Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Sunday, March 01, 2021

I’m reviving the long-neglected Question Time! category of this here blog in order to pose a puzzler (at the risk of resounding silence from my small-but-dedicated readership).

Take a look at the following scene from 1992′s Batman Returns (aptly entitled as “Does This Mean We Have To Start Fighting?”):

It’s probably my favorite moment from this, my favorite 20th-Century Batman flick. See if you can guess why, based on what’s apparent throughout this masquerade-ball scene.

Hint: It’s not that clever little death’s-head imagery at the 56-second mark (nicely done, Tim Burton) — although that moment does usher in the full effect of what I’m talking about. And a further bit of hinting, to help those who’ve never seen the whole movie: Michael Keaton plays Bruce Wayne/Batman, and Michelle Pfeiffer plays Selina Kyle/Catwoman. That should be enough for y’all.

UPDATE, 03/02/2021 - Since it doesn’t look like anyone’s going to bite on this, I’m going to solve the mystery myself:

Bruce Wayne and Selena Kyle are the only two people at this masquerade party who aren’t wearing masks. (Although if you extrapolate the alter ego/duality issues that run throughout this movie, you might conclude that, in fact, they are masked here.)

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 03/01/2021 07:20pm
Category: Movies, Pop Culture, Question Time!
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Tuesday, August 08, 2021

Here’s a question I’m tossing out: How much money do you usually withdraw during a typical ATM transaction?

I ask because I’ve noticed that, now that I’m in New York, I typically take out 60 bucks whenever I visit the machine. In Florida, I used to be covered just taking out $40 each time.

Why the discrepency? You might think that things are more expensive up here, but that’s not really the case for out-of-pocket daily expenses — workday lunches can be comparably priced, for instance.

More than anything, it’s the tendency to engage in more cash transactions in the Big Apple, as I noted before. So in order to avoid running to the cash machine practically every day, I just bumped up my single-time withdrawal amount to the next Andrew Jackson level. Combined with regular use of plastic, that takes care of me for the better part of most weeks.

So I’m wondering how close to the average I am. Is my regular $60 the national norm? Or is my wallet too fat (or too skinny)?

Don’t be shy to respond. It’s only money, after all.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 08/08/2021 06:50pm
Category: Question Time!
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Tuesday, June 06, 2021

I took an extended break from the Guess That Song kick: The last edition was a month ago. And that one came and went with one lyric unanswered. So, for the sake of completeness:

4. I kicked the bass like an NFL punter, and scoped the booty like a big game hunter. - LL Cool J, “Big Ole Butt”

No wonder Ladies Love Cool Jay.

On to this spin. I don’t know that I’m motivated enough to make this funtime a weekly event again, or even a regularly-scheduled piece. In any case…

This edition’s theme is the “drugs” part of sex, drugs and rock-n-roll. Each of the following five lyric-bits are from songs dealing (directly or indirectly) with illicit substances. Cough up the name of the song and the artist, and you get your name/link posted on this blog acreage.

For extra credit, mention what you think is the specific drug being immortalized; it’s much more obvious in some of these than others. Here’s a very vague hint on that: The same drugs are represented more than once. I would have liked to have found five different songs about five distinct strains of junk, but I’m afraid my breadth of both musical and narcotic knowledge isn’t quite broad enough.

1. A guy like you should wear a warning.

2. Guns N’ Roses, “Mr. Brownstone” [Andrew]
(drug ID: heroin)

Get on the bus about eleven, sippin’ a drink and feelin’ fine.

3. The little herb I’m selling, they want to capture me.

4. Velvet Underground, “Heroin” [Joel]
(drug ID: um, duh)

I’m gonna try to nullify my life.

5. Grandmaster Flash, “White Lines” [Helen]
(drug ID: cocaine)

Twice as sweet as sugar, twice as bitter as salt.

Go at it. I’ll call ahead to the detox clinic for when this is all over.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 06/06/2021 11:56pm
Category: Pop Culture, Question Time!
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Thursday, May 11, 2021

carded
I’m not too sure how many New Yorkers are reading this blog, now that I’m also New York-based. Maybe this question will serve to smoke out some citydwellers:

How much of a balance do you typically have on your MetroCard?

