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ONE TWISTED SISTER: Musician Dee Snider flashes the devil's horns to the crowd at Monster Circus, a rock mecca in Vegas. Click Arts&Life or a link to story. / Photo by Ben Hansen, special contributor

Today's word on journalism

May 8, 2009

The Last WORD

The Fat Lady Sings, Off-Key, Drools

At about this time every year, like the swallows to Capistrano or the buzzards to Hinckley, Ohio, the WORD migrates to its summer musing grounds at the sanitarium —St. Mumbles Home for the Terminally Verbose.

The reason is clear, and never moreso than as this season —the WORD's 13th —peters out.

It's been a fraught year of high palaver and eye-popping transition, both good and not-so-much. An interminable presidential campaign saga finally did end, and in extraordinary and historic fashion. Meanwhile, the bottom and everything that's below the bottom fell out of the economy, with families, homes, entire industries and —of particular interest to WORDsters and the civic-minded —dozens of daily newspapers ("I don't so much mind that newspapers are dying--it's watching them commit suicide that pisses me off." --Molly Ivins). . . all evaporating. What replaces them, from the individual to the institutional to the societal? Are we looking at a future of in-depth Tweeting?

As any newsperson or firehorse knows, it's hard to turn your back on day-to-day catastrophe --we just have to look at the car wreck. But even the most deranged and driven need a rest. As philosopher Lilly Tomlin once observed, "No matter how cynical you become, it's never enough to keep up."

So this morning, as a near-frost hovered over northern Utah, the unmarked van pulled into the driveway and the gentle, soft-spoken men in the white coats rolled the WORD out of bed and into a straitjacket for the usual summer trip to St. Mumbles, where the blathering one will be assigned a hammock and fed soothing, healthy foods --like tapioca, dog biscuits and salmon --while recharging the essential muscles of cynicism, outrage, sarcasm, social engagement and high-mindedness, in preparation for the next edition.
Summer well, friends.

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Feedback and suggestions--printable and otherwise--always welcome. "There are no false opinions."

Reinventing Barbie: A new kind of doll

NEW KINDS OF BARBIE: In alternative dress, above, and as a student. / Photos by Connor H. Jones

By Amanda Mears

March 26, 2009 | Bag lady Barbie, Pregnant Ken and R.N. Joe.

Don't be surprised if you haven't seen commercials for the twisted versions of these iconic toys flashing across your television screen. Instead, USU students can see these dolls, along with 161 others showcased in the basement of the Merrill-Cazier Library, as part of the Reinventing Barbie Bash sponsored by the women and gender studies department.

In order to celebrate National Women's History month, USU students and Cache Valley residents redesigned Barbie and Co. to make a statement.

"We wanted to take these iconic dolls and do something a lot more fun," said Brenda Cooper, USU professor and organizer of the event, and an award ceremony Tuesday. "Our goal was to take them and change the statement."

Storee Powell, junior majoring in print journalism, took home second place for her re-creation of several Barbies entitled "Good vs. Bad Role Models" and said her biggest motivation for entering the contest was to spread a message about positive role models for young girls.

"I get irritated at how the press will cover gossip and celebrities who are not reflective of what society is," Powell said. "Often times celebs are not good role models. For example, all the little girls want to be Hannah Montana and it gives them the wrong idea. They should be striving to be something attainable."

Powell said she first became interested in gender issues when deciding what minor she should choose. After talking to Cooper, Powell said she decided her passion was women and gender studies.

"I got really excited about it," Powell said. "There are a lot of issues facing women and I wanted to be a voice for that."

As a print journalism major, Powell said she spends a lot of time evaluating what messages the media send. Powell said she feels motivated to change the way women are covered because of how often she sees stories dedicated to people who present a negative body image to young people.

"People like parents and teachers who should be covered and praised are not receiving the press time they deserve because of much space and time is devoted to celebrities," Powell said.

The Reinventing Barbie Bash was just one outlet Powell said she uses to spread a positive message to other women.

"I like the idea of reinventing a Barbie doll because she depicts and unattainable body similar to celebrities who have plastic surgery," Powell said. "It's just not realistic."

Powell said she hopes that by reinventing Barbie for her 50th birthday she will get students thinking about their bodies in a realistic way and setting attainable goals.

"I think we need to start thinking about reality vs. ideals," Powell said. "We need to re-evaluate our thinking because it's hurting us. We grew up with Barbies and I think when you look at these dolls you need to think 'Maybe this isn't right.'"



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