Saturday, November 30, 2013

Amazing Photos Re-Create Old Time America In Incredibly Creative Ways

Photographer Michael Paul Smith has a series of photographic street scenes depicting neighborhoods in America back in the middle of the 20th century.
A street scene from Michael Paul Smith's
"Elgin Park" series.  

They're lovely, nostalgic glimpses of the way things looked in your grandparents time.

The amazing part is how he creates these images.

Smith sets up minature toy cars on a table, and arranges everything just so, aims his camera exactly right, the the resulting photographs look  absolutely real. He does this with a $200 point and shoot camera. The results are amazing, as I found on the We All Bleed The Same Color blog

Click on the We All Bleed link above to see how he does it.

And here's how he created the above scene.  
Smith calls his images "Elgin Park" and you can see much more of his work at www.visitelginpark.com

Smith's background as a textbook illustrator, wallpaper hanger, house painter, museum display designer, architectural model maker and retail store art director prepared him for this work, he says.




Check out his web site, enjoy, and maybe buy a beautiful print or two.

 Michael has been building scale models for over 25 years. His model making skills have been accumulated through his varied job and life experiences; he has been a text book illustrator, wallpaper hanger and house painter, designer of museum displays, architectural model maker, and art director for retail stores. His love of the 20th Century has been a constant inspiration for all of his work.Michael has been building scale models for over 25 years. His model making skills have been accumulated through his varied job and life experiences; he has been a text book illustrator, wallpaper hanger and house painter, designer of museum displays, architectural model maker, and art director for retail stores. His love of the 20th Century has been a constant inspiration for all of his work.ichael has been building scale models for over 25 years. His model making skills have been accumulated through his varied job and life experiences; he has been a text book illustrator, wallpaper hanger and house painter, designer of museum displays, architectural model maker, and art director for retail stores. His love of the 20th Century has been a constant inspiration for all of his work.Michael has been building scale models for over 25 years. His model making skills have been accumulated through his varied job and life experiences; he has been a text book illustrator, wallpaper hanger and house painter, designer of museum displays, architectural model maker, and art director for retail stores. His love of the 20th Century has been a constant inspiration for all of his work.

Joy! Dramatic Reenactments Of YouTube Flame Wars Turning Into A Series

A few days ago, I showed a hilarious, faux high brow theatre reenactment of one of those stupid, immature fights from the comments section of YouTube.

Apparently, they're going to do a lot. Another one has come out. This time it's a comment war between two idiots people remade into high drama. A third character comes in to tell us about all the money he makes working online too!

Here's that great second reenactment:


Friday, November 29, 2013

Update: Told Ya: Black Thanksgiving/Friday Fights, Violence, Gunshots, Ugliness

I ranted yesterday about the stupidity of Black Friday and now, this year Thanksgiving shopping stampedes the result in fights, injuries, and just general ugly behavior.
Black Friday violence last year. Similar
scenes are being reported across the country today.  

True to form, as of 7 a.m. this Friday morning, there have been several reports across the nation of people being shot, stabbed, punched and assaulted over these store "sales" So far, there have been no reports of deaths.

According to NBC News, there was a litany of bad behavior. A man was shot in Las Vegas as thieves tried to steal the big screen TV he just bought. There was a big fight in a California Walmart parking lot because somebody tried to cut in line. At a West Virginia Walmart, somebody was badly stabbed over a fight centering on a parking space.

Early Friday morning, the Huffington Post had a series of videos and Tweets posted about numerous incidents of bad behavior at Walmarts overnight.

On the bright side, in a update from yesterday, Pizza Hut corporate media relations stepped in on a Pizza Hut franchise owner who fired a manager for refusing to work on Thanksgiving. Pizza Hut offered to rehire the manager after a public outcry.  No word yet if the guy even wants the job back.

Ah, the holidays. A time for peace and joy and giving and aggravated assault in the middle of a fight over a cheap television.

Here's a heartwarming video over sale items, supposedly at a Washington State Walmart last night.


Thursday, November 28, 2013

It's Thanksgiving. Abandon The Turkey and Head For The Malls, Say Our Retail Overlords

There is a lot of hue and cry this Thanksgiving because a lot of stores now insist on opening on the holiday to have their gawd-awful sales.
Many people inexplicably think Black Friday
stampedes like this one are fun and want to
experience it on Thanksgiving, too. 

Of course rips employees of these retailers away from their family dinners, all so that people who hate their families can flee them, go to the Walmart and buy these hated family members clothes of abysmal quality that will fall apart the first time the gift recipients try them on.

I have trouble articulating why I'm so annoyed that stores are open this year on Thanksgiving.
After all, grocery stores, movie theaters and other businesses always opened on the holiday.  But the big stores that are opening this year just seem such an escalation of ridiculous buying mentality the retailers are trying to brainwash us into.

I'm certainly not going to any of these stores to shop today. I'm instead opting to spend the day with family in West Rutland, Vermont, a town that, by the way, has no Macys,  no Walmart, no Kohls, no big retailers, period.

The big Black Friday, and now Black Thanksgiving sales always bothered me anyway. I know the crazy shoppers want to be there to be in a possibly fatal stampede so that they can get a big screen TV that will go on the fritz by February.

And if these people want to do that, fine, as long as it doesn't involve me.

Still, scenes like those in this video compilation make me sad:





Some people, and even some stores, have taken a stand against this whole mess of shopping on Thanksgiving, with mixed results. (Black Friday, with all its carnage, seems set in stone.)

I noticed a Pizza Hut manager in Indiana was fired because he refused to heed the demands of the local Pizza Hut franchise owner  that he stay open.   Because EVERYONE wants a nice big deep dish pizza for dessert after a Thanksgiving feast.

 Tony Rohr's bosses, which own several Pizza Huts in Indiana and Illinois said he quit, but not exactly.

"I am not quitting. I do not resign. However, I accept that the refusal to comply with this greedy, immoral request means the end of my tenure with this company. I hope you realize that it's the people at the bottom of the totem pole that make your life possible," he told the franchise owners in a letter.

Naturally, he Pizza Hut thing went viral Wednesday and became a PR nightmare.  The Pizza Hut  Facebook page became a litany of outrage. To be fair, Pizza Hut corporate headquarters might have been blindsided with what the Indiana franchise owner did.

Pizza Hut responded to media inquiries by saying most Pizza Huts close on Thanksgiving, but independent franchisees make the decisions on whether to stay open. Pizza Hut said they wish the Indiana situation could have been avoied because they respect employees' decision not to work on Thanksgiving.

Still, Pizza Hut corporate should have issued a directive to franchisees to shut their doors today.

In a more successful vein, Costco, which actually pays its employees a halfway decent wage and treats them well. (and still manages to make a good profit, hmmmm) is closed Thanksgiving because they want to give their employees the day off. The logic, which I like, is they work hard enough during the holiday shopping season.

