Today’s blog is very short. STAN and HARRIET are dying Easter eggs and Jack is hunting for Egg Matzah on his front lawn.

The Campfire Marshmallows Reunion

Attendance was packed at the Campfire Marshmallows Reunion. When it came to a close, attendees joined Hershey’s Chocolate Squares and Graham Crackers and toasted themselves.

Til next time, Brilliant Readers. Thanks for stopping by.
The Management at 10 Minutes of Brilliance

God Cancels End of the World. Instead holds Bikini Contest

Today’s blog covers:

  1. God Cancels End of the World. Instead, Holds Bikini Contest
  2. How Stupid Are America?
  3. Getting Krafty with Mac and Cheese?
  4. Photo Realism
  5. Just Another Day in New York
  6. And we close with A Few Moments of Zen

This happened a few years ago, but it’s worth revisiting. You may not remember it, but the world was supposed to end on May 21, 2011. Spoiler Alert! It didn’t actually happen.

Back then, I was judging a national advertising competition and the semi-finals were held in Alabama. Or Arkansas. I can’t remember which state, but I do remember someone saying, “Look, Bob, a Jew.” So, it might have been Tennessee.

Anyway, I was on way to the competition listening to a local radio station when I heard a bizarre report:

“Just when you thought you knew the Supreme Being, God surprised everyone here on Earth last Saturday when He cancelled the End the World as we know it and instead announced a Bikini Contest.”

I was positive it was a joke until I drove past two signs. One announced the “End of the World” event and the other promised a Bikini Contest.

ENd of the World Cancelled, Bikini Contest Tonight.

Good News for Earth: God loves bikinis more than Death and Annihilation

I always thought God had a strange sense of humor, how else to explain Bush’s second term?

Still, I felt compelled to knock on the door where the signs were posted, hoping I wouldn’t again hear, “Look, Bob, a Jew.”

A sweet looking, elderly priest (or a man dressed as a sweet looking, elderly priest) answered the door. I told him about the radio report and the strange coincidence of seeing those two signs.

He said, “ Yes, my son, it’s true. God works in mysterious ways. He cancelled the End of the World and instead announced a bikini contest.”

I asked him how that was possible and he said, “God just likes bikinis, so He cancelled the End of the World.”

That made sense to me because, after all, I was in Alabama. Or maybe it was Arkansas.

“We are not human beings having a spiritual Experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”
Pierre Teilhard Chardin

 

How Stupid Are America?

STAN: Ha, ha. That’s so funny.
HARRIET: What’s so funny?
STAN: Goldberg. He made a stupid mistake. His headline says,”How stupid are America?” I’m telling you, Goldstein really goofed this time. He should have written, “How stupid am America?”
HARRIET: Stan, like I’ve always said, if anybody knows Stupid, it’s you.
STAN: Thanks, Harriet, Me and Stupid are on a first name basis.
HARRIET: I don’t doubt it for a second, Stan. Sometimes I have trouble telling the two of you apart.

I know we like to think Americans are the best and the brightest, but that just may not be the case. The National Science Foundation surveyed over 2,000 Americans recently with a nine-question quiz about science and 25% of the respondents didn’t know the Earth orbits around the Sun.

Not surprisingly, less than half the American questioned believed humans evolved from other species of animals.

Well, I guess you can blame the Tea Party and the Creationists for that little misconception. But really, it’s amazing that 25% of our fellow countrymen don’t know one of the most basic facts about the Universe–that the Earth revolves around the Sun. Some of those people are so stupid, I wouldn’t be surprised if they fell off the end of the Earth.

Is it any wonder we continue to elect the same do-nothing jerks to Congress election after election? It sounds to me like the Universe is very equitable and we’re getting the politicians we deserve.

Getting Krafty with Mac and Cheese? Well then, shut up about it!

When companies reformulate food and beverage products, they usually advertise it to world. But sometimes advertising “New and Improved” is the kiss of death. Remember New Coke? Thirty years ago, on April 23, 1985, Coca Cola announced it was discontinuing its 99-year old tradition of never altering its legendary formula. And on that fateful day they introduced “New Coke.”

New Coke and Coke II

Neither “New” Coke, nor Son of New Coke, Coke II, were a hit with consumers. Didn’t the geniuses in marketing ever run across the adage, “Don’t mess with success?”

Well, they didn’t actually call it New Coke, that’s what consumers dubbed it. Consumers also said it tasted “vile,” “sludge filled,” and “totally undrinkable.” And those were the ones who liked it!

Less than 4 months after newly reformulated Coke was introduced, it was summarily discontinued. “You’re fired,” as future US President Donald Trump (GOD FORBID!) would say.

Lesson learned? Well, no, not actually. In 1992, Coke tried their failed strategy again. Coke II wasn’t quite the instant devastation that New Coke was. It took Coca-Cola executives 10 years of lackluster sales to finally kill that product, too.

STAN: He’s at it again, Harriet. Goldberger just can’t seem to get to the point.
HARRIET: I wouldn’t complain if I were you, Stan. After all, you’re not real, you’re imaginary. Jack writes everything you.
STAN: Same old song, Harriet. Same old song. I’ve heard it all before. I’m telling you I’m real and Goldenstein is the fractional character.
HARRIET: You mean fictional?
STAN: Whatever. Look, Harriet, I don’t have to take this. I can get a job on another blog.
HARRIET: Yeah?
STAN: Yeah. Or if Trump is elected President…
HARRIET: We’re all moving to Canada?
STAN: No. No. If Trump is elected President, I could be his Minister of Bombasity.
HARRIET: Sorry, Stan, that job’s already taken.  Now, shut your pie hole and let Jack continue.

