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Remembering 9/11: A decade after our world came tumbling down.
In the Spotlight
Written by Stephanie Finnegan   

One of my most favorite things about blogging rather than straight reporting is that I get to speak directly to you, the reader, about eventsthe-world-trade-center1that amuse me, or bemuse me, or have moved me. This week’s blog goes beyond just simply having touched me; it is a meditation on the events of 9/11/2001 and how I was never the same again. Our country—the whole world—was shaken awake on that clear Tuesday morning, and we have never really rolled over and gone back into our pre-9/11 slumber.

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Dolls & the Deluge: An extreme weather condition has an unexpected sunny ending.
In the Spotlight
Written by Stephanie Finnegan   

What is it about dolls and flooding that seem to go hand-in-hand in my life? Longstanding readers of this blog might recall when mysevenbridesfrotier1 basement was flooded more than a year ago and my Titanic doll was launched to float facedown in the murky, rising tides.

Now we were visited by Hurricane Irene, and that houseguest did not act like a lady at all. Like an angry, bombastic toddler, she rushed through my hometown, leaving branches and trees and power lines in her wake. My family and I are among the 500,000 New Jerseyites who lost power. I must tell you that living like a frontier woman is not what it’s cracked up to be.

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We Love Lucy: A special anniversary gives doll collectors a chance to be in the show.
In the Spotlight
Written by Stephanie Finnegan   

Everyone loves Lucy, but especially now, during her centennial year. The “wacky redhead,” as she was often billed, was born inlucyatchocolateconveyor1 Jamestown, New York, on August 6, 1911, so August is the 100th anniversary of her birth. Over the years, doll companies have issued some stunning renderings of her best-loved, funny bits, and this year, as well, more are on hand to commemorate the celebration. I know that I shall be picking up one—or maybe two, perhaps three? (I must confess, I feel like I’m on the chocolate-factory assembly line here. I’d just love to grab hold of all the great products as they come down the manufacturing conveyor belt, a Lucy fan let loose in the proverbial candy store!)

 

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Dolls in Danger: Courtney Love’s confessional “Doll Parts” still aches 20 years later.
In the Spotlight
Written by Stephanie Finnegan   

It’s difficult to believe, but MTV has turned 30 years old this month. When it first launched, the network functioned as a video jukebox. Itcourtneylovebarrette1 was the repository for some really cutting-edge, mind-blowing musical montages. It was also the dumping ground for some pretty schlocky, low-rent efforts. (We’re talking cheesy, clunky musical outings that make Rebecca Black’s self-produced “Friday” look like a spark of genius.) But over time, the network reinvented itself, inspired many vocalists who have raised the video format to a work of art, and cemented its standing as a pop culture landmark. Oh, it’s also given us “Jersey Shore”! So, much for evolution.

 

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Revolutionary Road: Created to save humanity, a hero emerges . . . from the toy box.
In the Spotlight
Written by Stephanie Finnegan   

Over the last year we’ve been building a new, home-based ritual: the family movie night. With the invention of the DVD and the arrival of9posterfinal1 its sleek, sophisticated cousin, the Blu-ray player, it really does feel like “Hollywood on the Hudson” in my house. The images are crisp; the choice of movies is enormous; the amount of fun is immeasurable. All it takes is a trip to the library (films are free), a visit to Redbox (rentals for a mere buck each), or crafty buying on eBay, and the gamut of family entertainment is rich and rewarding. My kids love it! We all get to sit together, munch on popcorn, talk at appropriate pauses, and enjoy a movie night-out, without having to leave our living room. And best of all, we can create our own theme events: like a doll double-bill.

 

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Farewell, Mr. Mattel: Toy tycoon Elliot Handler passes away at age 95.
In the Spotlight
Written by Stephanie Finnegan   

It’s an unavoidable fact of life: we all are going to die one day. Yes, that’s a “downer” way to begin this week’s blog, but it’s the truth,Mattel-founder_new and perhaps we all need to remind ourselves of that. On Thursday night, July 21, Elliot Handler, the co-founder of Mattel, passed away. He was 95 years old. His age shows that he had a long life; and the way that his family and friends have praised him in quotes to the press reveals that he had a happy life. That’s what we all want in the end, isn’t it? A long and happy life.

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Pottering through Potterville: A place where Harry, Hermione & Ron will forever prevail.
In the Spotlight
Written by Stephanie Finnegan   

Recently, Kate Beckinsale talked to reporters about life as an action figure. The actress, who was once heralded as an heir apparent toannavaleriousdoll1 the likes of Maggie Smith, Vanessa Redgrave, and Judi Dench, karate-chopped those comparisons when she became the leading lady in a string of big-budget horror movies and martial arts flicks. The seemingly well-groomed hothouse flower was, in reality, an angry, aggressive Venus flytrap. Beckinsale laughingly said, “There used to be an aroma of tea and crumpets around me when I entered a room. That’s not there anymore.”

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Hoarding Around: Do we see a bit of ourselves buried amongst the TV show’s exploitative camerawork?
In the Spotlight
Written by Stephanie Finnegan   

My friend Cam and I have a weekly ritual. For us, it holds the same allure as a Victoria’s Secret runway show has for Charlie Sheen andhoardersseasonone1 Drew Carey. (Yup, the eyeglass-wearing comic is notorious for his model-chasing ways! Go figure.) It’s the equivalent of Monday-night football for “Cheeseheads” and “Gang Green” fans, “Big Blue” diehards and feisty folks who have sworn allegiance to the “Patriot Nation.” I’m talking about “Hoarders” on A&E, an absolute swamp for the senses, but somehow it functions like a siren call for collectors who always fear they are simply one purchase away from being pulled into this pull-no-punches documentary. (By the way, it’s the king of these gawking-at-garbage programs, outjunking “Buried Alive,” “Clean Sweep,” and even “Clean House,” despite the effusive Niecy Nash on board.)

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