Nordstrom and BJ's Wholesale Club are also staying shut today. Good for them!

And you know those bargains you think you're getting on Black Thanksgiving or Black Friday? Not so much.

According to the Wall Street Journal, that toy, or appliance or sweater that's billed as "50 percent off, what a deal!!!!" was never meant be sold at the so called full price anyway. It's an illusion.  Full prices was never full price. Says the WSJ:

"The red cardigan sweater with the ruffled neck on sale for more than 40 percent off at $39.99 was never meant to sell at its $68 starting price. It was designed with the discount built in."

In other words, if you go to these Black Friday or Thanksgiving "sales" you're being played for a sucker.

But I guess people love living the illusion of getting a deal.   They like being suckers. A few retailers, like Macy's and JC Penneys, which tried to stop the Big Sale mentality found that nobody would come to their stores to shop unless they had these false sales, according to the WSJ article.

Then there are the real crazies. People have been camping out in front of stores like Best Buy for as much as 10 days before the Black Friday sales. 

They're quoted as saying they wanted to be first in line, and they'll save money, but how much money would they have made working instead of hanging out inside a tent in a wind swept, cold parking lot for a week and a half?

And if you have nothing better to do than hang out in front of a gizmo store for more than a week, you really, really need a life.






Wednesday, November 27, 2013

If Something Goes Wrong With Your Thanksgiving Feast, Here's Something To Make You Feel Better

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving.
There's always at least one small disaster on
Thanksgiving, but don't worry, it could be worse.  

I hate to go negative on you, but there is always some problem on Thanksgiving. Some food items might not turn out right, somebody gets drunk, or Tea Party Uncle clashes with Environmentalist Vegan Niece.

But it could always be worse. So, if you do have a bad moment on Thanksgiving, just watch this video to understand that your Thanksgiving mishap isn't all that bad after all.


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Morons Use E-Cigarettes As New Annoying, Damaging Way To Litter

I've always hated people who throw their cigarette butts out the windows of cars as they travel down the road.
A crushed e-cigarette cartridge probably
destroyed a car tire like they always do.  

What do they think? Those disgusting cigarette stubs will magically disapapear? That they're as claen and the driven snow? Help the environment? Never cause brush fires during dry weather? Never have to be picked up by disgusted homeowners who live along the route of these obnoxious litterers?

Now, of course, some smokers are turning to e-cigarettes in an attempt to either quit or reduce the amount of cancer causing gunk going into their bodies. And what are they doing with the e-cigarette cartridges once their exhausted.

Yep, throwing them out their car windows to add to the litter. And these cartridges turn out to be much worse than those old school cigarette butts. They're made of sharp metal and are are slashing tires of unsuspecting motorists as they travel over the cartridges thrown there by moronic, selfish, e-cigarette smokers.

These cartridges aren't the same as nails. You run over a nail, puncture your tire, get a patch, and it's not that expensive and you're good to go. The e-cigarette cartridges gash tires, so you have to replace them. Which gets pricey.

But you e-cigarette smokers who toss their garbage out the car windows don't care, do you?  Hey, who cares if you bust some poor slob's budget with the damage you cause with your e-cigarettes  so you can enjoy your so-called Great American Right To Litter And Make A Huge Mess?

I imagine a suddenly gashed tire from a discarded e-cigarette cartridge will cause a few fatal accidents. But what's a few deaths if you can enjoy your e-cigarette? And throw your cartridge everywhere. Yes, your rights to do that trump people's right to live, right?

I know this screed won't stop you e-cigarette users or regular cigarette smokers from throwing their butts out their car windows. You're too self-centered and dumb as a sack of rocks for that, I know.

But I swear, if I catch anyone throwing an e-cigarette cartridge out their windows, and especially if it wrecks somebody's tire, I will personally go to your house and slash all four tires on your car.

And hide some extra sharp e-cigarette cartridges in the food in your refrigerator.

Because you deserve nothing less.


Monday, November 25, 2013

Update: Now It's KlearGear's Turn To Get Screwed

Back on November 17, I wrote here in this blog about the scummy outfit called KlearGear, an online purveyer of gizmos, gadgets and bad gifts.
Public Citizen to the rescue of a couple
victimized by an online company.  

The controvery of the day was about a couple who did not get what they ordered from KlearGear, so they published a negative review of the company on an online site.

KlearGear responded by demanding $3,500 saying the terms of service of purchases means they were not allowed to criticize the company. Never mind the terms of service didn't exist when the couple bought the items that led to the problems. And never mind that such a terms of service demand is probably illegal.

But KlearGear pursued, notifying credit reporting agencies to ding their credit so they couldn't get a loan. The couple said they'd sue, but didn't have the money to do so.

I was hoping some lawyer would come forward and help the couple.

Ask and you shall receive.

Enter the legal and public policy advocacy group Public Citizen, which is threatening to sue KlearGear unless certain demands are met. And they are great demands, I must say. KlearGear must report to the credit agencies to make the couple's credit rating stellar again, fork over $75,000 to the couple for the trouble KlearGear has caused, and never implement the "do not disparage" terms of service clause ever again.

No word yet on now KlearGear will respond.

But thanks to traditional media, (television station KUTV in Salt Lake City) which first reported this story, and social media, which spread it like crazy, KlearGear now looks like it might not get away with its shenanigans.

We can only hope.

Meanwhile, KlearGear is basically in hiding, not publicly commenting and shutting down its social media sites. It's target audience is basically social media sites, so this can't be good for a business that supposedly had $47 million in annual revenue.

I'll just repeat what the blog Popehat has to say about the situation:

"KlearGear deserves to fail as a business based on this conduct, and hopefully will." 

Update: Xena The Warrior Puppy Wins Top ASPCA Award

A big shout out and congratulations to Xena the Warrior Puppy for winning this year's ASPCA dog of the year award.
Xena the Warrior Puppy and BFF Jonny
hang out together recently. 

I wrote about Xena in early May in this here blog thingy, several months after she'd been rescued, at death's door, having been horribly abused and starved. When she was found, nobody thought she'd survive overnight.

But she miraculously rallied, and eventually her rescuers were ready to have Xena go to a good home. Xena went to a fundraiser where the young dog bonded immediately with a kid name Jonny Hickey who was 8 at the time.

Jonny has autism and rarely communicated with anyone. But Xena brought Jonny out of his shell and the boy is now an outgoing, friendly young man, thanks to Xena's love and companionship.

When I wrote about the situation in early May, I mused about who rescues whom when a dog is pulled from a situation of neglect or need and put into a loving home.  As in the case of Xena, the rescued one becomes the rescuer.

About a week after I wrote that column, our Bailey the Wonder Dog, who we had taken into our home a year earlier,  got sick.  By the end of the month, Bailey had passed away.

