It’s a fact of bourgeous American life circa 2009 that boys about my son’s age – he’s 11 1/2 – are besotted by Lego. The venerable Danish company has managed a remarkable revival by generating Lego-ish toys that are both innovative and fairly addictive – even if they long ago abandoned their purist educational mission. Some small businesses have grown up around Lego Madness. One such is Brick Arms LLC. Owner Will Chapman, based on Redmond, Washington, describes himself as an Adult Fan of Lego and says on his website that BrickArms is a family affair involving wife and their three sons. What BrickArms produces are a multitude of Lego-compatible accessories. They’re not for old-fashioned fuddy-duddies (like me) who remember Legos as basic bricks. BrickArms’ staples are plastic guns, missiles, bombs and ammunition – teeny-tiny weapons that clip onto the hands of Lego mini-figures. (BrickArms also produces modified Lego “mini-figs,” one or two of which have stirred a bit of controversy in the past year or so.) The firm is apparently so busy this year that it’s no longer taking pre-Christmas orders. Lucky for my son, these minuscule weapons of destruction can be purchased on other sites.
We have just spent a thousand bucks on a new B-flat clarinet for our almost-14-year-old daughter, a dedicated clarinetist who has outgrown her beginner’s instrument. We’re not buying a traditional wooden clarinet, however. We’re betting on an entrepreneur named Tom Ridenour. Based in Texas, Ridenour produces the increasingly renowned Ridenour Lyrique Clarinets made of a hard rubber substance. My husband read through all manner of ”serious musician” websites and found consistently good reviews of the Ridenour line. In particular, the rubber seems to render instruments impervious to the extreme temperatures that wreak havoc on a wooden clarinet’s tone, quality and structure. Our daughter’s clarinet teacher supported our decision to go with Ridenour. The instrument is on its way from the Lone Star to the Garden State. We’re optimistic about this American innovation. I’ll update you soon.