Pop Culture Updates: Harry, Sampson and “The Simpsons”


We all know by now that Harry Potter, the fictional boy wizard, is a pop culture icon. “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” smashed all sales records this weekend (8.3 million copies of the book were sold in the first 24 hours). But, there’s another record the book has earned that you may not have heard about.

According to the National Braille Press, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” was made available to the blind at the same time sighted readers could purchase their print versions. The Boston-based publisher says that is an extremely rare occurrence in the literary world. The first six Potter books were not published in Braille until some time after they hit bookshelves.

The Braille version of “Deathly Hallows” is 1,100 pages and comes in 10 volumes. It weighs 12 pounds and stands a foot tall when stacked up.


You’ll recall the controversy that ensued last year when a suburban Los Angeles company offered to donate 4,000 “Talking Jesus Dolls” to the Marine Reserves’ annual Toys for Tots program. Well, the doll is making headlines again… and this time it has company.

Wal-Mart just announced that it will be selling Biblical action figures aimed at Christian parents who prefer their children play with Samson or Noah rather than with GI Joe or Bratz dolls. The retailer says it will stock the dolls at 425 of its stores nationwide mainly in the Midwest and South, California and parts of Pennsylvania.

Wal-Mart execs say they decided to sell the dolls because they noticed a demand for faith-based toys. The toy line includes a 3-inch figure of Daniel in the lion’s den, a 12-inch talking Jesus doll and a 13-inch Samson action figure.


Let’s face it; after 20 years on the air (and more than 400 episodes) you can’t be surprised to learn that “The Simpsons” is the biggest animated TV show ever. With that said, you had to know “The Simpsons Movie,” would bring about the biggest integrated marketing campaign in history.

For the past few weeks I have been writing about the movie’s partnership with airlines, news outlets, convenience stores, etc. Now, we are just a few days away from knowing if all that hype generates into big bucks at the box office.

If it doesn’t someone is surely going to “have a cow.” After all, JetBlue airlines underwent a complete “Simpsons” transformation. They are now referred to as the “Official Airline of Springfield” on their website and have been temporarily “taken over” by Springfield’s billionaire tyrant, Montgomery Burns. In addition, Microsoft got in on the action too, when they held a contest on XBox.com to win a yellow “Homer-faced” XBox 360, designed as a limited edition for the movie’s release. The country has gone “Simpsons” crazy and the movie won’t be officially released until Friday.

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Michele Cheplic

About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.