Bob Schwartz

Month: April, 2020

Mattel Commemorates the Heroes of the Pandemic With New Line of Action Figures

Many folks are appreciative of the inspirational corporate messaging and offers during the pandemic, especially when combined with corporate generosity. Still, once in a while, the kind reaction may be: okay, we get it, you are a genuinely enlightened company. Thanks.

This latest development from Mattel may seem like more of the well-intentioned same. But with heroes keeping us safe, healthy, fed and supplied, you can never run out of ways to remind us—and our kids.


Mattel Commemorates the Heroes of the Pandemic With New Line of Action Figures

Fisher-Price honors delivery drivers, nurses, EMTs, doctors and grocery workers


Step aside, G.I. Joe. Make way, Captain America. Wonder Woman, you can take a break. The coronavirus pandemic has called for a new squadron of real-life heroes to protect the planet on the frontlines of the crisis.

Mattel’s latest special edition collection, #ThankYouHeroes, is adding a few new faces to the classic action figure hierarchy by commemorating delivery drivers, nurses, EMTs, doctors and grocery workers. These Covid-19 warriors, who are diligently working to keep communities up and running, will now fight to keep playtime fun too.

Proceeds from the new Fisher-Price line of 16 action figures and five Little People Community Champions will go to #FirstRespondersFirst, an initiative created by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Thrive Global and the CAA Foundation to support first responders. Mattel is also providing toys to Bright Horizons daycare centers, which recently opened in partnership with #FirstRespondersFirst for the children of first responders.

According to Mattel, these topical toys will be the first of several brand efforts designed to support today’s everyday heroes, with others kicking off in the coming weeks as part of the California-based company’s broader platform for social responsibility.

“Whether these toys are given as a gift to recognize someone working on the front lines, or used as a tool to help children have conversations about how they are feeling, it is our hope that Fisher-Price toys, and play in general, can ultimately make these difficult times easier for both kids and adults,” said Chuck Scothon, SVP of Fisher-Price and global head of infant and preschool for Mattel, in a statement.

In addition to #ThankYouHeroes, Mattel is producing face shields and cloth face masks, and has provided toy donations to nonprofit partners domestically and around the world including Baby2Baby, Feed the Children, LA Family Housing, Partners for Pediatric Vision and UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital.

Mike Pence: Men who wear COVID-19 masks are SISSIES

Mike Pence visited the Mayo Clinic today. The Mayo Clinic requires staff and visitors to wear a protective mask during the COVID-19 pandemic. Mike Pence refused. We see him in a group of visitors, the only one not wearing a mask.

Mike Pence works for a REAL MAN who doesn’t ever wear a mask and doesn’t practice distancing. The president demands that Mike Pence not wear a mask either, even if it is required.

Real men

Do not inject chicken soup to cure COVID-19, even though it does ease symptoms of a cold

Scientists don’t believe that chicken soup can cure a cold. But they admit that chicken soup can help ease the symptoms, including congestion. Plus, it’s delicious. So it couldn’t hurt to eat it.

But that in no way suggests that injecting chicken soup is recommended as a cure or preventative for COVID-19. It should not be necessary to say this, but given the dangerous misinformation that is current:

Do not inject chicken soup, for COVID-19 or for any other reason.

Trump actually asks at today’s briefing whether we could inject people with disinfectant to knock out coronavirus

Actual quote from Trump at today’s briefing:

“So supposing we hit the body with a tremendous — whether it’s ultraviolet or just a very powerful light — and I think you said that hasn’t been checked because of the testing. And then I said, supposing you brought the light inside the body, which you can do either through the skin or some other way, and I think you said you’re going to test that, too.”

“I see the disinfectant that knocks it out in a minute, one minute. And is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside or almost a cleaning? As you see, it gets in the lungs, it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it would be interesting to check that.”

Message to Trump supporters: The next great leader of your “movement” died from COVID-19

We don’t know exactly how many people have needlessly died from COVID-19 because of Trump’s mishandling of the crisis. We don’t know exactly how many more will die because of it, or because of the misguided movement to “liberate” America from the current helpful restrictions. Little doubt it is in the thousands of deaths.

Each of these lives is important. Those lives also represent accomplishments that will remain forever unfulfilled in all realms. So if you are one of those who follows some socio-political movement like Trumpism, consider this:

You know that person you hadn’t yet heard about but who could be “the next Trump”? He died from COVID-19, though if Trump had acted sooner and more competently, he wouldn’t have.


Dreams night and day

Night dreams fall away
In first light
This day dream
Gone too

© Bob Schwartz

Easter Poem: This Bread I Break by Dylan Thomas

This Bread I Break

This bread I break was once the oat,
This wine upon a foreign tree
Plunged in its fruit;
Man in the day or wine at night
Laid the crops low, broke the grape’s joy.

Once in this time wine the summer blood
Knocked in the flesh that decked the vine,
Once in this bread
The oat was merry in the wind;
Man broke the sun, pulled the wind down.

This flesh you break, this blood you let
Make desolation in the vein,
Were oat and grape
Born of the sensual root and sap;
My wine you drink, my bread you snap.

Dylan Thomas


Passover Posts Past: The Greatest Hits

Each year this blog includes different Passover posts. Each year at Passover many readers find their way back to these past posts. For those who haven’t been in these parts much, following are a few throwbacks.