Xena the Warrior Puppy looking
happy at the ASPCA Dog Of The
Year ceremony earlier this month.  
I deeply mourned the loss of Bailey, of course. But even in death, he taught me a lesson. Love what's in your life now, because it won't last forever. And embrace everything you can.

Which seems to be what Xena the Warrior Puppy has been up to. She's been damn busy.

In addition to being Jonny's partner in crime, Xena has been visiting a 12-year old girl with cancer in an Atlanta area hospital to cheer her up and cheer her on, according to the Today Show.

Xena has also been visiting a prison where inmates train homeless dogs in a program called Canine CellMates.   Xena has been helping make sure that program runs smoothly.

Xena The Warrior Puppy has also been helping Jonny's mom, Linda, call attention to the importance of rescuing dogs in need and promoting autism awareness.

Xena has been keeping the world up to date on her work through her Facebook page and at her web site, www.xenathewarriorpuppy.com 

A shout out should also go to Koshka, the ASPCA's Cat of the Year. Staff Sgt. Jesse Knott rescued Koshka while serving in Afghanistan, and Koshka returned the favor by helping Knott get through his darkest days after two of his closest friends were killed in a suicide attack.

Koshka now lives happily with Knott and the rest of his family in Oregon.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Drones Aren't All Bad: Beautiful Photography From One

Yep, drones are a controversial topic: We use them to bomb shadowy places in and near Afghanistan and Pakistan, and civilians are getting killed.
A still from Clay Folden's beautiful videography
of footage taken from a drone  


And if drones really become popular, I'm sure we'd hate the loss of privacy as those damn things buzz overhead as we try to sit in the sun in our backyards and the drone cameras are watching our every move.

But there's benefits to drones, of course. Even if benefits don't outweigh the loss of life in overseas battles.

Drones can detect wildfires, find lost people in the woods, monitor crime scenes.

And they make beautiful videography.

Aerial photographer Clay Folden has been using a quadricopter equipped with a GoPro camera and other equipment to take some stunning videos.

As I noted, drones are controversial, and Folden told the Huffington Post he's gotten in trouble with the U.S. Coast Guard and some private citizens as he did his drone filming.

Still, he managed to string together pieces of several of his excursions into this beautiful YouTube video. Enjoy:


Saturday, November 23, 2013

Fascinating: What Would Rock Legends Look Like Now If They Were Still Alive

I recently found a cool concept put out by Sachs Media Group, which teamed up with the photo restoration and manipulation compnay Phojoe to re-create photos of famous, deceased rocks stars to show us what they might look like if they were still alive today.
Janis Joplin, how she might appear today
at age 70.


I've often wondered what kind of music such greats as Elvis Presley, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain and others would be making now had they survived.

We'll never know, of course, but now we can see a glimpse of what they would look like if they were on television today, promoting their latest work.

Some images are in this post, click on this link to see more. 
John Lennon, imagined today at
age 73. 

Kurt Cobain, what he might look
like in 2013 at age 46.  


Actors Turn YouTube Teenage Flame War Into Hilarious Theatre

As anyone who has even glanced at YouTube knows, the comments section of many videos more often than not turns into a sewer of incredibly immature and moronic arguments, flame wars if you will, with people just announcing to each other that they're stupid and should just die.

And I'm making it seem more intelligent than it is.

A brilliant new YouTube video produced by Adrian Bliss turns one of these inane arguments into comedy brilliance.

The worst and stupidest YouTube comments arguments involve the relative merits of pop bands that appeal to teenage girls.

Reacting to the video for "What Makes You Beautiful" by the boy band One Direction, viewers "Sophe Danze" and "Jillianlovesthebeibs" got into one of these horrible, um discussions.

Bliss hired two Serious Actors, Grahme Edwards and Eryl Lloyd Parry, who Bliss says are much nicer in real life, to reenact the fight. The acting, the cinematography and the score of this short film are absolutely priceless. Now you can watch this brilliance, below:

Friday, November 22, 2013

Nobody To Play Fetch Wity? Dog Has A Solution

Hat tip to Jack Rowell via Facebook for finding this one:
A dog figures out how to play when
nobody can do the fetch thing with him.  

Dogs always want to play fetch. But sometimes they don't have anyone to play with.

This pooch in Japan figured it out. All he needed was a running brook, a ball and he found himself limitless play time.

Note: Video title suggests dog was abandoned, but YouTube notes owners were watching and monitoring him for safety.


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Amid The Chaos, Some Joy

I often whine about bad news on this blog, but I also like to mix in some more pleasant fare, so I think I'll do that today with three videos that I hope make your day a little better.

Hat tip to great friend and our South African bureau chief Michael McCann for alerting us, via Facebook, to this first video,  from 2012,    of an "Ode To Joy" flash mob. It was sponsored by a bank, but luckily, we don't get any boring banking stuff.

Just a building crescendo of joy. Totally worth the watch:

 


Next we go back to 2008, for a video that's suddenly become viral again. It's some baby otters who are in a really, really good mood. They'll improve your frame of mind, too:





Finally, highlighted today in Huffington Post, we have a toddler who loves her St. Bernard. Said St. Bernard loves the kid back. Ahhhh......'


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Governments Continue War On Greenery

You might have seen or heard me complain before about governments or homeowners associations forcing homeowners to tear out vegetable or flower gardens because, apparently, pavement or sterile, overfertilized lawns are SO much better than a fresh tomato or some brightly colored zinnias.
The "unsightly garden" that was "bringing down
property values" in Miami Shores, Fla.  

Well, the trend seems to be continuing. The people responsible for forcing gardeners to rip out their vegetable plants or flowers always give "maintaining property values" or "safety" as the reason, but they never explain how doing this saves property values and safety.

This is all a mystery to me. 

Hermine Ricketts and Tom Carroll are now suing the city of Miami Shores, Florida, because zoning officials made them rip out the vegetable garden they had in their front yard for the past 17 years.

The couple said they didn't grow vegetables in the back yard because that area of their property doesn't get enough sun.

A new Miami Shores ordinance prohibits front yard gardens to "protect the distinctive character of the Miami Shore Village" whatever that means.

Although vegetable gardens are banned from front yards, cheap, plastic pink flamingos are just dandy, according to the Miami Shore Village ordinance.

I wonder if bathtub Virgin Marys and those weird crystal balls are OK too? I guess as long as there aren't any rogue radishes or kale growing nearby, I suppose. 


Judging from the pictures, it does no such thing. And the couple said they were told a decade ago to plant the garden to minimize flooding that occasionally occurs along the lane.

Also, according to the homeowners, the garden helps motorists figure out where the edge of the road is when it's snowing, so they're less likely to slide off the pavement and less likely to smash into their cottage. 

