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Many of us have danced to Hava Nagilah. But how many of us know where it comes from? Here is a charming excerpt from a forthcoming documentary (featuring the co-creator of “Friends,” Harry Belafonte, and Leonard Nimoy!) that has the story.

Thanks to my mom for sharing this with me!

We don’t get many PG movies designed for general audiences but this week we have two, both sweet romances, “Letters to Juliet” and “Just Wright.” The first is the story of girl about to be married who helps a woman find the love she lost half a century before. The second is about a physical therapist brought in to help an NBA star get back into the game. While the films are not intended for or suitable for children and today’s PG is more like the PG-13 of ten years ago, it is still very nice to see Hollywood recognize that it is possible to tell a love story without a lot of nudity, bad language, or violence.
Also this week: “Robin Hood” with Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett, the latest in dozens of depictions of the gallant rebel who took on the corrupt on behalf of the downtrodden.

Pixie-Hollow-Map-Screen.jpgDisney’s online role-playing game Pixie Hollow is based on its DVD series about Tinker Bell and her friends. It gives children a chance to select a (female) fairy avatar and interact with other fairies. Salon’s Mary Elizabeth Williams reports that Pixie Hollow has its first boy avatar, called a “sparrow man.”

But children are pretty resourceful little gender warriors. The open secret around the Hollow has long been that if you make your fairy tall, with short hair, and give her an ambiguous name like Jamie, she can pretty quickly establish a reputation as a he.

It may be that little boys want to play. Or, it may be that little girls want to have boy characters to dress up and interact with. It may be that today’s children are comfortable exploring the meaning of gender boundaries.

The fact that when young visitors create characters now they’re presented with both a female and a male avatar and prompted to “please pick one” is a big deal for a generation that’s going to grow up spending a portion of its life online. It says that there are choices.

Another one from my mom! This is a story of a dog who could not be what his trainer wanted but was even more than she hoped.

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