Kraft Macaroni and Cheese recently beat out Miley Cyrus for being the cheesiest.

Kraft Macaroni and Cheese recently beat out Miley Cyrus for being the cheesiest!

 

Miley Cyrus

But believe me, it was close!

Where was I? Oh, yeah. Kraft Heinz was determined not to make the same mistake Coke made with its legendary Mac and Cheese. For three years food scientists, nutritionists and quality control experts labored to reformulate the World’s #1 mac and cheese.

They removed artificial preservatives and swapped out artificial dyes for a combination of paprika, annatto (an orange red condiment often used as a food dye) and turmeric. But when news leaked out on social media that Kraft might change its much loved formula for Mac and Cheese, consumers assumed the product would taste different. And they revolted online and in public.

When you love the way a product tastes, “New and Improved” is greeted with great skepticism by consumers who prefer “Original and Unchanged.”

So rather than announcing Kraft Mac and Cheese had changed its formula, they shut up about it! No ad campaign, no press releases, no tweets, no Instagram or Vine posts, no need to rally brand ambassadors to tout the change.

They just produced the reformulated product and shut up about any changes!

Fifty million boxes of Mac and Cheese later, Kraft’s non-announcement is being hailed as pure marketing genius. Mac and Cheese fans loved the new product because they thought it was the old product.

So now they’re announcing the fact that they never announced the reformulation! Former Daily Show host Craig Kilborn appears in an online and TV campaign that announces, “Kraft Mac and Cheese. It’s changed. But it hasn’t.”

Of course, that won’t stop some new management recruit from failing to heed the lessons of history by probing on her first day on the job, “Say, anybody ever thought of changing the blue box?”

Photo Realism

Ducks fleeing America after Trumo wins U.S. Presidency.

Excellent allegorical shot of Americans fleeing to Canada after Trump is elected US President.

 

Hellp Kitty

A young girl defies the strict dress code by sporting her Hello Kitty outfit. Let’s hope Kitty is the only one who’s headless.

 Just Another Day in New York

NY Subway Car

This NY subway car may look crowded, but it’s really not that bad. Many riders fall off when they go through a tunnel.

 

Bear in New York City

At first glace, this photo may seem strange, but then again, it’s New York. “Besides,”  growled the bear, “It’s really not that unusual. I see pretty girls on cell phones like that all the time!”

Moments of Zen

Here are a few Moments of Zen I captured right in my own backyard (Spoiler Alert: I was on the Internet.)

And now, a moment of Zen

And now, a Moment of Zen…

 

Another final Moment of Zen.

Another Moment of Zen…

Well, that’s all for today, Readers. Thanks for stopping by. We have a pretty loyal following. More that 20,000 strong. And unlike Stan, most of you are quite brilliant.

STAN: Hey, I resemble that!
HARRIET: Yes, you do. Now say goodnight, Stan.
STAN: Goodnight, Stan.
HARRIET: Good night, all.

Here Are the Top 11 Toys Under the 2016 Christmas Tree

You usually have to wait until the end of the year for the nation’s reviewers, reporters, and Internet bloggers to release their respective Top 10 lists. That’s fine for the Top 10 movies or albums, but if you have to wait until December to find out what toys your kids are hoping for, well, you’ll be out of luck. And stores will be out of the most wanted toys.

There’s only one way to predict what “Toys will be Hot and What Toys will be Not” 10 months before you have to wrap and deliver them. We went to the source, the once-a-year annual extravaganza called Toy Fair.

A few of these toys are already in-store and online. But most are the hopeful offerings of the world’s toy makers who are betting that their play value will be the “It toy” of their respective categories.

Even though Toy Fair is a 4-day affair, it’s impossible to accurately cover all 100,000 toys manufacturers are showing off. So for the first time ever, I worked the aisles of Toy Fair with an associate and co-writer, Josh Rothman, a bright, young (well, compared to me) tech and marketing savvy writer, researcher and confidant and together we compiled a list of what we expect will be the Top 11 Toys for Christmas 2016.

That’s right, Top 11. There were so many cool new toys that our usual Top 10 list had to be expanded. And at the end of today’s post, we’ve even included a gallery of toys that almost made our yearly Toy Fair Best of Show list.

So now, here’s the inside scoop of what will be thrilling kids of all ages this December.

The Einstein, da Vinci & Goldenberg Best of Show – Toy Fair 2016 Awards

First, let’s run down the categories

  1. Best Building Toy for Geometry Heads
  2. Best Toy You Can Eat
  3. Best Toy to Train Your Children for Counter Terrorism
  4. Best Twist on a Classic Toy
  5. Best Girls Empowerment Toy
  6. Best Toy for the Text Messenger
  7. Best Toy Made of Packaging Materials
  8. Best Toy for Aspiring Filmmakers
  9. Best Toy for Aspiring Authors
  10. Best Toy for Aspiring Video Game Developers
  11. Best Toy for Aspiring Inventors

Let’s dive right in with our first award:

 

Best Building Toy for Geometry Heads
Best of Show Winner: Magformers

When it comes to building block toys, Lego is the King of the mountain, but if you’re looking for a something different and fun in building toys, try Magformers! Magformers are a fun-filled magnetic building toy that subtly teaches kids about shapes and geometry.

