Noted in brief

November 28, 1997

THE National Basketball Association's A. C. Green isn't like other players. That's why he was able to break the NBA record for consecutive games.

Playing pro basketball, especially inside the paint like Mr. Green, can be brutal. The Dallas Mavericks forward has had his share of cuts, bruises and knocked-out teeth. But nothing to keep him from playing 907 straight games over 14 years. And he hasn't finished.

As remarkable as has been Mr. Green's ability to avoid serious injury is his adherence to a religious lifestyle that shuns other distractions that take their toll on pro athletes. At age 34, the never-married Mr. Green says he is a virgin. He eschews the drinking and carousing that have prematurely ended other players' careers. "Clean, healthy living is the reason I've been able to fulfill my professional responsibility," he said.

It was fitting that on the night Mr. Green broke the NBA longevity record, baseball's Mr. Endurance, Cal Ripken, was in Dallas to shake his hand. These athletes' single-minded devotion to their sports, to their teams and to their fans, their devotion to the work ethic every day inspires all of us whose jobs aren't nearly as challenging -- or as much fun.

BREAKTHROUGHS in plastic surgery on humans are important news, but why all the fuss over human surgery on a piece of plastic?

Word this month that the maker of Barbie dolls was developing a "less perfect" model with smaller bustline and wider waist was met with wonderment, rage and philosophizing about the human condition to an extent not seen since a researcher cloned sheep.

The "dumbing down" of Barbie's body is the ultimate sop to political correctness, some shrieked.

Executives at Mattel, now led by a woman who helped revive the doll's sales, likely howled with glee at all the consternation. If they knew it would generate as much publicity as this makeover, they'd give her two heads.

The toymaker is no longer as protective of the 38-year-old doll's squeaky-clean image: It couldn't block a car commercial last year that had a Barbie look-alike dump Ken to race off with a more macho male doll.

Nor could it stop a Danish pop music group, Aqua, from releasing, "Barbie Girl," which was fabulously popular this year with the grade-school crowd -- replete with sexual innuendo about Barbie and Ken. (Actual lyrics: "Make me walk, make me talk, do whatever you please. I can act like a star, I can beg on my knees.")

As for the timeless complaint that Barbie poses a terribly artificial image for young girls to live up to, the question itself is sexist. Have you seen "boy" toys lately?

Male action figures have thick necks, massive chests, sculpted biceps, crushing thighs. The Ninja Turtles supposedly live in a sewer, but they look like they're really living in a gym and popping steroids.

These are not the superheroes baby boomers recall: When George Reeves played Superman on TV in the 1950s and Adam West portrayed Batman in the '60s, they looked like the average dad in tights, with a slight paunch and thinning hair.

And while we're on the subject of unreal images, what about toys for toddlers? A wise-cracking frog that answers to "Kermit"? A giggly, purple dinosaur? Talk about setting up children for a fall!

Pub Date: 11/28/97

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