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“Fat Ladies in Spaaaaace” A (Coloring) Book Review

A number of weeks ago, I stumbled across a curious assortment of coloring books online. Excited to see these in person, I ordered the most interesting one, Fat Ladies in Spaaaaace. In the description on Amazon, it’s described as being a “body positive” coloring book. I thought, “Hm, that’s a cool concept. I’m all for self-esteem!”
It finally came in the mail today! I was so excited. I could hardly handle it. The pictures would be awesome and the captions would be funny and empowering at the same time because outer space is cool and sci-fi is cool and all body types are cool and oh my goodness what a pretty cover. I CAN’T WAIT TO COLOR ALL—
Oh my.
What.
Why.
WHY.

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SEDUCING ALIEN WOMEN?

Woah now. Huh? I’m not really sure why that’s necessary. What does that have to do with having a good body image? As I continued to leaf through the book, it became more and more obvious that these women, all of them, were homosexuals. WHY. WHAT DOES THAT HAVE TO DO WITH ANYTHING AT ALL. WHY. WHY. WHY.

I was so psyched when I discovered this coloring book! It appeared to have a positive message to relay as well as super cool sci-fi drawings. But no. This coloring book doesn’t ever say that it’s okay to be any shape/size. Never. It’s just page after page of awkward pictures. Not in an explicit way, although a number of the characters could be a bit more covered… Once I realized these women were gay, it totally changed everything. I felt uncomfortable just looking at them, so how on Earth would I ever be able to COLOR them? My, my, my.

Homosexuality is a sin. Plain and simple. I’m not saying it’s any worse than any other sin. But still, a sin it remains. This coloring book wouldn’t have bothered me so much if the content had actually reflected the title. I bought this to see a bunch of cool female space warriors who love their bodies. Why are they also gay? Why…

Long story short, I’m very disappointed in this book. Sigh. There go my dreams of quirky coloring books. I will say this though, the artwork was pretty cool. The author, Nicole Lorenz is very creative and really knows her science fiction jargon! This is definitely one of my favorites…

For all the Doctor Who fans!

For all the Doctor Who fans!

This isn’t exactly an average coloring book that can be found at your local Wal-Mart. Really, I give the author props for being different. But I would never offer this to a child, so the hunt for quirky coloring books continues…

Everyone Loves a Slinky!

Slinkys. Just about everybody has one. Think. When was the last time you saw one of these? Can you even remember? Maybe not. These little guys are so timeless they blend into the background, but odds are, there’s always one not far away.

A few weeks ago I went into a panic because I couldn’t find mine. I thought, “Really? I know I have one somewhere!” It turns out, it had become a cup holder on my desk. I had been storing my numerous flash drives there for months! It was right in front of my face and I thought I had lost it…

But this got me thinking, that’s not necessarily bad. On some subconscious level I made a point to keep it around. And why not? I have some good memories with that Slinky! When I was a kid, wind suit pants were dangerously popular (or they were hideously out of style and Mom just bought them anyway?). They were fantastically friction-free, so I would slid down the stairs on my caboose with them quite often. Sometimes I would race my Slinky down the stairs, of course I always won, but that’s one of those memories that has always stuck with me. I mean, what other toy can move like that? I have 3 siblings, but I played with that thing all the time. Other than the strange smell it leaves behind on your hands, it’s golden. Metaphorically speaking.

The Slinky was first introduced in the early 1940s. The creator made sure they were affordable for everyone, because there shouldn’t be a price on playtime. Can we take a moment to appreciate how AWESOME that is?? Obviously, the 1940s were a tough time for everyone, but today Slinky remains an affordable toy. Did the Slinky sell out? Do they walk and talk and have built Wi-Fi? No sir.

In other words, the Slinky is the inanimate embodiment of everything I love about toys. They’re simple and fun. Sure they get tangled from time to time, but will it go up in smoke if it falls in the bathtub? Are there any little pieces you might lose? Any assembly required? Nah. (But a killer staircase is nice.)

