11.20.07 Age Norms and Orangey Goodness
Listen to sociologists hold forth on the topic of age norms and you’d be forgiven for dismissing the topic as theoretical hoo-ha with little real-life relevance. But in the course of writing Rejuvenile I became convinced that age norms are in fact an enormously powerful and woefully underexamined social force that exerts influence in the unlikeliest of places.
Take your local gas station or convenience store. Check out the snack display – you’ve got your adult Cape Cod Potato Chips, your teen-leaning Doritos and your kid-targeted Cheetos. What adult in their right mind would eat a snack promoted by a sneaker-clad spokescat? While snackfood giant Frito-Lay doesn’t release market research data, it seems clear that Cheetos have become a major flashpoint in rejuvenile’s assault on age norms—adults all over are embracing the orangey goodness of Chester Cheetah’s favorite snack. Many are content to causally gobble down a bag in the privacy of their workplace cubicle. Others publicly flaunt their Cheetos affiliation, proudly displaying their stained orange fingers to friends and coworkers or posting weird online video clips as proof of their playful, mischievous spirits. Eating ‘em is just the beginning:
• Members of the fabulous a-capella drag act the Kinsey Sicks stick ‘em in their well-powdered noses.
• Pajama-clad brunette tosses ‘em, gobbles ‘em, spits ‘em.
• Talkative co-ed colors her hair to match ‘em.
• Science geeks light ‘em up, dunk ‘em in booze, then down the firey cheesy cocktail (ow!)
- Clearly understimulated Iowans celebrate ‘em as prime tourist attraction.
11.20.07 Tilt-o-Wheel (formerly Paydates)
Safely stow all personal belongings. Be advised that management is not responsible for injuries resulting from following rambunctious recitation of rejuvenile-flavored news nuggets…
Capture that Flag. An epic five-family game of Capture the Flag over the weekend has reawakened my love for this ridiculously involving kidgame. Players aged 5-50 got completely immersed in strategizing, sprinting and stealthy sneaking for two-plus hours. Only bummer was waking up next morning to find myself sore in all sorts of unmentionable nooks and crannies. Recuperating at home, play guru Bernie DeKoven tipped me off to this newfangled urban street version. The organizers are New Mind Space, a wildly commendable art-play gang that hosts rejuvenile street event/games/happenings like last week’s light saber battle, street pillow fights and “bubble battles.” Check their website for upcoming events in Toronto, New York, San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, Montreal and Vancouver.
Baffling toys. Bored by Barbie? Unmoved by Legos? Maybe it’s time to graduate to a new, weirder class of plaything. How about a she-male baby doll? Or a Playmobile Hazmat crew? The online edition of that long-lost juvenile humor mag Cracked has an amazing compendium of “25 of the weirdest, most ill-conceived toys from around the globe.” I myself am now determined to get my own “toilet training tiger,” complete with sound chip that blurts “Crap! Crap like a champion!” (Thanks to “Count” Conte for the tip).
Bad-ass toys. I like to think of myself as a conscientious parent. I generally avoid battery-operated, crash-bang toys in favor of puzzles and blocks and other playthings that encourage open-ended imaginative play and so on and we’re all free, free to be you and me whatever. The point is, I avoid toys that will turn my offspring into spastic, ultraviolent little maniacs. But sometimes a dad can’t help it. Two new recent arrivals in our household have inspired mad fits of fun in both the 8-year-old boy and his 30-something dad. The first is the V-Bot, a Transformer-like robot that, with the touch of a remote, twists and folds and turns into a respectable red sports car that can zoom and careen around the house and utterly terrify the family dog (Check out YouTube clip of astonishing transformation here). From the same manufacturer comes Battle Wheels, a line of remote controlled, anime-inspired wheeled robots that bash into each other, Rock Em Sock Em Robot-style. Both toys have inspired hours of unimaginative, closed-ended and entirely awesome fun.
Wiggleheads? Really? We all know kids go bananas for Australian kiddie pop TV stars The Wiggles. But somehow I thought that even the most golly-gee rejuveniles would be immune from their super-cheery, crazy-creepy shtick (is it just me, or does the guy in purple look like the kind of fellow who circles playgrounds in tinted-window vans?). But proving yet again that literally anything kids enjoy will be inevitably taken up by rejuveniles, the group has attracted a loyal adult fanbase that calls itself (wait for it) the Wiggleheads. Amusing/horrifying Q&As with die-hard Wiggles groupies here.