With the release of the 2014 Career of the Year doll, Mattel has added a new entry to Barbie's resume (which has been reconfigured in a slightly smaller font and runs just under 4o pages.) Entrepreneur Barbie will be courting investors this summer in hot pink career wear and sensible shoes. Just kidding! She wouldn't be caught dead in sensible shoes. But she does have a smartphone, a tablet and a little black briefcase full of hopes and dreams. Also, we imagine, lipstick, Starbucks receipts and a hot pink action plan:
1. Capital Raise: Wow investors in hot pink business suit and kick-ass plastic heels.
You know you are in for an interesting week when you walk into your office, certain of your ability to
land a book deal, finish your novel, complete a single coherent sentence, only to discover that someone in your family has been using your computer to google "Build Your Own Steam Engine, Part 1."
The part of you that is laughing out loud? That is the "rational" part of your brain, the part that recognizes this for what it is: a 19th century timesuck for which some social studies teacher with a cruel streak and nothing but time on his hands has promised extra credit. Be very careful. You have something of a track record here. You have no one to blame but yourself if you find yourself at Home Depot at 9 p.m. searching for 13/32" brass tubing.
from the track record archives:
Isn't it time to retire that pathetic old stereotype about women hating other women simply because they're beautiful?
I don't know what sort of crazy Texas cheerleader coven Samantha Brick found herself living among in the French countryside, but the rest of us left junior high behind in high school.
Or by our sophomore year in college at the very latest. That sort of 1950s era insecurity is so 2011.
Modern women are capable of judging each other by a wide range of criteria. I can't even count the number of women who have decided to hate me just because my imaginary boyfriend is a British secret agent. Or because my
life laundry seems so much more glamorous than theirs.
My point is, for Brick to suggest that she has earned the status of a woman hated by other women on the basis of looks alone simplifies the nuanced process by which such decisions are actually made.
Which is why I've created the following chart to illustrate the process.
You're welcome. -SK.
from the beauty archives: In which I run out of paper trying to solve the latest beauty formula
"Just about every Sunday, I go to Cafe Gratitude with my mother for breakfast. For our usual, I tossed on a simple Bordeaux-colored corduroy shirt dress from Papo d'Anjo, paired with my Rag & Bone booties." - Kiernan Shipka, 12, who plays Sally Draper on AMC's Mad Men. "What I Wore," The New York Times.
WHAT I WORE
Lilly Hilton-VanNordstrom, 3 months, plays the newborn, half-human, half-vampire baby Renesme Cullen in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1.5
A busy day of press interviews at the Beverly Wilshire, so I decide to wear my go-to Stella McCartney onesie over my Cynthia Rowley Pampers in madras. Unfortunately, as I am still unable to dress myself, I am at the mercy of my fashion-impaired mother. She is under the impression that babies are somehow exempt from fashion dictates - including babies whose performance killed in a certain blockbuster vampire franchise you may have heard about. I am probably the only baby in show business still wearing booties. Actual baby booties - not the super cute Chanel, steel-toed, navy suede variety. Speaking of Variety, do you have any idea what the box office was in the first weekend alone? Mom dresses me in an off-the-rack, snap-front sleeper embellished with cartoon zoo animals. Zoo animals! It will be a miracle if I don't end up on the cover of People's Worst-Dressed Babies.
THURSDAY, MARCH 15
Heading out to hang with my playgroup, so I'm thinking Ralph Lauren distressed baby jeans paired with my cranberry silk Armani t-shirt and Karl Lagerfeld bib with the drool catcher, just in case. Silk is a risky choice among the sippy-cup crowd but there's a rumor that one of the toddlers may have some distant Coppola relations and nobody wants to risk looking less than playground fabulous. Once again, however, I am humiliated by my mother, whose Midwestern fashion instincts are on full display in this mass produced dress and bloomer set she puts me in. I am not even wearing shoes! I feel like I will die of humiliation, but all I can do is spit up a little and cry.
