Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
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Thursday, November 18, 2021

kicking, screaming
The above photo, culled from Flickr, came to my attention as a visual accompaniment for this brief essay on self-actualization in the face of bullying.

It’s a curious picture. I get that the bully is getting his kicks — pun intended — by caging his victims inside a metal soccer goal net. But then, to kick a soccer ball at that reversed target? It’s definitely scary and jarring to be subjected to that. And yet it makes for absurd, even comical, imagery. The backward-facing target implies a demented game taking place. Which, I guess, is the point here.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 11/18/2010 11:45pm
Category: Other Sports, Photography, Society
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Saturday, November 13, 2021

The online record is silent on just when Don King uttered this boxing-promotional quip:

But I do remember hearing it on sportstalk radio, sometime in the mid-1990s. King really touted that “double-shot power!” call to action for then-client Mike Tyson. It stuck with me. I’m surprised King, or someone else, didn’t retain it for other bouts.

For that matter, I’d like to have a copy of it myself. Maybe without the “Mike Tyson!” opener; just the “double-shot powah!” portion. It would make a nice soundbite for computer, cellphone, etc. I can’t figure out how to extract it from this Flash-based player, so I’ll have to keep looking in the scant online archives…

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 11/13/2010 12:06pm
Category: Celebrity, Other Sports
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Wednesday, October 13, 2021

This morning I walked past two discarded items of note:

- a pair of inline skates
- a motorized dirtbike (which was actually for sale for some as-is/best-offer price)

I had to fight the urge to kick the tires, so to speak, on both of them; and in the case of the skates, actually pick them up and take them back home. This, despite both items obviously being kid-sized toys. What’s more, not only did they look cheap to begin with, they were also clearly worn-and-torn beyond any usefulness.

Is it normal to have such scavenger impulses over sidewalk junk? I’ve always been a packrat, but not with utterly useless stuff. At least, not since my struggling college-student days…

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 10/13/2010 10:07am
Category: General, Other Sports
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Sunday, September 12, 2021

new rollLet the record show that, instead of diligently rotating the wheels on my pair of Rollerblade Twister II Pros, I’ve purchased a new set of eight wheels with bearings.

Any inline skater will tell you that it’s not very cost-effective to buy brand-new wheelies every time your existing rollers get worn down. And many skaters take pride in the elbow-greasy ritual of flipping the rollers, swapping the front-middle position with the back slot, etc. Indeed, I did all that during my college years, when I got my first pair of Rollerblades.

But frankly, the allure of that workmanlike process is now lost on me. That’s probably because I don’t skate nearly enough anymore to really get into the hardcore-hobbyist aspects of the sport. Related to that is the ultimate reason why I can justify chucking the old wheels after only a half-life of use: They’re the same original set that came with these blades when I first bought them, three years ago (save for one, which I needed as a replacement only days after my first couple of rides).

So, I figure dropping forty bucks for a complete wheel overhaul every few years is easily within my means for recreational spending. Besides, I’ll still have the nuts-and-bolts work to do in installing the new set, hopefully in time for this weekend. So I don’t feel too guilty about not following the optimal-use guidelines for the skating nation. And whatever guilt I do feel should be wiped away as soon as I experience the smooth glide of those new rollies…

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 09/12/2021 06:43pm
Category: Other Sports
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Monday, August 23, 2021

Somehow, the genteel image of competitive horseback riding doesn’t jibe with a safety vest that expands upon impact:

The two-pound vest is attached by a cord to a rider’s saddle and is worn over a traditional protective vest made of high-density foam. When a rider is thrown from a horse, the cord is yanked, puncturing a cartridge of carbon dioxide and inflating the vest. The vest can be reused after the cartridge is replaced. [Vest manufacturer] Point Two said its vest inflates in one-tenth of a second; [rival manufacturer] Hit Air said its average rate is one-quarter of a second.

