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Monday, March 24, 2021

I’ve concocted a new personal timeframe: Starting today and ending April 26th, I’m living “between the Easters”.

Yes, there’s another Easter observance coming next month, and I’m one of the Orthodox Christians who’ll be observing it. Since the gap between the twin holidays is so large in 2008 (five weeks, much longer than most years), I figure it’s a significant enough chunk of time that I can signify it.

Not that I’m going to go hog-wild with this. Just something else to brand. If it resonates with others, I’ll be shocked.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 03/24/2008 10:45:32 PM
Category: Creative, Society
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Thursday, March 20, 2021

While I managed to do a little live-blogging at last week’s Jelly coworking session, I neglected to add pictures to my words.

Never fear: Another Jelly-er snapped a few photos and Flickr’d them.

In that picture set, you’ll see yours truly up close and personal, along with an action shot of me eating pizza while conversing with the t-shirt aggregator dude. This is what it’s like to live your life in Web 2.0 mode, right?

Maybe I should get into the act and bring my fancy on-loan Nikon camera to the next Jelly, scheduled for Williamsburg (which I’m 90 percent sure I’ll attend). But I hate lugging that thing around, and since I’ll already have my computer in tow, I think I’ll have to leave the visual record to someone else.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 03/20/2008 04:46:09 PM
Category: Business, Creative, New Yorkin', Society
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Wednesday, March 19, 2021

Of all the possible spots in Central Park to stage a play, I’m pretty sure the restrooms at Bethesda Terrace Fountain wouldn’t occur to most theater organizers as the optimal performance space.

But the Irish Arts Center, of all troupes, thought otherwise when it came to its production of “Ladies & Gents”. The cramped toilet ambiance was such a good fit for this noir thriller set in 1950s Dublin that the play’s the thing, for $25 a pop later this month.

Of course, they were aiming for toilet space in the first place:

The bureaucracy involved in getting permission to host a play in a toilet was another matter altogether. After the play’s success in European bathrooms — first as part of the Dublin Fringe Festival and later on a small tour of England and Scotland, where it won the Edinburgh Fringe First Award — Heller and the Irish Arts Center hoped to bring it to New York. Everyone underestimated the amount of red tape involved in renting public restrooms.

“It was a big toilet mess,” said Laoisa (pronounced LEE-SHA) Sexton, one of the show’s six actors who was dispatched to help with “the great New York loo hunt.”

Sexton quickly discovered what any frustrated tourist could have told her: “There really aren’t a lot of public toilets in New York City to choose from.”

Of the meager offerings, bathrooms at Grand Central Station and in Riverside Park were rejected for their small size and busy traffic. Then the loo hunters discovered the Bethesda Terrace bathrooms. It took over a year of back and forth with the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, including a personal letter to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, to win approval.

With that much attention to detail, it’s just gotta be a winner.

If I can snag a ticket, I’m definitely going to catch a performance (plenty of dates are already sold out). The tricky part is, who to go with? Not every girl will swoon over the prospect of attending a theatrical performance in a stinky public bathroom. That’ll take some work, I guess.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 03/19/2008 10:58:47 PM
Category: Creative, Media, New Yorkin'
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Monday, March 17, 2021

Casting the bilateral relationship between the United States and Great Britain as a dysfunctional gay-male love affair?

That’s theater for you. And for me, as I plan to snag tickets soon to Caryl Churchill’s “Drunk Enough to Say I Love You?” at the Public Theater, East Village ways, to see this imaginative spectacle for myself. Sexual politics, without the sexual part — or is that, without the politics part? Either way, brilliant!

It’s not exactly political-thriller material (but that’s okay):

The second of the play’s seven scenes ends with this exchange:

SAM: being powerful and being on the side of good is

GUY: God must have so much fun

SAM: win win win

GUY: love you more than I can

That’s Sam (get it?) and Guy (get it?), in something like love. If you know anything about recent geopolitical history, you can guess who’s the pitcher and who’s the catcher…

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 03/17/2008 10:40:36 PM
Category: Creative, Media, Political
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Friday, March 14, 2021

Since office-less coworking among freelancers and other labor free agents is all the rage, and I don’t want to pay Office Nomads actual money in timeshare-like rent for some non-Starbucks workspace, it’s Jelly for me.