Magformers come in simple geometric shapes that can be used to create 3D structures or flat 2D ones. Or kids can simply enjoy joining the pieces, pulling them apart, and learning about magnetism. It was fun to watch the construction of Magformers, and my co-writer and researcher Josh even guessed that a 3D star was being built before his eyes.

Magformers Eiffel Tower

Look it’s the Eiffel Tower!

 

Here’s what kids will love about Magformers: There’s no wrong way to play! Thanks to special magnets inside each piece, they will always join together.

Here’s what parents will appreciate: Kids learn about magnetism, shapes, and develop their creativity. Magnets are secured inside each piece so there’s no risk of swallowing. When playtime is over, their magnetic powers make it easy to stack and store them.

 

Best Toy You Can Eat
Best of Show Winner: Candylicious Bubbles from Little Kids

Kids love blowing bubbles and chasing them down. But what if they could also eat them? With Candylicious Bubbles by Little Kids, they can! Candylicious Bubbles come in cherry, grape, bubble gum, and tutti frutti flavors.

This fun toy also features the adorable Bubble Ninja character who swiftly gobbles up all the bubbles! Bubble Ninja sits on top of the included bubble wand, and when kids squeeze him, he sticks out his tongue and catches bubbles! We had a fun time chasing after Candylicious Bubbles and an even better time catching and eating them!

 

Candylicious Bubbles

Watch out for the Bubble Ninja, he’ll gobble up all your bubbles!

 

 

Here’s what kids will love about Candylicious Bubbles: Tasty bubbles to chase down and share with the Bubble Ninja!

Here’s what parents will appreciate: A new way for kids to play, and no more worries about eating bubbles!

 

Best Toy to Train Your Children for Counter Terrorism Best of Show Winner: Chrono Bomb from Play Monster

Exploding bombs and terrorism may not seem like an appropriate play scenario for kids, but there is therapeutic value when kids deal with their fears in a non-threatening way. Chrono Bomb by Play Monster, is a super secret spy mission where kids use the included clamps and 27 ½’ string to create a “laser” field to crawl through.

At the end of the maze is the bomb, counting down before it explodes! So, kids have to hurry carefully, and defuse the bomb before it goes off! They can play over and over again, building new courses each time or trying to beat each other’s times! Chrono Bomb uses a very simple concept in a fun, new way. What kid wouldn’t want to slink their way through laser fields to save the day?

Chrono Bomb

Hone those defusing skills with Chrono Bomb!

 

 

Here’s what kids will love about Chrono Bomb: It allows kids to live out their action movie fantasies with this fun, physical and challenging game!

Here’s what parents will appreciate: Encourages creativity, agility, and friendly competition in a safe environment (no lasers or bombs here)!

 

Best Twist on a Classic Toy
Best of Show Winner: Phlat Ball Aeroflyt from Tucker Toys

Tucker Toys has once again reinvented the classics. Last year they won our Best of Show Toy Fair 2105 Award for re-inventing summer. Their ultra cool E-Z Grip Ball is fun to throw and catch, but what made it so incredible is that it bounces on water, grass and sand! They also took home a Best of Show Award for their Crush It Bat that redefined backyard and playground fun!

Now, for the first time, Tucker has become our first repeat winner with back-to-back Best Of Show Awards. They improved upon their already popular Phlat Ball with the Phlat Ball AeroFlyt! The newest Phlat Ball is lightweight and durable with a unique protruding grip.

Of course, the magic of Phlat Ball Aero-Flyt and its predecessor Phlat Ball is that when you throw them, they don’t start out as a ball, they resemble, in a way, a Frisbee-like disc. They float through the air like a disc, hover, then magically transform into a ball kids can catch. The toy geniuses at Tucker have even improved Phlat Ball AeroFlyt’s airtime performance, gliding longer than any previous Phlat Ball.

The time-release transformation of the Phlat Ball AeroFlyt is mesmerizing and constantly entertaining! It’s simple, fun, and exciting every time you pick it up and flip it!

 

Phlat-Ball-AeroFlyt-Logo

 

Phlat Ball Aeroflyt at Toy Fair 2016

A collection of Phlat Ball AeroFlyt toys at Tucker Toys booth at Toy Fair 2016

 

 

Here’s what kids will love about Phlast Ball AeroFlyt: Transforms from a flying disc to a ball when thrown, flies farther than ever, and rarely gets stuck on roofs or other high places thanks to the time delay transformation from disc to ball.

Here’s what parents will appreciate: Encourages active play, and the fun transformation feature will keep kids occupied for hours!

 

Best Girls Empowerment Toy
Best of Show Winner: Middle School Moguls from iBesties

It wasn’t going to be easy to top or even equal the success of last year’s Toy Fair Best of Show Winner for girls, Goldie Blox, the Best Building Toy for Girls. This year’s Best of Show Award, Middle School Moguls, tech savvy dolls with a purpose, is sort of a “building toy” in that the dolls, story line and play function build self-esteem and confidence, They empower girls to take on the tech world and forge their own entrepreneurial success!

It’s refreshing to see toy makers embrace broader play possibilities for girls, and no one does it better than iBesties. Their Middle School Moguls line of dolls are tech savvy, smart, and dressed for success!

