So, here's the ribbon spine I rigged up quickly based on the Fahrenheit DVD's. I used their basic technique for the construction, but since my version of Maya doesn't have hair follicles, I used rivet constraints instead. I don't think I can go into much detail of how they did that due to copyright infringement, but here's a pic of some additional joints I made:
If you can follow along from the DVD tutorial, this will make more sense. Basically, I created the two-joint chain, and parented it underneath the 'midPos' locator. I deleted the point constraint that was on the 'midUp' locator, since its position will be driven by the joint now, and simply parented it under the child joint I created.
So, the hierarchy goes:
I orient constrained the parent joint's rotation to the top and bottom pos locators, which basically recreated the behavior of the 'midUp' locaotor's point constraints from before. But now, the child joint follows the necessary arcs.
Then, the middle circle control manipulates the midFK joint. It's parented directly under the 'midOffLocator'. The hierarchy goes as such:
Here's a capture of my scene hierarchy:
So you can see the modifications were really pretty simple. The final effect, however, seems relatively successful to me. I made a gif to demonstrate its abilities: