Lizzie Borden took an axe,
Gave her mother forty whacks.
When she saw what she had done,
she gave her father forty-one.
Actually, it was only about 19 times or so, and it was with a hatchet instead of an axe, but that's nitpicking, isn't it? I survived my stay at the Lizzie Borden house. If you're ever in Massachusetts and you've got some time and a fascination with unsolved mysteries and perhaps a touch of the macabre in you, I recommend staying here. Make sure it's on a night when Shelley, the true expert, is working. Before the tour, she asked all of us who we thought the real killer might be. Jokingly, I suggested OJ Simpson, but it's really amazing how many similarities there are between the two cases, right up to the Not Guilty verdict. (I give Brentwood about 20 years before it too becomes a bed and breakfast.) I must warn you however, that apart from Lizzie things, there is nothing to do in Fall River. After the tour, no less than four people practically ran upstairs to smoke pot. You know you're in trouble when the main hangout spot is the Ninety-Nine Restaurant. And oh yeah, Lizzie was so guilty.
Joe Millionaire, you picked the right girl. Zora is a real catch. I think she's too good for you. And she's 29, which almost cheers me up a bit. But why does she seem so much older than me?
Finally, haven't you always imagined Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz being half naked and tortured? Me neither. But find out more
This past week saw the ToyFair trade show in NYC. It's the place where many companies show off their wares in the hopes of retailers picking them up. Basically, it's where people get their first look at what's going to come out. For a toy geek like me, it's a neat time of year. And someday, I hope to actually attend the thing instead of getting all my news and information online and in magazines. There are some supernice things scheduled to come out this year, including pretty much every last Simpsons character I've ever wished they'd make. (Princess Kashmir, Miss Hoover, Herman, even Stephen Hawking!) More Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, superheroes (from both Marvel and DC), Muppets, and apparently we'll even be seeing toys from "A Christmas Story." I'll spare you all the list of things I'm excited by (Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix figures!!) and disappointed in (no MST3K figures), but I'm very curious to hear your reactions to one of the more interesting toy lines to come out in a while. Warning: These are not for the faint of heart. And if you love The Wizard of Oz as much as I do, no doubt you'll have a strong opinion. I give you
"The Twisted Land of Oz" by McFarlane Toys.
Now it clearly states that these are "Not for children under 17" and are sold under the name, "Monsters: Series 2." And of course, these will not be available at places like Toys R Us or KB or Wal-mart. Let me say right off the bat, that I love the idea of these figures. L. Frank Baum created a wonderful world and it's neat to see a particularly dark and sinister interpretation of it. (A brainless guy made of straw and a guy made of tin without a heart are pretty twisted as is.) Now McFarlane Toys has always been known for pushing the envelope. Truthfully, he's changed the way toys and action figures are made mostly for the better. But at what expense? I don't think anyone would call me a prude or an ultra-conservative (I did after all just spend a night in Lizzie Borden's house after all.) and I'm not calling for a boycott or even saying these should never be produced. It's just that I'm disappointed. In a lot of things. My reaction to these reminds me somewhat of my reaction to a book I read a couple years back, Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire. It's just a missed opportunity. While the book was too detached and just tried to do too much (which is in some ways admirable), these figures/sculptures take the easy way out and merely aim for shock value. I love the idea of the
Lion becoming an enraged warrior... but holding his entrails in his hands? The Scarecrow and Tin Woodsman feature amazing detail, but again merely pffer gore and shock value. Toto just sucks. And the true travesty of the line is its heroine, Dorothy. Here she is presented as a passive victim, blindfolded, branded, and tortured by leatherclad munchkins riding each other horseback. How about a broom-wielding cutesy goth chick walking her rabid dog, Toto? I'd find the faux innocence of a Dorothy determined to kick some wicked-witch-ass much more interesting. Perhaps what surprises me most is the reaction to these 'toys' on the message boards". Apparently, this line fulfills the fantasy of many fanboys. And worst of all is that those who are in favor of them cannot seem to see another point of view. "Shut the f up. Don't like 'em, don't buy 'em." Mostly, I find it disturbing that people will tolerate anything but an opinion that differs from theirs. All that being said, I do think the Wizardfigure is very cool. And I do think it's a pity that there seems to be no Glinda or Wicked Witch figure. But maybe that's a good thing.