Moses on Krypton, Superman in Egypt

In the Siegel and Shuster version, there is no infant floated off in a basket to avoid his death, and no Egyptian princess to find and adopt him. Instead, the Kryptonian infant Kal-el (a version of the Hebrew phrase Kol El, “the voice of God” or “all of God”) is rocketed off in a space capsule to avoid the planet’s destruction. The capsule crashes on Earth, and he is found and adopted by the Midwestern couple, Ma and Pa Kent.

The biblical infant is raised as an Egyptian and given the Egyptian name Moses; Kal-el is raised as an earthling and given the Midwestern name Clark Kent. The time will come for both of them, Moses and Clark Kent, to reclaim their true identities in order to tap into great power, to become super-men….

Matzo: Dealing with Eating the Bread of Affliction

Don’t try to make sandwiches. At the seder, the tradition is to eat a tiny sandwich of horseradish and haroset (a sweet paste representing the mortar of the building the Jews slaved on) between two pieces of matzo. The great sage Hillel supposedly created this sandwich, and his name is attached to it. Even this tiny sandwich throws matzo crumbs all over the place. A full-size matzo sandwich is not a good idea. No matter how wise Hillel was….

American Freedom Seder 2017: Where There’s a Pharaoh There’s a Wilderness

It’s possible you believe there are some special struggles going on right now in America. Which would make it a good time to gather with like-minded friends and family, brothers and sisters, and as a community share a meal and recall that the struggle is never easy or short (and might include some flat, dry bread), but that there is a better nation at the end of the journey. One hopeful, undiscouraged step at a time….

Refugees and the Bread of Affliction

Passover begins this evening. As part of the festival, many Jews will be eating the flat dry bread of matzo at seder tonight; some will eat it for the next eight days. Matzo is known as the bread of affliction, commemorating the hardship of slavery and the hardship of the flight to freedom. As we break bread—flat or otherwise—we might also remember the plight of millions of refugees around the world….

Passover and Freud

What does Freud want? He might not want people attending a Passover seder, offering prayers to a God who isn’t there. But things are not that simple.

Sigmund Freud was a Jew by birth, an atheist by belief. He abstracted and analyzed religion as a powerful manifestation of powerful forces at work. But near the end of his career, he considered whether there was something in God that was more than a mere reflection of psychic need and dynamics.

In his final book, Moses and Monotheism, he suggests that while there is no God, the positing of one had forced the Jews—and all who followed on that spiritual path—to think and act differently. The gift of the idea of God was the imperative to transcend instinct and old ways, to make new and positive sense of the insensible, and to act accordingly….

Passover: Let’s Get Lost

Americans are lost
Jews are lost
Jews are used to being lost

Wake up wandering in the wilderness
Wanting guidance assurances
That it will be all right
Promises will be kept
A land will be found

No assurances
No promises
No land
No turning back

Tell the story
Then like the afikomen
Broken and lost
Let’s get lost

Passover 2020: With stay-at-home seders, Elijah will be making many more wine stops

The tradition of Elijah at the seder is common in many Jewish communities. The practice of pouring a fifth cup of wine and opening the door for Elijah has a complex history. The theme is the prophet as a harbinger of redemption. The scholarship on this is voluminous, and it is generally concluded that the practice is not ancient, only coming into use after the Crusades.

Setting aside the fascinating history of the cup of Elijah, this much is clear: at Passover 2020, Elijah will be visiting a lot more seders. Instead of big groups, single family seders—many of them virtually connected—will be pouring that extra cup for Elijah to drink. Not to mention all the other extra cups that will be poured and drunk on this Passover, different than all other Passovers.

According to the Bible story, Elijah, like Moses before him, fled to the wilderness. Pursued by Ahab and Jezebel, Elijah wanted to give up. Instead, he found water and food to sustain him, ending up at the very same mountain where Moses stood:

And He said, “Go and stand on the mountain before the LORD, and, look, the LORD is about to pass over, with a great and strong wind tearing apart mountains and smashing rocks before the LORD. Not in the wind is the LORD. And after the wind an earthquake. Not in the earthquake is the LORD. And after the earthquake—fire. Not in the fire is the LORD. And after the fire, a sound of minute stillness.” (1 Kings 19:10-12, Robert Alter translation)

Wilderness, food, wine, a sound of minute stillness. Happy Passover.

Pandemic Passover and Easter: Faith without form

Our religious traditions, from their beginnings, have been about form. Practices, beliefs, texts, communities. These are all forms that are required, recommended, unifying.

It is unavoidable to see an identity between the traditions and forms. That is, the point of the traditions seems to be the forms themselves.

There is a Zen thought that the finger pointing at the moon is not the moon itself. We point because the finger shows us which way to go and where something may be found. But the finger is not the way or the thing. The form is not the way or the thing.

There is unique value in gathering around the Passover table, following the order (seder) of together retelling a central story. There is unique value in gathering in church on Easter Sunday and retelling another central story.

The Passover seder is important but not essential. The Easter service is important but not essential. These are forms, the finger pointing at the moon.

What exactly is the moon of Passover and the moon of Easter? To be transformed and to transform the world and all the people in it. If you need examples of that, just look at the central stories of the two holidays and the teachings that surround them. You and the world start off one way and, by the time you are done wandering, you and the world are better. The dark places are a little bit lighter.

How do you get there? You take part in a seder, in person or virtually, or maybe you don’t. You attend a church service, in person or virtually, or maybe you don’t. You wander in a wilderness and find yourself and something new. You die and are reborn spiritually. The seder and the service are forms, valuable but not necessary. You can wander and arrive without them.

Apart but not alone, happy Passover and happy Easter.