What is Jelly? It’s a semi-regular gathering of independent white-collar workers (like me) who converge on a host dwelling for a day, for the purpose of creating a convivial collaborative work environment. It’s like an office setting without a boss hanging over you. The aim is to network with like-minded individuals (as far as work work-life balance goes) and ward off the shut-in mentality that can take hold from working at home every day.

I don’t usually have to guard against stir-craziness, as I go to one client office or another every day. But I was intrigued by Jelly’s concept, and today I was able to jigger my schedule to attend today’s 2nd anniversary of Jelly.

So here I am, having landed in the founding Manhattan edition of Jelly’s gathering, in midtown’s House 2.0. I think I’ll take the opportunity to maintain a running post, to record the couple of hours I expect to be here. Here goes:

1:27pm - I’ve been here about 10 minutes. CNN cameraman arrived a couple of minutes later. The bigtime! I have mixed feelings about being on camera, but I guess I don’t have to worry about it until/unless they turn the lens on me.

Otherwise, I coughed up four bucks for community pizza, and found a backroom area to fire up the computer and (allegedly) get to work. A bunch of people were already here, mostly in the living room where the building’s elevator opened into. I was a little overwhelmed, so I scurried back here. But I think I’ll relocate myself back up front, if there’s still room.

Also, the house puppy Oscar, a daschund mutt, is making his presence felt. Like I need another distraction from work…

2:17pm - Pizzas arrived, so it was socializing time. Talked to a couple of co-Jelly-ers. One was a developer who’d been to these gatherings before, very low-key guy; he’d just gotten a new iMac which he didn’t have with him, so I think he was just observing. The other was a newbie like me, a budding novelist named Kelly; she was most interested in interacting with live, breathing people versus being alone with her (vibrant) thoughts in her apartment.

2:19pm - Some independent vid-journalist/blogger showed up after CNN left. She’s floating around, interviewing the Jelly hosts and taking random shots.

2:21pm - I figured I’d be the only schmoe here dressed in shirt and tie — and I was right. Couldn’t be avoided as I had onsite client work this morning. I’m also one of the very few non-techies hereabouts, which I also expected. It’s all good; it’s been pointed out to me that a different creative perspective is good to inject into these gatherings. Or something.

2:23pm - At this point, I’m waiting for a 3pm conference call to begin; it’s scheduled for an hour, but I doubt it’ll last even half as long. After that, I may or may not hang here at Jelly for a while longer. In the meantime, I’m tackling a couple of put-off marketing reports (between blogging sessions ;) )

2:51pm - That developer I was talking to earlier: His name is Dan. I’m bad with names.

2:54pm - Weird vibe here. A couple of people are pairing off to collaborate, advise, etc. but most are just hunched over their notebook computers, typing away. Not much in interaction, other than being aware of a live body in close proximity. I guess it’s just feeding off the broader aura.

3:22pm - Just had my lone conference call for the afternoon. Short, as expected, and painless. I have the rest of the afternoon, to Jelly or not.

I’m having a bitch of a time with these marketing reports, which is what I feared (and which is why I held off doing them until now). I may have to shunt these until the weekend. I’ll stick with it for another hour or so and see if I actually accomplish something.

3:44pm - We seem to have hit a lull at House 2.0. Most of the folks seem to have cleared out (temporarily, as there are computers and personal effects lying around), except for me and two other guys. They’re chatting about BarCamp and other techie stuff. Oscar the puppy is wandering about, looking for attention and/or food.

And I’ve hit a lull myself. I’m getting nowhere manipulating these marketing charts. So I’m about ready to give up and re-engage over the weekend.

Overall, not as much social interaction as I thought there’d be. It was nice getting a change of venue for one workday, but it was less stimulating than I’d hoped. Maybe I should have gotten here earlier.

3:49pm - Here’s something, at least: This blog post is already ranking high on a Google search of ‘jelly nyc’, somewhere around No. 20. That’s within a couple of hours of creation. Much love for the Googlebot!

