Rebranding considered for popular noodle dish.
Photo: Shrimp Pad Thai by starportfoods.com
You only turn 12 once.
But if you play your MasterCards right, you can keep the celebration going for months.
No one knows this better than the girl we call McGallon. (First, because it rhymes, and later because we discover that she can eat an entire carton of mint chocolate chip ice cream in one sitting.)
McGallon's birthday begins around Christmas and ends by Valentine's Day if we are lucky. How she accomplishes this is never really clear until it is over and we arrive exhausted and bankrupt at her plans for spring break.
This year's birthday begins on schedule with the Christmas shopping.
McGallon helpfully identifies items that members of the family might want to consider for her upcoming birthday, since it falls only a month after Christmas.
Afterward, she pretends not to be paying attention so we can surreptitiously buy them with the understanding that they will be put away until January.
These gifts are opened at Christmas.
A new birthday list is proposed by New Year's. I do not understand exactly how this happens, year after year. (In my defense, I can only plead a recurring fantasy of time management.)
But it is the party planning that really tends to spiral out of control.
Unless firm limits are established early and often, McGallon has a tendency to dream big. Her idea of the perfect birthday party? Think Tyco.
This year, I propose an alternative to recreating Dennis Kozlowski's birthday bash. How about flying her best friend up from Fort Lauderdale for a girls' weekend instead of a party? A great idea, right? Easy. Elegant, almost, in its simplicity. She agrees immediately.
She is the most agreeable child ever. The girls have a great time. McGallon begins planning a birthday party before her friend's return flight has even left the airport.
There will still be cake, right?
"Well of course," I say. "I will make you a cake." ($1.99)
An ice cream cake, she says. With a theme.
"Sure," I say. An ice cream cake. ($28)
Could a couple of girls come over to have cake? Well, I think, we can't eat a $28 ice cream cake by ourselves, can we? But that's it. An ice cream cake, a couple of girls. No one stays longer than it takes to eat cake.
A movie? she asks. Could we watch a movie?
All right, I say. But no sleepovers.
Balloons? There were balloons for her brother's birthday. He didn't want them. How does that count? He only wanted cash. I bought the balloons to make it seem less like a transaction. The balloons were for me, when you think about it.
She has already thought about it. She thinks balloons would be nice.
Fine, I say. But no ice sculptures. I mean it.
Photo: A girl of simple tastes.
Past rallies: Wall Street surges on reports of fifth-grade supply list
The teen-ager known as Boy, Esq. celebrates his 15th birthday today. It is remarkable really, considering how many of our friends had bet against us surviving the honeymoon, let alone managing to raise a child to maturity.
It is apparently not necessary to know what you are doing in this regard. It just works out.
One day he is sitting there glaring at you in his Sesame Street t-shirt and Thomas the Tank Engine underwear and the next thing you know he is glaring at you over the pool table, a handsome boy with a wicked bank shot, who still does not like to have his picture taken, but whose mother has learned to shoot fast and ask questions later.
He still can not make toast or remember which day to take the garbage out, but walking, talking, reading, tying his shoes, riding a bike and sinking the eight ball in the corner pocket? We're taking credit. We also accept cash.
"Midwesterners make the best of any situation. It's just in our nature." - From the Chicago Tribune's 365-part series: We Are the Best People Anywhere and Not Just Because of Our Humility
You Born Today (or on any other day in any part of the 12-state region that includes Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin), are predisposed to make the best of any situation. It is part of your nature. Not like those flighty, preening, whiners on the coasts or in any of the other 38 states where people cannot be trusted. Today is a good day to just go about your life with the steady, uncomplaining humility that makes the region's 66 million people so gosh darn unique. Make the best of things. Write a book, run for office, invite some people over for dinner.
Others who share your horoscope: James Frey, Rod Blagojevich, Jeffrey Dahmer
As far as I know, anyway. I didn't even notice her daughter's shirt spelled out "hot" until I looked at the picture a day later. Look how cleverly it's disguised. Some letters are one color. Some letters are another color. Really, how was she supposed to even notice something like that? What else are they hiding? Next thing you know they'll be using a whole separate language to spell out stuff in code behind our backs. OMG we r in big trbl.
Or at least she is. My daughter is well in hand. Hear me whistling? Help.
Related tale: A Tale of Two Mommies
For those of you keeping count, the tally of Big Ideas Gone Wrong for the duo stands at fivish; hamster ping-pong, decorating with vaseline, putting the "pool" in pool table, the inedible cookie dough sale, and the Incredible Journey. I may be forgetting something...The girl and her BFF/co-conspirator spend three days baking their way through Martha Stewart's Cooking With Every Ounce of Butter in Your Zip Code. (Clarkson Potter Publishers, $24.99 - not including butter.) Would anyone like a cupcake? I have 350 of them.
Photos from top, clockwise: plotting as tots; taking over the newsroom in 2007; Ice cream cone cupcakes with butter cream icing; buttermilk cupcakes with butter cream icing. Oink.