I ask because I just reloaded mine to the tune of $30. At two bucks a pop for subway (and bus? which I never take) rides, I realize that shouldn’t last too long. But really, I’m walking a lot on a daily basis, and duck into the subway only if I’m in a real hurry (rare) or there’s really bad weather above ground (not really the case of late). So I’m swiping my MetroCard a couple of times a week right now, tops.

Which is why I’m slightly paranoid about having put such a relatively big sum on the card this time around. I’m thinking that it’s now going to fly out of my hand and drop down a sewer grating, jilting me out of my modest investment before I get a chance to use most of it. The fact that I pretty much never lose things like that doesn’t factor into this irrationality.

So, did I overdo it on the MetroCard refresh? Should I stick to a lower (10 bucks or so) constant balance? Maybe some NYC veterans can enlighten.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 05/11/2021 11:42pm
Category: New Yorkin', Question Time!
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Sunday, May 07, 2021

Just when I was ready to give up on it, last week’s Guess That Song post got rapid-fire action.

Damn. That means I’ve got to do another one. And with a theme, yet. Smacks of work.

But hey, anything for fun. So in that spirit, let me link this week’s edition with something I’ve been acutely aware of while walking the streets of New York: Women’s backsides.

To put it bluntly, a lot of women here have too much junk in the trunk. Not all, but a lot. Maybe it’s fallout from the recent end of winter.

Personally, a fully-fleshed-out bootay doesn’t do it. But that shouldn’t prevent a celebration of the female posterior in song. And there have been more than a few such dedications.

So, below are five sets of lyrics from songs about girls’ butts. You know you know at least one or two of them by heart; the question is, are you brave enough to admit it, and get your linkback to signify it? I’m betting that you are.

1. Queen, “Fat Bottomed Girls” [David]
Left alone with big fat Fanny, she was such a naughty nanny.

2. Spinal Tap, “Big Bottom” [Joel]
My love gun’s loaded and she’s in my sights, big game’s waiting there inside her tights.

3. Sir Mix-A-Lot, “Baby Got Back” [Thud]
I ain’t talkin’ ’bout Playboy, ’cause silicone parts are made for toys.

4. I kicked the bass like an NFL punter, and scoped the booty like a big game hunter.

5. EU, “Da Butt” [Chuck, RL]
When you get that notion, put your backfield in motion.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 05/07/2021 11:33pm
Category: Pop Culture, Question Time!, Women
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Sunday, April 30, 2021

Well, I gave it an extra week, but I guess the second edition of the Guess That Song game didn’t inspire as many guesses. It’s a fickle blogosphere.

For the sake of closure, here are the answers to the two remaining lyrics:

1. The voice of reason is one I left so far behind. - The Go Go’s, “Head Over Heels”

5. This is the game that moves as you play. - X, “The Have-Nots”

I’m a little surprised the first one wasn’t detected, as it’s an old pop standard. Both bands are fixtures from the Los Angeles scene of the ’80s, so there’s that linkage.

Anyway, in the spirit of further linking, I now present the third go-round of Guess That Song, with a twist: A theme.

In this case, the common thread will be the question mark. Each of the following lyrics are in the form of a query, as they were originally posed in song. Maybe that helps your recall, maybe it doesn’t. We’ll see. Personally, the presentation of said questions, stripped of their melodic context, gives them something of an ironic/comical edge; so I’m already amused.

On to it. Same rules apply as before: Provide the name of the song and the artist to any or all of the lyrics, and I’ll post your answer(s), along with a link to your website/blog.