There is a lot that can be learned from the Slinky. It is flexible, resilient, timeless. It adapts, stretches, but most importantly, it bounces back. It’s powered by its own momentum. What a beautiful metaphor. What poetry.

So be a Slinky in everything you do.

Woot woot! It’s Almost 2014!

Hey kiddos! Unless you live under a rock that has internet access, you probably know that tomorrow is the last day of 2013. (Now I’m re-thinking that joke… If you have internet access, you more than likely have a handy dandy virtual calendar… or a real one. Nevermind.)

A new year means a lot of things for people… Unrealistic weight-loss goals. Empty promises to quit smoking. Checks written with the wrong date. You get the idea. For me, 2014 means NEW TOYS. (For this blog I considered ticking off the popular toys of 2013, but it’s better to look forward and be hopeful rather than look back on all the electronic gizmos and get angry.)

Next semester, I only have 3 classes, all of which are online. I’m guessing that I’ll have some free time to journey to toy stores and see what’s what. This way I’ll be able to see what the market trends are in smaller scale stores (as opposed to Wal-Mart and Toys “R” Us). I’ll talk to owners, Instagram my findings, and get lost along the way because I don’t have the greatest sense of direction. I’m also interested to know how demographics play a role in the success of an independent toy retailer…

Another ambition for the New Year is to obtain part-time employment at the nearest Toys “R” Us, which just so happens to be in Fort Wayne, 50 minutes from my house. A lot of you might be saying, “That’s a terrible idea!” Very true, it might be! Quite frankly, I love my current job, so believe me when I say that this will not be permanent! Taking on a second job in another city will indeed be stressful, but I would like the experience. I’ll be like a secret agent, working undercover to learn the enemy’s weaknesses. And I qualify for the job. Boy, do I qualify. I can count change and be friendly; two essential characteristics of a cool employee, in my opinion. Oh yeah, and if there’s an employee discount, I’ll explode with happiness and rainbows.

Of course, the good ol’ blog will continue to be a priority. I’m still new to all of this stuff so I hope to become more technologically literate as well as find video editing software that doesn’t make me turn into the Incredible Hulk and smash stuff.

That’s all for now! Happy New Year!

IT’S CHRISTMAS

Please allow me to be the ten trillionth person to wish you a merry Christmas! I hope it has been filled to the max with sugarplums, warm feelings, and unhealthy food.

Every year, I’m up and at ‘em by 7 am to creep into the living room and marvel at the presents under the tree. And every year it’s the same. I can feel the magic of Christmas, pure Yuletide adrenaline, coursing through my veins. So what’s all this crap I hear about people not being excited for Christmas? If one more person tweets something like, “Christmas makes me wish I were a kid again” I’ll go bananas. Come on, dude. Christmas is for EVERYONE. I realize some families aren’t able to exchange as many gifts as they would like, but happiness and holiday cheer are free. We all have problems. I get it. That’s one thing. But it’s ANOTHER THING ENTIRELY to have the attitude that some people have these days. You know who you are…

Children are born with a special kind of magic. (Not just wizards, but muggles too!) This magic fuels imagination. In other words, it’s the stuff that makes being a kid so darn fun. Sometimes, when kids grow up, they lose their magic and no longer find certain things special anymore, which makes everything pale in comparison to their childhood. For example, Andy the Adult might not care what a Christmas tree looks like because none of them hold a candle to the trees he had growing up. This is where the “back in MY day” speech comes in… So basically, these people live in the past. It’s cool to reminisce and what not, but some people go out of their way to point out the flaws in present day Christmas-y stuff. It’s like saying “I know for a fact that this Christmas will not be as good as the year I got that bike so I’m going to be a humbug and use social networking websites to whine about how I hate growing up.” Sounds pretty uncool to me.

