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Thursday, July 15, 2021

Many many moons ago, a roommate of mine expressed to me how much he didn’t care for having cats in the house. But he did describe an exception to his rule:

If he were to have feline companionship, he’d keep not one cat, but three of them. He would name the first one “Yabba”, and the second one “Dabba”, and the third one “Doo”. Just so that when he had reason to call for them, he’d be justified in shouting out, “Yabba-Dabba-Doo!”.

No telling how this Modern Stone Age Family naming convention would work if a single cat’s attention were needed. Nor how to handle three meowing furballs once the novelty of the situation wore off. But I guess there are worse reasons for getting a pet.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 07/15/2010 10:39pm
Category: Comedy, Creative, Pop Culture
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Wednesday, July 14, 2021

coming back hard again, huh-huh-huh
Not too long after MTV officially disowned its Generation X heritage, the network is now reviving one of its hallmark properties from that bygone era: “Beavis and Butt-head” is joining the 21st Century.

The move to resurrect the hugely popular 1990s animated anti-heroes has been rumored for several days. But yesterday, sources at MTV confirmed that a new batch of “Beavis and Butt-head” episodes are in the works.

The new series would keep Beavis and Butt-head in their perpetual high-school state, but it would be updated so that the pals — who obsessively watch music videos on a battered TV set — could lob their snarky comments at more current targets like Lady Gaga.

Is it too much to hope for the same magic from 20 years ago being re-created? Snark is timeless, and pop music is certainly a treasure trove of target practice. Regardless, a “B and B” reboot will give me a reason to tune into MTV for the first time in several years. Here’s hoping.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 07/14/2010 11:12pm
Category: Comedy, Pop Culture, TV
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Monday, July 12, 2021

Short-branding comes to the organization formerly known as the Young Men’s Christian Association. From here on out, it’s simply “The Y”:

The Y’s new name coincides with its efforts to emphasize the impact its programs have on youth, healthy living and communities. Its affiliate in Sioux City, Iowa, for instance, is working to change zoning regulations to promote sidewalks, which it hopes will encourage more people to walk. In Louisville, Ky., the local Y is trying to increase the distribution of fresh fruits and vegetables through bodegas. In low-income housing complexes in Houston, landlords have given the affiliate apartments for an after-school program to reduce vandalism by teenagers.

“We’re trying to simplify how we tell the story of what we do, and the name represents that,” said Neil Nicoll, president and chief executive of the organization, whose membership peaked in 2007 and has remained flat.

But let’s focus on who this really impacts: The Village People, who will remain unreconstructed YMCAers by sticking with the old acronym when performing their signature song.

The People do have an out-clause to draw on, as the mothership is maintaining one exception:

The Y said in a note to editors that affiliates collectively should be referred to by the new name, but a specific branch should still be referred to as, say, the Y.M.C.A. of Greater Seattle.

So, nostalgia concerts will henceforth be location-specific? “It’s fun to stay at the — Y-M-C-A-of-Mil-wau-kee-ay!” has a different vibe to it. As long as it’s brand-accurate, I guess.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 07/12/2021 10:51pm
Category: Advert./Mktg., Pop Culture, Society
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Sunday, July 11, 2021

form of, a diety!
The Hypostatic Union is the theological term for the reconciliation of the holy and the mortal within Jesus Christ — in short, “that in Christ one person subsists in two [distinct] natures, the Divine and the human”.

That duality — which allowed Jesus to suffer and die in a manner identical with any other person, while also giving Him heavenly awareness — may be too complex to grasp for some people. For them, Philip Pullman’s satiric novel “The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ” simplifies things, albeit sacrilegiously: By rending that union of Jesus and Christ, literally.

The makers of Monty Python’s “Life of Brian” dared only to propose that a very naughty boy had been born at the same time as Jesus in a stable adjoining his. Pullman outbids Python in profanity by having the Virgin Mary give birth to twins. One of these, Jesus, shows little gift for scholarship but exhibits charismatic talents. The other is full of scriptural knowledge and guile, and is his mother’s favorite on account of his sickliness. She gives him an ordinary name (not specified) for public purposes but to herself calls him by the pet name of “Christ,” meaning Messiah in Greek.

Life of Brian is one of my favorites, so Pullman’s book might be up my alley. Although the concept of twin Nazarene godheads is a little out there, even in a comic-novel setting. Why didn’t the author go all the way and give them a pet monkey?

