The Economist Obit: André Cassagnes, Died January 16, Aged 86

Only The Economist could devote a whole page to the life of a man whose “day-job, until 1987 when he retired, was as an electrician for an interior-decoration firm based near Paris.”

He was “the son of a baker from Vitry-sur-Seine.  Had he not been allergic to flour, he might have stayed in the shop.”

In true Economist fashion, what earns this man a place in the pantheon of luminaries graced with Economist obituaries is not revealed until almost halfway through the piece.  A third of the way through, we learn that Cassagnes, “at the ripe age of 50,” developed a passion for kites.

Just when self thinks this is going to be an illuminating article about a designer of kites, The Economist springs the Ultimate Surprise:  Cassagnes was the inventor of the Etch-a-Sketch, a toy that has “sold more than 100m units worldwide in 50 years and earned a place in America’s National Toy Hall of Fame, alongside Barbie and Potato Head.”

It was licensed in 1960, so neither our grandparents nor our parents likely had the opportunity to play with this fascinating invention (And nowadays, could the Etch-a-Sketch hold a candle to video games?  Self thinks not!).

Self did have one, though.  And she is so old-fashioned that she actually purchased one for sole fruit of her loins.  But at the ripe old age of five, The Man went over all of self’s strenuous objections and bought son a couple of video games.  That was it.  That was the End:  all the Legos and train sets and kites and matchbox cars in the world could never compete with the magic of the video game!  Self might as well have hung up her boxing gloves.  Instead, she trudged on for seven or eight more years, stubbornly insisting that son put aside those video games and read a book or go to the park, which was only an inviting two blocks from our humble abode.  But no!  Video games ruled!  Self can tick off the names:  World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy Vols. 1 – 7, Grand Theft Auto.  Thank goodness he never went in for the horrific ones like Silent Hill.  All those crawling ghosts and incubus would have presented serious challenges to her equanimity, not to mention her sleep!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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