This seems to be it. It was worth a shot. I might try for the next edition, provided it’s in Manhattan. Midtown is nice and central, for me anyway.

The greatest irony: I don’t even like jelly. Peanut butter and honey sandwiches — that’s what I’m talking about!

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 03/14/2008 01:26:15 PM
Category: Business, Creative, New Yorkin', Society
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Thursday, March 13, 2021

Yep, the folks at Sci Fi Network have gone to town in promoting the upcoming fourth season of their most popular show, the reimagined “Battlestar Galactica”. I’ve seen this ad around New York, and the obvious homage to da Vinci’s “The Last Supper” (along with the hot blonde in the skimpy red dress) makes it eye-catching.

So why, when I look upon it, do I not feel any particular awe, but rather am inspired to tack on the Austin Powers-inspired caption, “She’s a man, baby!!”?

Probably because I’m not a fan of “Battlestar”. I mock what I don’t understand, I guess.

But others are down with the science, including all the “Da Vinci Code” style visual teasers this ad contains for plot revelations. An excellent way to buzz up a show beyond its hardcore fanbase.

Incidentally, using “The Last Supper” as a motif is a rampant sci-fi geek practice.

UPDATE: I don’t know if this is the case with all versions, but I just saw this ad on a busstop shelter, and it had the following tagline, strategically placed between the accusatory finger-pointer and blondie:

The Final Revelation

I’m sure that’s further whetting scientifictive appetites.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 03/13/2008 08:28:56 AM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Creative, TV
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Friday, February 29, 2021

I came across this unattributed quote today:

“Advertising may be described as the science of arresting the human intelligence long enough to get money from it.”

It’s got that cynical edge to it that never fails to turn me on.

In turn, this definition brings to my mind the concept of the willing suspension of disbelief.

In fact, I think the principle is similar in both cases, i.e. manipulating the mind in order to make it more accepting of a narrative construct — whether that construct consists of creative works, or a sales pitch. Maybe that’s what makes the one-two punch of content and advertising delivery so effective in the first place.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 02/29/2008 01:41:31 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Creative
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Thursday, February 28, 2021

eternal question
What would Garfield be like if that fat orange cat were expunged from the record?

It’d go something like this:

Who would have guessed that when you remove Garfield from the Garfield comic strips, the result is an even better comic about schizophrenia, bipolor disorder, and the empty desperation of modern life? Friends, meet Jon Arbuckle. Let’s laugh and learn with him on a journey deep into the tortured mind of an isolated young everyman as he fights a losing battle against loneliness and methamphetamine addiction in a quiet American suburb.

If anything, this highlights the out-of-context dark comedy that the set-up guy lives in. Without the conventional punchlines, you’re just a guy without a cat.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 02/28/2008 11:15:09 PM
Category: Comedy, Creative, Pop Culture
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Thursday, February 21, 2021

Black is not a color so much as it’s the negation of color: A shade that absorbs 99 percent or more of the entire light spectrum directed at it, thereby reflecting back the minimal amount to make it visible. (White is the same condition, only reversed to absorb most of the spectrum.)

But there’s black, and then there’s superblack: Researchers have cooked up a thin material that absorbs 99.955 percent of the light that hits it, making it by far the darkest substance ever made — about 30 times as dark as the government’s current standard for blackest of blacks.

Sort of a visual black hole that sucks up illumination. Applications abound:

Solar panels coated with it would be much more efficient than those coated with conventional black paint, which reflects 5 percent or more of incoming light. Telescopes lined with it would sop up random flecks of incidental light, providing a blacker background to detect faint stars.

And a wide array of heat detectors and energy-measuring devices, including climate-tracking equipment on satellites, would become far more accurate than they are today if they were coated with energy-grabbing superblack.

And the light-refracting nature of this phenomenon opens up the possibilities for invisibility cloaking. Although you wouldn’t be able to see anything from behind that donned cloak, since all the light is being absorbed more or less absolutely.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 02/21/2008 08:54:27 AM
Category: Creative, Science
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Sunday, February 10, 2021

Nothing screams “meme” like the literary exercise of boiling your autobiography down to six little words.