What’s next — similar vests for rodeo riders and bullfighting matadors? Air bags are fine for minivans, but seem out of place in the sporting arena. Even when you’re dealing with literal (versus mechanical) horsepower.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 08/23/2010 11:07pm
Category: Other Sports, Tech
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Saturday, August 21, 2021

This is too funny to not share: A modest proposal, which I retweeted, for the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing:

yee-heil! RT @typooper: NASCAR should do one really big race every year and call it “The Master Race”. That’d be an excellent image booster.

Hey, white-trash stereotypes aside, the racing circuit is struggling with recession-depleted attendance at most tracks. Might as well appeal to your base

Only kidding, of course. But I hope you appreciate how I used that 140-character space to meld a pun out of the rebel yell and the Nazi “sieg heil” salute.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 08/21/2010 07:08pm
Category: Comedy, History, Other Sports
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Saturday, July 10, 2021

It’s not just my imagination that I’m noticing more and more women on the streets of Manhattan back-packing rolled-up yoga mats like they were de rigueur urban accessories. Hard times call for a yogi regimen:

Since the recession went from painful to disastrous in September 2008, yoga studios throughout the country have reported increased traffic. Irene Narissi, a New York City yoga instructor, says her business has jumped 10% to 15% over the past seven months. The feedback from new clients: they are either unemployed and want to maintain their mental health or insecure about their current job status and want to maintain their mental health. “The meditative aspects of yoga,” Narissi says, “satisfy the need to chill out.”

Again, strictly from my perspective, it’s looking like the converts around here are exclusively women; I’ve yet to see a man toting around a $100 personal yoga mat. And, this being New York, a serious stretching session is probably going to come with a walk up and down a flight of stairs.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 07/10/2021 07:33pm
Category: New Yorkin', Other Sports, Society, Women
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Sunday, July 04, 2021

Leave it to six-time hot-dog eating champ Takeru Kobayashi to lend some actual drama to this year’s Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest on Coney Island. Thanks to his contract dispute with Major League Eating, “The Tsunami” found himself gatecrashing the event:

Kobayashi, wearing a black T-shirt that said “Free Kobi,” mingled with the crowd watching the contest, standing inside a police-barricaded pen just under the stage. When the eating ended, he slipped up the stage stairs.

Then, several security officers appeared and tried to usher him off. He grabbed a metal police barricade with both hands, holding on tightly as the officers pulled at him. Finally, they dragged him down the stairs, with Kobayashi resisting vehemently.

He was under arrest Sunday afternoon, charged with resisting arrest, trespass and obstructing governmental administration.

I’m not sure what’s more embarrassing: Getting arrested for attempting to upstage a celebration of competitive gluttony, or actually participating in a contest that demonstrates what a frankfurter-inhaling pig you are.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 07/04/2021 10:45pm
Category: Food, New Yorkin', Other Sports, True Crime
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Thursday, June 24, 2021

Given the record 11-hour match between John Isner and Nicolas Mahut in this year’s Wimbledon tournament, and the status of host England as the home of the days-long game of cricket, I think this joke fits:

“I went to a tennis match, and a cricket game broke out.”

A play on the old Rodney Dangerfield one-liner about going to the fights, and a hockey game breaking out. Always on the lookout for cross-germination in the sporting world.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 06/24/2010 11:47pm
Category: Comedy, Hockey, Other Sports
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Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Even taking into consideration the eminently-valid reasons for producing the rape-preventative apparatus known as the Rape-aXe, the concept is somewhat mind-boggling:

[Dr. Sonnet] Ehlers is distributing the female condoms in the various South African cities where the World Cup soccer games are taking place.

The woman inserts the latex condom like a tampon. Jagged rows of teeth-like hooks line its inside and attach on a man’s penis during penetration, Ehlers said.

Once it lodges, only a doctor can remove it — a procedure Ehlers hopes will be done with authorities on standby to make an arrest.

“It hurts, he cannot pee and walk when it’s on,” she said. “If he tries to remove it, it will clasp even tighter… however, it doesn’t break the skin, and there’s no danger of fluid exposure.”