Next, the local government said they had to remove the flowers because it prevented pedestrians from moving out of the way of oncoming cars. But there's a well-maintained sidewalk across the street and there's plenty of room to jump into the narrow flower garden if someone had to in an emergency.

I'm sure the couple wouldn't mind one broken rose branch in the unlikely event someone had to get out of the way of a car.

As I said, the hostility some governments show toward gardens is baffling. I guess some people prefer their surroundings boring, useless, and unproductive.

Kind of like some government officials.

Rob Ford And Friends: It's World Wacko Politician Week!

Politicians have been having a field day this week outdoing each other with stupidity.
Hawaii State Rep. Tom Brower, ready with his
sledgehammer to combat homelessness.
Or so he thinks.  

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has been hogging the spotlight here, what with his crack smoking, binge drinking, murder threatening, city councilor pushing rampage through his fair city.

The other day, I noted the Louisiana politician who thinks most clientele of libraries are druggies and hippied and moochers who go there to look at pictures of drugs and food stamps.

We also had a U.S. Congressman from Florida, who was arrested recently for possession of cocaine.

And now we have a pol in Hawaii, State Rep. Tom Brower, who says the best way to solve the intractable problem of homelessness is to batter the homeless peoples' shopping carts with sledgehammers.

 Says Hawaii News Now:

"In his spare time he scours streets and parks in his district, looking for shopping carts homeless use to store and move their belongings. He returns good ones to stores and destroys other with his sledgehammer."

"I got tired of telling people I'm trying to pass laws. I want to do something practical that will really clean up the streets," he said."

Though he's not actually destroying the homeless population's possessions, just their shopping carts (at least so far), I'm not quite so sure the sledgehammer trick will clean up the streets. A number of people in Hawaii agree with me that it would make things worse. OK, we're all being Captain Obvious here.

"There are some people who are not that stable and maybe drug affected that could really react to him," said Connie Mitchell of the Institute for Human Services in a big understatement to Hawaii News Now.

Despite the outcry against our fearless Brower, he might step up his activity even more. From Hawaii News Now:

 "Brower said he has yet to take a cart from a homeless person who's pushing it, but that may be coming. He supports other efforts to remove abandoned property. The sledgehammer approach is his way of pitching in."

Hmm. Not sure.  Maybe homeless people can be hired to make new shopping carts to replace the ones Brower is destroying? That doesn't seem like the best job creation program in the world.

Using a sledgehammer can be cathartic. Maybe I could smash up his desk Brower's desk at the Hawaii Statehouse with one.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Mother Punished For Sending Kids To School With Nutritious Lunch

Kristen Bartkiw, a mom in Manitoba, Canada, thought she was sending her youngsters off to school with a pretty nutritious lunch. It consisted of leftover roast beef, some potatoes, carrots, an orange and milk.
A Manitoba parent
got this nastygram from her
kids' school.  

Sounds yummy. And I'm sure it would have sustained the kids for the rest of the day.

School officials were PISSED, though. School officials didn't think the lunch was nutritious enough. The poor kids. See, the lunch didn't include grains.

According to the web site Weighty Matters, the Manitoba Government Early Learning and Child Care lunch regulations insist that every meal include some sort of grain.
 
So the school gave the kids Ritz crackers, technically a grain but geez,  and they fined Bartkiw $10.   

A 16 gram serving of Ritz crackers has 79 calories,  four grams of fat and 1 gram of saturated fat. Not the worst in the world, but not exactly whole grain bread either.

According to Weighty Matters:

"As Kristen writes, had she sent along lunches consisting of, 'microwave Kraft Dinner and a hot dog, a package of fruit twists, a Cheestring, and a juice box' those lunches would have sailed right through this idiocy. But her whole food, homemade lunches? They lacked Ritz crackers."

I suppose if parents send their kids to school with junk food, something has to be done. You want kids to eat well so they do well in school. That's obvious, and that's clearly the motivation of Manitoba officials.

But like so many things, people got way too enthusiastic about the rules.  Talk about a nanny state! I wouldn't exactly call the lunch Bartkiw gave her kids child abuse.

Are schools up there in Manitoba required to paw through all the kids' lunches before they eat them? Drag the parents to a supermarket and order them to buy stuff the school wants them to buy? Will the schools have bonfire parties using Twinkies, potato chips and gooey fattening cookies as fuel for the fires?

The school had no way of knowing if the Bartkiw kids had whole grain cereal for breakfast, and were anticipating more grains for dinner that night. Are schools going to go to parents homes at breakfast and dinner and monitor what mommy and daddy are cooking for the little ones?

And since when are Ritz crackers the height of good nutrition?

On the bright side, Bartkiw said the school her kids go to now has a hot lunch program, which she describes as really good, so she doesn't have to make lunches for her kids and worry about the Food Police charging her with High Crimes and Misdemeanors.

Still, if you're a parent in Manitoba, you'd better watch what you pack in your kids lunches. If you slip in a cookie, you might become Public Enemy #1 in the eyes of provincial school officials.

Monday, November 18, 2013

ANOTHER Good Ad! Could This Be A Trend?

Yesterday, I congratulated Google on producing a very well made advertisement that simultaneously pitched its products and told a compelling story.

A still from the funny, silly "Show the Joe" Kmart ad

Well, Gollee! I found another good ad today. It's a holiday offering, and I almost never find Christmas pitches I can stomach. But this one is actually good.

It's from Kmart, of all retailers. They're pitching the Joe Boxer line of mens underwear, and the ad actually made me laugh out loud. I might not buy Joe Boxer products, but they made me remember them, and mention the ad to others, so the pitch was successful.

The ad agency is DraftFCB

Here's the honest-to-goodness silly and fun ad:


Most Proudly Ignorant Politician In The World Found In Louisiana

We've found the most proudly ignorant political official in the world.
Lindel Toups suggests libraries encourage
crime, laziness  

Congratulations Lindel Toups, Chairman of the Lafourche Parish Council in Louisiana, (A Louisiana Parish is basically what most states call a county) who said this as he explained his support for a ballot measure to divert money from local libraries to build a new jail, as reported by the Tri-Parish Times newspaper:

"They're teaching Mexicans how to speak English, the council chairman said in a reference to Bibioteca Hispana, a Hispanic language segmennt o the Golden Meadow library branch. "Let that son of a bitch go back to Mexico. There's just so many things they're doing that I don't agree with. Them junkies and hippies and food stamp (recipients) and all, they use the library to look at drugs and food stamps (on the Internet). I see them do it."

Well, Chairman Toups, I never knew libraries were such a hotbed of criminality until you told us. Thanks for the enlightment!

But then again, wouldn't we see a reduction in drug crimes, and a reduced need for jails if criminals went to the library to look at pictures of drugs rather than actually take drugs? And wouldn't taxpayers save money on food stamps if recipients just looked at pictures of food stamps at libraries instead of actually using the public assistance?