SATURDAY, MARCH 17
On my way to the doctor's for a little checkup, and, if there is a god, a little preventative botox. Your age can really sneak up on you fast in this industry, not that my clueless prairie-bred mother seems to care. She dresses me in a green novelty t-shirt and a denim diaper cover that looks like something you'd find abandoned in the ballpit at McDonald's Playland Peoria. Luckily, I have a digestive system that can create stains on demand. I manage to go through three outfits before she finally digs out the little Marc Jacobs jumpsuit and baby Uggs my agent sent over for the Vanity Fair shoot. Finally, I can hold my head up in this town.
from the celebrity archives: 10 Reasons Celebrity Kids are Cuter than Yours
Other ideas for specialty sympathy cards being batted around Hallmark Inc. headquarters:
Pending Indictment - Thinking of You, But In No Way is the Enclosed Cash Intended to Influence Your Decision Re: naming of co-conspirators
Your Nude Photos Just Went Viral - Cheer Up: It's Nothing that 10 Years and a Pricey Public Relations Firm Can't Mitigate Somewhat
Caught cheating on your wife - We Never Really Liked that Bitch! Best of Luck in the Property Settlement.
Rejected College Application -
Acceptance Coming to terms is the first step toward moving on.
Lab results indicate a STD - Stay Positive. Just Kidding! But seriously, laughter is the best medicine.
Foreclosure - Hope this Card Reaches You in Time to Extend Our Condolences!
Finally, someone has figured out that the biggest problem with the array of available feminine protection products is that they're completely bling free. So not cool.
The company has taken the first step toward pimping out its product line with a contest inviting consumers to help design a forthcoming "limited edition designer series." So overdue.
But as part of a campaign aimed at positioning their products as the go-to choice for the iCarly generation, the results are likely to disappoint fans of French impressionism. I'm giving the edge to hearts, flowers and Canadian heartthrobs.
Photo: Love is a many splendored thing. Also a recurring theme in middle school design.
People are always asking me, "SK, how do you manage to do it all?"
Even so, you've got to have a system.
If you are a man, or a teenager, this can be as simple as manipulating the biological impulses of your closest female relatives, whose genetic makeup predisposes them to do it all for you.
But for me, this means Post-It notes. By which I mean any rectangularly-shaped scrap of paper that can be adhered to every surface in my range of vision.
The best thing about this system is the way in which reminders can be used to trigger other reminders in an Inception-like layer of redundancy; a yellow Post-It above my desk reminds me to find some notes that would not even be missing right now if I had remembered to tape them to my desk. If that is not proof of the beauty of this system I don't know what it is!
I'm not saying it's perfect. As with any system, there are occasional breakdowns.
The small purple reminder I left to remind myself "March 17" is, I'll admit, something of a mystery, but at least I know when it is due. In my line of work that is really the important thing.
The point is, I have made myself a note to take it down by next week, when whatever it was won't matter anyway. Which works out perfectly because next week is going to be five different colors of impossible.
Hello. Thank you for calling Mommy's Customer Support Center and Personal Assistance Hotline. To continue in English, please press 1.
For quality assurance purposes, your call may be monitored or recorded. It is also possible that your call will be ignored while Mommy finishes a fishbowl-sized glass of Pinot Noir while surfing the Internet for naked pictures of English movie actors. Your call is very important to us!
For homework assistance, press 1.
For algebra-related homework assistance, press x, where x = Mommy's grade on her 10th grade algebra final multiplied by the number of ounces in a fishbowl-sized glass of Pinot Noir.
For food-related grievances or demands, press 2 pieces of sandwich bread together with your choice of available spread or meat filling.
To report a lost or stolen house key, press 3 times on the doorbell while reflecting on whether or not you have shown a sufficient level of responsiblity to be issued another house key.
For transportation support, press the button that raises the door to the garage where you will find a selection of bicycles capable of delivering you to your destination.
If you wish to report an intractable sibling dispute, press 4 chrissakes, why does it matter who gets to sit in the front seat?
If you are facing a social emergency that requires last minute laundering of your cutest jeans/favorite hoodie, press the buttons on the front of the washing machine. They are self-explanatory.
Please hold while your call is transferred.
Hello. Thank you for contacting our sibling dispute resolution center. For help in settling a television-related dispute, press the off button on the remote control.
For help in settling a dispute over whose musical taste is superior, press your fingers into your ears and move away from the source of the Bieber.