Choose between McKenna the Business Boss, Sunny the Coding Queen, Jada the Graphics Guru, Ryleigh the Gadget Girl, and Izzy the Digital Diva! Each Mogul comes with a rich backstory, and there’s tons of extra content like games and coding tools on the iBesties website. Middle School Mogul proves that entrepreneurial business, computers, and gadgets aren’t just for boys! It’s gratifying to see toys that reinforce this and gets young girls thinking about the limitless possibilities of their future!

Watch out Silicon Valley, the Middle School Moguls have arrived!

 

Middle School Moguls

The Middle School Moguls crew are blazing the way for girls everywhere!

 

 

Here’s what kids will love about Middle School Moguls: Fun, cool dolls that empower girls to say, “I’m a techie too!”

Here’s what parents will appreciate: Sets a positive example for girls to aspire towards, while providing fun, education and self-empowerment.

 

Best Toy for the Text Messenger

Best of Show Winner: Emoji Cards from Spicy Doodles

I know. I know. Kids spend waaaaay too much time texting, but now you can turn their digital addiction into a fun, creative, social game. Emoji Cards by Spicy Doodles unleashes kids creativity by challenging them to communicate pop culture clues using only Emoji icons and their own body language!

The game is similar to Charades. It has a set of clue cards, and a set of icon cards that kids use to gesture. They select cards featuring the emojis they know and love attempting to get teammates to guess the clue.

The results are crazy creativity, non-stop laughs, and a game kids will want to play again and again! Spicy Doodles Emoji Cards is keeping pace with our ever-evolving communication methods and it turns Emojis into a face-to-face social experience.

Emoji Cards

The Spicy Noodles Team takes us through a game of Emoji Cards!

 

Here’s what kids will love about Emoji Cards: Kids finally get to put their knowledge of Emojis and texting abilities to good use in a fun social setting.

Here’s what parents will appreciate: Gets the kids away from their smart phones and playing with friends!

 

Best Toy Made of Packaging Materials
Best of Show Winner: Pinbox 3000 from Cardboard Teck Instantute

Josh and I were floored by the inventiveness of the Pinbox 3000, a tabletop pinball system made of recycled cardboard. Laser cut parts and customizable play boards allow kids to have a fun pinball experience without leaving the house!

They’ll also have a great time assembling the PinBox 3000 from punch out sheets, plastic rivets, and rubber bands, though they may need a little help from Mom and Dad. Pinball machines may be harder to find these days, but PinBox 3000 reminds the latest generation of kids that they, too, can be pinball wizards.

Pinbox 3000

You can customize and decorate Pinbox 3000 however you want!

 

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Here’s what kids will love: Great fun in assembling the Pinbox 3000, then hours of play! No quarters required! Kids can customize the play board as outrageously as they want!

Here’s what parents will appreciate: Reintroduces an old classic, and stimulates creativity in the assembly and customization process.

 

Best Toy for Aspiring Filmmakers
Best of Show Winner: StikBot from Zing Toys

StikBot brings the magic of green screen film making (like your local weather reporter uses) and stop motion animation (Think Pixar!) to your kid’s fingertips! StikBots are highly articulated figures that mimic human motion; kids pose them to create all kinds of fun and zany films.

StikBots are the first social media sharing toy with the ability to shape kids’ imagination into endless possibilities. Kids can create mini animated and live action movies with their StikBots and share them with friends.

We’ll try to describe how StikBots works, but be warned, today’s tech aware, Internet generation kids will pick this up and create their own command performances long before adults have finished reading the instructions!

Using the included green screen and an app that can be download, kids can “key out” the background any substitute any scene they choose: undersea scenes, starry nights, London, France, or even their favorite TV show. The background can be live action or just a photo they choose.

Then they pose their StickBots in various positions and take stop-motion shots with a smart phone creating their own imaginative story line.

This toy makes it super easy to share all their creative films using social media platforms. (Why, even an adult could do it. Maybe!) StikBots are great not only for their clever, imaginative play value, they also teach kids basic film making techniques early on, whether they’re interested in a future film career or just making films for fun!

 

StikBot

Welcome to the StikBot studio!

 

 

Here’s what kids will love: Hollywood grade technology in the palm of their hands! Nothing is off limits!

Here’s what parents will appreciate: Encourages creativity, storytelling, and collaboration with the growing StikBot community of young film makers.

 

Best Toy for Aspiring Authors
Best of Show Winner: Write Brain Author’s Kits from Write Brain World

Has your child ever dreamed of becoming an author and seeing their name in print? With Write Brain Authors Kits, their dreams will come true! The Write Brain Author’s Kit has everything a young person needs to become an author of their own original children’s book which is published and shipped to the new author’s door! It’s an exciting, imagination generating experience that makes kids WANT to write!

Each kit comes with an illustrated, wordless book. Aspiring authors create their own original story and hand write it into the book. There’s no wrong way to tell the tale and the imaginative illustrations fuel young minds and help budding young authors get their story started.

From there, authors can choose to type up their book on the Write Brain website and order as many hard cover copies as they want! When the finished, professional story arrives at their door, they’ll get a great feeling of publishing their first book! We can’t say enough about how great this product is at stimulating creativity and encouraging writing skills.

 

Open up a Write Brain Author Kit and get started!

Open up a Write Brain Author Kit and get started!