You can add your super-succinct vitae over at Smith Magazine. However, considering they’ve already culled the most notable submissions — including celebrity contributions from Stephen Colbert, Harvey Pekar, Chuck Klosterman and others — into a book called “Not Quite What I Was Planning”, doing so now strikes me as anti-climactic.

So I’m going to script mine right here:

Here I am. Hard to believe.

It actually wasn’t as hard to craft as I thought it would be. Surprisingly multi-faceted for such an economical use of words.

Not that I’m trying to hijack Smith, but feel free to contribute your own personal 6-word scribbling in the comments below.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 02/10/2021 05:48:22 PM
Category: Creative, Publishing
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To protest the de facto quota system imposed by newspaper comics-page editors upon minority-focused comic strips, a group of cartoonists have written and drawn essentially the same strip for today’s Sunday section to drive home the point.

Plans for the protest began with Cory Thomas, a Howard University grad whose strip, “Watch Your Head,” deals with college life at a predominantly African American university. Thomas, Trinidad-born and D.C.-bred, says he was frustrated by the number of times his strip was turned down by newspapers that didn’t feel the need to sign him up, because, well, they already had a black comic strip. Most editors, he says, only allow for one or two minority strips, viewing them all as interchangeable. Never mind that his strip is a world away in sensibility from the scathing sociopolitical musings of Darrin Bell’s “Candorville” or the family-focused fun of Stephen Bentley’s “Herb and Jamaal.”

So Thomas drew a strip addressing that, and then enlisted the help of Bell. From there, they got others to agree to participate: Bentley, Jerry Craft (”Mama’s Boyz”), Charlos Gary (”Cafe con Leche” and “Working It Out”), Steve Watkins (”Housebroken”), Keith Knight (”The K Chronicles”), Bill Murray (”The Golden Years”), Charles Boyce (”Compu-toon”) and editorial cartoonist Tim Jackson. Alcaraz, who says he found out too late to meet his deadline, will be chiming in on Feb. 11.

Ironically, that 1-2 minority strip allowance means that most readers won’t get the full effect of this protest — because they’ll only see one of the participating strips.

So here’s the online versions of each of the participating strips. The ones I could find, anyway. There could be more participating; I’m not going to scan hundreds of strips for verification. Also, despite being on the above list, and being acknowledged by strip artist Keith Knight, the K Chronicles strip that appears to be running today doesn’t match up with the rest of the group. But otherwise:

- Candorville’s take

- Herb and Jamaal’s take

- Watch Your Head’s take

- Compu-toon’s take

- Housebroken’s take

- Cafe con Leche’s take

- And Mama’s Boyz creator Jerry Craft provides a roundup of the rest.

Here’s the basic script (modified significantly in some strips, but with the same gist):

Old Guy: Bah! I hate this comic strip! It looks like another “Boondocks” rip-off! The newspaper got rid of the old goodies to bring in this tripe? It must be tokenism! This PC nonsense is out of control! They need to get back to the kinds of strips that everybody can relate to!

Person sitting next to Old Guy: “Everybody”, meaning you?

Old Guy: Ha ha. Oh, that Dagwood…

It’s funny how most (though not all) of the strips went with the same stereotypical gray-headed old man bitching about his favorite dinosaur ‘toon being displaced by something he can’t relate to. That gets to the heart of the matter, actually: Print newspaper readership is increasingly being reduced to older demographics, and they’re irrationally attached to comic strips that have been around for decades, regardless of whether or not those strips still have any gas left in them. From my past experience at the St. Petersburg Times (where, coincidentally, this event first got some traction, courtesy of Eric Deggans), making any changes to the comics page is guaranteed to bring a tidal wave of negative reader reaction.

So the upshot? I think it’s less a question of actively “balancing” minority respresentation on the comics page, than it is a situation where paralysis has set in. Declining readership forces the papers to be that much more responsive to their core customers, and ultimately it’s not worth trying to be innovative in an otherwise inconsequential section of the paper. The result is a patch of newsprint that’s perpetually hard to break into.