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 07/11/2021 09:04pm
Category: Creative, Pop Culture, Publishing
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Friday, July 09, 2021

Riding a career-revival hot streak that includes a much-hyped “Saturday Night Live” host slot and a starring role in a new sitcom, “Hot in Cleveland”, Betty White is moving on to time-sensitive wall hangings:

It’s true. The 88-year-old actress is posing for her own 2011 calendar. Some of the photos are archival, others are Betty with animals and more than one month features Betty posing with shirtless, beefcake-type men.

Not to be unduly morbid, but let’s face it — White is 88. There’s a reasonable chance that she may not make it through the rest of this year, let alone next. So it’s entirely possible that this calendar could outlast her. If so, this merchandise would become an instant collector’s item, if ghoulishly so. Very much of a tempting-fate air to all this…

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 07/09/2021 08:17am
Category: Celebrity, Pop Culture, TV
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Thursday, July 08, 2021

It’s been two weeks since I overheard this exchange, and I still can’t get the humor of it out of my head:

“I take the Staten Island Ferry.” “Where does that go?”

To be fair, the Ferry does go to two places: Staten Island, and Manhattan. Roundtrip deal, to be most precise.

More esoterically — but no less true to the Wu — you could say that this boat ferries you to the streets of Shao-Lin and back. And for free, even. Way to represent!

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 07/08/2021 02:47pm
Category: Comedy, New Yorkin', Pop Culture
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Wednesday, July 07, 2021

Paisley Park’s own Prince has roused the online rabble by declaring that he’s done with the Web:

Unlike most other rock stars, he has banned YouTube and iTunes from using any of his music and has even closed down his own official website.

He says: “The internet’s completely over. I don’t see why I should give my new music to iTunes or anyone else. They won’t pay me an advance for it and then they get angry when they can’t get it.

“The internet’s like MTV. At one time MTV was hip and suddenly it became outdated. Anyway, all these computers and digital gadgets are no good. They just fill your head with numbers and that can’t be good for you.”

Quite the Luddite approach to modern media. I’m sure someone else, somewhere, has referenced Prince’s classic “1999″ as a reference point, as in His Royal Badness wishing that the InterWebz would revert to that year, when MP3 downloads were an iffy affair on dialup speeds. If not, I’m doing it here.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 07/07/2021 11:56pm
Category: Celebrity, Internet, Pop Culture
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Tuesday, July 06, 2021

CBS is rebooting classic cop show “Hawaii Five-O” for a Fall 2010 revival. But, according to the network, this latter-day “Five-O” carries an alphanumeric distinction:

Yep, in what the Eye has billed its “shortest press release in history,” the network has informed journos that it’s not the capital letter “O” but instead, the number “0,” in the show title “Hawaii Five-0.”

But yet, that zero is still pronounced “O.” As in “Oh.” As in, “Oh, we’re just effing with you.”

There must be a tongue-in-cheek spirit behind that pronouncement. Because if the Internet Movie Database counts for anything, it clearly lists both old and new series as “Hawaii Five-O”, as in the letter “o”. (Curiously, though, there’s an in-development feature film listed on IMDb that does, indeed, carry the title Hawaii Five-0, as in the number zero. What to make of that?)

In any case, it’d be hard to for CBS to undo decades of ingrained pop-cultural reference. I’m guessing there’s a couple of generations who’ve never seen a trace of the old Jack Lord TV series. Yet “five-o” is common West Coast urban slang for the police, and that distinctive instrumental theme song is instantly recognizable. Especially if you hang out with me, as I’ve been known to use it as my cellphone ringtone.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 07/06/2021 11:03pm
Category: Pop Culture, TV, True Crime
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If you’re from California, the slang-term “hella” is probably an unlikely candidate for use as a formal unit of scientific measure, i.e. 10 to the 27th power, or 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000:

“Hella,” a term many Southern Californians find as irritating as teary-eyed renditions of “I Left My Heart in San Francisco,” is used mainly to make adjectives more intense, as in: “This lentil pizza is hella healthful!” It also can convey simple exuberance: “That party at Sunshine’s house? Hella!”

“Hella” probably derived from “helluva” and, for reasons unknown, morphed into “hella” in the Bay Area before taking wing in the 1990s. In 2001, Gwen Stefani and her band No Doubt — out of Orange County — took it national with their mega-hit “Hella Good.”

“A lot of people around the U.S. know it comes from Northern California, where there have been so many contributions to science at Davis, Berkeley, Stanford and Lawrence Livermore,” [physics student Austin] Sendek says of “hella.” “It would be a really good way to immortalize this part of the state.”