1. The Doors, “Hello, I Love You” [David]
Do you think you’ll be the guy to make the queen of the angels sigh?

2. Gloria Gaynor, “I Will Survive” [Tim in Tampa]
Weren’t you the one who tried to break me with goodbye?

3. Beastie Boys, “So Whatcha Want” [Andrew]
You think that you can front when revelation comes?

4. The Beatles, “With a Little Help From My Friends” [Thud]
What do you see when you turn out the light?

5. New Order, “Bizarre Love Triangle” [Joel]
Why can’t we be ourselves like we were yesterday?

I’m hoping to see each one of these blanks filled in within a week! If not, I think I’ll bag this series.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 04/30/2006 11:37pm
Category: Pop Culture, Question Time!
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Monday, April 17, 2021

Last week’s Guess That Song lyric game was well-received, so let’s give it another spin!

Same deal as before: I provide snippets from five songs (most likely pop songs past and present), you guess the artist and title for any or all (no Googling, please). You get your name and a linkback next to each correct answer, right in this post, forevermore.

So let’s get to it:

1. The voice of reason is one I left so far behind.

2. Elvis Costello, “Brilliant Mistake” [Helen]
Her perfume was unspeakable, it lingered in the air.

3. Beastie Boys, “Egg Man” [Joel]
Saw the convertible driving by, loaded up the slingshot, let one fly.

4. Neil Young & Crazy Horse, “Pocahontas” [Joel]
The taxis run across my feet and my eyes have turned to blanks.

5. This is the game that moves as you play.

Game on!

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 04/17/2006 08:34am
Category: Pop Culture, Question Time!
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Monday, April 10, 2021

It’s with only the barest smidgen of guilt that I’m blatantly ripping off Thudfactor John‘s “Guess Ten” music quiz contest.

Well, actually, I’m going to do only five songs. I know my short attention-span audience — the briefer, the better.

But the rest of it holds. I drop a bit of obscure lyricism (my favorite vein of pop cultural gold), and you submit a Feedback with the artist and song title. You can provide the answers to as many or as few as you choose. First correct answer per lyric gets credited in the post, on this front page (before it slips into archives after a week), complete with link to your site. Yes, think of the traffic!

Rules are fairly fast and loose, but obviously, search-engine cheating is strongly discouraged. Accuracy counts, so do try to get it as close as possible. Source material will hopefully be eclectic, but will probably focus on the ’80s and ’90s, mainly pop (but with plenty of margin for variance).

So, enough prattling. Here we go:

1. Public Enemy, “Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos” [Joel, half-point to John]
It occurred to me, the suckers had authority.

2. Duran Duran, “Union of the Snake” [G]
There’s a fine line drawing the senses together and I think it’s about to break.

3. Positive K, “I Got a Man” [G]
Your man’s a headache, I’ll be your aspirin.

4. Sleater-Kinney, “All Hands On the Bad One” [Andrew]
The night before, they were calling it your cocktail dress.

5. Butthole Surfers, “Pepper” [Andrew]
She was sharin’ Sharon’s outlook on the topic of disease.

Have at it. Good luck!

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 04/10/2021 08:17am
Category: Pop Culture, Question Time!
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Monday, December 19, 2021

If you’re noticing more bare-wristed kids who are compulsively looking at their cellphone displays, there’s a reason: As wireless phones become more ubiquitous and individually indispensable, more users are using them as their personal timepieces, leading to a decline in watches as always-worn accessories.

Yet another societal trend that indicates that I’m either way ahead of the curve, or else hopelessly stuck in mental/behavioral adolescence. Fact is, I’ve used my mobile phone as my timepiece ever since I first started carrying a wireless, some eight years ago. And before that, I never wore a watch, and didn’t own one for long stretches (right now, I don’t have one, aside from some giveaway trinket or two stuffed into a junk drawer). So, at 34 years old, I’m with the youngsters on this one.

I think the last watch I wore with any regularity was a “Six Million Dollar Man” model, circa third or fourth grade. When it expired, so did my use for an everyday personal timepiece (until the cellular networks were up).

I guess I’ve always eschewed watches, even while growing up. I’m not completely sure why. I guess it was just one more thing to have to put on and take off, plus have to worry about losing or breaking. I also figured that I’d be compulsively looking at my wrist every two minutes to check for the time, even when it absolutely didn’t matter whether or not I knew it at that exact second. In fact, I tend to do that every so often with my current phone — made more maddening in that I’ll often check three or four times in a row, because I manage to forget the time the instant I put the phone back into my pocket (one of my more annoying habits, at least to me).