 

Actor James Cromwell loves to write and was on hand to promote this great toy!

Actor James Cromwell loves to write and was on hand to promote this great toy!

 

 

Here’s what kids will love: Writing their own story and getting their name in print, with the freedom to write any story they want!

Here’s what parents will appreciate: Gets kids excited about writing, hones their skills, and boosts their confidence that they could one day become an author!

 

Best Toy for Aspiring Video Game Developers
Best of Show Winner: Bloxels from Pixel Press Technology

There’s no denying kids love playing video games. It’s an industry fact video games have siphoned off huge amounts of time and money that used to be spent on the toy industry. One strategically clever toy company, Pixel Press Technology, figured out, “Why fight ‘em when you can join ‘em.” They created a toy that turns any kid into a video game developer.

Using a 13” x 13” grid, plastic colored blocks, and an understanding of classic video games, with Bloxels kids can create their own video games, complete with game levels, characters, enemies, and more.

Each plastic block represents one pixel, allowing kids to create detailed artwork for their heroes, villains, power-ups, and even map out their game levels block by block! Once they’ve arranged their blocks the way they want them, they take a picture of their masterpiece using the included app, and start combining elements and animating their game.

The power of this toy is amazing, and game play is jammed into a simple and easy to understand concept. Bloxels encourage creativity and removes the barrier of artistic ability by giving kids a grid upon which to build their worlds. And if pixel art isn’t their thing, aspiring video game designers can use one of many prefabricated characters to populate a world they create from scratch.

 

Build a video game brick by brick from scratch!

Build a video game brick by brick from scratch!

 

A gallery of pixel art from Bloxels!

A gallery of pixel art from Bloxels!

 

 

Here’s what kids will love: Finally and easy way to create their own video games! Kids can customize as much or as little as they want, and really have an opportunity to shine!

Here’s what parents will appreciate: Turns a sedentary pastime into a learning experience which encourages imagination, and subtle focus on math vis a vis the grid system kids use to create their world.

 

Best Toy for Aspiring Inventors
Best of Show Winner: Makey Makey from Joy Labz

Makey Makey is deceptively simple, but has infinite possibilities. This invention kit in a box connects to your computer and allows kids to substitute objects in the real world for keys on their keyboard. Makey Makey’s most iconic application is its banana piano, but the ingeniousness of Makey Makey is that kids can “make anything out of anything.”

Other cool applications include a banana cowbell, a watermelon bass drum, and a crash cymbal sound when kids high-five their friends!

Makey Makey uses electrical conductivity (don’t worry, no one is getting shocked here), alligator clips and connects directly to your computer using a USB cable. Then it’s off to the digital races as kids experiment with different objects, discovering the conductive properties of each one. And there’s an entire community of Makey Makey inventors who post creative videos online all the time to ignite your young inventor’s creative juices.

 

A stack of invention kits at the Makey Makey booth at Toy Fair 2016

A stack of invention kits at the Makey Makey booth at Toy Fair 2016

 

The famous Makey Makey Banana Piano! Playing with your food has never been this fun!

The famous Makey Makey Banana Piano! Playing with your food has never been this fun!

 

Here’s what kids will love: It’s instant! Kids become inventors right away! The instructions are easy to follow, the results are immediate and the fun is contagious!

Here’s what parents will appreciate: Challenges kids to think outside the box and develops their creative problems solving skills.

 

Introducing The Worst of Show Toy at Toy Fair 2016

We like to be complementary here at 10 Minutes of Brilliance and reveal the most imaginative toys kids will be clamoring for each year at Christmas, but we owe it to our Readers to shine a light on toys that are downright unimaginative, dangerous and have very little play value.

 

Jacob Javitz statue

The worst selling toy at Toy Fair for the 11th straight year was the Jacob Javitz Statue

 

That’s why in 2014 and 2015 we gave a Worst of Show Award to the 4,500 lb. Jacob K. Javitz action figure (bronze chair sold separately). The damn thing just sits there, well, like a statue. It has zero play value! Of the 100,000 toy buyers who attend Toy Fair each year, not one has purchased the Javitz action figure for their local customers.

We ere all set to award the Javitz action figure the first Three-peat for our Worst of Show honors, until we came up this dangerous monstrosity, the cleverly named Ultimate Power toy. All of the toys we’ve highlighted here will bring kids our and hours of fun. With the Ultimate Power toy, kids can only play with it once. Shocking, I know!

Best instructions at Toy Fair 2016, DO NOT PLAY WITH THIS TOY!

Best instructions at Toy Fair 2016, DO NOT PLAY WITH THIS TOY!

Well, that’s it for today, Readers, thanks for stopping by. We currently have over 20,000 monthly subscribers although I suspect most of them are foreigners who have no idea they’re reading English.

I’ve listed my associate for our annual Toy Fair Best of Show Awards, Josh Rothman as my co-writer, but much of the credit goes to him. He is thorough, smart and thoroughly fun to work with.

I’ll be back again soon with my old cast of characters, including STAN and HARRIET, and there’s a good chance Ted Williams’ head, Brer Rabbit and Bill Shakespeare will be making an appearance, too.

