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The Barbie Money Machine

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Barbie needs no introduction. Chances are that you or someone you know very well had Barbies and played with them. Probably even played with them even though they were missing limbs and had nasty hair. Some may even have had Barbie houses or cars or even a Ken doll.

A few years ago Barbie decided to make movies with the help of Mainframe Studios. My opinion of Mainframe Studios is they will the an animation job for the lowest price and you get what you pay for. One big thing is lack of quality like poor textures, no bump-maps and something I don’t even have a name for but can be describes as people and objects moving over a surface at a different rate than the surface moves below them. Like you can guage the gait of a person and see how much ground they cover with each step, and they don’t match up. You know, stuff like that.

In Barbie as Rapunzel there is a rabbit character who is covered in a texture that is flat so it looks like a long-eared rat. But I digress.

The movies, on the whole, are very well written. The stores of princesses are not typical where the damsel is rescued by a prince rather Barbie takes her future into her own hands and with bravery and courage she fixes her problems herself. Usually the princes or other male characters are at first agast at this and then warm to her independance. I think that’s a good message for young girls.

But the Barbie Money Machine saw that by making a movie, which would sell and generate revenue, you could then sell dolls of the characters of each movie as well generating additional income. Barbie has been releasing at least one movie a year for the past several years.

A couple of years ago she came out with a movie named The Princess and the Pauper. This had two Barbies in it playing two different roles. I immediatly saw that Barbie had now doubled their doll sales because everyone would want a Princess Analese and Erika. You had to buy two princes as well! This story also starred Martin Short in the role of Preminger and it was Barbies first musical. The story was very good and I enjoy sining the songs with my daughter. But those crafty marketing people know a good thing when they see it.

So what could be better than two princesses to drive sales. Three, of course. But that is too predictable. I can see all the suits sitting there in a conference room trying to figure out how to raise the bar. Four princesses? No, let’s be bold! Let’s see how far we can push the consumers! Let’s go for… 12! Yes! We’ll make a movie about 12! An even dozen!

And so they did.

Barbie in the 12 Dancing Princesses is being released on DVD September 19, 2006 and guess what? There really are 12 different Barbie dolls you can buy as toys.

I, for one, am not going to buy them. I’m sending a message to you, Barbie! I’m not buying 12 dolls just because you make a crappily animated (but well written) movie! I mean, what will you think of next? Barbie in the 1001 Arabian Nights with a princess for each and every story! (by the way Barbie, you can use this idea if you want just compensate me with all the dolls and accessories from said movie).

Serriously, though, I think it’s getting ridiculous.

The Good Samaritan

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A strange occurance happened this morning on my daily walk. I really didn’t want to get up but I did anyway and slowly made my way south on 400 E like I usually do. But about two blocks into my walk there as a woman walking a dog and I didn’t want to go near that so I headed east one block up to 500 E then continued south to 2100 south. When I got there I turned west to go down to 400 east then I would go home on 400 E again. The total distance is a bit over a mile, maybe 1.3 miles or so.

At 6:15am it was still dark and on that section of 2100 south between 400 and 500 east there aren’t any street lights on the north side so the sidewalk is also kind of dark. So I was walking along and passed a condemned and abandoned house when all of a sudden out of the shaddows a naked man writhed and moaned loudly as he tried to get to his feet then collapsed again contorting in pain. It scared the hell out of me. I kept on walking about 100 feet past him ready to sprint away if he came after me but he just layed on the ground still with spasams every few seconds.

I thought I should help him even though he had scared the hell out of me so I made my way back toward him in the shaddows and realized that I had better call for help. Luckilly there is a Drug Addiction Recovery center just a few houses east of where I was that opens their doors at 5:30am. I went in and had them call 911 then went back to make sure the emergency personell could find him.

This time when I went back I could see that he wasn’t entirely naked but had on a pair of grey tidy-whities but was otherwise completely naked. He was probably in his 50s or the years had not been kind to him. Black shoulder-length hair that was greasy and matted and he must have weighted about 90 pounds of very white skin wrapped tightly around mere bone.

Luckily the police arrived shortly and with the help of his flashlight I saw he had a black eye and swolen nose but no other visible bruises or wounds. The man was still moaning and ejectulating incoherently as the policeman scanned the area for other evidence.

I asked the policeman if there was anything else I could do to help and he smiled and said there wasn’t and that they would take care of him. I then started to walk home and was suddenly overcome with grief for that poor man.

I could not stop thinking about how very similar this whole experience was to the parable of the good samaritin. The paralles are uncanny, except I didn’t take him home, nurse him and feed him. But I did what I could even though I was scared and helped him when others on the street had not. I hope the situation turned out OK for the man because it must be a terrible thing to be naked on the ground abandoned and incoherent. A truly terrible thing.

Pillars of the Earth

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I finally finished reading the largest single book I’ve ever read: Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. A whopping 973 pages. It’s a fast read, though, as fast as almost 1,000 pages can be.

But I liked the book very much and I would recommend it to others whole heartedly.

After reading this book I was trying to decide whether to go back to one of the Pern books or read a SciFi or go back to my list of top 100. I decided to read Dracula but I couldn’t find it so now I’m reading The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling.

My wife is currently reading The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger which I reviews in one sentance with “an unconventional love story.”

2900 mAhr Goodness

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I just received my new set of four AA 2900 mAhr NiMh batteries and I am loving it. For the past year I have been using some 2500 mAhr batteries and have seen their capacity to power my MP3 player diminish from 6 hours to 1 hour as I’ve put them through about 300 charge cycles.

My new 2900s have now powered my MP3 player for 10 hours–which is quite a feat for an MP3 player so old.

The original batteries were only 1400 mAhr so I’ve more than doubled the playing time without upgrading the player itself. Awesome.

Of course Samsung has a flash-based MP3 player that can run for 75 hours on a single AA battery but I’m still kicking it old school with a brick of a player. I’ve been on the verge of buying a new MP3 player to use as my primary player for a couple of years now. I keep getting close, decide on one or two different models then I chicken out. Why should I throw my Archos away just because it’s big?

I think one reason I haven’t gotten rid of it yet is that I like the Rockbox firmware that runs it. I’m intrigued to see that a port of Rockbox is being done for the Apple Nano. If they ever get that working well I might well go that direction.

Anyway, 2900 mAhr NiMh batteries–it’s a good thing.

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