For information on how to settle a dispute over seating arrangements, get up and press 1. Or 2. Or 3. The important thing is that you get up.
For all other inquiries please remain on the line or press zero for the amount of allowance you will be receiving this week.
Thank you for calling Mommy's Customer Service Center. Our offices are currently closed.
With only a week to go before Teenage Summer Camp closes for
repairs the season, we are on track to pull it off.
We may even come in slightly under budget, as long as butter prices remain stable.
Milk, juice and 12-packs of every variety disappear as fast as you can say "If I catch you drinking out of the container again, I am going to shut down your online medieval butchery and send you outside to climb trees and drink from the hose just like we did when we were kids, before there was vitamin water."
Their sisters go through butter, flour and sugar as if they are running a cupcake factory. Which is an exaggeration by a degree of roughly a dozen cupcakes.
Even so, we've discovered a few tricks to keep costs to just this side of ruinous:
(Actual results may vary.)
1. Ignore their pleas for every fast food offering in a 25-mile radius as long as possible. (My record to beat: halfway home from the airport.)
2. Minimize grocery shopping. For example, this week, we limit ourselves to one trip per day, not counting the search for little paper umbrellas and cupcake ingredients the girls need for their ongoing project, Destroying the Kitchen with Martha Stewart.
3. Have the children help in meal planning by inviting them to create their own grocery lists.
4. Discard the children's grocery lists which contain nothing but Pop Tarts, breakfast cereal and ice cream flavors.
5. Shop for store brands with names like "Always Save," "Dirt Cheap," and "Mommy Doesn't Love You Enough."
6. Prepare to defend your purchase of store brand "toaster pastries" against such fierce protests you will start to believe they can actually distinguish one partially hydrogenated vegetable oil product from another, until you remember that these are kids who believe goldfish taste like cheese.
7. Craig Claiborne's basic pancake recipe: One quadruple batch makes enough pancakes for four teenagers to put four times as many on their plates as they can actually eat. Snatch some back and you won't have to make pancakes again until the day after tomorrow. Or possibly yesterday.
8. Let them eat cupcakes.
Photo: Shark-infested sea of cupcakes by Martha Stewart and the Whimsy Twins.
Postcards from the summer camp archives: Teenage wasteland
Here we are just barely having escaped from last weekend's Emergency Parenting Quest, (the so-called "hoodie shortage") and another round of deadlines and adventure is upon us.
This one, as in so many EPQs, arises out of one of those inspired lesson plans in which teachers pretend not to realize that Dress Like a Character from History/Literature/Greek Mythology Day is really just Homework for Parents. (And who do we think we are kidding here with our use of the gender-neutral "parents"?)
Thankfully, this assignment falls during a week in which, except for the Clarinet Supply Checklist, Competitive Baton and Pom Pom Twirling class registration, Class Schedule Change permission slip, 450-page Math and Science Academy application, freshman English composition editing, Emergency Lunchroom Account Replenishment and an orthodontist appointment, I am relatively free.
Even so, there is no time to waste. We have less than a week in which to assemble an Andromeda costume for the sixth-grader's Greek Mythology Character day.
The Princess Andromeda, I learn from my lazy googling, is best known for having almost been eaten by a sea monster sent to punish her mother for bragging that she was hotter than the sea nymphs.
Andromeda is chained to a rock and offered up as a snack in hopes of appeasing Poseidon, who was really irritated by a mortal suggesting that she was even in the same league as a sea goddess. Oh no, you di'nt. At the last minute, she is rescued by a big strong man, they go on to have many children and she spends the rest of her life filling out permission slips and driving to soccer practice.
Not necessarily the most inspiring character in Greek mythology. But this is going to be the easiest costume ever.
Andromeda by Sir Edward Poynter (left) and Gustave Doré (right).
And we're ready to head out in fairy green
We bought accessories at Claire's (oh way oh)
Wings, toe polish, even fairy hair...
It's not like us to be prepared so early. But the sixth-grader settled on her costume early this year, abandoning the Goth trend for the shimmering green optimism of a storybook fairy.
Buy candy. Carve pumpkins. Pour the wine. Done.
I unpack the skeleton hand goblets and offer a toast to my perfectly-organized self.
