ELSEWHERE: Hello Kitty Is Now Pushing Beer

Beer sales in China were almost nonexistent for the female market, so some brew was designed especially for them: a fruit-flavored variety boasting all the innocence and sweetness of Hello Kitty. I can’t help but feel sad for my childhood icon. Poor girl. … [Read more...]

Mixed Signals: Abused Goddesses Expose Violence in India

In Mixed Signals, Erin Straza muses about marketing miscellany in advertising, branding, and messaging.As a freelance writer, I often work from coffee shops to get out of my home office and be among the living. Mostly I find it helpful. Sometimes it just reminds me why it’s often nice to work alone—as an incident last week proved.I was at a coffee shop, concentrating on my work. A fellow patron did what he could to garner my attention. As I looked up, he was holding a handwritten note. SM … [Read more...]

ELSEWHERE: Why Grandpa Should Play Videogames

When my grandfather entered a senior community years ago, I was amused that it offered regular Wii gaming tournaments. I loved the idea of Grandpa competing in virtual bowling or Mario Kart madness. Research now shows videogames benefit older brains, improving activity and communication between brain regions. Although videogames are often discredited, this study points to some redeeming qualities. … [Read more...]

Oddly, Cory Booker’s Good Deeds Incite Hate

When a politician makes the news for good deeds, I take notice. Cory Booker, the mayor of Newark, New Jersey, has surprised me—and the rest of the watching world—with behaviors that defy my expectations for politicians. Over the past few years, Booker has:cut his salary twice lived in one of Newark’s worst housing projects lived in one of Newark’s most crime-plagued neighborhoods embarked on a 10-day hunger strike to draw attention to drug dealing accepted a challenge to live on food … [Read more...]

The Bucket List of a Four-Year-Old Kenyan Boy

Although I’m not a fan of the term bucket list, I have always liked jotting down my dreams for what I might experience in this life. The usual daredevil feats like skydiving and bungee-jumping have never graced my lists; instead, my slots are reserved for travel and reading and learning and seeing. My list would probably be boring to most, but from time to time when I stumble across it anew, my heart skips a beat, and I am reminded that I need to get busy living (as Morgan Freeman’s Ellis Boyd “R … [Read more...]

The Candy Crush Saga Addiction

The first time I played Candy Crush Saga (henceforth, "CCS"), I was hooked. Maybe it was the concept—a Bejeweled/Candy Land hybrid. Or perhaps it was the candy—I’m all about sweets. But my fun came to an end when I got stuck on Level 50-something—and it looked like I would need to buy some extra boosters to move forward. Frugality won out over sweets in this instance, and I decided my candy crushing days were done.Gaming analysts would say my stint as a candy crusher was due to something … [Read more...]

ELSEWHERE: Get a Katy Perry Wig for Your Pet

Pet costumes aren’t new, but designer Leah Workman has put a new twist on it for so-called “pet-parents” who want to nurture the inner pop star of their “pet-child.” Her handmade fashion wigs turn your beloved cat or dog into Katy Perry or Lady Gaga. Squint your eyes as you look at the slideshow to see if you can spot the famous idols these pets are striving to emulate. This is how we spend $55 billion on pets in 2013. … [Read more...]

Saying No to Yes-icide

Let’s just get it out in the open: We hate saying no.OK, maybe not to everyone—parents say no to their kids all the time—but we definitely hate to say no when we stand to lose something by doing so. For example, it's tough to say no to people whose opinions matter to us—it's just too costly, too fearful, too risky. A recent article at FastCoDesign.com by Nancy Vonk and Janet Kestin highlights this common malady: “We all do it. Almost everyone with a pulse is conflict-averse. We don’t want to … [Read more...]

Maybe Barbie Will Blossom into a Real Girl Someday

For years now, critics have blasted Mattel’s ever-popular Barbie for her unnatural proportions—so unnatural that if Barbie were a real person, her neck would be too small to hold up her head and her BMI so low she would be classified as anorexic.Not exactly the sort of ideal for young girls to strive toward.Some say Barbie is merely a toy, that her influence over young kids is conjecture at best. But illustrator Nikolay Lamm thinks otherwise. The Huffington Post reports how Lamm sees it: … [Read more...]

Elsewhere: Bringing the Tatooine Sky to Earth

Have you ever wondered what the sky would look like if our moon were larger? Say, the size of Jupiter or Uranus? Ron Miller did. As a conceptual space artist and former art director at the National Air & Space Museum, Miller used a personal photograph and swapped out our moon for the other planets in our solar system. The results are astounding, reminding me of Tatooine’s sky from Star Wars. Check out Miller’s art photography featured at FastCoDesign.com. … [Read more...]