The Five Worst Original Names for Famous Rock and Roll Bands

Here’s what’s on the blog today:
1. The Worst Original Names for Famous Rock and Roll Bands
2. Good News about Depression
3. What Tony Saw from His Backyard
4. Uber Picks Up a Second Passenger
5. Woman Sues Spammers. Wins $229,500
6. A Page from My Storied Career
7. Campaigning Door to Door with America’s Newest Non-Politician

And Coming Soon, our Annual Look at Toy Fair, with guest co-blogger Josh Rothman

Hey, Readers, its been along time. Sorry for the extended delay in posting, but I’ve been busy.

STAN: Busy shmizzy. He probably just couldn’t think of anything brilliant to say!
HARRIET: Stan, would you please shut your pie hole and let Jack talk? It is his blog, you know?
STAN: Goldman’s name may be on the blog. But people come here to see me.
HARRIET: See you? Stan, you’re not even real! Jack writes everything you say.
STAN: Hah, that’s what you think. Try this on for size, Harriet. I’m real and Goldberg’s the figment. Huh, what do you say about that?
HARRIET: Goldman? Goldberg? You can’t even get his name right. It’s Jack. Jack Goldenberg.
STAN: Yeah, well f**k him if he can’t take a joke. Hey, what the h*ll just happened? I tried to curse and instead I spoke in asteroids.
HARRIET: Asterisks.
STAN: Whatever. I still wanna know what happens when I say swear words. How come when Trump speaks you can hear the filth he spews? If he wants to say pu**y, he says pu**y. But when I try to curse, it just comes out full of Astroturf.
HARRIET: Well, that pretty much describes you, Stan. You’re full of Astroturf.
STAN: Hey, don’t try warming up to me Harriet, it just won’t work.
HARRIET: Enough, Stan. Now stop interrupting and Give Jack a Chance.
STAN: Wasn’t that a song by John and Yoko?
HARRIET: ENOUGH!

Say, where was I? Oh yeah. I was just apologizing for the long delay. Anyway, I’m back, so here goes.

The 5 Worst Original Names for Famous Rock and Roll Bands

A lot of famous bands started their musical career on sour notes. They chose awkward, unmemorable names that never caught on. After all, how cool is it to hear Herbie’s Toilet, The Devil’s Crotch or Jewish Theological Everything Bagels in concert?

Fortunately, many bands saw the light (or heard the music) and we now know them by the new names they adopted.

Original Band Name: Tom and Jerry
But you know then as: Simon and Garfunkel

Tom and Jerry

I just can’t imagine “Bridge Over Troubled Water'” by Tom and Jerry

 

Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel

Twin 74-year olds Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel are still playing to packed houses.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel met when they were teenagers in 1953. They practiced harmonizing and writing songs together, but first shied away from using their real names.

Paul Simon tentatively changed his name to John Landis after a girl he had a crush on, Sue Landis.

Arthur Garfunkel originally chose the name, Tom Graph, because he loved to record the progress of hit songs on graph paper. Really, I don’t make these things up!

The duo made their debut as Tom and Jerry. In 1957, when they were just 15 years old, Tom and Jerry had their first minor hit, Hey Schoolgirl, which they performed on American Bandstand right after Jerry Lee Lewis sang Great Balls of Fire.

STAN: That reminds me of a joke. Jack be nimble. Jack be quick. Jack jumped over the candlestick. Great Balls of…
HARRIET: Shut it, Stan. I don’t want to hear it.

However, when no hits followed their initial burst of stardom, Paul and Art decided to concentrate on college. By 1974, the band resurfaced as the folk rock due Simon and Garfunkel.

“Our name is honest,” said Paul Simon. “I always felt it was quite a shock to people when Bob Dylan turned out to be Robert Zimmerman.”

Original Band Name: Mookie Blaylock
But you know them as: Pearl Jam

In October 1990, a new band from Seattle hit the stage with an unusual name, calling themselves Mookie Blaylock. Now you might think bands choose their names based on some great inspiration. Often the explanation is a lot more mundane.

Pearl Jam

Pearl Jam issued one of the best selling debut albums in history, Ten. It was certified 13 times platinum. Presumably, Mookie Blaylock got no royalties, but he did get a jump ball.

Mookie Blaylock was the name of a New Jersey Nets basketball player. Somehow, Mookie’s trading card was mysteriously found taped to the case of one of the band’s early demos.

“It was kind of goofy,” said Pearl Jam singer songwriter Eddie Vetter explaining how the band got the name Mookie Blaylock. “But that first week, we were too busy working on songs to think about a name.”

Mookie Blaylock is an OK name for an unknown local band, but when they started to attract national attention, the Mookie Blaylock handle had to go. They’d never be able to trademark the name of an NBA player on their merchandise.

There are many theories about how the band came up with Pearl Jam, some of them so graphic, I can’t post them here. Eddie Vetter claimed the band was named after his grandmother Pearl who made hallucinogenic jam, but the  real story is less provocative.

Bassist Jeff Ament randomly thought of the name Pearl and the band added jam after listening to Neil Young and Crazy Horse play a killer “15-20 minute” jam at the Nassau Coliseum.

Original Name: Black to the Future
But you know them as: Roots

Roots, house band for Jimmy Fallon

You may think Roots band eader chose a particularly weird stage name, Questlove, but considering that he was born with the name Ahmir Kalib Thompson, he did just fine.

When Roots bandleader, Questlove (aka Ahmir Khalib Thompson), and Black Thought (aka Tarik Trotter) were high school buddies, they performed in a school talent show in 1969 as Radio Activity, but their name failed to ignite fans.