I'm not quite sure why people would want to go to libraries to just look at pictures of drugs and food stamps, but I'm sure Toups can enlighten us on that point, too.

And what about those terrible Mexicans learning to speak English at those awful libraries?  Wouldn't an ability to speak English help them find job and keep them out of trouble?

But then, those English-speaking Mexicans would take away jobs from people like Toups, who doesn't really sound smart enough to hold down any job. How the heck did he become Parish Council Chairman anyway?

Of course, part of Toups' concern about the state of Lafourche County jails might have something to do with the fact his son and grandson are in local jails, having been convicted of drug offenses.

In any event Toups suffered a stinging defeat over the weekend. Local voters rejected the proposal that would have taken money away from libraries and built the jails. 

Library funding will continue. Presumably, Mexicans will continue to go area libraries and learn English. And maybe we could all donate pictures of drugs and food stamps to the library down there in Lafourche Parish so they won't have to spend money buying the pictures to satisfy the local demand Toups said he found.

And maybe Toups can go to the library and look up alternative ways to fund jails, now that he can't take the money from the local libraries.





Sunday, November 17, 2013

See? You Can Make Moving, Entertaining Ads And Still Sell Your Stuff

Readers of this blog know one of my pet peeves is how most advertisements are stupid, lame, boring, insulting.
In a rare, compelling ad, this one from Google,
a granddaughter, right, uses Google
 to fashion a reunion between two men.  n

To this day, I still don't know how annoying people want to make them buy your product our service.

So, as I occasionally do, I give props to advertisements and advertisers who actually do a great job.

In this ad, Google is telling us how wonderful their search engine is, how you can find anything and make anything happen. It's so convenient! So that's them marketing.

But like most of the best advertisements out there,  Google manages to tell a compelling story, in this case in just three and a half minutes.

In the video, we have two elderly men who were best childhood buddies but have been separated for decades, and haven't seen each other in decades, due to political problems in their countries.

Now, things have settled down and the two men have young adult grandkids who use Google to great effect in a loving conspiracy to fashion a reunion.

The video is surprisingly moving. As you begin to watch it, click on the "cc" on the lower right so you can get subtitles in English.

Watch it and judge for yourself:

Company Called KlearGear Plays Hardball, Fines Couple $3,500 For Criticizing Them

Judging from Jen Palmer's experience, I might think twice about doing my on-line shopping through an outfit called KlearGear.com
A web page from KlearGear.com.  You'd
better like the Geek Shirt, or it'll
cost ya $3,500.

Her husband some years ago ordered some trinkets from the on-line seller of gadgets, stuff and gifts and never got the items.

Jen Palmer posted a complaint about KlearGear at the online site ripoffreport.com

KlearGear responded by trying to fine her $3,500 because she violated the company's fine print says you can't disparage its products, according to reporter Matt Gephardt of television station KUTV in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Here's what KlearGear's odious clause stated:

"In an effort to ensure fair and honest public feedback, and to prevent the publishing of libelous content in any form, your acceptance of this sales contract prohibits you from taking any action that negatively impacts kleargear.com, it's reputation, products, services, management or employees."

The clause also pretty much says KlearGear gets to decide whether or not something is libelous.

This supposed fine from KlearGear has real life consequences for the Palmers because the company sent their fine information to the credit bureaus, and now they can't get loans.

There's a lot of ripoffs going on here, in my view.

First, as Gephardt reported on KUTV, this terrible KlearGear clause violates the First Amendment. Gephardt quoted First Amendment attorney Jeff Hunt, who said, "I think this is outrageoius that a company like this would force a consumer to relinquish theire first amendment rights to speak about their product as a condition of sale.....I've never seen anything like it."

Secondly, if you want to complain about a product, don't go to ripoffreport.com.  They initially tried to comply with KlearGear's order to get rid of the negative review on ripoffreport.com, but ripoffreport told the Palmers it would cost then $2,000 to get rid of the review.

Maybe we should post news about how ripoffreport.com rips off people on ripoffreport.com

Thirdly, why are the credit reporting agencies wrecking the Palmers credit by considering this outrageous, illegitmate bill as an honest to goodness unpaid bill? It would be one thing if the Palmers weren't paying for purchases they made, but a wrecked credit rating for something like this? Outrageous.

Fourth, the Palmers would probably have an excellent case in court, as lawyer Hunt notes, but they can't afford to hire an attorney, according to KUTV. Of course now, with all this publicity, maybe an attorney might take on the case pro bono, to win him or herself some good publicity and business.

According to Techdirt.com, KlearGear has removed, at least for now, the "no complaining" clause from its website, probably because of the negative publicity about the Palmer's fine.

Meanwhile, on Sunday morning, the KlearGear web site was apologizing to customers saying stuff was being shipped a day or two late because business was unexpectedly brisk.  Really?

In any event, I'm not going to KlearGear to do any of my online holiday shopping this year. There's plenty of other, honest, fair businesses out there who will gladly sell me some high quality products.



Saturday, November 16, 2013

Toddler's First Walk On Ice Is Cutest Ever

Most of the time, when people slip while walking on ice it ends badly, or at least not so gracefully.

Here we have a very short video of a toddler having her first experience walking on ice. It's only 15 seconds long. You MUST watch it to the very end, however.

You'll die of cuteness overload. Or laughter. It will make your day. Watch:


Friday, November 15, 2013

Is This Guy's Vine Compilation Video Brilliant, Obnoxious, Disturbing Or Funny?

A guy named Logan Paul has put together a YouTube compilation of his Vine videos.
Logan Paul has a hit video.

The video has been all over the place the past 24 hours. Even on NBC News.

You know those Vine videos, right? They last just six seconds. So he did a series of pranks or comedy sketches (alleged comedy sketches?) in the six second videos and piled them all together.

I'm glad I don't know Logan. He'd be hard to hang around with. But I can't decide if he should be rewarded for his comedy or condemned for his obnoxiousness.

I'm leaning toward congratulating him on his comedy, under the assumption he acts better when he's not trying to make funny Vine videos.

Watch the video, and then you decide:


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Truck Driver Has REALLY Bad Day: Wrecks Truck, Wrecks Tunnel, Snarls Traffic, Gets Hated On

Having a bad day at work?
Sydney Australia truck in the midst
of the stupid, nasty tunnel crash its
driver caused.  

Not as bad as a truck driver in Sydney, Australia, who, while driving inside a major freeway tunnel, dropped his glasses and accidentally set up the tipper mechanism for the bed of the vehicle.

Up it went, hitting the ceiling of the tunnel as he drove along, causing extensive damage to the tunnel, wrecking the truck and causing miles long rush hour traffic jams the likes of which Sydney has not seen in a long, long time.

See the video at the bottom of this post. Cringe!

It probably didn't help that the truck driver's boss, Eric Flammia, had his cell phone number prominently displayed on the side of the truck.

