The Locker Room

December 15, 2004

Re: Holiday dolls ... BAH!

Posted by Jon Sanders at 2:12 PM

I'm still waiting for a SumJenn™ the Conqueror doll ...

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Re: RoTK Extended Edition

Posted by Paul Chesser at 1:47 PM

Weren't we, uh, supposed to keep this "hush hush" until we gave John (Hood) his Christmas present? After all, it took us all year to come up with a playmate for his gift last year:

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In Honor of the Release of the RotK Extended Edition

Posted by Jenna Ashley Robinson at 12:13 AM

Dave Barry, as he does every year, has released a Holiday Gift Guide. Most of the items are your typical Dave Barry fare - an aquarium toilet tank and inflatable potty are good examples. One item, however, stands out for me:

TALKING GOLLUM DOLL $22.98 plus shipping and handling from Things You Never Knew Existed, 4514 19th St. Court E., Bradenton, FL 34203-3799, 800-843-0762,


Here's a very thoughtful gift for the impressionable youngster on your holiday gift list. It's a highly realistic talking plush doll depicting Gollum, the fun, heartwarmingly lovable character from the Lord of the Rings movies. When you squeeze him, Gollum hisses one of four phrases from the soundtrack.

Picture this: It's night, and the child is in his or her bed. The room is dark. The child is having trouble sleeping; perhaps he or she is worried that there's a monster under the bed. Finally the child dozes off, and rolls over onto Gollum, who hisses ''My precious,'' causing the child to wake up, face-to-face with Gollum, thus forming a memory that will be seared into the child's brain for a lifetime of therapy.

However, this is not the end of the madness. There's more.

Summer and I, after realizing that at least one person we know definitely needs this for Christmas, decided to do what any self-respecting Capitalist does; we checked to see if it was cheaper at It is, but unfotunately, it's out of stock.

We did find, in stock The Return of the King Deluxe Talking Gollum.

One helpful reviewer - Johnny B from Hermosa Beach, CA - has explained this doll better than the manufacturer ever could:

Amazing sculpt... but it's nicer if left in the box...

I love Gollum/Smeagol... and Lord of the Rings. So I was very excited to see how fantastic-looking this figure is. The face sculpt is just amazing-- the best likeness of this character you will find, at any price (better than the deluxe statues!). And best of all, you get TWO interchangable heads, one of a sweetly smiling Smeagol, and a twisted, gnarling Gollum. You should know that the figure comes packed randomly, with some wearing one head or the other. There is a storage space for his extra head (and the fish he can grasp) in the base. The other great thing is that he has 22 random phrases, including the full "Wish for a Fish" song, all in Anthony Serkis' real voice.

The beautifully illustrated box really enhances the product. Now for the down side (I guess this review is more Gollum than Smeagol!). The two AA batteries that come in the talking base are extremely weak and wear fast; when changed out to something better, his voice is loud again... but you can't seal the battery compartment again, the screw holding it together won't go back in. This happened to two different figures for me. Also, beyond his great grasping hands and articulated arms, he is not very poseable. His knees don't even bend, so he can't do anything but squat. But the holes in his feet don't even line up with the pegs on the base, so it is difficult to keep him from falling over. The legs pivot at the hips, but this is pretty much useless. The head dosn't tilt up enough, so that when he is squatting on the base, in the only position he can hold, he looks downward... and you don't get to see his great face very well.

So, would I recommend buying it, or not? I would say a qualified "yes" if you are determined to leave it in the box. It looks best this way, but the downside is that the fun is gone when the batteries run out (unless you open it up and slide the base out to change them... but then the screw is broken for good). I would vote "no" if you are looking for an action figure to play with. It is really more like a statue with a little articulation (but not where he could really use it, at the knees, ankles, and elbows). But it sure does look great!

We're taking the chance. Ask Summer about it in 7-10 days.

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Seems obvious to me

Posted by Hal Young at 12:02 AM links to the organization U.S. English, which has released a report which found -- gasp -- that Mexican and Central American immigrants are far less likely to become proficient in English and seek citizenship than any other immigrant population. USE has ideas about why this is, and commendably enough they want to encourage immigrants to … well, speak English and become citizens.

Strangely, though, while they note that "issues" with the Spanish language are not the problem, their map on page 10 of the full report suggests a simple explantion why our nearest neighbors are the ones who don't seek naturalization and English proficiency.

American history records that when an immigrant has to overcome a significant cultural and geographic divide -- be it a steerage passenger from Central Europe in 1870, a refugee from Communist Asia in 1980, or even a recent arrival from Argentina or Venezuela -- he is likely to consider it a permanent move. May he can't go home again, or maybe he wouldn't make the journey in the first place unless he meant to stay.

Mexico being a close neighbor, and having the benefit of large expatriate communities identified in the report, there's much more likelihood that those individuals are here for work or school, and intend to go home to Latin America sometime soon. Meanwhile, there's enough company and assistance around that minimal English skills will do … a situation not unlike an American in Paris.

So what's the problem with that?

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60 Years Ago

Posted by Paul Chesser at 10:12 AM

Former Hendersonville City Councilman Joel Wright recounts his experiences during the Battle of the Bulge.

How did he survive?

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But What About the Programs?

Posted by Paul Chesser at 09:03 AM

Amazing. The editorialists at The News & Observer actually came out on an issue that actually favors the taxpayer (with regard to car taxes) instead of government. And with no qualifiers like "what will they do without all this revenue for desperately needed programs" or "lawmakers will need to find new resources to make up for this loss," like you usually see from The N&O.

Scratching my head, jaw dropped to floor, all that...

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Merry Exmas

Posted by Hal Young at 08:29 AM

C.S. Lewis' 1954 discovery of a lost chapter of Herotodus describes the curious customs of Exmas among the Niatirbians:
In the middle of winter when fogs and rains most abound they have a great festival which they call Exmas and for fifty days they prepare for it in the fashion I shall describe. First of all, every citizen is obliged to send to each of his friends and relations a square piece of hard paper stamped with a picture, which in their speech is called an Exmas-card. But the pictures represent birds sitting on branches, or trees with a dark green prickly leaf, or else men in such garments as the Niatirbians believe that their ancestors wore two hundred years ago riding in coaches such as their ancestors used, or houses with snow on their roofs. And the Niatirbians are unwilling to say what these pictures have to do with the festival; guarding (as I suppose) some sacred mystery. And because all men must send these cards the marketplace is filled with the crowd of those buying them, so that there is great labour and weariness. But having bought as many as they suppose to be sufficient, they return to their houses and find there the like cards which others have sent to them. And when they find cards from any to whom they also have sent cards, they throw them away and give thanks to the gods that this labour at least is over for another year. But when they find cards from any to whom they have not sent, then they beat their breasts and wail and utter curses against the sender; and, having sufficiently lamented their misfortune, they put on their boots again and go out into the fog and rain and buy a card for him also.

Two pages merry and trenchant.

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