I collect thumb toys. Few people know thumb toys by name, but most everybody has seen one. Thumb toys are those small figures that stand atop a little pedestal that fits in the palm of your hand. Push a button under the pedestal and tension is released from strings within the figure; it falls. Let go and the figure rights itself.

 

I currently own 152 thumb toys. The breadth of the thumb toy world is impressive. The figures in my collection include robots, ghosts, elephants, turtles, dancing ants, circus strongmen, Curious George, a British cop, a bride and groom, a signing frog who swings on a cattail, Frankenstein, and the Fernsehturm television tower in Berlin.

I offer this as background to why I only started to personally click with the 108th Annual American International Toy… More…

In San Francisco, there are more marijuana shops than McDonald’s, bongs are considered medical devices, and apparently the local legislators believe that tiny Shrek action figures are a leading cause of heart attacks. In November, the city’s Board of Supervisors passed a law that effectively makes Happy Meals illegal. Any restaurant that wants to give away toys to its customers must now adhere to nutritional guidelines of hilariously oppressive exactitude. There are caps on calories and sodium, saturated fat ratios to maintain, vegetable quotas to meet. If asked to conform to such tyrannical dietary correctness, every chef at every foodie temple in the city would sooner flee to Bakersfield.

 

San Francisco’s Happy Meals ban is just one of many recent efforts to inoculate the public against the plague of McDonald’s marketing: Militant nutritionists advocate at least… More…

Fret not, guardians of authenticity! Bubbly, super-assured pop variable Miley Cyrus does virtually all her own lip-synching when she performs live in concert. All her own costume-wearing too. Her PR firm has assured us of this. Yes, there is that YouTube video clip that shows the 15-year-old star of the Disney TV series Hannah Montana surreptitiously exiting the stage in the midst of a song, only to have a body double, dressed in identical white go-go boots and classy blonde stripper wig, take her place for a convincingly simulated half-minute of dance-inspired flailings and high-energy pretend-singing.

But does that make Cyrus a fraud — Hannah Nontana, Hannah Faketana, or Miley Vanilli, as Internet hecklers have taken to calling her? Or is she just impressively committed to wardrobe diversity?

On her TV series, Cyrus plays a character with a dual identity. Most of the time, she’s Miley Stewart, an average teen… More…