Lai See

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 29 October, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 29 October, 2011, 12:00am

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Holy Barbie! Times Square pulling a grotesque festive joke

The geniuses who design the 'events' for the Times Square shopping mall have come up with a cracker -pardon the pun - for this year's Christmas festive period. Last year, if our memory serves us correctly, there was a kind of nativity theme to help lure shoppers to part with their money.

This year the organisers have dispensed with any Christmas-related icons such as reindeer, Father Christmas, baby Jesus in the manger and so. Instead, they have turned the occasion into a celebration of the Barbie Doll. The second floor atrium and the open piazza '... will transform into Barbie's Dream House and Xmas Garden'. This will be enhanced by top Chinese fashion designer Guo Pei, who bizarrely has created a clothing collection, 'Journey of Childish Dreams', especially tailored for Barbie and Ken.

Virginia Wu, of Times Square's promotions department, says in a press release: 'The audience will undoubtedly be entranced by the festive atmosphere and experience the boundless creativity directed by Guo Pei along with Barbie's lifestyle, taste and iconic visuals.' There is more of this. 'Times Square wishes to take the opportunity of this exhibition to not only bring you the glamorous Xmas, but also encourage every person to pursue with their dream and to strive for the best so that each person can shine like Barbie or the Christmas lights.' How very festive. You would think no right-minded person would go anywhere near Times Square while this festive extravaganza is in place, but we have to admit it does have a grotesque fascination.

Big Bang turned on its head

The 25th anniversary of London's financial deregulation - nicknamed Big Bang - has led to some trenchant comment on the state of the finance industry, which is still being mauled for the global financial crisis. Long-time City watcher Anthony Hilton of the Evening Standard writes: 'Before Big Bang the City was a place where occasionally there was a problem when honest firms employed dishonest people. Today that is reversed. The chronic problem in the City is institutionalised dishonesty, people behaving with as much integrity as is possible but having to live in an environment which puts the firms' interests before those of the customer, and seeks on a daily basis to separate the customer from as much of his money as it can get away with. Today's problem is honest people in dishonest firms.' He adds: 'Long-term relationships have been replaced by transactional relationships. In Philip Augur's well-observed phrase, marriage has been replaced with a succession of one-night stands.' This state of affairs is by no means confined to London.

Getting to the bottom of high heels

Instinctively we always knew it to be so, but now there is empirical evidence. High heels are bad for you. A survey of the 1,000 women by the shoe company MBT found that more than 40 per cent of them had suffered an accident wearing high heels, mostly by falling over, the Guardian reports. A Harvard study concludes that women who wear high heels increase the risk of arthritis of the knee as a result of the increased pressure on the inner knee joint. A paper in the Journal of Experimental Biology showed that women wearing high heels put most of their weight on to the ball of their feet and toes, which results in shorter calf muscles and thicker Achilles tendons, causing discomfort when they put their feet flat on the floor. So why do women do it? The answer, of course, is that high heels are fashionable and flattering in that they make their legs look longer and bottoms smaller.

Thomas turns heads at Mattel

First it was Winnie the Pooh. Now Thomas the Tank Engine is emigrating to the US. Toy giant Mattel has bought HIT Entertainment for US$680 million from a consortium led by Apax Partners, a British private equity firm. While HIT owns Bob the Builder and Angelina Ballerina, it's the old-fashioned locomotive that's generating the excitement at Mattel. Rail enthusiast the Reverend Wilbert Awdry created 'The Railway Series' in 1943 to entertain his son Christopher when he was bed-ridden with measles. It was about an engine named Edward, but Thomas turned up three years later, and turned into a global cash cow. Not unlike Pooh, a major royalty earner for Walt Disney.

The pinch that stole Christmas

Christmas has been cancelled. Bloomberg reports local governments across the US are shelving plans for holiday parades this festive season. Apparently the National League of Cities projected last month that US cities' combined revenue would fall 2.3 per cent this year, the fifth straight annual decline. 'I would cancel the parade, too,' said Frank Linn, who has played Father Christmas 15 times in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. 'I'm for the parade 100 per cent, but I see the situation clearly.'