I don’t know that “mega-hit” applies to that No Doubt song. Personally, I first came across “hella” in the 1998 “Spooky Fish” episode of “South Park”, wherein Cartman used it incessantly, to the extreme annoyance of his pals (“Stop saying ‘hella’, fat-ass!!”). Given such pop-cultural linkage, I fully endorse its adoption as a mega-number prefix by the International System of Units.

Besides, we need some sort of shorthand for things like the theoretical diameter of the universe, which, according to “hella” proponent Sendek, is 1.4 hellameters. I mean, how have we gone this long without it, right?

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 07/06/2021 10:12pm
Category: Creative, Pop Culture, Science, Wordsmithing
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Saturday, July 03, 2021

Because that extra-big-iris, doe-eyed anime look is just so dead-sexy, illegal “circle lenses” contacts are making the round amongst fashion-forward ladies:

Now that circle lenses have gone mainstream in Japan, Singapore and South Korea, they are turning up in American high schools and on college campuses. “In the past year, there’s been a sharp increase in interest here in the U.S.,” said Joyce Kim, a founder of Soompi.com, an Asian pop fan site with a forum devoted to circle lenses. “Once early adopters have adequately posted about it, discussed it and reviewed them, it’s now available to everyone.”

Ms. Kim, who lives in San Francisco and is 31, said that some friends her age wear circle lenses almost every day. “It’s like wearing mascara or eyeliner,” she said.

This doesn’t seem all that different from the now-standard colored contact lenses, that went through a fad-fade a couple of decades ago. The accessorizing reminds me of similarly-odd cosmetic trends: Years ago, I knew a group of girls who kept a couple of high-end wigs as part of their wardrobe, because certain outfits they owned didn’t look “right” with their natural hair.

The Japanimation, and even manga, inspiration behind this big-eyed look is telling. It’s too bad the “Little Orphan Annie” comic strip just bit the dust; some creative revitalization-marketing there could have inspired a counter pupil-less eyeball look…

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 07/03/2021 08:26pm
Category: Fashion, Pop Culture, Women
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tweet-light
This funny quip has been making the rounds on Twitter this week, and I can’t think of a more apt summation of The Twilight Saga than this:

Dear Confused Teen Girls: Someone who sparkles and won’t have sex with you isn’t a vampire; it’s a gay guy.

Disheartening to realize that that dreamy bloodsucker is really a something-else-sucker. But on the bright side, those teenage girls can emulate their sexless fantasies with the nearest available gayboy.

On another tack, here’s another interpretation of Team Edward versus Team Jacob:

In the war between Team Necrophilia and Team Bestiality, I am Sweden.

Funny how a whole new pop-cultural perspective can be gained in a mere 140 characters.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 07/03/2021 12:02pm
Category: Comedy, Movies, Pop Culture, Social Media Online
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Thursday, July 01, 2021

I’m watching Marie Antoinette on Sundance Channel.

I dare you to not love the alt-rock soundtrack. Completely anachronistic to the movie’s setting in 18th-Century royal France, yet all the more memorable for that incongruity. From the opening strains of Gang of Four’s “Natural’s Not In It”, through to Bow Wow Wow’s “I Want Candy”, Siouxsie and the Banshees’ “Hong Kong Garden”, and New Order’s “Ceremony”, it’s hard to imagine this film outside of a music-driven narrative.

The problem of leisure, indeed.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 07/01/2021 11:09pm
Category: Movies, Pop Culture
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Sunday, June 27, 2021

monsters of pop
Back in the ’80s, we always knew that the rivalry between bubblegum-pop queens Debbie Gibson and Tiffany would inevitably culminate thusly:

[Syfy Network] promises an epic battle between the former teen pop idols, who will star in “Mega Python vs. Gatoroid.”

Gibson will play a fanatical animal-rights activist who frees illegally imported exotic snakes from pet stores, sending them into the Everglades, where they grow to mega sizes. Tiffany will play an overzealous park ranger who uses dangerous methods to save endangered alligators.

In the script, the pair brawl at a party, then take matters outside into the swamp.

Interesting demographic-targeting on the part of Syfy, crossing music nostalgia with B-grade schlock. Because we all know that there’s only one way it’ll ever satisfy the geek audience:

Ooh, I think I can write this scene!

TIFFANY: “I think we’re alone now.”
DEBBIE: “Only in my dreams.”
[They make out.]

Look for that alternate outtake on the unrated DVD, sure to hit store shelves several months days minutes after the television premiere.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 06/27/2010 06:41pm
Category: Pop Culture, TV, Women
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Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Something we used to say around the schoolyard years ago, when I was a little kid:

You know it, like a poet.