Since the Sydney media were all over this crash, the phone number was seen far and wide, and Flammia spent the day taking irate and abusive calls from people who got stuck in the huge traffic jam the truc accident caused, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

The truck driver, and nobody else for that matter, was hurt, but there's no word yet on whether the truck driver still has a job.

 

Latest Money Making Scheme: Charge Fire Victims $20,000 To Fight Blaze

Here's a money making business idea:
Justin Purcell was charged nearly $20,000
by a private fire fighting company
for not putting out the blaze that destroyed his home.  

Start a private fire department serving rural areas that don't have fire protection, and don't tell people that they have to pay a $400 annual subscription to have fire protection, and when a homeowner who didn't know about the subscription has his house burn down, charge him $20,000 because he didn't buy the subscription.

This happened to the owner of a mobile home in Surprise, Arizona that was destroyed by fire.

Since Justin Purcell didn't pay the fire protection subscription that he didn't know about to an outfit called Rural Metro, the sleazy company sent him a $19,825 bill.

Here's how television station Fox 10 in Phoenix describes the situation in the rural town of Surprise:

"Residents living in the area pay a fire district assistance tax. The name alone implies it goes towards fire service in their area, but it doesn't. It's a county-wide tax to help fund volunteer fire districts.

The people in Purcells' neighborhood have no fire coverage, but they say they didn't know that until after Purcell's house fire.

'Coincidentally, we all received a bill from Rural Metro fire informing us we have no fire coverage in our area, so they highly suggested we finally begin paying some fire coverage that we didn't currently have said,' said Miller ( a local resident)

Thinking they were already paying for fire fire coverage, residents were skeptical that Rural Metro, who just filed for bankruptcy, was trying to make a buck marketing their fire subscription.

'I can categorically reject that as it being somebody's concern, however it's in no way a means for us trying to generate revenue, said (Rural Metro Spokesman Colin) Williams."

Yeah. Of course not.

Williams told Fox 10 that when a business provides a service, they generally don't do it for free. There is a fee, he said,

Purcell  responded: "Whey you do a service for someone, you usually tell them how much it's goin to cost before you do anything." Purcell told Fox 10 he would have paid the yearly subscription had he known about it.

Oh, and Rural Metro wasn't even that good at putting out the fire. The municipal fire department for the town of Surprise got there first and knocked down the worst of the fire. Rural Metro got there later and put out the hot spots.

Doesn't seem to be worth the $20,000.

I often hear of conservatives who want to privatize government functions because it would make things more efficient and less costly.

As we can see here, that's not always the case.


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

What's The Story Behind "Death Row Dog" With Lipstick Kiss Mark On His Forehead?

My husband Jeff showed me this sad story about an abandoned pit bull which really made me wonder about this dog's back story.
Dutch with the lipstick mark
from the woman who kissed him goodbye forever
Let's hope Dutch was saved and adopted
and the woman is OK.  

I also pray and hope that he is still alive.

His name is Dutch. Reportedly, a woman in New York City was seen tenderly kissing the 18-month old pit bull on the forehead and sadly walking away.  The woman said something about having personal problems.

With her goodbye kiss, the woman left a big pink lipstick print on Dutch's white forehead. 

This feels so tragic.

Dutch was checked out and it was clear he was well cared for, had been trained and is good with people, including children. Somebody loved Dutch, but had to give him up.

It makes me think something terrible happened to the woman who gave him up. Was she sick? Completely out of money and hope? Did somebody force her to get rid of the dog? Was she suicidal and giving up everything that she loved, or loved her?

We all rail against people who abandon dogs. It's infuriating, of course. But in some cases, there's a good but tragic reason why the dogs were abandoned. It's just that we, as a society, need to figure out why people have to give their dogs up. That way, we can do a twofer: Find a good home for a deserving dog, and help a human who is clearly at the end of his or her rope.

It looks like nobody knows how to find the woman who had to leave Dutch behind. And, since there's so many dogs up for adoption in New York, Dutch was scheduled to be put to death this week, because there was no room for him.

I hope somebody adopted him at the last minute. Dutch seems like such a sweetheart.

Dutch was among dozens of dogs featured on a sob-inducing Facebook page called Urgent Death Row Dogs. The proprietors of the Facebook page find out which dogs at which New York shelters have been there too long been and will be put to death within hours.

Urgent Death Row Dogs puts photos of the dogs and little bios of them on the Facebook page, begging people to adopt the dogs that night, before they are killed the next day.

I couldn't look at the page for more than 30 seconds. I wanted to cry, because I knew some of these gentle, innocent dogs are gone now. Despite the heroic efforts of the people behind Urgent Death Row Dogs, I know that not all of the dogs could be saved.

I want to adopt them all. Of course, I can't. I can't save the world. Or every dog in it.

But this is a reminder: If there's any way you can give a dog a loving, warm home, please do it. If you can't, please give to or volunteer at a reputable organization that can keep a dog safe and alive until somebody gives him or her a home.

If Dutch is alive, or even if he's not, he'll thank you for it and give you a big kiss. And he won't even leave a lipstick mark behind.




Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Marine Break Dancing Cheers Everybody Up

This video, already a year old, is getting new viral life for some reason this month. It shows a Marine in dress uniform break dancing at last year's Marine Corp Ball.

It's just there to cheer everybody up. It did me. Watch the fun:


Monday, November 11, 2013

On Veteran's Day, WWII Hero Gets A Proper Sendoff

You've probably never heard of Harold Percival, who served in the RAF bomber command for Britain in World War II.
Harold Percival, and his obit seeking people
to attend his funeral.  

Percival died last month in Britain at the age of 99.  He was pretty much alone, and there are really no surviving family members to see him off.

His obituary had a lot of hearts skipping a beat, with this line: "Any service personnel who can attend his funeral service will be appreciated."

There are few things worse than the passing of a veteran remaining unnoticed, unmarked and ignored.

So a man named Sgt. Rick Clement did what many people do in situations like this. He took to social media and asked for help.

According to the Blackpool Gazette in Britain, Clement, who lost both legs serving in Afghanistan wrote this on his Facebook wall:

"I need a big favour from ay military or ex-serving members. This fallen soldier at 99-years old is having a funeral on Monday and he has no family to attend. If you're in the area give him the send off he deserves. This guy needs and deserves your help."
A big crowd in Britain braves the rain
to bid an Armistice Day farewell to
RAF World War II veteran Harold Percival,
who died recently at age 99. dd caption


Yes, he does.

Of course, adding to the poignancy of the situation is, it's Armistice (or Veterans) Day, when we give thanks to people who made the world safe for us.

Social media being what it is, or what it can be, would people respond?

I'm happy to report that yes, they did turn out in droves.  In a video that makes me and my eyes think it got awfully dusty in here all of a sudden, hundreds of people ignored a cold rain and turned up at Percival's memorial service.