So they changed it to Black to the Future. The future house band for The Tonight Shown Starring Jimmy Fallon struck out again.

Then the hip hop band  from Phillie chose a moniker that was much nerdier than the fans who were following them, calling themselves Square Roots. This time not only did their fans not like their name, it was also panned by a Philadelphia folk group named, you guessed it, Square Roots.

They went through a name-change once more time, dropping the “Square” and keeping Roots. Finally, their hip hop name matched their eclectic approach to jazz.

Original Band Name: The Obelisk
But you know them as: The Cure

The Cure

For lovelorn tweens and teens mesmerized by their gothic look, the band really was The Cure.

The Gothic rock musicians who would become The Cure first named themselves after a large phallic monument, an Obelisk, but few middle school fans understand the potentially sexual meaning of their favorite group’s name.

At first, band member Robert Smith was just a background figure in The Obelisk, playing piano. But soon he moved up front and took charge of the group’s name.

He tried out Malice and Easy Cure, but neither of the names seemed to stick. Then, realizing the group was the antidote for hoards of lovelorn girl fans, he christened the Group as The Cure.

 

Original Band Name: The Pendeltons
But you know them as: The Beach Boys

The Beach Boys named themselves after a plaid wool shirt.

The Beach Boys chose their first name carefully, I mean, carelessly. They named themselves after a plaid wool shirt.

Brian Wilson was probably feeling particularly unauthentic when he chose to name the band The Pendeltons after a plaid wool shirt favored by the surf community.  After all, in 1961, he was writing songs about surfing though he’d never “Hung 10” much less touched a surf board.

But even with that awkward, pseudo hip name, three months after the band formed, Candix Records released The Pendeltons’ debut single Surfin’.

The LA-based independent label hated the stuffy sounding name The Pendeltons and without notifying the band, they changed the group’s name to The Beach Boys.

Ten years later Brain Wilson wanted to shorten the group’s name to Beach, but the band refused to mess with success.

Depressingly Good News

It used to be you had two choices if you suffered bouts of Major Depression. You could take psychotropic drugs (That sounds worse than it is, Readers. It just means drugs that affect a person’s mental state.) or you can submit to talk therapy (“I’m sorry. Your 45-minute hour is up!”).

Sometimes drugs and/or therapy works and sometimes all Hell continues to threaten your brain. For almost one of three sufferers, there’s almost no way out of the living nightmares they face.

But now there’s a new treatment on the horizon and if it keeps on completing successful clinical trials, then pharmaceutical companies and just going to have to buy it and quash it like they’ve done in the past. Hey, it’s just business.

Depressed person

Almost 1 out of every 3 American will suffer a boat of major depression that can’t be solved by drugs or therapy,

Introducing Neurofeedback

The name of the new therapy is Neurofeedback and it has the potential to be more precise than current therapies. It directly targets brain dysfunctions and emotional and cognitive processes that are believed to be the underlying cause of mental instability.

Most importantly, it has the potential to restore mental control to the very people suffering depression. Patients who lie in a functional magnetic resonance scanner are instructed to conjure up experiences when they were happiest and when their minds and emotions were under siege.

Almost in real time, patients see visual representations of their brain activity and correlate it to how they were thinking and feeling. Patients are trained to increase their positive thoughts and suppress the ones that bring them down. Some sufferers can see a marked and sustained improvement in their depression in three or four sessions.

Granted, clinical trials are in their early stages, but so far the results are promising. If neurofeedack therapy continues to have substantial success reducing bouts of depression and increasing happiness and mental control, 10-20 years from now, the only ones on psychiatric couches will be drug makers who are out of business.

 Photos of the Week or What Tony Saw from his Backyard

Sure, Sarah Palin can see Russia from her backyard. But that’s nothing compared to what my college roommate, Tony W, can see when he ventures out into his backyard.

funny pictures

As a bonus for increasing production, Chinese workers were given one log for 10 men.

 

Santa Claus and Santa Claus on a moluntain.

Two Santas safely scale a mountain. Eighteen reindeer weren’t so lucky. They’re now venison.

 

 

3 men flying

It’s rare to see 3 of the 4 Levitating Chinese Acrobatic Ballet Parker Brothers without the group’s founder, Moe Kufferberg.

men n uniform

The Elite Guard awaits the arrival of Hair Trump.

 

people pulling can

Really, really tiny Indians find a small unmarked can of soup in the Indian Ocean.

Uber Picks Up A Second Passenger–Dinner

Uber revolutionized public transportation by hiring independent drivers to pick up passengers by using their smartphone to order car service. Now they’re going to pick up Kung Pao Chicken, Tuna on Rye and Filet of Sole Almondine (Do you want fries with that?).
Now they’re weeks away from running a 20-city test delivering meal service from local restaurants.

Warning: Before ordering lunch on dinner using Uber's new food service, be sure

Warning: Before ordering lunch on dinner using Uber’s new food service, be sure your driver has eaten.

Woman sues spammers. Wins $229,500.

Donald Trump

Donald Trump, a legend in his own mind

What’s the most annoying thing in your life? What keeps you up at night and gives you frightmares during the day.

Ted Cruz

The latest poll shows Ted Cruz has 79% of bigots and doomsayers

Is it worrying that Donald Trump or Ted Cruz could be elected President? Sure, those are terrifying and scary thoughts, but really that could never happen.

