Saturday, January 24, 2009

Obama Girls are Real Dolls

(Crain’s) — The nation’s first daughters, Sasha and Malia Obama, have joined the ranks of Barbie, Rainbow Brite and Strawberry Shortcake. Ty Inc., maker of Beanie Babies, released “Sweet Sasha” and “Marvelous Malia” dolls earlier this month as part of its TyGirlz Collection. Westmont-based Ty launched the line in 2007.

In our culture of celebrity, how can new First Lady Michelle Obama think her daughters will escape our American fascination? Yes, it’s celebrity by association but celebrity nonetheless.

Sasha and Malia Obama are cute enough for the genius who brought us Beanie Babies to name a couple of TyGirlz, “Marvelous Malia” and “Sweet Sasha.” According to Crain’s Chicago Businesss, at first a spokeswoman “confirmed that the dolls were created to resemble President Barack Obama’s daughters.” The next day that changed to, “They were not designed to look like any living person.” Really? It’s not hard to argue who might have inspired the name choice. I’ll grant lawyer-mom Michelle that.

However, despite potential legal issues this is a bit extreme. Mom, pick your battles. There will likely be bigger issues with protecting the girls than this--more egregious examples that do warrant attention. The dolls are not offensive and if they inspire sales for a Chicagoland company, isn’t that helping the local economy?

Most of the folks at the Huffington Post disagree with me. I read one page of comments and found one sole TyGirlz defender who said her daughters liked the dolls. Of course, everyone else seemed to jump all over her. Maybe y'all should go after Dover Publications and others making money on the Obamas. I prefer to concentrate on real matters of national importance. Let us not lose the focus that lead to Obama's election as President by silly and distracting diversions like this.

Sunday, January 18, 2009


(Peggy is crying after losing a game of Boggle)
Hank: You’re smarter than anyone in Arlen.
Peggy: Well, woopty-doo, I’m the smartest hick in hick town.

I think Peggy Hill is on to something. Remember Peggy? King of the Hill mom and Boggle player extraordinaire, Peggy is one of my favorite animated TV moms. Of course, with two sons who were fond of Mike Judge’s Beavis and Butthead when they were growing up, it’s only fitting that I’d like Judge’s Peggy—not that I identify with her. After all, I’ve never been the Boggle Champion of Texas.

Peggy came to mind as we have been playing Boggle lately, and I have been bested all too frequently. And then I discovered a non-intimidating time waster online. You can play interactive Boggle.

Seems I remembered reading that working with words improves mental functioning. Although I refuse to join AARP, I do occasionally look at their Web site, where I recently found 10 steps to an optimal memory. Number two right after exercise was “Keep Learning.” And evidentally, playing games like Boggle and Scrabble counts toward improving memory.

So, I guess the few minutes I spent on interactive Boggle was actually time well spent. Ah heck, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Poetic Justice for Somali Pirates

MOGADISHU, Somalia – Five of the Somali pirates who released a hijacked oil-laden Saudi supertanker drowned with their share of a reported $3 million ransom after their small boat capsized, a pirate and a relative of one of the dead men said Saturday.

This is my nomination for the best example of poetic justice I’ve seen lately. Am I callous to feel this way?

I don’t think so.

We have a love/hate relationship with pirates. Whether it was Errol Flynn portraying a dashing and romantic pirate in movies of a bygone era like Captain Blood, Billy Zane’s creepy psycho pirate in Dead Calm, or a playful Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean, we never expect to encounter a real pirate. Pirates are supposed to be entertaining, belonging these days in the world of fantasy.

So, I don’t really feel bad for thinking the way I do. Modern day pirates have sullied what had become a safe fantasy and they got what they deserved.