The Madoffs: Cashing in

IF RUTH Madoff is really playing for national sympathy, her turn on “60 Minutes’’ Sunday night didn’t help. She was monotone, barely emotional, and half-amnesiatic as she reflected on the last three years of her life, since her husband confessed to running the biggest Ponzi scheme in history. And any plea for privacy was offset by the reason she was talking: to promote an authorized family biography.

If the point of the Madoffs’ publicity blitz is to swear they knew nothing about the $50 billion swindle, then what do they have to say, beyond a catalogue of riches gained and lost?

Read the rest of the column from here. (Links are free!)

Here’s a story…

IN HONOR of Sherwood Schwartz, the “Brady Bunch’’ creator who died last Tuesday, I spent much of this week bingeing on his most enduring show. I was struck by how many scenes I recalled with perfect clarity: Cindy Brady freezing in front of a TV camera. Peter Brady holding a magnifying glass to his eye. The family singing “Clementine’’ in the station wagon, en route to the Grand Canyon.

“The Brady Bunch’’ feels different from today’s kids’ fare, and that’s partly due to its time-capsule quality, spoofed so lovingly in the 1995 “Brady Bunch Movie.’’ The clothes are vintage ’70s, and in a way, so is the wholesomeness: Today’s TV teens warble pop songs, not old Americana.

But really, it’s not the Bradys’ innocence that sets them apart. It’s the fact that their lives, and their troubles, were usually so mundane.

Read the rest of the column from the Boston Globe here.


Could I resist writing about Anthony Weiner? No, I could not.

This column came first, when there was still a bit of room for benefit of the doubt. (And I still stand by my praise of his Twitter feed, so long as there are no photos involved.)

This column came when there was no longer doubt. Reaction, unsurprisingly, was divided along male-female lines.

Thomas and the cult of obedience

This one got a lot of feedback from parents and grandparents: Ruminations on the pull of Thomas the Tank Engine, and why I hope his obedience doesn’t rub off too much on the little guy.

Read the whole thing from the Boston Globe here.

THIS ONE goes out to the parents, grandparents, and friends of toddler boys. Tell me if this sounds familiar: Preschooler walks around in a happy daze, ignoring the world around him, mumbling catchphrases about cheeky trains on the Island of Sodor.

Yes, it’s the mind-grip of Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends, as documented in a study from last year’s Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics. A fellow Thomas inductee recently showed me the story: A 3-year-old in California watched Thomas episodes on TV for five hours a day, and descended so deep in his train reverie that he wouldn’t talk to anyone at preschool.