Personally, I don’t have a dog in this fight, as my paper of record doesn’t run any funny pages (other than a single avant-garde feature in the Sunday Magazine). I really thought I’d miss the strips more, but I don’t; probably speaks to the calcification of the medium.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 02/10/2021 03:42:40 PM
Category: Creative, Publishing, Society
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Friday, February 01, 2021

so real
Because the pre-loaded wallpaper images on the iPod Touch are all either boring or slightly feminine, I decided to import this 1958 Salvador Dali watercolor, “Allegorical Saint and Angels in Adoration of the Holy Spirit”, into mine. So now it shows up every time my iTouch gets prompted out of lock mode (which is often).

I’ve expressed before how much I like this piece. It holds up pretty well in shrunken, digitized format. I especially get a kick out of much Nirvana’s cover art for the “In Utero” album evokes “Allegorical”, and the almost side-by-side visual I get whenever one of those tracks ticks up on shuffle-play.

I’d still love to get a wall print of this painting. I’m heading down to Tampa Bay next week, so even though the Dali Museum doesn’t list this as being available in their giftshop in any form, I might luck out. At least see it in person one more time.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 02/01/2021 04:44:08 PM
Category: Creative, Pop Culture, iPod
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Tuesday, January 29, 2021

With a recession looming, a lot of people will be going to a lot of job interviews in the coming months. So why not monetize that experience?

That’s roughly the concept at play with NotchUp.com, a job-recruiting startup that’s facilitating company payout fees to prospective job candidates, just for showing up and interviewing.

The idea is that companies should strive to snag in-demand talent, which by their nature are hard to land:

“In every job I’ve had, I’ve had to, under time pressure, build a team of engineers. I learned years ago that the best people you want to hire are the people who aren’t in the job market,” said [co-founder Jim] Ambras, who was vice president of engineering at the search engine AltaVista.

So some enterprising serial interviewee could really make a cottage industry out of cup-of-coffee chats over where they see themselves in five years, etc.

Technically, the money’s not that easy. Participating companies — which, as hinted by the quote above, include tech-engineering hungry outfits like Google and Yahoo! — put the bid fee into escrow, and don’t authorize payment until after the interview, when they decide whether or not to take the process further (second interview, offer extension, etc.). So if someone goes into this flippantly, they’ll just wind up wasting their time (unless they get some live-interview practice out of it). Even someone who garners interest would presumably start raising red flags if s/he is tracked, via NotchUp, as continually turning down deeper interviews.

Overall, it seems like a relatively low-risk proposition for larger companies. They’d spend comparable or larger amounts in that $200-$500 per candidate range in recruiting efforts, so this serves as a reciprocal filter to hone the process early. It’s still a struggle to wrest a high-demand work talent out of their current gig, but this is another way to grease the wheel.

I do question the timing, though. Like I said, a recession seems likely, so the labor market will be flooded with candidates soon enough. Potential NotchUp.com client companies will feel less compelled to ante up meet-and-greet bonuses when they’re in a buyers’ market. In which case, NotchUp.com itself might have to start looking for interview-cash opps…

Just for fun, I plugged my particulars into the NotchUp build-your-bid calculator. My current marketing consultant gig, which I’ve been doing for two years now, yielded a suggested bid amount of $230. I think that’s on the low side, but honestly, I was expecting it to come in way less. At least I know where to login if I need an extra couple of hundred bucks.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 01/29/2008 11:39:03 PM
Category: Business, Creative
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Saturday, January 26, 2021

Here’s something that promises to inspire much musical mashup mayhem: An mp3 isolated vocal track of David Lee Roth’s singing off of the Van Halen classic “Runnin’ With The Devil”.

I can’t wait to hear Diamond Dave’s vintage harmonizing set to reggae, electronica, etc.

Actually, hearing this Roth rendition was a bit unnerving. I never realized that he wasn’t joining in on the “runnin’ with the devil” chorus until hearing this stripped-away version. Not hearing the title refrain robs the song of a good bit of its essence.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 01/26/2008 06:46:26 PM
Category: Creative, Pop Culture
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Thursday, January 10, 2021

Tom McMahon has come up with a delightful list of ways in which a blog mirrors a television-series run.