The other factor in going watch-less is that, indeed, unless you’re going hiking or something, it’s hard to find an environment where you don’t have a clock on hand. Right now, where I sit, I’ve got my computer monitor displaying the ever-present time of day in the lower-right corner; and beyond that but well within my line of sight, there are two traditional clocks (wall and table models) that clearly show the time. It’s probably the same for most people: In the office, in the car, or in the mall, there’s pretty much always a clock around.

That covers the practical use. There’s also the fashion function of a watch, with gold and silver and bejeweled models worn more for showy purposes than anything else. This probably influenced me too: I don’t wear any jewelry, and a watch pretty much qualifies as an accoutrement in this instance as well. However, this also influences the choice of cellphone, too: Lots of people pick out their phones on the basis of how it looks (including, to a degree, me).

But the article I referenced (which, frankly, is a little weak overall) indicates that this usage is a generational thing: Younger people who have mostly grown up with their mobile phones practically fused to their hands are more likely to forego watches, while older folks are more accustomed to go with their wristwear. I can see that, and also see why watch manufacturers might start worrying and start counteracting this trend now, before their products become relics.

I’d like to get a better idea of how common or uncommon this is. I think I have a fairly broad cross-section of visitors here. So tell me, in the Feedback box below: Do you use your phone or your watch to check the time? (Or do you already know what time it is?)

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 12/19/2005 12:22pm
Category: Question Time!, Society, Tech
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Saturday, September 24, 2021

Time’s up, y’all. The answer to the “Guess My Ringtone” post is:

a) KC and the Sunshine Band - “That’s The Way (I Like It)”

What can I say, I’m a sucker for the classics. Congrats to David and Chuck for guessing correctly. And thanks to everyone who took a swipe at it.

I actually do own the other three songs:

b) The Go-Go’s - “Vacation”

c) Public Enemy - “Louder Than A Bomb”

d) Sleater-Kinney - “Oh!”

But I’m not sure how they’d do as ringtones. As cutesy and stylized as we’d like to get with what bursts out of our cellphones, the key criterion would have to be audibility: I’d like to hear the damned thing ringing, and very loudly (can’t tell you how many calls I’ve missed because I couldn’t hear the ringer in a hectic environment). Any mp3 can be clipped to that the loudest portion does duty for the 15 seconds of ringing time, but I’d opt for less work and go with a tune that already has a loud opening riff.

By that standard, “Louder Than A Bomb” doesn’t work, as it has a soft, gentle gospel opening (contrast for effect, of course). “Vacation” might work, except the opening is too treble-y. “Oh!” might do nicely, except the opening takes several seconds to really gear up.

I put together a list (in no particular order) a while back of the best options from my music collection for use as cellphone ringers. Some I’ve used, others I doubt I’ll ever use, but see what you think:

1. The Jeffersons theme

2. Duran Duran - Hungry Like the Wolf

3. Fat Albert theme

4. Veruca Salt - Seether

5. Smashing Pumpkins - Zero

6. REM - Driver 8

7. Midnight Oil - Dreamworld

8. Liz Phair - Supernova

9. Jackson 5 - Shake Your Body

10. Go Gos - Vacation & Head Over Heels

11. Faith Hill - This Kiss

12. Erasure - Stop

13. Emotions - You’ve Got the Best of My Love

14. Elvis Costello - Radio Radio

15. Chic - Le Freak

16. Britney Spears - Toxic

17. Blondie - Sunday Girl

18. Blink 182 - All the Small Things

19. Beck - Devil’s Haircut

20. Beastie Boys - Intergalactic

21. Bananarama - Venus

22. ABBA - Dancing Queen

Nothing if not diverse. I’m leaning toward “Seether” next time.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 09/24/2005 12:47pm
Category: Pop Culture, Question Time!, Tech
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Thursday, September 22, 2021

Once again, I’ve added a new mp3 ringtone to my phone. And this time, it ain’t a TV theme song.