"Once upon a time, men wore the pants. Men took charge because that's what they did." --Levi Strauss & Co. "Wear the Pants" campaign.
This is no time for cappuccino: Cities are crumbling, children are misbehaving and old ladies remain on one side of the street.
Because metaphors are for pussies. And Calvin Klein is not going to untie you from the railroad tracks.
We're talking about Levi Strauss & Co., whose new ad campaign for Dockers-brand pants champions the power of disaffected homophobic misogynists to save us from a world gone mad for salad and coffee drinks. If only they had the right pants. In nine new colors.
Levi Strauss global marketing skirt Jennifer Sey tells Brandweek what is at stake: Men, she says, are suffering from declining testosterone levels, a disproportionate share of job losses and confusion about their waxing options.
"This led us to the idea of an ad campaign encouraging men to put women, homosexuals and anyone else who stood in the way of pure, unadulterated patriarchy back in their place. Also, khakis with gun belts."
Photo: Confused about his pants options.
Stop interrogating me! I need money. Why are you ruining my life?
Whoa. One thing at a time, teenager! Let's just stick to today's exercise in aerobic arguing.
The topic is fruit. The facts are these: The swim team needs food donations for Saturday's big meet. My assignment: 20 oranges. 20 bananas.
First, define "simple." Now multiply by the square root of impossible.
Because I did not get the teen-ager's approval before agreeing to undertake the purchase and delivery of any fruit, let alone oranges! Or bananas!
You cannot imagine his horror at discovering that he is expected to carry three bags of produce into school. OMG!
To sum up: He can not possibly do it. It will make him late for math club, despite the fact that he enjoys door to door chauffeur service at the time of his choosing. Also, why am I always doing stuff like this to him? It's soooo annoying. Didn't he specifically ask me not to?
"Not to what?" I say. "You said you didn't want me volunteering. You said nothing about fruit. What social jeopardy can possibly come of me buying oranges and bananas?"
He has no answer for this. Neither do I.
But I will think of something.
Here in the suburbs, ground zero in the national real-estate fire sale, we found the explanations of the Wall Street bankers testifying before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission as satisfying as synthetic collateralized cheese.
There were some colorful attempts at metaphors, in which bankers and commissioners batted around the idea of the financial crisis as cooking show, but no one really took it far enough to make it work.
Did they really "eat their own cooking" as Morgan Stanley's John Mack claimed? Or had they secretly ordered take-out as a backup?
The real disappointment however is that no one has yet offered up an apology for bringing us to the point where we are forced to try to decipher recipes like "synthetic collateralized debt obligations" in order to make any sense of the news. What even goes into a dish like that?
Is it not enough that we spend two hours a day struggling with sixth-grade algebra? What is the value of X, where Y = the amount of time we could have spent
curled up in our pajamas with a glass of red wine and the New Yorker finishing our novel?
We were only just beginning to come to terms with the tremendous amount of time we
invested wasted trying to understand how Enron took our money. Bethany McLean still owes us an accounting degree for that one, but at least there were strip clubs in that story.
My point is, someone owes us an apology. Also, a better metaphor.
Concern that beats like health care, Jay Leno time slot are shortchanged
In a new study of America's shrinking newsrooms, researchers say nearly three-quarters of the country's still employed news reporters have been assigned to cover some aspect of the reality-tv mom's evolving hair styles.
"This is a story that highlights profound changes at the root of America's troubled relationship with hair," said one editor, attempting to justify his paper's deployment of two city hall reporters and a photographer to the effort.
"We can not afford to be caught short."
Not that there weren't some good times 2009, but honestly? We're not going to miss you all that much.
We almost learned to use the remote control, but lost interest in the first 15 minutes of everything that wasn't figure skating, Clive Owen or Californication.
Not that we were immune from all of pop culture's charms. We jostled outside a theater in New York to throw ourselves at a handsome English actor, shared a moment backstage with a handsome English rock star and celebrated the 445th birthday of an English playwright who, as it turns out, was a bit of man candy himself.
April in South Beach was pretty close to perfect despite the invisibility a B-cup imposes in that part of the world. We had to climb over the woodwork to fetch our own napkins at the tiki bar while bartenders carved fresh fruit into zoo animals for the Suburban Executive's drinks.
The summer brought us planeload after planeload of middle schoolers who left wrappers, dirty socks and half-eaten pizza in every room of the house, but who reminded us of what is really important: being able to send our children off to their parents.
We answered some of the big questions like who buys 64 ounces of ketchup?
We brought you epicurean delights like Peeps martinis, tried to trick our husband into buying us a vacuum cleaner for Mother's Day and shared the kind of parenting advice for which actual results may vary.
With your support and comments, our efforts to be funny were often completely derailed. Your digressions carried us far from shore, sunk the paddles and disabled the satellite navigation system.
But you are still here, and for that we are vowing even greater
security measures things in 2010.
Happy New Year,