This is what is known as tempting the Fates.
The Fates, as anyone familiar with Greek mythology knows, are the social studies, language arts and science teachers whose creative whims control the lives of mortal parents from kindergarten through eighth grade.
Next Thursday, the Fates have decreed, will be "Dress Like an Egyptian Day."
Lucky for us, the Egyptian god Ak-tut-something is pretty much a ringer for Tinkerbelle.
Okay, that is not true and the girl knows it. We have absolutely nothing useful for depicting anything remotely Egyptian.
Don't know exactly what we're looking for -
But we've only got a few days more (oh way oh)
Shop like an Egyptian...
We reject Cleopatra. Too expensive, I say. Too obvious, says the girl. Duh.
As a recovering Goth, she likes the look of Anubis, the jackal-headed god of the dead. We are not going to find Anubis here. But a $4.99 Batman mask seems like a good start.
Like the ancient Egyptians, we are resourceful.
All we have to do is build a cardboard snout, lengthen the ears, add the side flaps, papier maché the entire thing and paint it black and gold. Then we will fashion a tunic from an old bed sheet. We will fashion Egyptian looking accessories from beads and strips of cardboard.
Photos: Top right, Anubis mask from fantasyguilde, $275; bottom right, we are halfway there...
"On your way home," she says, "you have to stop and get me some red face paint. I need it for tomorrow."
It is almost 8 p.m. Despite the breathtaking ability I have demonstrated in School Spirit Weeks past, I am doubtful about my ability to procure face paint at this hour. I prepare her to be disappointed. "I really don't see how I am going to be able to find face paint tonight," I say.
But you cannot match a fifth-grade girl for willpower and resourcefulness. Particularly when something as critical as winning the Class Displaying the Greatest Square Footage of School Color contest is at stake.
As the most competitive girl in the most competitive class, she has no intention of losing out to any fourth graders. She has prepared for contingencies.
"Okay," she says. "I found a recipe on the Internet for making your own face paint. All I need is solid shortening and red food color."
I call her from Walgreens a half hour later. "They don't have any red food coloring," I say.
The girl is unfazed. She has a plan C.
"That's okay," she says. "I looked up how to make red food coloring. Bring home some beets."
"And if I can't find beets?" I ask her. "I suppose you know how to make beets?"
"From seeds," she says.
Luckily, I found the food coloring. Here's the recipe:
Last Minute Face Paint for School Spirit Emergencies
1 and 1/2 tablespoon solid shortening
3 tablespoons cornstarch
a bit of water, if needed to thin mixture
Photo: Results may vary
"Your mother hath a most excellent idea," I say. "Tonight, good children, we will celebrate the birthday of the world's most celebrated playwright.
"If it please you," I continue, "I have a selection of videos featuring the plays of William Shakespeare, who was born 445 years ago this week."
"Oh god," says the teenager. "I am watching SportsCenter."
"Such carping is not commendable," I say. "I pray you, whine not. Besides," I say, "did you know that Mayor Richard Daley issued a proclamation establishing today 'Speak Like Shakespeare Day' throughout the city?"
Then I roll out my best hope for engaging his interest: "The vendors at Wrigley Field were calling out 'to drink or not to drink'. And the Cubs' loss to the Reds was declared a tragedy."
But he only rolls his eyes. It is the same reaction I get every Wednesday since establishing "Cooking with the New York Times Dining Section Night." Which my family likes to call "beets and goat cheese night." But that is another story.
Tonight's exercise in unappreciation and futility (love's labor's lost?) is cultural, not culinary.
Stand I condemn'd for my effort to establish one night a week in which the children are not eating Arby's in front of an episode of Family Guy? Usually, yes.
But on this occasion, as on so many others, my efforts are rescued by the boundless enthusiasm of a fifth-grade girl, who reads along from the text while watching Romeo and Juliet, and who, it turns out, has a fifth-grade girl's appreciation for Leonardo DiCaprio and a knack for Elizabethan English.
"I bite my thumb at you sir," she tells me when I interrupt once too often with an unnecessary translation.
Later she offers this observation of Juliet's decision-making skills: "She's known him for like two days!"
I am well pleased.
Photo: Romeo, Romeo.