I won’t poach any of his bullets. But I will contribute a couple of my own. Regrettably, one of his commenters already beat me to the obvious joke about jumping the shark


- Old posts/episodes can always be found in archives/reruns.

- A writers’ strike would have dire consequences.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 01/10/2021 09:44:48 PM
Category: Bloggin', Creative, TV
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Saturday, January 05, 2021

Forget about ethanol — hops and barley are the crop-based fuel alternatives to fill up on, as our Canuck neighbors ably demonstrate:

* The average Canadian walks 900 miles per year.
* The average Canadian drinks 22 gallons of beer per year.

Canadians have a right to be proud: they’re getting 41 miles to the gallon.

And just to keep kosher with official Dominion policy, here’s a metric version of that, uh, metric.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 01/05/2021 08:05:12 PM
Category: Comedy, Creative, Society
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Thursday, January 03, 2021

If Islam had never existed, would things be nice and cozy between East and West, Jew and Arab, Greek and Turk? Probably not, according to professor and CIA advisor Graham Fuller, who argues that economics and geopolitics trump religion:

Mr. Fuller ponders a litany of history’s major battles to drive home his message that while Islam might be a convenient culprit, global strife, past and present, can’t be blamed on any one religion. Europeans would still have wanted the spoils of the Middle East and launched the Crusades, he says, albeit under a different banner. The West still would have tried various ways to get control of oil-rich areas. The French would still have gone into Algeria for its farm lands. The creation of Israel would still have displaced Palestinians, no matter what their religion.

And so on.

It’s fun to speculate on alternate historical divergences. On this particular counterfactual, Harry Turtledove’s “Agent of Byzantium” series of novels posits Mohammed becoming a Christian monk instead of The Prophet, leading to a modern-day Byzantine Empire cold-warring against a high-tech Persian Empire.

The trouble with alternate history fiction with such a wide scope is that it loses plausibility with the stretch of time. Sure, you can weave a reasonable unfolding of events within a few decades of Islam’s non-emergence; but can you credibly speculate how the next millennium and change will turn out? Too many variables.

Still, here’s some off-the-cuff musings of a world without Islam, conveniently ignoring the role of Islamic civilization in preserving and advancing classical scientific knowledge during the Middle Ages (among other things):

- An Eastern Orthodox Christian cultural hearth extending from the Balkans down to Arabia, and perhaps westward from Egypt through to north Africa.

- A Zoroastrian Iran (the world’s only Zoroastrian Republic, ala today’s real-world Islamic Republic?), culturally conflicted with the Orthodox Christian Arabs on its western border; and perhaps isolated, unless it was able to export its faith into Pakistan, Afghanistan and other points north and east.

- Alternately (if that’s possible in an alternate-reality scenario), a Jewish homeland being established in Iran, which historically hosted one of the world’s larger diaspora communities.

- As for Europe, would there have been a markedly more tempered Protestant Reformation, given that the prior Catholic-Orthodox schism had already defined intra-Christian boundaries?

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 01/03/2021 11:49:37 PM
Category: Creative, History, Political, Society
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Friday, December 28, 2020

I came across this little gem of a short film called “My Name Is Lisa” recently:

What’s so engaging about this Shelton Films production is the build-up: It starts off with all the looks of a typically nondescript YouTube jokey video log, but unfolds with deliberate purpose into a deeper and touching dramatic vignette.

It’s certainly not perfect. The music, while serving as a very useful indicator of the shifting timbre of the story, eventually becomes just a bit overbearing by film’s end. The acting is decent, but wouldn’t win any Oscar nods. But it all works well enough to earn a third-place showing in a recent YouTube Project: Direct competition.

One final tidbit: That passage that Lisa is reading at the end? It’s from Mark Twain’s “Huckleberry Finn”, which significance is hinted at earlier in the film.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 12/28/2007 07:41:42 PM
Category: Creative, Internet, Movies
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Wednesday, December 26, 2020

It’s a pretty obvious joke, to post about Pierre Bayard’s “How to Talk About Books You Haven’t Read” while not having read it, nor having any intention of reading it.