So my question for you is, where is YOUR magic? If you still have it, that’s outstanding! Hold onto it and don’t you dare let go, whatever you do. This magic doesn’t simply pertain to Christmas alone, but everyday things as well. Such as…

Blowing bubbles in milk
The post office
Tiny versions of normal-sized stuff
Shooting stars
Telling campfire stories
Finding change on the ground
Making that duck bill thing out of Pringles

If you don’t think at least two of the things listed above are cool, then I’m sorry, but you’ve lost your magic. Really, I’m very very sorry.

Anywho. Christmas. May it always find its way into your heart and give you the warm fuzzies. I hope with every fiber of my being that one day I will be able to bring the joy of Christmas to others through the everlasting whimsy of toys. When it comes to Christmas and the toy store, I have so many ideas it’s insane! I constantly find myself saying, “Oh, that would be cool in the toy store” (to the point where I’m sure my family members roll their eyes at the word toys). But seriously. We’re talking train sets, fake snow, a real live Santa, you name it! So brace yourselves. The toy store will live and breathe Christmas magic.

Once again, I wish a merry Christmas to you and yours, whether you still have your magic or not. If you don’t, there’s hope for you yet. No need to worry. But you’ll have to work hard if you want to be one of the magical cool kids. They’re easy to spot. Usually they are the ones enjoying life the most.

That is my wish to you this holiday season. Enjoy life.

God bless!

Coloring Outside the Lines

Lately I’ve been obsessed with coloring books. There’s something about the smells of crayons that makes my brain mega happy. *sniff* Ahhhhh. Growing up, there was an almost permanent spot in our back room devoted to coloring. Tupperware containers overflowed with all the Crayola products you could ever imagine. Coloring books were plentiful. I would color for hours and hours and hours…

Does the average child consider coloring as a possible activity? Do they? I really don’t know. What if coloring books die out? You can scoff all you want, but think about it. Coloring encourages the use of motor skills and creativity. Without it, all the refrigerators of the world will be bare. We’ll have an EPIDEMIC of naked fridges on our hands, people.

Coloring books provide a set “drawing” for the artist to fill in. This involves planning out which colors look best in certain locations (unless you go with the toddler approach and scribble on every page in the book with the same crayon and all of your siblings hate you for the rest of your natural life). It was nice for me to have something to work with already so I didn’t have to deal with the nerve-wracking pressure of producing a Mona Lisa quality piece of refrigerator art. That’s the magic of coloring books! It’s like you’re a master cartoonist who can draw anything in the world, from Barbies to dinosaurs, in the blink of an eye (or the turn of a page). But really, you take someone else’s creation and make it your own. Who says elephants HAVE to be grey? Make it purple; nobody is going to stop you. And Cinderella? Go ahead and give her Joker make up. Because, why not??

Coloring books mean freedom of expression without borders. Because not everyone is Picasso.

The selection of coloring books readily available is dwindling. Crayola is obviously the mighty Kong of the children’s craft universe. So most likely your options are, “Jungle Animals” “Monster Trucks” “Princesses” and “Dinosaurs” all cleverly named by the classic coloring company. I’m sorry, but if I have to leaf through another coloring book full of the same puppy in 86 different poses, I will blow a microchip. Coloring book subjects are so predictable I could puke. How many trucks can one kid color before he starts to snap his crayons in anger? Maybe kids are losing interest in coloring because they have a right to do so.

Toy store proposal: quirky coloring books.

Let’s have a variety available! Not EVERY coloring book is princess themed, believe it or not. While browsing Amazon earlier today, I found several non conventional books… The best one was called “Fat Ladies in Space” and no it’s not offensive to overweight women. It’s a body POSITIVE coloring book. And the title is hilarious/interesting. Another was “Unicorns are Jerks” and it features different examples of the unicorns (yep, you guessed it) being jerkburgers. It discourages poor etiquette and, once again, it’s a hoot.

Cool coloring books are a cool idea for cool kids who like being cool. And I’m cool with that.

P.S. Have a very Merry Christmas! 🙂

Guess Who? No.

All right, let me preface this by saying that this post was originally intended to be in video form. As you can see, that didn’t work out so well, but it’s okay, I don’t mind wasting 4 hours on a video that fails to publish. No worries.