Between this device, and those ear-aching vuvuzelas, this has already been a more-memorable-than-usual World Cup. Appropriately enough, for reasons having little to do with soccer…

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 06/22/2010 08:00pm
Category: Other Sports, Science, True Crime, Women
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Saturday, June 19, 2021

run with the flow
You are looking at SkyMall’s exclusive Xlr8 athletic shoe. And yes, you are looking at a sperm-like logo on said sneaker.

I’m guessing the in-flight catalogue just presumes that its target customer is a member of the Mile High Club, and wants to show off that sexual bade of honor via footwear? This certainly beats Nike‘s swoosh design, despite the less-than-perfect analogy:

So [sperms'] preferred sport is swimming; it doesn’t make them any less of a workout role model when you’re hitting the streets.

Well, the semen-sprinters might be role models, but I don’t know how much they can teach you about “hitting the streets”. To clear up the confusion, maybe SkyMall should start selling matching Speedos.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 06/19/2010 06:12pm
Category: Comedy, Fashion, Other Sports
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Monday, June 14, 2021

tending goals
Once again, David Letterman nails it. Here, from tonight’s “Late Show”, is his pithy definition of why soccer has never caught on in the United States:

Because in this country, soccer is not a sport. It’s daycare.

Pretty effectively sums it up. Kids take to the game because it’s relatively simple to pick up and develop teamwork around. After you hit puberty, it wears off. The “world’s game” doesn’t grow up with American tykes, and hasn’t since the 1970s.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 06/14/2010 11:59pm
Category: Celebrity, Comedy, Other Sports
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Sunday, June 13, 2021

It’s a fan-favorite plastic novelty trumpet called a vuvuzela, and it’s giving this year’s World Cup a headache:

Some 20 years after being introduced to the game in the early 1990s, the instrument came to prominence on the world stage during the [South Africa-hosted] 2009 Confederations Cup. TV stations were upset by the “goat being slaughtered” timbre, while players complained that they couldn’t hear themselves think over the din. “It doesn’t allow you to concentrate and it’s unbearable,” Spanish player Xabi Alonso said at the time. FIFA head honcho Sepp Blatter, however, pooh-poohed calls to ban the vuvuzela for World Cup 2010, insisting that we should not attempt to “Europeanize” the African tournament.

It’s not like arena noise is a new phenomenon. The issue is that South African soccer crowds blow their horns continuously, and without let-up — practically unrelated to the action on the field.

Oh, right — “action on the field” and “soccer” are practically mutually exclusive. So I guess I can’t blame the fans for taking it upon themselves to create a literal buzz during these drawn-out run-and-kick matches…

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 06/13/2010 10:39pm
Category: Other Sports
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To get around the European Union’s ban on tobacco advertising, major Formula 1 sponsor Marlboro decided on a high-speed stealth presentation of its product colors:

In January, Ferrari presented the new Scuderia Marlboro F1 single-seater. (Ferrari is the only Formula One team with a tobacco brand in its formal title, Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro.) At first glance the car is void of major sponsorship per the rules and has gone relatively unnoticed over the last four months. Now, however, 4 races into the year, the EU portion of the Formula One season is about to begin in Spain and the car’s livery is in the spotlight due to the team’s unique solution to the ban on advertising.

The livery (paint job) features a predominately red car with a number of associate sponsor logos: Shell Gasoline, Ferrari itself, Bridgestone and a few others. The most striking aspect of this design… is a red, black and white barcode-like design on the canopy of the vehicle, as well as on the uniforms of drivers Fernando Alonso and Felipa Massa. Up close it just looks like a cool aesthetic touch but from a distance (and possibly even more clearly when moving 200 mph) it appears to resemble the packaging of a certain cigarette manufacturer. Can you guess which one?

The barcode look is what’s prompting the “subliminal” charges (which is, historically, a recurring allegation against cigarette advertising). The digital-like design suggests some sinister neuro-marketing afoot. It’s primarily an optical-illusion presentation, if you want to split hairs — but definitely toward a subliminal placement of messaging.

