thinglets: Burundi Albino Boy Dismembered

It's been two years since I first found one of the most terrifying and bizarre stories I'd ever read or heard about. Everyone who follows my twitter feed knows that I'm a sucker for bizarre articles, but when I found a link appear in my newsfeed to Tanzania's Albino Genocide, I was immediately dumbstruck.

I don't know what inspired me to make a lovehatethings post out of it, but, in retrospect, the topic held some gravitas. To date, that initial post has been read over 23,000 times, and I've received numerous emails and comments about it. I've since maintained a bit of a watch on the subject of albinos in Burundi and Tanzania being slaughtered and dissected for parts because some witch doctors believe it is magic.

I still shake my head to this day.

I am not an albino, nor have I ever been to Tanzania or Burundi, nor do I have ANY tie whatsoever to the cultures involved suffice to say this: the human race is fucked up beyond belief when I'm still reading about ANY nine year-old being dismembered for ANY reason whatsoever.

This blog is often about pop culture minutiae and mindless drivel that sustains me from one day to the next. I am often loathe to be too serious, lest someone take me for someone who really gives a damn about hair care products, cereal boxes, Steve Jobs' foibles, or some new cool tilt-shift video clip from Vimeo. 

I am not often moved to violence, more prone to expressions of disbelief and frustration, so perhaps Bruce Cockburn best expresses what I'm thinking when I keep hearing stories like this for the ongoing lifetime of this blog. And perhaps, out of all the things I've claimed to hate, they all pale in comparison to this.

I want to raise every voice -- at least I've got to try.
Every time I think about it water rises to my eyes.
Situation desperate, echoes of the victims cry.
If I had a rocket launcher... Some son of a bitch would die.

thinglets: The Evolution of Mary Had a Little Lamb

Perhaps one of the easiest songs to remember from childhood, and one of the easiest to sing and play (it's only three different notes to perform a simplified version of the classic children's song). Written by Sarah Josepha Hale in 1830, the rhyme was quickly put to music later in the decade by Lowell Mason who added repetition.

The original is a simple tale of co-dependency and a deep-seeded introverted child who is doomed to run a motel under the lingering presence of her deranged father:

Mary had a little lamb, whose fleece was white as snow.
And everywhere that Mary went, the lamb was sure to go.

It followed her to school one day, which was against the rules.
It made the children laugh and play, to see a lamb at school.

And so the teacher turned it out, but still it lingered near,
And waited patiently about, till Mary did appear.

"Why does the lamb love Mary so?" the eager children cry.
"Why, Mary loves the lamb, you know," the teacher did reply.

Regardless of theme and the faux "tradition" of calling it a lilting children's rhyme, musicians have taken to the lyrics like nobody's business... except maybe yours... check them out.

lovehate: The Nerf Military-Industrial Complex

Two of the greatest toys I ever had growing up was the Nerf Football and Nerf Soccerball. Both spongy projectiles were safe enough to use inside against a wall. Of course they were dangerous to lamps and statues alike, but they allowed for a certain freedom that was important to young Canadian children who were often denied flat outdoor surfaces in the winter to hoof such spherical objects.

There was, at that time, a simplicity with Nerf. Not only in the name, but in the product selection. It was about sports and the ability to get hit in the face with a ball without splitting your lip or losing teeth. Part of this level of innocence came with the fact that every kid knew what Nerf was. They made sponge sport balls, and that was good enough for everyone... everyone that is, except for Hasbro.

In 1970, Parker Brothers released the simply named "Nerf Ball". That's it. Simple, elegant, 4 inches of sponge that sold 4 million units. When they expanded to the Nerf footballs and soccerballs and Nerfoops, all seemed a logical extensions. Through various acquisitions by Kenner, Tonka, and now Hasbro, Nerf has become part of the global military-industrial complex destined to drive our children in lives being destructive war machines.

I offer up the following evidence:


Where To Buy Print Take your blasting skills to the extreme with this two-in-one blaster! This blaster is more than three feet long and can launch arrows up to 35 feet away! Aim with accuracy and precision using the targeting scope. Two quick-reload clips hold a total of 12 STREAMLINE DARTS. There's even a fold-down bi-pod to help you steady your aim for important shots. Looking for a quick shot at close range? The blaster has removable parts to give you one-handed freedom with a single-shot blaster! In either mode, load up, aim, press the trigger and watch the darts go the distance!