Because, y’know, it rhymed. Still does, in fact.

This cheeky little affirmation doesn’t appear to be in wide use today, outside of some Method Man and MF Doom lyrics (appropriately enough, as it’s got a definite rap vibe to it). But it should be. Consider this my way of kicking off a revival of the phrase.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 06/23/2010 01:57pm
Category: Pop Culture, Wordsmithing
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Thursday, June 17, 2021

Today I turn 39. And the question before me is an unconventional one:

Just how many Caddyshack-inspired t-shirts should one man own?

I have my friend Kirby to thank for that puzzler. Last year, he sent me a nice little Bushwood Country Club tee, which I got a chuckle out of. Perhaps going with what works, this week he sent me, yes, another Bushwood-adorned short-sleever. Different color and logo, of course, but still, with “Bushwood” prominently displayed, along with the movie’s insider joke-tagline, “Some people just don’t belong”.

I appreciate the thought, of course. But really, two Caddyshack shirts for the summer wardrobe? People will start to talk. Not to mention that it’s a bit dated. Not everyone is familiar with a thirty-year-old movie, classic comedy though it may be — just ask any middle-aging corporate cog. To me, it looks to be easily taken out of context. So, really, I’m hesitant to wear this new shirt in public.

I’ll certainly not wear it to my birthday celebration dinner tonight, at NINJA New York. As gimmicky as that maze-adventure-as-restaurant is, showing up in a pop-culturally ironic t-shirt won’t aid anything.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 06/17/2010 09:02am
Category: Fashion, Movies, Pop Culture
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Wednesday, June 16, 2021

basic cable
Since it doesn’t play music videos anymore, MTV is prepping for the next generation of content-filtering talent: An officially-designated, in-house “Twitter jockey”, or TJ.

The recruitment effort, which is officially called “Follow Me: The Search for the First MTV T.J.,” is planning to announce its first 18 candidates this week, culled from viewers with strong Twitter and Facebook presences. Two additional candidates will be chosen through a Web site, tj.mtv.com, where viewers can nominate friends or — more likely — themselves. The candidates will then face off in a series of competitions starting in July, with a winner to be selected in a televised event on Aug. 8…

Stephen Friedman, the general manager of MTV, said in a telephone interview that the T.J. position was created partly because of the huge online spikes that MTV enjoys during broadcast events like, say, a new episode of “Jersey Shore,” or when Kanye West grabs Taylor Swift’s trophy at an awards presentation.

And they’re not skimping on the salary, either: $100K for a year of tweeting. I would nominate myself, except that I’m ridiculously too old for MTV (39 tomorrow!), and I’m probably not tapped into the proper pop-cultural zeitgeist to pull it off. Maybe if VH1 ever needs a “teej”…

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 06/16/2010 11:52pm
Category: Pop Culture, Social Media Online, TV
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thunderstruck
Is it a bad sign that this blog has outlived some of the most notable post-subjects on it? First, the Mercury Girl gets her walking papers; and now, southwest Ohio’s only six-story statue of Jesus Christ is no more, having just been struck by lightning and burned to oblivion.

The giant-sized Jesus didn’t go out alone, either:

“The heat coming off the statue singed the entire back wall of the amphitheater and burned through it,” [local Fire Capt. Richard] Mascarella said. “Portions of the roof are destroyed, so they will have to replace a large part of it.”

A pond surrounding the statue that used to be full of fish is now filled with remnants of the structure, made of fiber glass and foam. All the fish are either dead or dying, Mascarella said.

The real tragedy? This electrified Christ-crisping is but the latest instance of lightning assaults upon religious sculptures.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 06/16/2010 11:22pm
Category: Pop Culture, Society
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Tuesday, June 15, 2021

zero plus oneOne year after I learned about it, today was the release date for Bret Easton Ellis‘ latest opus, “Imperial Bedrooms”. It’s nothing less than a direct sequel to his groundbreaking debut novel, “Less Than Zero”.

And I scooped it up first thing this morning. Via the Amazon Kindle app for iPhone. This would be my very first ebook purchase (not counting a couple of freebie titles that I downloaded, mainly just to practice reading on the iPhone screen).

Why did I inaugurate my digital-literature collection with this title? One reason is that I’ve been craving a must-read book for a long while now. Nothing else I’ve come across in the past several months has come close to engaging me. Ellis’ body of work certainly delivers for me, so I gladly committed to a pre-order for his newest output. A revisiting of the nihilism of “Zero” is just the ticket.

