What’s on the kiddies’ Christmas list this year? A potty seat with a built-in tablet screen, so toddlers can watch videos and play with apps while they do their business? The Monopoly Empire game, which replaces the iconic tokens with branded items—see ya, Scottie dog; make way for a Coke bottle—and the iconic street names like Boardwalk with brands like McDonald’s and Xbox?
Here’s one list those toys made: the list of nominees for the Boston-based Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood’s worst toy of 2013 (also known as the TOADY, short for Toys Oppressive And Destructive to Young Children). The nominees also include a Play Doh app that guides kids through their screen creations (“Remove the unseemly mess from Play Doh . . . and all the icky creativity that comes along with it,” CCFC notes), a battery-powered Fisher Price dinosaur that carries a couple of cannons on its back (an example of creative anachronism that would make the Flintstones blush), and the “Real Tooth Fairies” line, which turns that classic childhood friend into yet another sparkly licensed character (see “Pimping Out the Tooth Fairy,” July 30, 2013, www.valleyadvocate.com).
Check out the full list and vote for your pick for the worst of the worst at www.commercialfreechildhood.org/toady2013. But act fast; voting closes Dec. 4.
NAACP Mounts Glittering Art Show
The Winter Artist Trunk Show and Sale to benefit the Amherst branch of the NAACP isn’t just another craft show; it’s a revelation. Headlining it are stunning dolls by Belinda Lyons Zucker and eye-pampering jewelry by branch president Kathleen Anderson. A range of work from CDs to food as well as art and crafts, all of it by artists and chefs of color, offers an exceptional opportunity to buy holiday presents or just further one’s aesthetic education. The $3 donation that gets you in goes to the Amherst NAACP’s Freedom Fund. The show takes place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 7 and 8, and Saturday, Dec. 14 at the Nacul Center Gallery, 592 Main Street, Amherst.
Deer in Your Headlights?
Though 62 percent of Massachusetts is woods, making it the eighth most forested state in the country, your chances of hitting a deer on the road here, even in the late fall and early winter, are relatively low: one in 524.9. Take a deep breath and relax your grip on the wheel; Massachusetts ranks 43rd in the country for likelihood of deer collisions.
But if your driving during the holiday season takes you across any of the state’s borders, your chances of a close encounter with a deer increase, in some cases dramatically. According to State Farm, in Rhode Island, your odds of hitting Bambi are one in 373.9; in Connecticut, one in 299.4; in New Hampshire, one in 279.9; in Vermont, an uncomfortable one in 180.3; and in New York—not hard to believe if you’ve seen whole families of deer along the pastoral Taconic State Parkway—one in 140.6 (the mayor of Hastings-on-Hudson and his wife and child all have Lyme disease).
The odds may be worse this month because a mild winter last year, and plenty of food in the spring, made herds swell in numbers through 2013.
And in Vermont, look out for bears. Collisions between cars and bears have increased from 42 to 60 a year on average since 2010 as the bear population in the Green Mountain state has grown (last year, black bears chased Gov. Peter Shumlin out of his back yard and into his house late one night when he tried to remove bird feeders while four bruins were partying there). Bear collisions happen on Massachusetts roads as well; last month, a Southampton man was killed when a bear rushed onto Rte. 10 in Westfield, hit the man’s motorcycle and knocked him off.
“But after Whitey [Bulger] descended into what the judge in his case called unfathomable depravity and he went into hiding, [UMass president and former Massachusetts state Senate president] William Bulger’s stature began to erode. He refused to meet with the F.B.I. and told a grand jury that he hoped he would never do anything that would lead to his brother’s capture. … His apparent stonewalling led to his forced resignation from the University of Massachusetts, though he left with a state pension of $200,000 a year.”
New York Times reporter Katharine Q. Seelye in a Nov. 24 article, “Sticking by a Murderous Brother, and Paying for It Dearly”