I think what's really going on here is a lot of people want to thank all veterans for their service to us all. Percival is an honorable, cherished veteran who can help us do just that.

Thank you, veterans.

Here's what the scene looked like at Percival's funeral today:



A Dog Adoption Proves Perfect And Perfectly Timed, As They Always Do

Political blogger and commentator Andrew Sullivan usually spends his days entertainingly sparring over disputes involving public affairs, society and the sausage factory that is Washington, DC.
Andrew Sullivan and his new bestie Bowie
get to know each other last weekend.  

He makes no secret, though, that he has a serious soft spot for dogs, particularly beagles. His heartbreak was palpable after one of his beagles, named Dusty, died last summer.

Today, in his blog, however, he tells us how fate took over once again, as it usually does when dogs and people unite to become a team.

Sullivan said he was invited to upstate New York, where a three legged, 18-month old beagle named Bowie was looking for a home. Was Sullivan interested?

After a slightly rocky first meeting involving intestinal upset and an unfortunate pee time accident, Sullivan was smitten.

He writes:

"I have to say this weekend was a bit of a love affair. There is so much about her that reminds me of Dusty as a puppy--the pathological wolfing of the food, the constant interest in every smell, scent and sight, the sheer constant energy. But unlike Dusty, she's extremely affectionate. And even obedient.

By the end of the weekend, she perfected "sit" and "stay" and (almost) "down"--and there were no more accidents. We didn't use her crate after the first night. If I didn't see her, all I had to do was say "Bowie" and she would come scampering around the corner to shower me with love.

Just when you least expect it...just what you least expect. I think the grieving is done now."

It's interesting how Bowie came into Sullivan's life, apparently at the precise moment he was ready for this kind of thing to happen. Not sooner, not later, but at the right time. 

I think dogs just know how to do that.  The right dog comes into our lives just when we most need them. Even if we don't realize we need them.
Jackson The Cocker Spaniel (front) and
the late Bailey the Wonder Dog keep
watch over me and Jeff last fall.  

The past three years have been chaotic, but fun for me. Jackson the Cocker Spaniel has been there through that, cheering me up in my dark moments, enthusiastically sharing in my excitement at the good times, and calming me down during my too-often excitable, frustrated moments.  

It's as if he knows just what to do.

And I had Bailey the Wonder Dog in my life for a year before he died last May. His passing felt too soon, too painful, as we only knew each other for a year. 

But Bailey The Wonder Dog taught me to embrace the ones we love, because we never know when they will go.

Because of what Bailey taught me, or at least reinforced for me, I wake up each morning and see my husband, alive and well and loving right next to me. Which means I get another day with him. Another day to cherish.  May there be zillions more.

Some people say that dogs are wonderful teachers for humans. 

Some people are spot on. 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

All Parents Must Watch French Anti-Bullying Ad

Bullying has been hugely in the news lately, what with the bullying case in the Miami Dolphins locker room that led one player to quit and the alleged bully to be suspended.
A still from the powerful French
anti-bulling ad.  

And, worse, we keep hearing of youths committing suicide because of incessant bullying. Makes me want to cry every time I hear about one of those cases.

Now, there's a brilliant television ad out of France that all parents, all adults really ought to see.

Bullying is often dismissed as a rite of passage for kids, a day of being picked on a bit. It toughens you up, supposedly. Adults do it to. "Toughening up" was the excuse used in the Miami Dolphins locker room, apparently.

Anyway, the French ad puts adults in the shoes of the kids being bullied. In the ad, a proper looking businessman tries to do his work, but co-workers relentlessly bully and assault the businessman with extreme cruelty, in much the same way kids bully some of their peers.

I'll translate from French the tag line at the end of the ad: "A day at work does not look like this. And a day at school?"

According to Huffington Post, the ad is a promo for a  documentary on school harassment airing on France 5.  Apparently, bullying is a severe problem in France, too.

Let's help put a stop to it. We can begin with watching this awesome but painful video:


Saturday, November 9, 2013

Pervert Edition: Man Has Weird 1st Amendment Upskirt Photo Argument

A weirdo in Boston has come up with a novel application of the First Amendment.
Police said this moron
thinks he has the right to take
"upskirt photos" of
unsuspecting women.  

He says he has every right to sneak "upskirt photographs," quickly getting a snapshot of the area beneath a woman's skirt as he follows her, say, as she's climbing up a flight of stairs.

Yes, I know. Creepy.

According to the Boston Herald, Michael Robertson says that since the First Amendment protects the public's right to take photographs in public places, he can do this since the women he's stalking are in public places. 

It is true you can photograph pretty much anything to your heart's content while you're out in public streets. You don't have the right not to be included in a photograph as you're walking along a municipally owned street.

But lawyers say we do, of course, have some rights to privacy. Which common sense dictates that a woman should be able to wear a skirt while walking down the street without some weirdo like Robertson harassing them.

And Michael, Michael, Michael. Do you honestly think people will say, Oh, yeah. It's fine if you stalk woman with your camera like that?

Isn't there any online porn you can look at while you're home or something? Geez! Get a life!

In any event, Massachusetts lawmakers are considering legislation that would more specifically ban "upskirt photography" since it's clear people like Robertson need clarification on the issue.







As I side note, the Boston Herald had maybe an embarrasing error in their original report. They had a picture of a guy that made it look like he was Robertson, the upskirt photo pervert. But the guy in the photo had nothing to do with Robertson or the upskirt weirdness.

Oops.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Homeless Veteran Gets Extreme Makeover; Reminds Us To Notice People We Don't Normally Notice

Just in time for Veteran's Day, which is Monday, we get a time lapse video of a makeover done on a guy named Jim Wolf in Michigan.
Jim Wolf before....

Here's why we should care: Wolf is a U.S. Army veteran who for years has struggled with homelessness and alcoholism.

You've seen people like him: Scraggly hair, scraggly beard. Maybe you feel a little pity, but you don't linger, You want to get away.

In Wolf's case a Grand Rapids, Michigan charity called Degage Ministries took him in to help him out. There, a filmmaker named Rob Bliss decided to do a time lapse video as a local stylist and production team transformed Wolf.

Bliss said he wanted to show that a physical transformation doesn't necessarily cover up who they are, but instead can reveal who they can be.   

As you can see in the surprisingly moving video at the bottom of this post, Wolf goes from looking like a guy in a downward spiral to an On-Top-Of-His Game GQ model.

As almost everyone who has commented on this stunt has observed, a makeover won't solve deep, long seated problems like homelessness, joblessness and alcoholism.  But it does remind all of us that almost everyone is not a hopeless case, as we often dismissively think when we see a homeless guy on the street.
Jim Wolf after. Watch the moving video
below to see how this happened.  