My cousin Brandon requested that I review the newest version of Hasbro’s “Guess Who?” This confused me at first because who honestly hasn’t played it before? Why would I do a review of a timeless board game? How could the new version be that different?

Great Caesar’s ghost, I was wrong! Soooooo wrong!

This isn’t even the same game. The rules of the original still apply, but the dynamics have changed. Instead of guessing PEOPLE, you guess OBJECTS. Kind of takes away from the name of the game doesn’t it? A slice of pizza isn’t exactly a “who.” Way to teach the kids proper pronoun usage, guys. Bravo.

Before I tear this game to pieces, let’s focus on the positives.

There are four different categories to choose from: pets, food, sea creatures, and modes of transportation.

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These cards are inserted into the “housing unit” or the plastic doohickey with the semi-secretive doors.

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With only 15 choices to pick from, you can play a game in about 3 minutes if you go slowly. Your choices are eliminated quickly by asking questions like “Are you a vegetable?” “Yes.” Boom. All other foods are off the board. Personally I don’t see this as an advantage, but for children with short attention spans, this may be a more suitable board game option. However, keep in mind that quick gameplay sacrifices the sacred element of FUN.

Okay, forget the positives. It’s ranting time. This is Guess WHO. Am I crazy to expect a game that involves guessing a PERSON’S identity? It can most certainly be argued that kids may be more likely to ask discriminatory questions based on skin color, gender, etc. Seriously people, stop being so sensitive.

“Is your person old?” Disrespectful to elders.

“Is your person a woman/man?” Sexist.

“Is your person black/white?” Racist.

Hold the phone. This game is about using adjectives to describe people. ADJECTIVES. If an adjective offends you, call Merriam-Webster and have them remove it from the dictionary. Let me know how that turns out. How are we supposed to describe people?

There may be other reasons for changing this game so drastically. I’m just calling it like I see it. And all I can see is a crappy game that put me out $14.99.

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“Gay Rights” for Toys?

Labels. We slap them on just about everything from food to people. Well ladies and gremlins, one type of labels might disappear forever in the near future.

Gender labels. More specifically, TOY gender labels, are falling out of fashion as more and more corporations join the “Let Toys Be Toys” campaign, which discourages toy stores from separating toys into “Boys” and “Girls” sections. An interesting concept for sure, but I have mixed feelings on the subject.

I’m all for equality among the sexes. Women can work on cars and men can be nurses. That’s cool. I’m no stranger to being treated like a second class citizen based solely on the fact that I am a female. Like really, dude? You somehow managed to figure out I’m a woman, but you can’t gasp the fact that I’m also a human being, JUST LIKE YOU. It’s 2013. Come on.

So clearly the feminist in me is like, “Yeah! Who says little girls have to play with tea sets? Bring on the dinosaurs!” And little boys, feel free to play with dolls. That’s totally fine.

But wait, hold the phone. “Let Toys Be Toys” simply pertains to labeling aisles and sections of toys, not the toys themselves. Last time I checked, a lot of the big toy items have products geared more toward a specific gender. For instance, the new Nerf Rebelle collection. Pink Nerf guns with names like “Heartbreaker.” I don’t know what’s worse, the cliché names or the darts that look like something Avril Lavigne inspired. Which gender is more likely to take interest in these doohickeys? Even if all the stores in the world abandon the concept of “Boys” and “Girls” sections, some toys will stand out to one gender quite obviously.

Nerf Rebelle for girls. Yeah, because no girl ever wanted to play with regular Nerf guns? Sigh.

Nerf Rebelle for girls. Yeah, because no girl ever wanted to play with regular Nerf guns? Sigh.

Example. The Barbie aisle is pink. BARBIE is the girliest thing ever. She’s a symbol of the “perfect woman.” You don’t have to put a label on Barbie and Skipper to know that they are more likely to appear on little Susie’s Christmas list. Granted, Billy could have some interest in these (ridiculous) dolls. But the odds don’t look so great.

