THIS NEWSPAPER'S new ombudsman occasionally gets calls from people displeased that the paper dirties their hands. The Baltimore Sun and other papers are adopting increasingly "low-rub" inks to counter that problem. The advances in printing technology, however, come with a cost:
Silly Putty doesn't pick up the Sunday comics anymore.
We came upon this revelation while trying to help a child discover the joys that the whimsical putty held for the pre-Nintendo generation. Was there any greater entertainment than flattening the putty on Dick Tracy's face, lifting the image and stretching Tracy 'til he looked like, well, Flattop?
Binney & Smith, the Crayola crayon people who bought the rights to Silly Putty 15 years ago, acknowledge that the advances in printing have reduced Silly Putty's versatility. Actually, it still makes impressions from most black and white newspaper comics and from the comic books -- for now, at least. Also, today's kids, naive to some of the joys the putty held for prior generations, appear enamored enough by putty's new florescent and glow-in-the-dark colors, the Pennsylvania-based firm says. Binney spokesman Mark O'Brien said sales have grown 60 percent since 1990, after about a decade of decline.