Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Wheels of Misfortune, Real-Time Homeland, Hipsters, MOM's to the Rescue

The wheel is a marvelous invention, surely one of the main reasons civilization has advanced from the cave. But a wheeled snow shovel? As far as I am concerned, I might as well still be a Neanderthal.

I had so been looking forward to a slight snowfall to test-drive my new wheeled snow shovel. I was disappointed to hear rain tapping against our bathroom skylight when I woke up in the middle of the night. But when the alarm went off this morning I was rewarded with a light, white covering on the driveway and walkway. Even before eating breakfast I eagerly unhinged my new toy from the hook it was hanging from in the garage. 

A total disaster. I won’t bore you with details of either my ineptitude or the poor design of the shovel. The only consolation is the friendly customer service rep said she would send a mailing label so I wouldn’t be charged for return freight and I didn’t even need the original invoice which came with the shovel. Good thing, because I can’t find it. 

I’m really bummed. The shovel had looked so easy to use in the promotional video I watched on line. Ah, well ...

Homeland Update: Ever wonder what a real life Carrie Anderson, the CIA agent/analyst trying to uncover a turncoat American serviceman, would look like? She’d more likely resemble a grandmother than the fetching Claire Danes of the Showtime program Homeland, if one goes by the picture of the woman who spearheaded the effort to find a mole inside the CIA, the notorious Aldrich Ames. 

Jeanne Vertefeuille died December 29. She was 80. For those who missed her obituary in Sunday’s NY Times, here’s a link. It’s a fascinating story of dedication, reminding us that truth is often more engrossing than fiction (

Connected at the Hip: During a profile aired on CBS Sunday Morning a few days ago, Scarlett Johansson was asked if she feels any older, now that she’s been married and divorced. “No,” responded the 28-year-old actress. “I feel wiser, maybe. I only feel older in my right hip. But I’m attributing that to Marvel" (for whom she plays the Black Widow in the Avengers comic book-inspired film series).

The morning I turned 35, I woke up with a pain of unknown origin in my right hip. It went away pretty quickly, but I always wondered why my body sent out a ping of rebellion, considering I do not angst over birthdays. Seven weeks from today I’ll celebrate another birthday, the one immortalized by the Beatles (64, for those who have no idea what I’m talking about).

MOM’s to the Rescue: Advertising works. I made a nice living on that premise. But not all advertising is appropriate, especially when targeted to influence those who cannot always discern the hidden messages being sent their way. 

Accordingly, MOM’s Organic Market, a Washington-Baltimore based regional grocer, is taking off its shelves all packaging that features cartoon characters from children’s books, films and television, even those from educational TV like Elmo and Dora the Explorer.

The 10-store family owned retailer can hardly hope to influence the national market, especially when adults have to be willing and knowledgeable participants. Last month I bought Finley a drinking cup with a race car floating in its base. I thought it was cute and would make meal-time fun. Little did I realize the car was a licensed product of the movie Cars; the suspended auto was the star, Lightning McQueen. Even though 3-year-old Finley had not seen the movie, he knew the character. 

In my defense, I’m a grandparent. Aren’t we supposed to spoil our grandkids? Still, I agree with Susan Linn, Director of the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood, who said, "Using beloved media characters to sell kids on a particular brand of food is wrong, even if it's healthy food. Children should not be trained to pick foods based on the cartoon on the box” (or, I might add, the car in the cup). 

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