Friday News Chum

With everything going on this week, and the financial gloom-and-doom, there hasn’t been much interesting chum out there on the newswires. But I do have a little for you:

  • From the “Insert Your Hillary Clinton Joke Here” Department: We’ve all heard about stem cells, and their potential benefit to curing diseases. We’ve also all heard about how research on them has been stymied because their primary source was human embryos, and we all know how the current administration feels about that. Well, according to the LA Times, a new source has been found: Testicles. Specifically, using the testicular cells of adult men, researchers have grown muscle, nerve and other kinds of tissue. Scientists have also derived flexible adult stem cells from skin, amniotic fluid and menstrual blood.They are theoretically superior to traditional embryonic stem cells because they can be obtained directly from male patients and used to grow replacement tissue that their bodies won’t reject. However, they do result in a lot of wincing.
  • From the “You Know the Economy is Bad When…” Department: The New York Times is reporting that as the economy has been tanking, sales of safes have gone up. The metal vaults are so popular in some parts of the country that shoppers are depleting store supplies. True, safes don’t pay interest, but they also don’t lose major value overnight. Unless, of course, someone breaks into them.
  • From the “That’s The Way The Cookie Crumbles” Department: I’m sorry to report another casualty of the economy: Mother’s Cookies is going bankrupt after 92 years (the filing also includes Archway Cookies). As mark_evanier notes, Mothers was best known for its Sugar Cookies, Double Fudge Cookies, Oatmeal Cookies, Flakey Flix and a childhood fave of mine, Circus Animal cookies. Circus Animal Cookies were animal crackers with a layer of magenta or vanilla frosting plus a sprinkling of rainbow sugar nonpareils. Children will sorely miss them.
  • From the “And Another One Takes the Cake” Department: Older children also have something to miss. Chucko, the Birthday Clown, has died. Now this is one icon of LA Children’s TV that I don’t remember, but I have read about. Chucko was on KABC-TV Channel 7 from 1955 to 1963 and on KTTV Channel 11 from 1963 to 1964 (translation: I was 4 when he went off the air). Chucko was known for a spinning merry-go-round hat with his name on it, a half red and half red-and-white-striped clown suit with a fluffy Elizabethan-style collar and cuffs, and white gloves; and he had arching blue eyebrows on a white face with a rhinestone-tipped nose and an upturned red smile. In this outfit, he walked the streets of San Francisco unnoticed. (crickets). His primary sponsors were Barbara Ann bread and Flex Straws–and I have a vague memory of Chucko on packages of those straws. Yes, just like the Sheriff, he had a birthday song: “Here’s a hap, hap, happy birthday from me (that’s me), to you (that’s you). . . .” Now, you’re probably asking yourself: Why a Birthday Clown? Isn’t it obvious? The idea behind Chucko, as his wife Millie once put it, was “if Christmas has Santa Claus, and Halloween has a witch, and Easter a bunny, why shouldn’t kids’ birthdays have a clown?”
  • From the “Baby, Remember my Name” Department: Casting has been announced for the upcoming remake of the movie “Fame”. The MGM film, according to the Hollywood Reporter, will feature Kristy Flores as a dancer named Rosie, Paul Iacono as filmmaker Neil, Paul McGill a gay dancer named Kevin, Naturi Naughton as a classical pianist named Denise, Kay Panabaker as actress Jenny, Kherington Payne as ballerina Alice, Collins Pennie as an artist named Malik, Walter Perez as a musician named Victor and Anna Maria Perez de Tagle as Joy Moy. Thomas Dekker is currently in negotiations to play Marco, a singer, and Debbie Allen, who played strict dance teacher Lydia in the original Alan Parker film, may have a cameo in the remake. The adult roles have yet to be cast. I, for one, am hoping they do the clever thing, and get some of kids who were in the original movie and TV series to show up as teachers in the remake. The new “Fame” is scheduled for release in September 2009.