STILL, IF HE HAPPENS TO PULL A JONATHAN PAPLEBON ROOKIE CARD, WE'RE PUTTING IT UNDER MYLAR

Slate jumps on the bandwagon of media outlets which have realized that no self-respecting kid collects baseball cards anymore, and repeats the argument expressed elsewhere that the road back for the industry must begin with the winnowing of competing brands, the dumping of costly holograms and other geegaws, and the return to cheap, simple packs of cards kids can feel comfortable reading and trading without the pressure of preserving a collection.

Anecdotal evidence (from us) says cardmakers may be making progress. Fellow and his friends at baseball camp last week were happy to put their quarters in a vending machine for a loose handful of random cards from as far back as 15 years ago. Of course, five-year-olds are not the most discriminating consumers, but at least they're on board with the concept that cards are cool. And we've recently spotted, along with (or instead of) the traditional small packs, larger packages with 40 or 50  new cards, which put a critical mass of cards in kids' hands more quickly. Clearly, they've realized that once you've got the boys sorting (see: Yu-Gi-Oh), you've got them for a while. And had it not been for Loving Mother's stern glare, we'd have bought Fellow three of them last weekend.

JUST WHAT THE CORPORATION FOR PUBLIC BROADCASTING NEEDS - ANOTHER PBS KIDS ANAL SEX SCANDAL

Melanie the Baby-sitter, star of "The Good-Night Show" on the PBS Kids Sprout network, was fired by the network after confessing that she'd appeared in some spoof public-service announcements, called "Technical Virgin," advocating anal sex for girls trying to avoid pregnancy. (You can see one of the spots here.) Tickle Me Elmo, indeed.

RIP, TEEN PEOPLE

5392l Time Inc. pulled the plug on its badly listing Teen People franchise last night, preserving the brand as a Web site, but potentially putting 40-50 staffers out of work. (Details and rumors here and here.) Full disclosure: We were once an assigning editor at Teen People, under its initial regime, when it burst out of the gate, selling millions of copies and even taking a National Magazine Award for General Excellence, still the only such Ellie ever given to a teen book. And we're proud of that. But after every other publisher followed Time Inc. into the then-booming teen girl magazine market (now pretty much busted), TP tried to compete by upping the celebrity-gossip and dating-tips ante, and jettisoning much of the newsier material which had distinguished it in the market. And, predictably, it was all downhill from there. After hiring and dumping at least three top-editor teams, the magazine that shut down yesterday bore little resemblance to the one we worked at. (Of course, it doesn't help that the carcasses of the young celebrities that TP and its ilk once picked over exclusively are now beset by a flock of new grown-up celeb rags.)

We wish any old friends still at the shop good luck landing on their feet.

NOW, THAT'S PRECOCIOUS

Several readers have recommended that we share with anyone who may have missed it the Sunday Times piece on the remarkable 9-year-old cartoonist, Alexa Kitchen, whose work has been praised by no less than Robert Crumb and the late Will Eisner. Her latest book (packaged by her comic-publisher dad) is now on sale - a "how to" for kids called "Drawing Comics Is Easy, Except When It's Hard."

As a parent, our first instinct is naturally to resent the little girl's success, envy her parents, and bemoan our own children's struggles to draw rainbows on birthday cards. But we're not going to do that, at least not in this case, because Alexa's good cheer has won us over:

“I never expected to do anything like this. I never expected a single person would buy my book. It makes me want to hug this pillow so hard. It makes me want to burst it. It makes me want to hug the whole world and squeeze everybody.”

OK, FINE. BUT WE'RE STILL NOT BUYING ANY CAPRI SUN

Still working our way through the files from our recent vacation, and still trying to get our head around the Times' counterintuitive front-page Sunday Business article that corn syrup may not be so bad for you, after all - or at least, no worse than sugar. An All-Star roster of independent scientists and corn-industry spokespeople defended the processed goo, and shifted the blame for rising American obesity to food marketers who have radically increased the size of their sodas and snack packages over the years - though their ability to do so can be directly linked to the relatively recent easy availability of cheaper-than-sugar corn syrup.

But when we've reported on risky foods, the pediatric dietitians we've spoken to have been in almost total agreement that corn syrup, especially in beverages, was a major culprit in the country's fat-kid crisis, and that parents should read labels and avoid the sweetener as best they can. So, thanks anyway, but we're going to stick with water, Gorilla Munch, and organic ketchup for the kids - and you probably should as well.

CORPORATE SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITY: FREELANCE DAD'S FIRST-EVER LECTURE TOUR

If someone can come up with the funding, we're prepared to hit the road tomorrow to speak to couples in their early 20s who are so desperate to have children that they're unnecessarily seeking fertility treatments. Our message?: Trust us, kids: There's no hurry. And you prospective 22-year-old dads out there, we want you to ask yourself one simple question, and answer us truthfully now: Don't you want to see Spider-Man 3 on the big screen? Because, trust us, if you've got a newborn to watch over, you're going to have to wait for that bad boy to come out on Netflix, and that would be the real tragedy, wouldn't it?

[For a more potty-mouthed take on this non-trend, we refer you to our good friends at Stay Free.]

AND NOW A MESSAGE FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF SHAMELESS SELF-PROMOTION

Reserve your copy of this book today, and it'll screw up all of your Amazon orders through next February.

July 26, 2006 | Permalink | Subscribe to RSS

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