Dave Molter

And an appy new year

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“’Twas the week before Christmas, and all with a laptop


Were playing with things that they’d bought at the app shop.”


I downloaded a Christmas tree app for my iPhone. Why? It will help me kill the time I’m not wasting playing the free Simpsons’ “Tapped Out” game that I downloaded in October, that’s why. Christmas tree is one of 6,668 apps that appear if you tap the App Store icon and search for Christmas. Call me a traditionalist, but I passed on downloading Crazy Spider Christmas Terror, Christmas Zombie Attack and Dress Up – Christmas Girls. I stopped scrolling at D. I was afraid that if I made it to the H screen, Hugh Hefner’s Ho Ho Holiday in Santa’s Secret Grotto app would have leapt out at me like a 3D hobbit.


I looked for Christmas tree apps after talking to a friend about styles of Christmas trees: live; fake; fake aluminum; live but unwatered and, thus, dead. But we live in the iPhone era, so I ventured that if you can buy a video yule log, surely there must be a Christmas tree app. In fact, there’s a whole virtual nurseryful of them.


My friend downloaded a different Christmas tree app and also a Christmas carol piano playalong app – one that requires elf-sized fingers to strike only one key at a time. I figure that the piano app will be widely used by modern carolers who, dressed in Dickensian top hats, frock coats and fingerless gloves, will merrily text the lyrics to families gathered indoors around the warm glow of an iPad.


There are also a couple of apps that allow you to track Santa’s sleigh on its Christmas flight around the world. Of course, if Santa knows if you’ve been sleeping and if you’re awake, he probably also knows you have a tracking app and has installed jamming software on his sleigh’s dash-mounted iPad. So maybe you’d better uninstall the tracking app. No use taking a chance on turning the Jolly Old Elf into The Kringlenator. And it would take only a slight push. Because it’s not easy being Santa. Consider why.


First, he has to deal with elves from the IBT – International Brotherhood of Toymakers – because the North is not yet a right-to-work pole. Then, he has to carry separate sacks to keep Christmas presents from intermingling with Kwanzaa gifts. Finally, he has to make sure he doesn’t give a boy a gift meant for a girl. That’s because a 13-year-old New Jersey girl was scheduled to meet Monday with Hasbro in an effort to get the toy company to make its Easy-Bake Oven in a color other than pink. A pink oven, she says, makes her younger brother think that men shouldn’t cook. An online petition she started in November has more than 44,000 supporters. Roughly 43,000 of those, I’d wager, are women who had just watched their husbands pig down a Thanksgiving meal they’d had no hand in preparing.


But this seemingly forward-thinking teen is actually just following trends. Seems that after years of being frustrated in trying to get girls to play with its toy bricks, Lego has found success with Lego Friends, a set of blocks geared toward girls. Toy analyst Sean McGowan of Needham & Co. told National Public Radio that the Lego Friends sets feature characters that are larger and more realistic than the traditionally chunky, squared-off figures that boys find so attractive because “girls see them as avatars of themselves.” OK, I’m down with that.


But it doesn’t explain why Lego thinks its non-stereotypical Lego girls should be dressed in skintight tank tops, miniskirts, sweatpants and flip-flops. They look less like empowered female role models and more like cast members in a Quentin Tarantino cheerleaders-in-their-underwear-at-the-lake slasher flick. Or maybe from Hugh Hefner’s Ho Ho Holiday in Santa’s Secret Grotto app.


There’s also a curious lack of male Lego figures in the scenes depicted on the Lego Friends website.


Maybe the Lego men are off learning to cook.


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