Today is Black Friday, and throughout the land, consumers are attacking stores and malls and online retailers in search of goodies for their loved ones. The playtime cognoscenti at Toys “R” Us say the most popular presents for kids this year will include the Fischer Price Code-a-piller, Hatchimals and the Num Noms Lip Gloss Truck, whatever the hell that is. Also on their list? DreamWorks Troll dolls, which look exactly like the Troll dolls we played with half a century ago that now sell for, like, $80 apiece on eBay. Which got us wondering: Where did Troll dolls come from in the first place? Or Barbie dolls, or teddy bears, for that matter? Here, a chronological list of the origins of 10 great American toys. Read more »
The voters have spoken, the winner’s been decided — and pundits are saying the biggest loser of all in this election could be our two time-honored political parties. (Then again, what do pundits know, right?) Before the election, the talk was of a Republican schism; now, there’s speculation the Democrats may split apart. Though the occasional outlier (the Green Party, the Socialist Party) crops up, the U.S. has been ruled by either the GOP or the Dems my entire life, and I just turned 60, so I’m, like, practically dead. That said, shit happens. Political parties do morph. They even expire. Here are quite a few that now are gone with the wind. Read more »
When I was in grade school, I was a Girl Scout. To be in the Girl Scouts, you had to buy a uniform. You went to Sears and you bought your uniform and you wore it to meetings, even though it was bunchy and uncomfortable and weird (what was with that necktie?), because that’s what all the other girls in your Girl Scout troop did, and you wanted to fit in. You wanted to belong. As I recall my adolescence, in fact, it was all one mighty heaving haul toward belonging, toward deliquescing into the melting pot, slipping sideways into the streaming mass of humanity without standing out or sticking forth or even particularly being noticed. The goal was assimilation — being subsumed completely, without causing a ripple. Read more »
It was that photo of the boy — the bloodied boy sitting silently in an ambulance in Aleppo, sitting on a cheery orange seat.
Joan Heider, who does PR for a Center City law firm, and her friend Fae Ehsan, who works for the local chapter of a national nonprofit, were sitting in Heider’s apartment, talking about that photo, the one that had gone viral. That had put, yet again, a young face on the horror of war. “We have to do something,” Heider and Ehsan agreed. That’s when Heider’s then-roommate, Act II Playhouse managing director Eileen Cella, came home. “What are you two talking about?” she asked. They told her. She’d seen the photo, too. Everyone had.
“We have to do something,” Heider said again.
Cella thought about it. “I have a theater,” she said. Read more »