Tag Archives: children

Sunday Scraps 67

1. TELEVISION: Someone took the time to make a Lego-animated recap of The Wire. It’s disconcertinly accurate, down to McNulty’s boozing and Lester’s dollhouses (via The Atlantic Wire).

2. NAMES: File this under things “Things I Worry About A Lot.” NPR investigates what happens when hyphen-girl meets hyphen boy and they try to name their offspring.

3. CRIME: Great, complex New York Times Magazine essay on the fate of Greg Ousley, who killed his parents at age fourteen, was tried as an adult, and is now a “model” prisoner.

4. BOOKS: Do you like books? Do you like the history of books? How about the history of the deckle edge (that rough, uneven way that some printers style book pages)? Then this piece from The Millions is for you.

5. BEAUTY: Just a little reminder that we could all be supermodels if we had the resources, and cheekbones. Or, at bare minimum, supermodels are really just very tall normal people when you take off the make-up.

6. TECH: TimesCast interviews Caterina Fake, co-founder of Flickr, about her new project, Pinwheel.

Related Post: Sunday 66: Library propaganda, Nancy Pelosi, dying languages, etc.

Related Post: Sunday 65: Nicki Minaj, Margaret Atwood on Twitter, lady scientists.


Filed under Art, Body Image, Books, Hollywood, Media, Really Good Writing by Other People

Sunday Scraps 66

1. WORK: Great Chicago Reader essay on how the phrase “work hard, play hard” sometimes means the opposite, and how 35, single, and broke might not be the worst thing.

2. BOOKS: Troy, Michigan employed a creative campaign in reverse psychology to save their local library.

3. LGBTQ: William McGowan at Slate profiles an extortion ring that targeted closeted gay men in the 1960s.

4. CUTE: NPR reporter “interviews” his 5-year-old about why she cut her 3-year-old sister’s hair.

5. LANGUAGE: National Geographic has a slideshow of speakers of dying languages. Fun fact, a language dies every fourteen days.

6. WORDS: Think you read a lot? Think again. Nancy Pelosi is interviewed on her reading habits by the Atlantic Wire.

Related Post: Saturday 65: Nicki Minaj on double standards, Margaret Atwood on Twitter, lady scientists

Related Post: Sunday 64: Word games, comic strips, Genevieve Bell


Filed under Advertising, Books, Chicago, Media, Politics, Really Good Writing by Other People

Sunday Scraps 59

1. WEIGHT: Michelle Obama takes a rare misstep with her support of The Biggest Loser. Ragen Chastain and Virginia Sole-Smith (Beauty Schooled) explain why.

2. KICK: New York Times has a kick-ass interactive graphic mapping the fundraising efforts of kickstarter drives over the last three years. What gets funded, and why?

3. GAY: Comedian Rob Delaney explains where homophobia comes from, and it isn’t pretty.

4. THRONES: My writer crush Emily Nussbaum at The New Yorker covers Game of Thrones in all its nude, violent glory and explains why patriarchy, in Westeros and L.A. both, is what it’s really all about.

5. FOOD: Besides Guy Fieri, have any winners of The Next Food Network Star done squat with their title? NYMag breaks it down.

6. PSYCH: Fabulous, fascinating, chilling article in the New York Times Magazine about recent studies in psychopathy in children. At what age can we detect a future psychopath, what does it mean, and what can we do about it?

Related Post: Sunday 58: Alison Bechdel, boy-free prom, 10 most read books

Related Post: Sunday 57: nudity in Central park, David Brooks on higher ed, child stars


Filed under Body Image, Food, Hollywood, Media, Politics, Really Good Writing by Other People

Sunday Scraps 45

1. TIM: Interview with Tim Gunn in Mother Jones about his childhood, his It Gets Better spot, and consistently being the best thing about Project Runway.

2. PEGGY: Watch Peggy Orenstein (author of Cinderella Ate My Daughter) on Anderson Cooper’s day time show. She talks princess culture, hyper sexualization, you know… the usual stuff.

3. LAUNDRY: From Sociological Images, check out this store front display from UK store Bosch.

4. DREAM: A D.C. classroom of adorable children tag teams “I Have a Dream.” Even Gwen Ifill of PBS is moved.

5. HISTORY: Amazing photos from the Loving family (of Loving vs. Virginia, the case that ended interracial marriage bans). I’ve read so much about this case, but have never known what the namesakes looked like. Nothing like pictures to really contextualize a family’s love in the scope of political history.

6. BODY: A really moving, eloquent piece by Janell Burley Hofmann about what happened when her seven-year-old daughter saw herself in the mirror and declared that she was fat.

Related Post: Sunday 44 = booty call rules, tween feminism, Margaret Cho rocks.

Related Post: Sunday 43 = movie makeovers, Jimmy Fallon as Russell Brand, Private Danny Chen


Filed under Advertising, Body Image, Books, Education, Gender, Media

What’s so masculine about colored plastic blocks?

Can someone explain to me why we need special LEGOs for girls? They are still just colored plastic building blocks, right? Have they changed in some dramatic way since I was a child? Oh yes, I guess they have:


Images from Sociological Images

In the fine print: “LEGO Universal Building Sets will help your children discover something very special: themselves.”


Here’s a full list of the available LEGO Friends sets, but a sampling includes a treehouse, a design studio, a cafe, a “cool” convertible, a beauty shop, a vet’s office, bakery, pool, stage. Does it sound a little Kardashian to anyone else?

LEGOs, Lincoln Logs, k’nex… these toys are awesome because they don’t project anything. They are just building blocks (literally and figuratively) for kids’ imagination and creativity. A kid that wants to make a nail salon can make a nail salon, and a kid that wants to make a U-Boat can make a U-Boat, but nobody is suggesting that you should make either. Well, except the packaging and advertising….