Part of me can’t help but wonder, is there some OTHER reason behind this labeling deal? Because it kind of feels like a way for companies to reach out to children “questioning their sexuality” and let them know that it’s okay for girls to play with Monster Trucks. Maybe I’m just paranoid, but these are CHILDREN. The other day I walked into the BOYS section of Toys R Us and bought a medieval bow and arrow play set for myself and guess what? I DIDN’T burst into flames, or get struck by lightning, or anything. Anybody can buy any toy they wish, regardless of what section it’s in. So yes, girls can play with swords, and boys can play with ponies. No worries. But don’t get all mad about how girls and boys are being told what they have to play with, what they have to like, what they have to BE. It’s up to the child. I grew up with my fair share of “masculine” toys and it didn’t drastically control how I turned out. Sure, I’m not super girly, but I’ve certainly uttered the words “Crap, I broke a nail!” before. If Susie grows up to be gay but she’s scared to come out of the closet, I really doubt that fear stems from getting a Polly Pocket out of the girls section rather than a Polly Pocket in the a section that has no gender affiliation.

Lastly, “Let Toys Be Toys” just sounds wrong to me. Do toys suddenly have sexual preferences? Uh… No. Give me a break, people. There are more constructive ways to spend your time. If you think THAT’S the biggest problem in our world today, I feel sorry for you.

The Return of the Toy Blogger

Captain’s log. Stardate 91560.35

If anyone out there is still listening, I want you to know that I’m alive. It’s been a hectic couple of weeks and unfortunately, blogging fell by the wayside. But now that THE SEMESTER IS OVER, I’m back, and I promise never to leave you again <3

So. Only 10 days remain until Christmas. If that doesn’t stress you out, then God bless you. I often find myself overwhelmed with the number of family traditions there are to tend to, in addition to the usual Christmas shopping and the like. My family is psychotic when it comes to Christmas. We’re talking Christmas cookies, a real tree, over-sized stockings, the whole 9 yards. It’s probably weird.

Let’s face it, Christmas is awesome. But you know what’s not awesome? (I’m going to sound like an old timer, but stay with me, okay?) A lot of the big toys nowadays STINK. Xbox, Skylanders Play Station 4. Don’t get me wrong, I adore video gaming. But it is CONSUMING the lives of children. What kind of memories will these little guys have from their childhoods?

“Daddy, tell me about what it was like when you were a kid?”

“Well, Billy Jr., I stared at a screen and yelled profanity at other people through a headset. Ah, youth…”

LAME.

My fear is that this lifestyle will become more and more acceptable to the point that babies are raised with a controller in their chubby little hands. Call me crazy, but that doesn’t sound like a life lived to its fullest.

Please, please, PLEASE. Think twice before buying video game related presents. ESPECIALLY if you’re buying for a younger child. We want kids to use their minds.

Example. One of the usual morning customers at the coffee shop where I work told me an interesting story yesterday. He said that his wife made their grandkids read as punishment for bad behavior. WHAT. Excuse me while I angrily wave my cane at these “rotten kids.” And while they’re at it, they can GET OFF MY LAWN. Please. Stop the insanity. Video games are fun, but you have to know when to say when.

Don’t trade the real world for a simulated one.

A Little of This and That

Okay. So. Um. This is awkward. I promised to vlog about my Black Friday experience at Toys R Us, but my technology took a metaphorical dump on me. Not to mention, there wasn’t much to be observed. So I’ll make this quick. Things I noticed:

  1. A disturbingly muscular “bouncer” was standing just inside the doorway (but I got in, so apparently I was on the list)
  2. Employees were EVERYWHERE (yet none of them were extremely helpful when approached by inquisitive customers)
  3. Dumb girl toys like Monster High dolls and such were selling fast
  4. The stuffed animal aisle was completely deserted. No shoppers in sight. So sad…
  5. People grabbed every on sale item they could find. Mindlessly. Meh.

