My favorite television show, far and away, is The Simpsons.
As a huge fan of animation, I've followed The Simpsons since before the show actually started 20 years ago when I was hooked by the short films that appeared as part of The Tracey Ullman Show.
Yeah, I know - you're shocked. You thought my favorite show was Dancing with the Stars.
I've even amassed a significant collection of Simpsons stuff, often augmented on birthdays or Christmases with another item or two from my daughters.
Now, it seems, there is a conspiracy to get me to buy one more bit of memorabilia to add to the collection: A Playboy magazine.
How awkward is that? Next month, apparently, Playboy is putting Marge Simpson on the cover, and splashing her in the centerfold inside.
Marge Simpson? Naked? In Playboy?
Ay caramba, as Bart would say.
The magazine's publishers said the ploy is designed to capture younger readers, since apparently only older readers are interested in Playboy's usual porn.
But what the heck is next? If this works, can we expect them to run nude photos of Dora the Explorer? Will Playgirl publish pictures of Bob the Builder in nothing but a hardhat? Will they open a strip club on Sesame Street? Will newspaper readers see Blondie topless?
Marge oughta be ashamed of herself. She's old enough to know better.
Speaking of young and old folks, I was happy again this year to be invited to Brandon Wilde to be one of the participants in media day for Columbia County Youth Leadership.
A good mix of local journalists talked to the group, urging them to take advantage of the freedom of youth to learn as much as they can, and choose a career in something they love.
I also told them about something that occurred to me the night before.
Pointing to an open area on the floor of the patio where they were seated, I told the assembled students to imagine several objects sitting there: A large tube television; a desktop computer with a full-sized monitor; a stereo system; a Rolodex card file; a day-planner notebook; a full-sized film camera; a VHS camcorder; and a wristwatch.
That much stuff would fill the back of a pickup truck, yet the functions of all of them can be handled by a Blackberry like the one I carry.
And every bit of that miniaturization happened within those students' lifetimes. What more astounding changes lie in their futures?
While I'm not sure what her future holds, Wanda Duffie deserves congratulations for her recent past.
Duffie rotates out next month as president of the Greater Columbia County Republican Women, ending a tenure in which the organization has become the third largest in the state.
That seems like a pretty big accomplishment since the group has only been around a few short years.
A final note:
Speaking of accomplishments, here is a funny e-mail I received the other day in the wake of President Obama's award of the Nobel Peace Prize:
"President Barack Obama stunned the country music world today by picking up its highest honor, Country Music Entertainer of the Year.
"Mr. Obama was chosen unanimously, according to the Country Music Association, beating out such favorites as Carrie Underwood and Toby Keith.
"In Nashville, country music insiders were shocked by Mr. Obama's selection, given that he has only been in office for eight months and during that time has yet to record a single country song.
"But Mr. Obama was gracious in receiving the honor, saying that he was 'honored and humbled' by the award before excusing himself to accept this year's Heisman Trophy."
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail email@example.com.)
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