So yes, it’s definitely sneaky. Also a sign that Marlboro and its parent company, Philip Morris, put a lot of stock in the brand’s red-white-and-black logo being recognizable enough to leave an impression in such an indirect presentation. They get credit for trying to loophole their way out of a tight situation.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 06/13/2010 06:52pm
Category: Advert./Mktg., Creative, Other Sports
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Saturday, June 05, 2021

Nothing spices up the Scripps National Spelling Bee finals like protestors giving out buttons that read, “Enuf is enuf. Enough is too much.”:

The demonstrators were from the the American Literacy Council and the London-based Spelling Society, organizations that aim to do to English orthography what the metric system did for weights and measures. The American Literacy Council endorses SoundSpel, which seeks to “rationalize” the English language by spelling each of the English language’s 42 (or so) phonemes one way and one way only. In SoundSpel, “business” becomes “bizness,” “equation” becomes “ecwaezhun,” “learned” becomes “lernd,” “negotiate” becomes “negoesheaet,” and so on.

About time someone struck a blow against all this spellbound tyranny! Who do those orthographic snobs think they are anyway, with their i-before-e nomenclature. Free the language and the alphabet — through phonetics fonetix!

I’m kidding, of course. Looking at the SoundSpel renditions above makes my eyes hurt, frankly. English is certainly an under-organized polyglot, but the baggage is what it is, and there’s little concrete advantage to undertaking an overhaul now.

I did enjoy the Christian Science Monitor‘s extended riff on this reformed spelling. I’m sure I’ve seen this in the past; some ancient chain-email comes to mind. But original or not, it’s still funny:

This change would position us for a more comprehensive vowel overhaul, discarding such variations as “wait,” “weight,” “straight,” “great,” “vein,” and so on, and representing eech vowel sownd by a uneeque single letter or pare of letters. This wood allow us too finalee doo away with the silent “e.”

Then wee cood moov on to fixing the consoenants. Under ar noo sistem, thare wood be noe moer need for the sawft “g,” the voyced “s,” the letterz “c,” “q,” and “x,” or anee eeraygyoolar konstrukshuns. Wee kood alsoe eeliminate thos yoosles dubil leterz.

Wiel wee ar at it, wee might az well cleen up ar eeraygyoolar verbz, mayking the preterit and past participal the saym in awl kasez and regyoolarizing awl ar plooralz. Bi then wee wil hav noe dowt bringed the literasee levelz of Inglish speekerz up to thoz uv other kuntreez.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 06/05/2021 02:14pm
Category: Other Sports, Society, Wordsmithing
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Saturday, April 10, 2021

Chris Rock was perhaps never funnier than when he did his “The Dark Side with Nat X” skit on “Saturday Night Live”. “Nat X” was a rare gem, not only for the obvious parodying of ultra black nationalist sensibilities, but also because of how much it spoofed SNL’s then-contemporary sister late night show, “Late Night with David Letterman” (particularly the “White-Man Cam”, a direct homage to Letterman’s “Thrill Cam”).

My absolute favorite joke from “Nat X” has to be his sociopolitical take on bowling:

Sandman: Tonight’s letter - Dear Nat, you seem like a very tense man. What do you do to relax?

Nat X: Well, I like to go bowling. There’s nothing like taking that big, black ball and knocking it into those ten white pins with the red necks!

Incidentally, the transcript linked to above included another racial interpretation on yet another sport (which I’d forgotten all about until now):

…I’m talking about the same man who invented the game of pool: a game in which the player uses a white ball and a stick to knock a bunch of colored balls off a table and into a bunch of holes!

Action-agent gameballs that represent both races. Separate but equal, size discrepancy aside.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 04/10/2021 05:56pm
Category: Comedy, Other Sports, Pop Culture, TV
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Saturday, April 03, 2021

Ducks Eatery sports this eye-catching window display at their storefront on East 23rd Street. Since it was a bright, sunny day, I paused just long enough to iPhone-photograph it (Flickr-ized version, for your embiggened-viewing pleasure).

At the time, I thought that the mix of rubber duckies with ping-pong balls was just a colorfully creative way to fill the space. Turns out that the balls are just as significant symbolism as the toy ducks: The restaurant is attached to SPiN New York, a members-only table tennis club. Who knew?

