a darker side of play….

“Grown ups are complicated creatures,
full of quirks and secrets.”

― Roald Dahl

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(Gaylord the walking dog circa 1960)

No, this isn’t a tale about child predation or anything as awful or evil as that.

No…. this is actually a story about the naiveté that we use to find in our
favorite childhood toys…
and to what those once happy and comforting memories may be sadly morphing into
during these odd days of the 21st century….

Candice Bergen has often lamented that when she was growing up she was actually
jealous of Charlie McCarthy.
Charlie was the ventriloquist doll, aka “dummy” that her Dad, Edger Bergen,
used during his early days of Vaudeville…
moving to radio and eventually television.
Candice was often introduced to audiences as Charlie’s little sister.

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(Charlie and Edgar 1938)

Yet there has always been something rather creepy about a ventriloquist’s doll.
Hollywood cemented that notion deep within our psyches with the creation of those
infamous B rated horror flicks featuring the puppets dating back as early as the 1960’s.
Even later with children’s shows such as Goosebumps in the early 1990s,
our need to be creeped out was capitalized on with the notion of a puppet having a mind,
albeit evil, all to itself.

When I was a little girl I had a Chatty Cathy doll.
Not a ventriloquist’s doll, but one that “spoke” none the less.
I don’t really remember her but my Dad tells me about it all the time.
She was a doll who, when a string was pulled, would speak.
An early prototype to a conversing playmate.

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She was large for being a doll and had a complete ensemble of clothes that she could change into
with the aid of her “playmate”…aka me.

Personally I preferred Gaylord.
I actually remember Gaylord…although I am told I referred to him as gayhog….
He was a dog, complete with plastic bone that would stick to his magnetic nose.
Gaylord could actually walk when pulled on a leash.
My love for Gaylord was probably because we didn’t have a dog…

So yesterday afternoon as I was reading the latest headline offering from the BBC, imagine
my alarm over the words “German parents told to destroy “spy” dolls.”

Naturally I opted to read further…

It seems that the latest and greatest “talking” doll Cayla,
which somehow uses the internet in order to “talk,” can be hacked…
Allowing for the doll’s conversing with, say her real-life playmate,
to be anything but innocent or naive.
There could be all sorts of responses or commands that would be more sinister and twisted
in nature.

I have provided the link to the story…
be sure to click on the brief video clip as that it most telling

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-39002142

I suppose we are sadly learning that there is no bastion of innocence remaining….
Which I suppose leads us to just another reminder that we can’t ever be too careful
as to who or what we listen to…

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones.
For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.

Matthew 18:10

Monday’s mania and the tale of a wayward vulture

Since knowledge is but sorrow’s spy,
It is not safe to know.

William Davenant

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(A poor lost griffon vulture, image courtesy the BBC)

What’s a griffon vulture and the high stakes game of espionage and intelligence gathering have to do with one another?
Absolutely nothing.
Yet try telling that to the Lebanese government.

Meet a comedy of errors that had a near disastrous consequence for one hapless griffon vulture.

It seems that this carrion loving bird, who was simply out and about for an innocent lazy ride along the thermals over the Israeli occupied Golan Heights, made the egregious mistake of nonchalantly wandering into Lebanese air space.
He was subsequently captured and “incarcerated” by local Lebanese villagers who mistook him for an Israeli spy.

“A vulture an Israeli spy???!!!” I hear you incredulously howling….

Seems our unsuspecting raptor, who had a tracking device on his tail, was observed flying into Lebanese airspace and was thus assumed to be up to no good…as if eating dead things is a good thing….

But the truth of the matter is that vultures, who have long been absent from this region, were recently reintroduced back into this particular area of the Middle East. Each vulture has a tracking device and a leg tag marking them as a part of Tel Aviv University’s biological research department. Students track these birds in order to monitor their flight patterns, nesting habits, the potential for repopulating the region as well as for their overall wellbeing.

The Lebanese villagers suspecting a “Zionist” plot hatching out right over their heads pegged this lone vulture as a spy most likely complete with a spy cam.
It took the intervention of the UN to broker a deal for the poor vulture’s release and safe return back to the University.

And it should be noted that this is not the first incident of a suspect vulture’s mistaken identity and subsequent “arrest”…..
It seems that even poor vultures are not exempt from the rampant paranoia of high stakes espionage.

So the next time you see a bunch of buzzards circling overhead, eyeing that latest possum roadkill, you might want to think twice about whether or not that’s really a possum and whether or not that’s really a buzzard….

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-35446528

Here’s to putting a smile on your face this Monday morning….