Assess the situation and be ready to strike against your opponents! The RAIDER RAPID FIRE CS-35 blaster is the ultimate for any battle! The pump-action handle give you total control of our rate of fire, and the drum magazine holds 35 Clip-System darts, giving you massive ammo capacity. A clear window lets you see how much ammo you have left! Two blasting modes give you defensive flexibility – use the slam fire mode for multishots or the slide mode for single shots! This is the pinnacle of blaster performance! Blaster comes with drum magazine, 35 Clip-System darts, and stock.


Build your own blaster with five interchangeable parts that you can take apart and reassemble any way you want. Snap the parts in any configuration onto the TACTICAL RAIL, and gain the upper hand in any situation that calls for awesome  action. Other features include a flip-up sight for aiming precision, a barrel extension and a dual-mode light beam with red-dot accuracy that's perfect for night missions! Use the shoulder stock to steady your shot and store an extra clip of ammo.


Complete your N-STRIKE arsenal and prepare for the ultimate in battery-powered blasting! Be ready for any battle with the N-STRIKE VULCAN EBF-25 blaster - an awesome, fully automatic cannon! Load the blaster and fire at a rate of up to three shots per second! Watch as the belt feeds automatically through the blaster, letting the barrage of firepower continue as you battle your opponent. The piston-powered internal launching system makes it an unstoppable force! Switch to single-shot mode for precision blasting. The removable tripod folds for easy transport -- or a quick escape from enemy fire! Even your toughest opponent won't know what hit him when you unleash the power of the N-STRIKE VULCAN EBF-25 blaster!

What the fuck!?!

Even my beloved Nerf football now looks like a missle or bomb to launch at enemy territory, and apparently sound like one too.


The VORTEX MEGA HOWLER football gives you the ultimate football experience with awesome performance and a cool whistling sound like no other football! Go long and see how far you can throw it! Football howls with whistling action as it spirals through the air!

Why do I envision turf wars starting up between five year olds and their Nerf accessories. We'll have a six year old General planning the Tet Offensive while four year olds cower in their foxholes on the front line. Isn't a simple four inch sponge sphere enough.

I remember a time when all Lego had four corners, Monopoly only took place in Atlantic City, and the only game I could play on my TV was Pong. Now, I'm not saying that advancement is bad, but was this the only logical evolution of Nerf? I don't remember Slime becoming Bio-Chem Slime Toxic Warfare. I don't remember Jacks developing sharpened spikes that could be thrown at intruders. I don't remember Simon being electric-charged to shock and torture player who couldn't recall the correct light sequence. Nerf went the way of weaponry, and I just don't get it.

Maybe I'm just old... I need to go find a Space Invaders game and shoot me some aliens.

thinglets: Other Musical Thoughts About A Sesame Street Anniversary

Take a moment to think about the love that people had for Jim Henson and remember some of the characters he brought into the world while enjoying the next couple of video clips. It's been 19 years since Jim Henson died and I remember his characters more affectionately than almost any character from a film or novel. These voices were laced with innocence and inspired fantasies and awestruck countenances.

lovehate: 10 Memories of a Childhood Candyland

Every kid likes candy. If you didn't like candy, it's because you lost your taste buds in a horrible smelting accident. I remember growing up with candy type that I just can't find anymore, or, if they are around, they don't seem as cool as they used to be. Now I'm not talking chocolate bars here; that's its own special category. I'm talking compressed, molded sugar of various artificial flavors.

Gold Rush Gum

The packaging is what made this gum desirable. If memory serves, the gum was crap. But what kid wouldn't love a cool little candy bag with a drawstring to keep when the were done. P erhaps this same design ploy was attached to Crown Royal as I got older.

Koo Koo

This Neopolitan Choco-Vanilla-Strawberry striped taffy was all the rage for a short time and was visually appealing because for the same price as a package of smaller candy, the surface area alone would draw you in. The taffy was about what you'd expect in a mashed down strip wherein the "flavors" really didn't taste to different from each other. I, in fact, once rolled up the taffy into a ball to prove to a friend there really wasn't a tremendous value in this landing strip confection. Now that was a helluva taffy ball chew to get through.

