Legions of Leaplings

Slant News is going out of business.  I am therefore reposting my Slant articles on my personal blog, lest they be lost to posterity.

This article was originally published as “Leap Day Siblings Aren’t Just Uncommon, They’re Miracles?” on March 5, 2016.

Q:  What do you call someone born on February 29th?

A:  A leapling.

Q:  What’s better than one leapling in the family?

A:  Leapling siblings.

The odds of a baby being born on Leap Day are one in 1,461. This week, three American families who already had leapling children were blessed with a second leapling child.

Brandi Ellison of Bismarck, ND, gave birth to her second child, Abigail, on February 29, 2016. She and her husband Christopher were pleased and delighted, especially since their firstborn daughter, Annabelle, was born February 29, 2012.

I think we should play the lottery. It’s pretty crazy, we had no idea. When we first found out we were expecting with Abigail it was. We started figuring dates and it was like, ‘No way it’ll happen,’ and here we are,” said Brandi Ellison.

Jennifer Ginn of Lakewood, CO, gave birth to her son Antonio on Leap Day, 2016. Twelve years earlier, she and her husband Anthony had a son Giovanni. Antonio was born on his brother’s third birthday. The Ginns’ other four children have their birthdays scattered around the calendar.

Melissa Croff of Columbus, MI, gave birth to her second daughter, Evelyn, four years and a few minutes after her firstborn, Eliana. Evelyn was born February 29, 2016 at 3:06 a.m. Eliana was born February 29, 2012, at 3:33 a.m. Melissa said she and her husband Chad were “really excited and happy.”
This is the first Leap Day since she was married that Louise Estes of Payson, UT, that she isn’t spending the day in the hospital. Louise and David Estes have five children, three of whom are leaplings. Xavier Estes was born February 29, 2004. Remington Estes was born February 29, 2008. Jade Estes was born February 29, 2012. The Estes are one of only two families in the world known to have three leapling children. The Henriksen family of Norway had Leap Day babies in 1960, 1964, and 1968.

Leaplings can be parents and children, as well as siblings. For parents and children to share a Leap Day birthday, the odds are two million to one.

Michelle Birnbaum and her daughter Rose are both leaplings. Michelle Birnbaum of Saddle River, NJ, is 36 years old; she just celebrated her ninth birthday. Her daughter Rose is eight years old and just celebrated her second birthday.

Fred and Eric Shekoufeh, of La Mesa, California,  were both born on February 29. The father is 60 years old and the son is 20 years old. Fred is celebrating his 15th birthday and Eric his fifth birthday.

The odds of a baby being born on February 29 are one in 1,461. That makes leaplings above average.

Is Orange the New Black?

Slant News is going out of business.  I am therefore reposting my Slant articles on my personal blog, lest they be lost to posterity.

This article was originally published as “Why Don’t We Talk About Redheads When We Talk About Diversity in Hollywood?” on March 3, 2016.

It’s happened again. Another redhead “bites the dust.” Sarah Shahi has been cast to play Nancy Drew in a new CBS show. Cue the soundman: someone start playing Queen.


Hollywood claims they want more diversity. Yet it seems like every time Hollywood engages in “racelifting” or “racebending,” it’s a redhead who’s forfeited in favor of an actor who is a “person of color” (POC).


Half-Iranian, half-Spanish, most people would not consider Sarah Shahi a POC. However, she’s certainly not the plucky titian-haired teenager whose adventures we all read in our younger days. CBS Entertainment President Glenn Geller announced that he wanted the star of the new show Drew to be “diverse” and that when it came to casting actresses, “I’d be open to any ethnicity.” In fact, Drew will focus on Det. Nancy Drew, now grown up and working for the New York City Police Department, not a teenage amateur investigator assisting her lawyer father.

Race-lifting has made a fair amount of headlines lately, ever since Netflix announced it was casting British actor Finn Jones as Danny Rand, the superhero code-named Iron Fist.



Many fans thought it was past time to correct the problems of cultural appropriation by having Iron Fist played by an Asian American actor. A letter to the editor that Hugo-nominee William F. Wu wrote in 1974 has been making the rounds on Twitter, complaining then that Marvel had missed an opportunity by not making Iron Fist of Asian heritage to begin with.

There have been complaints that Iron Fist isn’t being played by an Asian or Asian-American actor and there have been complaints that people are complaining about a blond, blue-eyed character being played by a white actor.

Had Netflix chosen John Kim or Godfrey Gao to play Daniel Rand, would it have been any worse than Samuel L. Jackson playing Nick Fury? There’s been quite a few characters who were white in canon, but are now African-American. Most of them were redheads originally: orange is the new Black.


Who’s been transmogrified from redhead to African-American?



Pete Ross, Smallville (redhead)


Jimmy Olson, Supergirl (redhead)


Little Orphan Annie, Annie (redhead)


Ellis “Red” Redding, The Shawshank Redemption (redhead)


Harvey Dent, Batman (reddish-brown, depending on the artist)



Other characters who’ve been race-bent in the name of diversity include:


Nick Fury, MCU movies (brown hair or auburn-brown, depending on the artist)


Aqualad, Young Justice (black hair)


Heimdell, Thor (brown hair)


Kingpin, Daredevil (bald)


Human Torch, Fantastic Four (blond hair)


Redheads aren’t the only group being race-bent into African American characters, but despite making up roughly 2% of the world’s population, redheads seem more likely to be the characters retconned in the interest of diversity. Why?

{The spacing isn’t quite right on this version of the article, but I’ll try to tidy that up later.  Right now I’m just trying to preserve the words and thoughts.}