Related Post: Ballerinas and Bridesmaid sticker books.

Related Post: Some people do real cool shit with LEGOs.


Filed under Advertising, Art, Gender

Popstars and Bridesmaids

My first “real” job was in an adorable little toy store in the heart of the pretty adorable town where I grew up. I learned to gift wrap anything (including, once, a hula hoop), but mostly we just played with the display versions of the latest board games.

To this day, I love a good toy store, and so I found myself browsing one recently for no other reason than to see what had changed since my heyday. This is what I found:

I didn’t realize that “popstars” had edged in on the venerable paper doll tradition, nor that bridesmaids was even part of the vernacular of little girls. And since when are bridesmaid dresses ever something anyone celebrates for their style?

I did a little digging after I got home, just to see whether this was all Usborne had to offer, or whether this particular toy store was just short-stocked on the non-Princess sticker books.

The subbrand is called Sticker Dolly Dressing, and there are 21 versions available. I was super pleased to see a “Dream Jobs” title featuring a doctor and an explorer of some sort, as well as a “Sports Girls.” The rest of the list was “Ballerinas,” “Ballerinas and Dolls,” “Dancers,” “Movie Stars,” “Popstars and Movie Stars,” “Weddings,” “Weddings and Bridesmaids,” “Princesses,” “Fairies,” “Princesses and Fairies,” and something called “Fancy Dress.”

Individually, none of these is particularly problematic. It’s not as if they have “Hot Mess,” “Reality TV Star,” or “Playboy Model.” But, collectively, the bottom line speaks with one voice, and it is saying “Be Pretty!” On the other hand, the boy stickers have “Pirates,” “Knights” and “Soldiers,” so maybe their message is “Be Violent!” Is that any better?

Related Post: How to buy toys for girls that don’t involve bustiers.

Related Post: The 1998 “Ruby” Campaign took the Barbie model in a different direction.

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Filed under Gender

Sunday Scraps 27

1.TECH: A comic at Funny Junk demonstrates why we spend so much time on line in a few quick frames.

2. KARDASHIAN: I love This is Indexed for this very concise explanation of the Kardashians’ effect on society.

3. TODDLER: I think the title captures the essence: “Approximately 3 Minutes Inside the Head of my 2-Year-Old”, from Jason Good 365.

4. SENDAK: Remember Maurice Sendak? Where the Wild Things Are? He has a new story out about a pig named Bumble-Ardy. Here’s an interview he did with the Paris Review.

5. BOOKS: A visual history of how we consume the written word, from the New York Times.

6. RISK!: Ever wonder what it means when scientific studies talk about your “risk!!!!!” for certain diseases? The Boston Globe breaks down the lingo and explains how eating chocolate “lowers your risk” for heart disease.

Related Post: Sunday 26 = high heels, lesbians, reality TV, community college placement testing

Related Post: Sunday 25 = presidential venn diagrams, people as canvases, “slut” and yoga.


Filed under Books, Hollywood, Media, Really Good Writing by Other People

Do You Hope Your Child Will Be Straight?

“Are you gay?” It was my mother asking. We were in the car, the hub for most awkward parent-child conversations, in the middle of a pleasant, but heated debate about parental reactions to coming out. A few friends had recently gone through the process with less-than-enthusiastic responses from their very liberal, highly-educated parents.
“But if you were,” she asked, “Would you worry about telling me?”
“Do you think I would be disappointed?”

*      *       *       *       *

My editor at the GMP pointed out that my essay this week has virtually no men at all. Oh well! It’s about parenting, conversations about sexual orientation and how the assumption of straightness can make it hard for kids to come out, even to the most well-meaning liberal parents. I’d hope it’s pretty gender-neutral. So read on for my man-free article for The Good Men Project.

Related Post: Last week at the GMP, I wrote about if and when first date sex is a good idea.

Related Post: Two amazing essays on the legal issues and arguments about gay marriage and biology.


Filed under Family, Gender, Republished!

Sunday Scraps 17

1.BODY/MEDICINE: The American Medical Association is officially putting photoshop on the shit list, “We must stop exposing impressionable children and teenagers to advertisements portraying models with body types only attainable with the help of photo editing software.”

2. MONOGAMY: Dan Savage and his controversial (but refreshingly rational) views on monogamy are profiled by Mark Oppenheimer for the New York Times.

3. WORDS: Katie “Jordan” Price is a British tabloid star (think Paris Hilton with giant boobs). This letter she wrote about her disabled son is powerful, eloquent, and totally surprising. Color me embarrassed for judging the book by its silicone cover.

4. GAY/MONEY: Slate‘s June Thomas profiles the interesting economic challenges of running a gay bar. How do you run a business when you cater to only 10% of the population?

5. WORK: Mike Rowe hosts “Dirty Jobs,” that show about farmers castrating pigs and oil rig employees. His TED Talk about his changing views on the nature of “work” is really good (and not only because he’s damn sexy).

6. TRAUMA: The internet went a bit bonkers this week over Mac Mclelland’s explosive personal essay, “How Violent Sex Helped Ease my PTSD,” about her experiences reporting from Haiti and overcoming the subsequent trauma. Other journalists called foul, accusing McClelland of narcissism and trivializing the real victims. This letter against the piece was signed by a laundry list of activists and writers, including Haitian writer Edwidge Danticat.

Related Post: Last Sunday, we talked about favorite lesbians, two Jo(h)ns, and the negotiating table.

Related Post: The Sunday before included gender in comic books, “Fat,” and raunchy language on the baseball diamond.


Filed under Body Image, Gender, Media, Politics, Really Good Writing by Other People, Sex