Bottle Caps

Bottle Caps were absolutely awesome! Here was a candy, shaped like bottle caps, that actually had a lingering taste of the pop they were supposed to represent. I can imagine the marketing wizards sitting around a table coming up with these: "Here's an idea! Let's pack some solid sugar together to taste like liquid sugar!" If parents tell their kids not to drink too much pop, they can enjoy Bottle Caps instead.

Sweet Tarts

Not much deception in the name here. They were sweet. They were tart. They were different colors, but the colors seemed inconsequential. You would inevitably be enjoying the sweet flavor with mild amount of sour along the way until you got down to where you bit the candy. Then it was all over. You could rarely stop from making the "sour" face as the powdered explosion hit your taste buds. Happy times!

Pop Rocks

Still legendary. The source of many a mythological horror story about the kid who put 8 packs of Pop Rocks in his mouth and drank a can of Coke. It was kin d of like the candy version of Bloody Mary. In fact, the myth went so far as to claim it cost the life of Life Cereal spokeskid Mikey: "His head blew up! Hey Mikey!" The taste was meaningless. Pop Rocks were the Mexican Jumping Beans of your mouth. How much cooler could it get?

Popeye Candy Cigarettes

Screw health and political correct candy. If I was too scared to get caught smoking, I certainly wasn't too scared to pretend I was with candy cigarettes. The sad thing is they forced a name change to "candy sticks". Really? Did they honestly that candy sticks shilled by the ugliest sailor on the high seas was going to be a "gateway" snack to a nicotine fix. I mean, it's not like the character had ever been used before to shill something equally distasteful like vegetables or something... wait... never mind. Forget about smoking. The candy itself probably had more damaging substances than the average cigarette. Check out the ingredients on that package: corn starch, sugar, corn syrup, palm oil, gelatine, artificial flavors and colors... REALLY? ARTIFICIAL? Who would've guessed this wouldn't have the all natural tastes of tar and tobacco?

Hubba Bubba

Yeah, Bubblicious was cool as well, but Hubba Bubba had a name that rhymed, and for a single-digit aged kid, that's all it took. The bubble were no-stick as well. In as much as I loved Double Bubble and the enclosed comic strips growing up, Hubba Bubba was that next-gen late 70's breakthrough of square gum that burst on the scene with a bunch of groovy commercials.

Starburst Fruit Chews

Alright, I know that any candy that has fruit in the name should never pass a kid's lips, but that was the ploy of the name. By putting the word "fruit" in it, not only could you tell your parents you ate fruit with lunch, but you could also live under the illusion that your logic in convincing them that the "real" fruit in the flavoring MUST be healthy for you.

"Capsule" Candy

This is more of a category wrap up than an individual candy. The pill-like confections in boxes like Mike and Ike's, Goodies, Good & Plenty, and Hot Tamales were much more of a threat than Popeye cigarettes. These "pills" allowed you to "be like mom" in popping your candy valium or Contact C for the day. Lookie like every "diet pill" that was ever made, in many of the same colors, it's a small wonder these were allowed to live on. Maybe if they called them Betty Boop's Secret Pill Stash Candy, they would've been outlawed.

Life Savers

We had a Life Saver factory in my hometown of Hamilton, Ontario. The Life Saver Christmas Book, containing ten rolls, was the most popular gift during the in-class gift exchange growing up... although 8 year-olds have a hard time getting past Butter Rum. Life Savers crossed over in pop culture in a huge way when the inspirational "Have a Life Saver, maybe it'll make you feel better" was used as one of the greatest punchlines on Happy Days. Wayda go Mr. C!

thinglets: Muppets do Mad Men

You know what? I've given up on Saturday Night Live for my parody and satire. I'm turning to Sesame Street from now on. Sure it may be skewed to children, but at least I expect it. SNL, who should be trying to skew towards me, ends up hitting the lowest common denominator which is far below children and, most often, insulting. If you're a fan of Mad Men - enjoy!

thinglets: Electra Woman and Dyna Girl meet Leonardo Da Vinci

A wicked retro trip back to Saturday morning in the 70s. The Krofft Supershow had a host of cheesy parts that made up the epic entertainment experience, but perhaps the cheesiest was Electra Woman and Dyna Girl. And as the post title indicates, in this clip they follow the Sorcerer who's bent on traveling through time to steal the Mona Lisa from Leonardo Da Vinci.

Start digging on the wrist communicators - you KNOW you want one!