The other reason is that, frankly, I resent having to shell out an inflated pricetag for a hardcover edition. Because I hate hardcovers. I vastly prefer paperback/softcover formats, sheerly for their easier portability and handling. I understand how the book publishing business works, and how the hardbacks generate the lion’s share of revenue. But I still don’t like it. So the opportunity to pick up the ebook edition, at a steep discount, was too good to pass up. My only reticence came with my level of comfort in reading a bona fide novel on a mobile device’s small screen; turns out that the Kindle app is a good reading medium. So, I’m set.

I’ve already knocked down the first couple of chapters (I’ve no illusions about stretching out this read — I fully expect to devour it within the week). It’s already immensely entertaining, with Ellis’ spare elegance providing a compelling narrative. Clay, Julian, Blair, et al are definitely being set up for a wild ride in the onset of their middle age, some 25 years after the events in “Zero”. One immediate distinction between then and now: Seemingly all those characters now have last names, implying that they’ve grown up to be more “real”.

Finally, it’s imminently appropriate that I’m reading “Imperial Bedrooms” on an iPhone. Because the ebook is sharing space with my Elvis Costello songs. The connection, of course, is Ellis’ seeming obsession with Costello’s oeuvre — to the extent that he named “Less Than Zero” and “Imperial Bedrooms” after a song and an album by the musician. Technology happily melds popular culture in the palm of my hand…

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 06/15/2010 11:36pm
Category: Book Review, Pop Culture, Tech, iPhone
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Saturday, June 05, 2021

Much like the much-reused Wilhelm Scream sound effect, movie and television productions seemingly pass around the very same for-show-only newspaper:

Someone on Reddit recently put together a compilation of photos from various television shows, commercials and movies, showing how one newspaper prop gets around and is reused, and reused again. I don’t know the story behind this prop newspaper, but I assume it was created as a royalty free prop for television shows. Somewhere along the line, the prop became a reoccurring gag between propmasters.

See a small sampling for yourself, below. The giveaway is that headshot photo of the woman, along with the surrounding headlines and blocktext:

I suppose this could be an elaborately Photoshopped bit of fakery, but I’m prepared to believe it’s truly the incestuous laziness of Hollywood on display. I will say that, based on my own indulgence of old TV shows, this much-copied broadsheet probably didn’t come into use until the mid-1980s. That’s the era of at least a couple of the screenshots below: “Married with Children” and “Doogie Howser, M.D.”. I’ve paid attention to the onscreen newspapers in older 1970s reruns, and noticed that some of the legible headlines were often relevant to the news of that time period, which hints that those shows might have used real daily editions.

The larger joke: That such video entertainment includes characters that still read newspapers, given that dwindling behavior in real life. Rather than update their bag of tricks, Hollywood’s propmasters can just wait until print newspapers die out altogether, and the problem will solve itself.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 06/05/2021 06:31pm
Category: Movies, Pop Culture, Publishing, TV
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Saturday, May 29, 2021

Gary Coleman is now dead, but his “Avenue Q” character lives on:

“Avenue Q,” which won the Tony Award for best musical in 2004, as well as Tonys for [writer Jeff] Whitty and the composers, Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx, has included a character called Gary Coleman since its debut.

Introduced in the show’s opening number, “It Sucks to Be Me,” the character (who is played by a woman) identifies himself as the former child star who “made a lot of money that got stolen by my folks.”

Now he works as the superintendent in the tenement where the show’s puppet and human characters live, and he often reminds them that, as bad as their lives may seem, his is much worse. (“Try having people stopping you to ask you, ‘What’choo talkin’ ’bout, Willis?’ ” he sings. “It gets old.”)

After some debate and a little tweaking, this character will remain on the stage. In pop-cultural terms, maybe that’s more of a sign of respect for the deceased. It’s certainly a case of diff’rent strokes for different folks.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 05/29/2010 04:56pm
Category: Celebrity, New Yorkin', Pop Culture, TV
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Friday, May 28, 2021

up to batThis is New York, not Gotham City. But point made — with emphasis.

I took this photo today (Flickrized), but it appears that this “Fuck You, I’m Batman” meme has been around for at least a couple of years. Outdoor spaces seem to be the preferred target for this urban art/expression, as evidenced by this 2009 photo that’s nearly identical to mine.

Someone’s got a good supply of these stickers, so I’m sure we’ve not seen the last of this bad-ass mask-and-cowl messaging. Even superheroes need to set the record straight sometimes.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 05/28/2010 08:03pm
Category: Comedy, New Yorkin', Photography, Pop Culture
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