Saturday, December 5, 2015


Since 1959, Barbie has shaped girls' ideas about life, love, and looks. Now Mattel's latest new doll, "Barbie Hello," actually chats with her owner.

With a microphone in her necklace, batteries in her thighs, a USB port in her back, Barbie answers questions and records the girls' replies.

Over the years, Barbie's been a model, astronaut, paleontologist, Air Force jet pilot, surgeon, NASCAR driver, a rap artist; a singer at the Grand Ole Opry, a WNBA basketball player, and also run  for president three times.

She's a fabulous female that young females love and emulate -- neat, slender-perfect figure with a very small waist and long perfect legs, and on her pink perfect lips a confident, self-satisfied smile.

Nevertheless, Pulitzer-prize winning novelist, Carol Shields said that Barbie’s expression, with “its dumb shine of self-absorption, its trippingly tartish look of one who is out for all she can get, is eerily disturbing.” Also, Barbie being a blonde, white doll person has been criticized. Though Mattel created a Black Barbie, also a Hispanic Barbie, using the molds for White Barbie, Ann Ducille, professor of American and African-American literature at the University of California, contends that “white Barbie dolls are the norm," and quotes a black mother who said that although her daughter played with Black Barbie, she asked for the "real Barbie."

The fact is, real Barbie's responsible for eating disorders. The doll is 11.5 inches, which, at a 1/6 scale, would make her 5 feet 9 inches tall. Her vital statistics have been estimated at bust, 36 inches, waist 18 inches,  and hips, 33 inches. Furthermore, 1965's Barbie came with a book titled "How To Lose Weight," with a chapter titled "Don't Eat," that inspired a major hospital in Finland to say that Barbie lacks the 17 to 22 percent body fat required for a woman to menstruate. Mattel explained it away, saying that Barbie is a model, and a movie star -- they have to keep their weight 10 to 20 pounds below what's "normal," because the high fashion outfits they wear invariably add bulk to one's figure.

Yes, Barbie has tons of high fashion clothes, as well as haut couture outfits for Theatre Date, Movie Date, Party Date, Friday Night Date, Sorority Meeting, plus outfits for Tennis Anyone, Ski Queen, Icebreaker, and outings with her boyfriend Ken. He's been her sweetheart for 43 years. In a press release, Mattel announced that they had "grown apart and needed some time alone, but they would remain friends.” Mattel has also publicized a Wife version of the doll, which hasn't appeared yet -- perhaps Ken will be reestablished, or maybe Barbie will be living with her boyfriend.

Meanwhile, "Barbie Hello" now records and transmits her chats.

ToyTalk, a San Francisco-based artificial intelligence firm, using voice recognition technology, advises Barbie on how she should respond to questions users ask, and stores these conversations in the cloud, where they can be studied, and used for newer Barbies and other toys.

By now, most of us are accustomed to Google and Facebook mining our private messages, family photos, and Internet histories, but sooner or later NSA, FBI and other agencies will have access to all that personal data, and there will be hackers.

Okay, I've always been somewhat uncomfortable with the Barbie doll being what girls want, seek, and stand for, but now that she's chatting with girls like a sister, friend, aunt, or parent -- I am very uncomfortable.

Friends, Romans, countrymen, and blog pals, here's some logical, sensible, loud advice -- DON'T BUY IT.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015


Sometimes on the highway there's a warning.

Sometimes you just keep going.

You put on your survival hat and travel down the winding road on foot, on a bike, in an auto, or donning your wings.

Hey, "if you come to a fork in the road, take it." That's what Yogi Berra said.

Why? Probably it's what Berra learned from doing what he did in baseball.

If you don't move down the road, maybe it's because you don't know where the road might be taking you. Even so, take a step, then another, and see whatever is there to see -- the yellow line, cracks in the road, rocks along the side, or maybe the foliage as you look beyond the trees and wonder where you are going.

Here's a remark for you  to remember:

"A person often meets his destiny on the road he took to avoid it," said Jean de la Fontaine, 17th Century French poet whose fables are still quoted nowadays.

Travel lightly -- don't pack all your clothes, your mementos, your special favorite things. The less you carry with you, the easier it is to take strong steps and get from where you are, to another place where you can pause and look around.

Ayn Rand said, "People create their own questions because they are afraid to look straight. All you have to do is look straight and see the road, and when you see it, don't sit looking at it -- walk."

Okay, if you're tired, you can't help recalling other long walks that led to empty spots and dead-end places, dark places -- where time was wasted looking for ways to get out, or ways to back out while traveling slowly backwards.

Hey, even moving backwards you are progressing. Back, sideways, forward, or up or down is progressing -- it's life's exercise.

You could quote Hawking, Einstein, Margaret Thatcher, Buddha -- a  lot of major thinkers talk about the roads we travel on. You could sing that song:

"Life is a winding road,
with many twists and turns.
You must make the right choices,
or you will crash and burn.

There is always a chance,
the wrong choice will be chosen.
But do not fret, and do not fear.
The right choice you will hear.

Life is a winding road,
with many different choices.
Be careful what you choose,
for there are many different voices."

Yes, sing but don't judge, attach praise, or fears, or definitions. Be there. Just be there as you go.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015


Isn't it wonderful -- THE MET BREUER, an expansion of the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, has opened in thet the former home of The Whitney Museum of American Art.

It offers the public  a change to experience modern art like they can't get anywhere else. Afrter 15 milion in renovations, the Met Bruer features an exhibiton of works by n of Indian modernist artist Nasreen Mohamedi. Rrarely seen, early photographs by Diane Arbus (opening July 2016)   Mid-career retrospective of the contemporary painter Kerry James Marshall (opening October 2016), in November 2016)
continuous in-gallery performances by resident artist Vijay Iyer, a newly commissioned sonic experience by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer John Luther Adams, and an all-day staging in the Met’s three locations of the U.S. premiere of Karlheinz Stockhausen’s unfinished composition Klang

I did a bit of sampling of each, to gshare with a you a sense of what this new Museum is doing for culture.
Nasreeb Niganedi

Juthese samples give you a preview of whats new, imortant, signifancat, selected to reach us, the audience for modern art.

Diana Arbus's twins --a famous series

Kerry Jam es Marsahll

Vijay Iyer
American jazz pianist, composer, bandleader, producer, electronic musician, and writer based in New York.

 John Luther Adams music at Bruer

Stockhausen's Klang...

i HOPE these samll samplings of what's new, consdiered important, significant, that you will experience if you head for ht emet Bruer. I find it  NOT wonderful, but amazing, that this is what I have to look at and stufy, and hear, and see --study, if I want to know what's happening in the the art world, and decide that my reaction has value for others, for whom the current show at the MEt Bruer will be ....confusing, not ythrilling, a bit boring, but will create a churning within me, to know more and identify more with what artsists are thinking and talking about nowadasys.

Sunday, November 29, 2015


Emily Frankel and John Cullum have fun, remembering John's playing  the role of Charlie Anderson in this Broadway musical.

They agree that it changed their lives our lives. Aside from the fact that John won the Tony Award for his performance -- his earnings as the star enabled them to renovate and take over the 4th floor of their building and make their home larger.