In the video, Wolf could not see how the transformation was progressing because there was no mirror near him. But when it was done, they put a full length mirror in front of him. The reaction is priceless.

Latest reports are that Wolf is now attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. Things are looking up for him. We wish Wolf, and every veteran the best, and we thank them deeply for their service. We are totally indebted.

Here's the video:


Rubber Duckie Is Now A Hall Of Famer

Since we've been in a childlike mood all week, I'm happy to report more good child type news: The venerable rubber duck has been inducted into the National Toy Hall Of Fame.  
Ernie from Sesame Street celebrates the
induction of the Rubber Duck into
the National Toy Hall of Fame.  


Every year, the Hall of Fame honors toys and games that have become an important part of American culture.

The oh-so-serious game of chess was inducted into the Toy Hall of Fame this year, too, but I'm fixated on the more frivolous rubber duck

(By the way, if you're really into toys, here, in alphabetical order, is all the items in the Toy Hall of Fame. )  

The National Toy Hall of Fame said the rubber duckie first made an appearance in the United States soon after Charles Goodyear's rubber innovations came to the fore.

By the 1940s, rubber ducks had become a regular visitor and childrens' bathtime. Then Ernie, from Sesame Street, came up with a happy little ditty about how he was awfully fond of his rubber duckie, and the rest is history.

Raise your hands: How many of you had a nice squeaky rubber duck when they were kids? How many of you still have one?

Here's Ernie doing his classic ode to the rubber duckie to get your Friday off on the right foot:



Thursday, November 7, 2013

This Six Year Old Dances Wayyyyy Better Than You Do

In today's installment of young kids who do everything better than you do, we meet a six year old dancer in some random video.

Just try what this kid is doing, folks:


Moron Of The Week Hits At Least Four Cars With Stolen SUV, Thinks He Can Get Away

Today we get from Chicago the less-than-heartwarming video of a guy driving a stolen black SUV who has just hit a taxi.
The black SUV hits a cab, on its way to
hitting several other cars as guy driving
stolen vehicle acts like a moron.  

The cabbie tries to stop the driver, even trying to bust out the passenger side window. The SUV driver decides to make a daring getaway!

Instead, he crashes into at least four cars. He does get away momentarily, but the reports are the cops naturally caught up with the loser. He faces multiple charges.  

So far they have not identified the jerk in the SUV.

The cab driver faces some discipline from his boss, but won't be fired. You're not supposed to confront morons like the SUV driver, says the boss. The cab driver is out of work for a week, too, while is cab is being fixed.

Here's the sad, sad video.  


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

"Much Loved" Old Teddy Bears Offer Poignant Photography, Comfortable Memories

Admit it.
Me, relaxing with my childhood teddy bear and
my favorite childrens'  book.  

You're probably an adult, and have been one for a long time.

But chances are, you still have the old teddy bear or other stuffed toy that, when you were little, could not be separated from, EVER.

And I bet you still would never part ways with Teddy. He's in your house somewhere, watching over you, protecting you, making you feel safe just like he did when you were three years old.

Along those lines, a photographer named Mark Nixon put together a book called "Much Loved" a collection of images showing very, very battered teddy bears and similar toys that had been hugged and hugged and hugged in times of childhood stress.

Their owners could never let go of these toys, even well into adulthood, and it's understandable why.

Here's what Nixon had to say about the project on the website BoingBoing:

"......I put the call out for people to bring in their much-loved teddies--the more loved, unwashed, and falling apart the better--to be photographed. I expeted it to be mostly children, but it soon became apparent that the idea appealed very much to adults, and that many of them were still very attached t their teddies. It was as though they had been keeping a long-held secret and could finally tell someone what their teddies really meant to them.

Their strength of feeling took me by surprise. While waiting they would tell some usually funny story about their teddy (How they had nearly lost it at some stage was a common theme) or would speak emotionally about what it meant to them. So the stories and memories became integral to the photographs, adding significance to them and bringing them to life."
Someone's childhood teddy bear
from the photography book "Much Loved"
 by Mark Nixon  


I can so relate to the people who had their teddy bears photographed by Nixon. I still have my childhood teddy bear, and I'm 51 years old.

Compared to the teddies in Nixon's photographs, mine's in pretty good shape. He still has his two golden eyes, and a brown button nose. His fur is matted with age, the bottoms of his white feet are dirty and his mouth is misshapen.

When I first had him, you could squeeze him and he'd say things like "I love you" but that feature broke a long, long time ago.

My teddy sits on a dresser drawer in the bedroom. He's joined by other child-like toys an items I collected as an adult. There's a stuffed Tasmanian devil, from Looney Tunes, that I bought more than two decades ago.

About four years ago, when I had to go into a surgery, my best friend Denis gave me a children's book called "The Gift Of Nothing" by Patrick McDonnell, which charmingly tells us the best thing we can give to our loved ones is time and friendship.

The book is most assuredly in that place of honor in my bedroom.  When I need a little encouragement after a setback that looms large but is really unimportant,  I read "The Gift of Nothing." It always helps immensely.

Lately, I've been obsessed with Minions from "Despicable Me," those cheerful, yellow pill shaped characters who happily soldier on despite all kinds of outlandish and humiliating mishaps

I'm not the least bit ashamed of having these childhood, or childlike items as important touchstones of my life.

We all have bad moments. We all have stress.  We keep our childhood teddy bears and add to our collection because we remember how we felt when Mom yelled at us, or classmate Susie said we were stinky, or we couldn't get the toy we wanted.
The toy panda bear photographer
Mark Nixon had when he was a kid.
He included it in his book "Much Loved"
which shows poignant images
of peoples' childhood teddy bears  

Teddy always made us feel better. We can hug something warm and fuzzy and everything was OK.

That's why a lot of us, as adults, have dogs, isn't it?  If I've had a busy, stressful day, I'll collapse onto the couch. Jackson the Cocker Spaniel will run up, leap up onto my lap and tell me to start giving him a back rub.

Yeah, it feels good to him, but it feels good to me, too. The backrub I give Jackson soothes me more than it soothes him.

It makes me feel like I did when I hugged my teddy bear as a toddler. I bet the you go through the same thing with your dog or cat, if you're lucky enough to have them in your house.

After a few minutes of back rubbing, Jackson leaps off my lap, deposits himself on the floor next to his favorite toy, looks at me, bright eyed and tail wagging and says "Woof!"

That means it's time to play, and chasing Jackson around the house with his toy buffalo or toy cow makes both of us feel great and erases any last vestiges of stress.

Just like when I was a three year old, and Teddy and I, climbing a small hill outside,  pretended we were conquering Everest.

So yes, all adults should have comforting playmates. They could be intelligent beings, like my dog Jackson, or an old teddy bear, or a children's book.

Some people might say clinging to such things is insane.

I say it's the most sane thing any adult could do.