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 04/03/2021 03:24pm
Category: New Yorkin', Other Sports, Photography, iPhone
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Tuesday, March 16, 2021

The reinvention of Mike Tyson continues: He’s literally going to the birds, via a reality show on Animal Planet.

Tyson, a life-long pigeon keeper, will star in a series about bird racing… “I may have stopped fighting,” says the former heavyweight champ. “But I never stopped flying birds. It’s my first love.”

The show, to be called “Take on Tyson,” pits Tyson and his birds against the best racing-pigeon owners in New York.

Apparently, pigeon racing is an organized sport, governed by something called the American Racing Pigeon Union. Presumably, the world of cockfighting would have been Plan B.

I don’t doubt Tyson’s devotion to his winged friends, as displayed on this old “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” segment. Still, don’t be surprised if one of the signature moments from this show ends up being Tyson taking a bird-sized bite out of an under-performing flier.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 03/16/2010 11:39pm
Category: Celebrity, Other Sports, RealiTV Check
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Tuesday, February 16, 2021

birth berth
I can’t say that the sport of curling is raising its esteem in my eyes with the participation of a pregnant stone-slider on the Canadian Olympic women’s team.

Granted, Kristie Moore is an alternate, so chances are good she won’t actually play. But she is on the squad, which means she’ll share in the anticipated bounty:

Team Canada is the gold-medal favorite in the women’s curling event, which begins Tuesday and runs through Friday of next week. Even if Moore doesn’t play, she will receive any medal Canada wins.

Which, to me, begs the question: Since she’s curling for two, shouldn’t Moore receive an extra medal? Baby is on board, after all. The kid deserves his/her own five-ring bling, just for being there.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 02/16/2010 11:14pm
Category: Other Sports, Society
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Sunday, February 14, 2021

Last week, on the eve of the Winter Games commencement, I was asked on two separate occasions whether or not anyone really, actually watched the Olympics.

Being the sports snob that I am, I scoffed back that no, no one watches the Olympics — other than the 100 million or so who tune in every couple of years. I thought that was an effective comeback, which underlined how a person projects his/her own perceptions and preferences onto the wider popular consciousness. (And we all do that, including me, who unfailingly muses on if anyone cares about things like awards shows or reality TV, despite being fully away of the millions of devoted fans for each.)

As it turns out, my off-the-cuff citation of that 100 million viewership for the five-ring circus was only half the story:

“I’m very confident we’ll do well from a ratings standpoint,” NBC research guru Alan Wurtzel told reporters Thursday. He said he expects 200 million people to watch at least parts of the Vancouver Games over the 17-day telecast. That number would be fewer than the 215 million who tuned in for the Beijing Olympics, but more than the 184 million from the prior winter Olympics in Torino, Italy.

So it’s more like a couple hundred million viewers who “don’t count” when it comes to the Olympics. All depending on your perspective, of course.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 02/14/2010 03:30pm
Category: Other Sports, Society, TV
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Saturday, February 13, 2021

big red
Don’t go searching for the term “Flying Tomato” on Shaun White‘s personal website, because that Torino-born nickname is now dead to the Olympian:

“Apparently I resemble the drummer from the Muppets,” White said. “I guess I’m Shaun ‘The Animal’ White now. I’ve kind of outgrown ‘The Flying Tomato’. It’s kind of like going from old pants to new pants.”

Sorry to break this to White, but a basic rule about nicknames is that you don’t get to choose your own — everybody else does that for you. He’s made his disdain for “Flying Tomato” known before, so it’s no surprise that he’d want to ditch it, even for the dubious preference for a Muppet Show character. Frankly, latching onto that reference smacks of a manufactured attempt at re-branding.

The fact is that when he’s up in the air during his stunts, no one is thinking “Wow, look at that monster!”. They are thinking, “Wow, look at that big red… flying… tomato!” “Monster” is just too generic to stick.

All that said, if White were to change his nick, the other suggestion from a teammate, “Red Zeppelin”, would be a better choice. I could see that one catching on.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 02/13/2010 04:00pm
Category: Other Sports, Pop Culture
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