But instead of revealing it outright, I’m going to let you guess. I’ll be interested in seeing what some of you assume I’d choose.

Here are the candidates. No tricks — one of the following is indeed gracing my cellphone ringer:

a) KC and the Sunshine Band - “That’s The Way (I Like It)”

b) The Go-Go’s - “Vacation”

c) Public Enemy - “Louder Than A Bomb”

d) Sleater-Kinney - “Oh!”

You’ve got until, oh… Saturday at noon (Eastern time) to leave a comment with your guess. Go to it!

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 09/22/2005 10:54pm
Category: Question Time!, Tech
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Monday, August 08, 2021

This question was put to me earlier today. I wasn’t able to come up with an answer. It’s not like I think I’m a finished product, or have no further ambitions; but for whatever reason, nothing came to mind.

I still can’t think of anything, really. I can’t sing particularly well, nor juggle, nor act, nor build things. And I can’t say I feel any sort of loss for those deficiencies, either.

Maybe I’ll think of some skill I would like to possess. Meantime, comment away and share with me the talent or talents you wish you could possess. Make it lively!

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 08/08/2021 10:29pm
Category: Question Time!
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Wednesday, May 25, 2021

Here’s something I’ve struggled with of late:

When an unattended (i.e., placed on a coffeetable, etc.) mobile phone rings in your presence, and the owner of said phone is out of earshot but only a short distance away, what are you obligated to do:

1. Answer the phone yourself?

2. Yell out to the phone’s owner that someone’s calling?

3. Pick up the ringing phone and walk/run to deliver it to the owner?

4. Do nothing and let the call (presumably) go to voicemail?

Option No. 1 is the least appealing of all to me; unless you have explicit permission to do so, answering someone else’s cellphone seems like a breach of personal space. Plus, who knows if the incoming call is one that needs/wants to be answered at that moment — everyone has their own screening protocols. So unless it’s your significant other (maybe), that’s out the window.

The other three have varying degrees of acceptability. Yelling might be appreciated, but seems obtrusive; and by the time that yell is acknowledged, the phone’s owner invariably runs back just in time to miss the call. Delivering the phone smacks of doing a chore that’s not yours. The do-nothing might be the best assumption, although some people will get miffed if you guess wrong on that.

Personally, I try to avoid this dilemma by keeping my cellphone obsessively attached to me, usually in my pocket. (That said, I’ve managed to miss a couple of calls over the past two days due to leaving my phone untethered from my body.)

So, I’ll throw it out to you, the readers. Which option is the most appropriate one, and why?

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 05/25/2005 08:36am
Category: Question Time!
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Friday, March 18, 2021

Here’s a quickie quiz for this lazy Friday. Answer in the comments, and remember to include where you’re from — I’ll be interested to see the geographic tally:

Where do you shop: Super Market, or Grocery Store?

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 03/18/2005 10:14am
Category: Question Time!
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Wednesday, March 02, 2021

I just took an online consumer-opinion survey. I take a handful of these each month, so I’m used to the drill: Establishment questions, a good deal of repetition to get as specific results as possible, etc.

But this one was slightly weirder than usual. I could tell you why, but I’ll let this question from the survey do the talking for me:

What is the “boldest” move on TV?

Feel free to vote on it. You can conveniently ignore that the Jackie Robinson achievement wasn’t a “TV moment”…

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 03/02/2021 08:56pm
Category: Question Time!
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Wednesday, February 02, 2021

People have suggested to me that, in order to get more feedback here, I should pose quiz-like questions to the audience.

It’s a good idea, except when it doesn’t work. The few times I’ve tried it in the past, I’ve gotten no response. And that’s kinda embarrassing.

But what the hell, I’ll give it another shot. If it gains appeal, I might even make a dedicated category for it. Gimme your answers in the comment box:

When you get home at night, after a day of work/school/whatever, which do you head for first: The television set, or the (Internet-connected) computer?

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 02/02/2021 11:29pm
Category: Question Time!
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