After all, the American electorate is much too smart to elect either of them US President. I mean, it’s not like we elected George Bush to a second term, right?

Ooops.

Anyway, I maintain the single most annoying aspect of America life in twenty sixteen are the nefarious, unwanted calls we get from spammers and telemarketers. No matter what you do, no matter how many times you hit #2 and ask to be placed on a company’s Do Not Call List, you just can’t avoid these unrepentant home invaders.

Until Now! Now, there’s hope. Here’s why.

Araceli King, a woman from Irving Texas, asked Time Warner Cable to be put on their Do Not Call List. After all, they were dunning her for money she didn’t owe. She even proved to a representative that they had confused her with someone else.

Still, the calls kept coming. That surprised her because she had registered her phone on the National Do Not Call Registry.  By law, 31 days after she registered her phone number, most telemarketers were not allowed to call her unless they were a non-profit or she signed up and asked to be called.

I guess Time Warner Cable didn’t care about the law. They robocalled Araceli King 153 more times! OK, that’s the Bad News.

The Good News is that Ms. King sued Time Warner Cable and won a judgment of $229,500. Judge Hellerstein tripled the $1500 penalty for each call awarding Ms. King almost $230,000. The Judge ruled, “Tine Warner Cable’s action were particularly egregious since it continued making call even after King complained to the cable company in a 7-minute phone conversation. (NOTE: Consumers were elated with the ruling. They was not so ecstatic they had to look up the word “egregious!)

Of course, Time Warner is appealing the judgment, but King’s lawyers expect her to win. And even if the fine is reduced, Ms. King has received no more robocalls from Time Warner. Not one.

It’s simple to register your mobile and landline phones with the National Do Not Call Registry. And if telemarketers still call you 31 days later, well, now you know what to do!

Araceli King is a true American hero. She was “mad as Hell and not going to take it any more.” I’d suggest you do the same.

A Page from My Storied Career

Mt. Rushmore

I remember the day when George, Thom, Theodore and I posed for the the initial photo. Unfortunately, I never made the cut. They couldn’t find a crew large enough to sculpt my nose. Who knew?

Campaigning Door to Door with America’s Newest Non-Politician

A couple weeks ago I got an email from one of my #1 connections on LinkedIn. His name is Steven Burda. He said he was a Democrat running for State Representative in Pennsylvania from the 150th District. He had checked out my LinkedIn bio and wanted to know if I could offer him any advice. He had a couple weeks left to collect 300 uncontested signatures from his neighbors so he could be on the ballot.

Steven Burda

Baby-faced, but wise beyond his 34 years, Steven Burda wants to help people. That’s why he’s running for PA State Representative of the 150th District.

I said I’d get back to him after I had a chance to check him out. I was amazed at what I found. There are 400 million people on LinkedIn. Steven Burda is number (DRUM ROLL)… Steven Burda is #1. He is the most connected person on LinkedIn.

Of course, you can find anything you want on the Internet and that doesn’t mean it’s true. I once found a bio of me on the Internet and it had someone else’s photo. Now I know me well, and this just wasn’t me. See what I mean?

Anyway, I was certainly intrigued so I agreed to spend an evening with Steven in his Pennsylvania neighborhood going door to door to see first-hand how he collected signatures. Although we only spent two hours together, I felt I got to know him pretty well. OK, as well as I could for the short time we spent together.

That night Steven was driven to get signatures so he could be on the ballot, but going to strangers’ homes unsolicited at 7 o’clock at night and knocking on the last door at 9 PM, that’s a pretty daunting task.

I asked him why he didn’t canvass neighborhoods on Saturday or Sunday morning when he might be more likely to be welcomed into people’s living rooms. “Oh, I can’t do that,” he said. “That’s one of the times I have reserved for my wife and kids.”

He’s a true family man which is probably a good thing because he has 5 biological kids and another nephew he and his wife take care of. Their home is filled with toys and love, and his wife’s parents.

Six kids? That’s an occupation in itself. In his day job, he works as a financial consultant for some high level clients. So high level, I was asked not to mention them. He speaks 5 languages and came to America as a 10-year old from the Ukraine, knowing little or no English and with a great desire to help anyone he met.

While Steven is a non-politician, he is also a natural-born old style politician. I don’t mean anything negative by that. Today’s politicians only care about themselves, Steven genuinely wants to be in politics to help people. He lives by a “pay-it forward” philosophy. He has the energy of ten women (Hey, I didn’t say “10 men” because women are stronger than men. Sorry men, live with it. It’s true!). I was kept up with him knocking on his neighbors doors, but only barely.

I was able to give Steven a few suggestions (It’s probably not a good idea to shine a flashlight into people homes to see if there’s anyone home), but it was obvious he was doing quite well without my advice.

Yesterday in Harrisburg, Steven turned in over 1000 signatures,  three times what he needed to get on the ballot as a PA House State Representative.

I can’t vote for him. But if I could, I would. He’s real deal.

Hey Readers, thanks for coming along for the ride. Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. If you did, leave me a comment (This means you, Jeff, Debbie and Rusty!)  I just visited Toy Fair with my new friend and associate Josh Rothman and he and I will be co-blogging about the Best of Show Toys at Toy Fair 2016.

STAN: Thank God it’s over. Man, that Goldenbergowitz sure can talk.
HARRIET: You should talk, Stan.
STAN: Maybe I will, Harriet. Just maybe I will.