around. There is no reason only poor people should be infected.”

The organisers of the TED conference said it was an “amazing moment” and provided the audience with “food for thought”. Chris Anderson, curator of the show, quipped that the moment should be headlined, “Gates releases more bugs into the world”.

Fortunately, the crowd seemed to take it in stride. Although if they attend next year’s edition of the Technology, Entertainment and Design conference, they should probably bring netting and bug spray, just in case.

As for Gates, you’ve gotta wonder if the combination of Microsoft-mad money and years of computer-centric inputting have rendered him a maladroit when it comes to interacting with real live people. The litigational hazards of such a stunt alone should have given him pause.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 02/05/2021 12:15pm
Category: Celebrity, Science, Tech
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Friday, January 30, 2021

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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Monday, December 29, 2020

So, exactly when do we declare Samuel L. Jackson to be box-office poison?

This wonderment is prompted by the most recent theatrical bomb he’s co-starring in, The Spirit. Not that I’m blaming Jackson for that stinker; I haven’t seen it and don’t plan to, but being a fan of Will Eisner’s original, I could see the travesty coming from miles away. My only comment on that: Frank Miller needs to cut down on his cocaine intake…

Back to Jackson: I can’t remember the last time one of his headlining features was an actual hit. Let’s review his most recent non-hit parade:

- Soul Men
- Lakeview Terrace
- Jumper
- Cleaner
- 1408
- Resurrecting the Champ
- Home of the Brave
- Black Snake Moan
- Snakes on a Plane
- Freedomland
- The Man

Bombs away! Most of these were abysmal, and even the only decent one (Resurrecting) sold practically no tickets. This list stretches back to 2005, making it three years since Jackson has been in a successfully bankable motion picture. I’m not saying he was the sole reason for these failures, but the fact is that he is the one common factor.

Just about the only hits he’s been a part of during, and immediately before, this dismal streak were the Star Wars prequels. And let’s face it — Lucasfilm could have cast Gary Coleman as Mace Windu and wouldn’t have missed a beat.

I don’t get how Hollywood works anyway, but I know that plenty of other actors would have hung themselves with such a long rope of duds. Maybe Jackson is working so cheap, and still has enough reputation/recognition cachet, that he’s worth the risk for many a filmmaker? Still, at this point, I can’t see a movie release with his name on it and not automatically mark it as dead on arrival.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 12/29/2008 07:37pm
Category: Celebrity, Movies
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Thursday, December 18, 2021

quicksilver, bitch
Jeremy Piven is going with doctors’ orders as his reason for abruptly quitting his starring role in the still-running Broadway revival of “Speed-the-Plow”. That’s not flying with the show’s playwright, David Mamet, who offered this reaction to the sick note:

“I talked to Jeremy on the phone, and he told me that he discovered that he had a very high level of mercury,” Mamet said. “So my understanding is that he is leaving show business to pursue a career as a thermometer.”

Temperatures rising over this one, I’d say. I imagine Piven’s counter would be a suggestion on where Mamet can stick that thermometer. With the resultant snappy patter resembling a typical Mamet piece of writing.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 12/18/2008 02:37pm
Category: Celebrity
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