Haunted Baby Take II

Last year, I posted about some of my most memorable Christmas toys, and Baby Drowsy topped the list as my all-time favorite. I mentioned how, some 15 years later, my youngest niece got a Baby Drowsy of her own, which she promptly used to torment her older sister, earning Drowsy a new name: “the haunted baby.”

Seems another talking babydoll is the newest contender for haunted-baby accolades. I hadn’t heard the buzz until Mike told me about it a couple nights ago. A Fisher Price/Mattel doll includes some religious propaganda amidst the billing and cooing. This site describes it much better than I can — and you can listen for yourself and make up your own mind.

I can hear it clearly. Cute baby sounds and then haunted baby takes over, proclaiming “Islam is the light.”  What bothers me most is the manufacturer’s matter-of-factness and basic denial that anything was amiss, not even admitting, “Oh, there might have been a problem, we’ll look into it.” (Can you not hear, people?) They apparently deleted the offending portion of the tape, without admitting anything was there in the first place. And what about all those proselytizing dollies on the shelf?

Way to demonstrate corporate social responsibility.

Clearly, someone or a group of someones messed with your doll’s tape. Doesn’t sound that implausible or that hard. Simply denying it ever happened is just lame.

Yet another reason to eschew new fad dollies (Mike and I noticed one that peed and pooped — and proudly proclaimed so on the box. Ewwww.) and stick with tried and true toys — if you can even find them anymore and feel confident they’re not going to contain lead paint or melamine or cheap plastic parts that will break off and choke your child or come in ridiculous packaging that you and your favorite hacksaw can’t penetrate. I’m almost afraid to look for Drowsy and see what she’s morphed into. Better she live forever in pleasant and funny memories.

Corporation: An ingenious device for
obtaining profit without individual responsibility. 
                                                     ~ Ambrose Bierce

Stats n’at

One of the features of wordpress.com, the site where I host Writing by Ear, is that it provides statistics about the blog — how many people looked at it each day, how that compares to previous days, how that pans out over several months, what entries they read, what links they clicked on, and what search terms they used that led them to the blog. I imagine other blogging sites do the same.

By far, the search term I see show up the most relates to Fallingwater, the house Frank Lloyd Wright built for the Kaufmann family. People type in “Fallingwater,” “Wright house,” “waterfall house,” and many such variations and somehow hit upon the entry I wrote about my visit there this past May. (Six people looked at it yesterday alone.) Another frequent search relates to the entry I did last September about favorite toys from Christmases past — people find my blog looking for Baby Drowsy (or as one searcher typed: “doll that says I want another drink of”) or the Strange Change Machine or Green Ghost (“glow in the dark ghost toys”). Something called “bubble writing” shows up a lot as well — I’ve never done a search myself to find out what that is or why it leads them to me.

A hit here, a hit there…tiny numbers in the blog world. I know I’ll likely never have a huge following because my writing is all over the place, the same as it is in my Hack for Hire life. The best-read blogs seem to be devoted to one particular topic that like-minded aficionados can latch onto, like Pittsburgh or gardening or parenthood or politics. But every hit I do get is still exciting. And as my one-year blogging anniversary quietly came and went this month, I still find this whole self-publishing-at-will thing astonishing, let alone people actually reading what I write or finding me while searching for something specific. And if you search Writing by Ear on Google, guess what comes up first! Me! It’s probably the only time in my life that will ever happen — heck, I can google my NAME and not come up first.

So all hail the quirks of the search engine, the beauty of Fallingwater, the nostalgia for our favorite toys, and especially, especially the power of the blog.

The new phone book’s here! The new phone book’s here! I’m somebody!
                                 ~ Navin R. Johnson, aka Steve Martin, aka The Jerk