I didn’t even see a fight. That would have made this failure worthwhile. Perhaps next year I’ll cut out on Thanksgiving early so I can wait in line with the rest of the crazies. Maybe that will produce more exciting results? (cough, cough, old women fighting)

Good news! I made an Instagram account today! I’ll be using it to take pictures of (isn’t it obvious?) TOYS. Toys that pile up in my room, interesting toys I discover, you get the point. (No selfies though, sorry guys.) And this gives me an excuse to build Lego stuff and snap pictures…. So feel free to follow, follow, follow! instagram.com/justforfunziestoys/

Random side note. I’ve had yet another quirky idea for the toy store. Any chairs in the store (whether they’re in an office, break room, storage area, behind the front counter) will have a whoopee cushion super glued to it. Why, you ask?? JUST FOR FUNZIES. No seriously, that’s my answer. How can the sound of flatulence not make you smile? Currently I keep a whoopee on my desk chair and it kills me every time I sit down! It makes me instantly happy so it must be a good idea. The kids might get a kick out of it too. I’ve got a hunch that that type of comedy is right up any tike’s alley.

That’s all for me today. Pardon my discombobulated brain. The end of the semester is coming fast and I’ll be so happy when it’s over… So bare with me. And thanks for reading! <3

Black Friday: The Good, The Bad, and The Psychotic

Brace yourselves. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. That means Black Friday is coming. Moms everywhere are gearing up for the most violent day of the year. Tears and blood will be shed. Dreams will be broken. Heroes will be born.

Discounts. Discounts everywhere.

This high concentration of good deals turn little old ladies into demons with shopping carts. They push and run and shove… sometimes they even bite! And why? In the name of Christmas. Peace on Earth. Goodwill toward men. Pick an empty phrase, any empty phrase. I’m sure Jesus is so psyched that we begin the season of his birth by killing each other over material possessions.

But really, Black Friday is great. It gives businesses the opportunity to get “in the black” as they say. It’s also a great bonding opportunity for some families… the ones who I assume to be less violent. Because not everyone goes absolutely nuts. Last year, I ventured to Target with my siblings at 10 o’clock at night on Thanksgiving… That’s one thing that has changed over time. People can’t even wait until midnight to kill each other anymore. Black Friday sales start BEFORE Black Friday! Anyway, back to the story.

2012. Black Friday shopping. Target. Fort Wayne, Indiana. I went in expecting reenactments of scenes from Jingle All the Way (with or without the Governator) but instead, it was just really, really crowded. And I never found a Turbo Man…

The worst part was waiting in line to check out. Good gravy. After two solid hours of standing behind an older couple (they were very handsy, I might add…. We’re talking PDA level 99) I bought a hat, a t-shirt, and some Sour Patch Kids, none of which were on sale. What can I say? I have expensive taste… Anyway, do I have a point here?

Black Friday shopping has become part of our culture. It’s like its own holiday in some respects! But it’s strange. Definitely one of those things I will never fully understand. Maybe it’s because I’ve never been a “bargain hunter.” If I like it and it also happens to be reasonably priced, I’ll buy it. But does it occur to people that they don’t HAVE to buy it just because it’s on sale? If it’s a gift or whatever that you KNOW someone wants, then yeah, go for it. But do you honestly need a new 60-inch TV to replace last year’s 55-incher? Come on, people. Tisk, tisk.

When this toy store of mine becomes tangible, I’m bound to have some Black Friday deals of my own. Now, will people camp out all day waiting for the stroke of midnight? (or 10 at night… or 4 in the afternoon or whatever the trend becomes…) Who knows.

This year I’m going to be brave and venture back out into the chaotic consumer crossfires. Toys R Us will most likely be my venue. I’ll observe and report my findings…. And yeah, probably walk away with a few more toys to add to the continuous heap in my bedroom. Expect a vlog on the subject (the shopping experience, not the toys I keep in my bedroom), maybe even some raw footage from the battlefield?!

Wish me luck!!