But I’m gonna do it anyway.

Partly because this excerpt from the book’s introduction saves me from picking it up. And I’ll go one step further and boil down the intro to this most pertinent portion:

There is a tacit understanding in our culture that one must read a book in order to talk about it with any precision. In my experience, however, it’s totally possible to carry on an engaging conversation about a book you haven’t read — including, and perhaps especially, with someone else who hasn’t read it either. Moreover, as I will argue, it is sometimes easier to do justice to a book if you haven’t read it in its entirety — or even opened it. Throughout this book, I will insist on the risks of reading — so frequently underestimated — for anyone who intends to talk about books, and even more so for those who plan to review them.

A better understanding of a work through non-reading. I wish I could spurn this advice, except that I’m as pressured as the next average reader — always full of the best intentions, but rarely with the energy or time resources to actually crack open the desired book.

So I sometimes resort to faking it. I probably do it far more often with movies, although I readily admit to not having actually caught the flick — the preponderance of preview trailers and buzz make it a lot easier to fill in the blanks for silver screen offerings. And more to the point, there’s less stigma in not having taken the time to gawk at a moving-picture presentation than to have neglected the printed word; the former is more passive, even with serious flicks, while the latter is expected to demand more mental energy.

All that said, I’ve actually got my eye on a couple of tomes to digest over the next couple of weeks. I’ll keep the faking-it advice in reserve for future application.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 12/26/2007 08:46:57 AM
Category: Creative, Publishing
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Saturday, December 22, 2021

It’s a bit heavy on the agency jargon, but “A Few Good Creative Men” is a most apropos application of the parody-like quality of working within the belly of the ad-industry beast:

Along with the “bigger logo” quip, I really like that “sleeps under the blanket of creativity that I provide” line.

And I can’t think of a more suitable scene for skewering than this one from A Few Good Men. As iconic as it’s become, I actually find it almost comical — I just can’t buy that a political animal like that would lose his cool in such an incriminating way, extreme hubris or not. I’ve never been able to watch the entire movie more than the one viewing I took in.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 12/22/2007 08:04:10 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Comedy, Creative, Movies
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Saturday, December 08, 2021

Does anyone else see the irony in the warning message that greets visitors to the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation website?

The contents of this site are for personal and/or educational use only. Neither text nor photographs may be reproduced in any form without the permission of the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation.

This, for a body of work that’s essentially ripped off from the efforts of countless comic-book artists. It was okay for Lichtenstein to “repurpose” this imagery, but not for others to make further use of it?

It seems hypocritical, and it is. And the root of that attitude is in the way such acquisition art is defined:

[Lichtenstein] took images that had no aesthetic content. You could open a romance magazine if you were a teenage girl or a war comic if you were a teenage boy, or flip through the ads in the back of a New York tabloid and see images that your eye would just skip over. He took these images, copied them, at first rather crudely, but then with fabulous elegance, and made these images deserving of being scanned or attention paid to them equal to the art in museums. And he really broadened what we saw as and thought of as art.

In other words, Lichtenstein’s work is valid because it elevated non-art into high art — dismissing the idea that the comics artwork was deserving of consideration as art in its own right. Therefore, if someone were to do the same to Lichtenstein’s work… You guessed it: That would redefine Lichtenstein’s pieces as lower-grade raw material for the next iteration created from it. In effect, they would be downgraded.

It’s a vicious circle, in a way. Obviously, the Web is ground zero for today’s arguments over dissemination and repurposing of creative material; it touches everything from musical mashups to digitized books. A recent flareup involves renewed attention for Richard Prince and his photography presentations, many manipulated from mass-market advertisements.

Incidentally, I “borrowed” the dog image here from the rather extensive “Deconstructing Roy Lichtenstein” webpage exhibit, which gives side-by-side comparisons of source material and artsified output. On a smaller scale, it’s a full-circle presentation.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 12/08/2021 08:01:22 PM
Category: Creative
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