Wednesday, November 28, 2007

sorry-ass cake

See? Even without the green food coloring, which I conveniently forgot when I went to the Ack-a-me to buy it, this is one sorry-ass cake.

It's not too badly misshapen, but what's with the bits and pieces of cake and crumbs in the frosting/icing? What's a gal gotta do?

To prevent her from donning her "martyr-mom" cape, I ought to mention here that yesterday was also my mother's birthday. Happy birthday, Mom.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

boo! happy birthday!

Boo turns 13 today. 13. That mystical age where a child absorbs all the knowledge in the world, becoming both genius and sage...while said child's parents turn into complete babbling idiots who know nothing, never knew anything, and will never learn or know anything, ever. Because we just don't understand!

Birthdays require cake, so I made a layer cake this morning. Usually, if the boys have a birthday party I wuss out and make a rectangle cake, only requiring frosting on the top. Or icing. Frosting. Icing. Is there a regional difference? My past attempts at layer cakes usually result in a sadly misshapen, leaning lump of cooked cake, with the outside frosting infiltrated with bumps and crumbs and small bits of cake. Not a very appetizing presentation.

For Boo's birthday, I'm expecting an even more unappetizing presentation, as his cake will have a mint buttercream frosting. And of course, nothing screams MINT!!!!! like green food coloring, which, of course, requires a special trip to the Ack-a-me, because the concept of "food coloring"--whereby a normal-colored food is transformed into an even more delicious NEON color--is lost on me.

The cake is done and cooling now, the devil's food.

My mother used to make a flour icing, with flour, sugar, butter and frigging Crisco. Crisco! A half a cup of white grease! This is a frosting made famous during World War II, when people ate Crisco by the spoonfuls to support the war effort. It sounds horrible, but it's really good on the devil's food. Not too sweet.

That's why I don't like canned frosting, unless I'm eating it directly out of the can like Crisco. Canned frosting is too sweet for cake. It's designed for direct can-to-mouth consumption.

Kids don't care, though; they don't know about the hardship and painstaking effort that's required to make the perfect frosting/icing. They can't tell the difference between canned and homemade. They don't care about the effort you put into the misshapen cake, or how many times you had to make the icing before it was just the right consistency. No matter how many times you tell them that homemade is and always will be superior to "store-bought" or "canned" or "BJs brand"...they don't care. They can't tell.

They just don't understand.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

no more beating my brains

Thankfully, it seems that Obama's recent admission to a bunch of high school kids that he "experimented" with drinking and drugs in his youth--something he wrote about in his book--has not generated much media frenzy.

(I have a love/hate relationship with the media anyway. I hate the way they swoop down on some stupid, irrelevant crumb of information (Britney ran over a photog's foot! How could she not when they're surrounding her car all the time?!) and turn it into an earth-shattering event. Yet, they're now telling us (well, maybe Fox isn't) that Scott McClellan is throwing Bush under the bus. That Bush and his evil gang of criminals actually--gasp!--told him to lie to the American public about their role in exposing Valerie Plame. So, I like that. I just wish they'd impeach this fucking guy and be done with it. We should be storming the frigging White House to physically remove this corrupt, cowardly sack of shit. And I rarely use the term "sack of shit" because it's kind of stupid, so it really means something coming from me.)


You kind of have to expect a younger candidate might have a history of some drinking and drug use. And I'm not sure I'd trust him/her if they didn't. I don't trust most of the "holier than thou" crowd, who surely have some skeletons in their closet somewhere, along with the leather bondage gear.

What irks me is the word "experimented."

You "experiment" with a childhood chemistry set. You "experiment" with your mother's makeup, your dad's razor. You "experiment" with kitchen ingredients, concocting this ghastly, delicious meal of Captain Crunch, Fluff and avacado.

What's it mean to "experiment" with drinking? Is that the same as creating a Long Island ice tea, just throwing a bunch of different liquors in a glass with ice, maybe mixing in a little soda or juice? How does one "experiment" with drugs? You either "take" them or "smoke" or "snort" them. I mean, there's no explanation for "experimenting." It's disingenuous, much like saying you didn't inhale.

It's supposed to make us think that, while you may have tried drinking and drugs back in the day, and even enjoyed doing those things for a while, you no longer indulge, at least to the extent you might have when you were younger. You grew out of it.

If you're a serious presidential candidate from Harvard Law School, we figured that out already. So you can just skip the "experimenting" part. We get it. We did it too.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


Yesterday's holding area for the movie had been moved from the high school gym to the "Green Barn," an unheated shrine to some kind of Indian mysticism. Indian artifacts, prayer altars, neatly stacked piles of stones, drums and what looked to be didgeridoos lined the room. A finely carved canoe hung from the ceiling.

None of this really served to chill the general bad vibe coming from some parents who still don't quite understand that moviemaking isn't an exact science.

The boys were called at 9 am. (To get there by then, we had to leave at 7 am to account for rush hour traffic.) They sat and didn't start shooting until about 3 pm. We got home well after dark.

Now, I have no problem with this. I brought a book, my laptop, my ipod. But there were a few parents who just bitched the whole time about having to wait. Why was lunch so late? It's so cold in here! We should've been called in later. Aren't they DONE yet?

To those parents, I offer these immortal words from Julianne Moore, as Linda Partridge, in Magnolia:

"Shut the fuck up. Shut the fuck up. Now, you must really shut the fuck up now, please - shut the fuck up."

You wanted your kids to be in the movie. You knew, going into it, that it would be a huge inconvenience to you to drive them to the set, to wait, to miss knew all this going into it.

And yet, you're sitting there bitching about the inconvenience, the waiting, the missed work.

Parents love to bitch. I get it. But you're sitting here in the Green Barn, which has just been infiltrated by a bat, and there's nothing you can do about it now. It's cold. It's dark. You missed work. Look at the bright side: Your kid is filming a movie by a disheveled Academy Award-winning director. And the port-o-pots have a sink.

So shut the fuck up.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

the lovely leftovers

Boo had more filming yesterday. A few of us moms snuck out onto the set, behind a high school somewhere near Chadds Ford. At one point, we stood maybe 12 feet away from Peter Jackson.

Which was kinda cool, except he's a short, rumply, disheveled sort of guy. He looked like he'd been out all night drinking sometime during 1976, fell asleep in his clothes, and woke up from a time warp to direct the movie.

Moviemaking is very slowgoing and tedious. At one point, one of the PAs tried to corral us back into the holding area, but we ducked inside a classroom, where we could view the filming outside. Which mostly consisted of the boys running around in their short shorts and tight t-shirts and kicking a soccer ball. Hell, we could do that during a Sunday soccer game and have a cocktail to go with.

But the food! The food has been delicious.

As parents, we are the last in line for lunch, and if there's nothing left by then, we miss out. We've hovered and paced the hallway like hungry cougers. We've had to wait for for the cast and crew to get their second and third helpings before we've been allowed to eat.

And damn! They've served many different kinds of salads, cold salads, fresh mozzarella (yum), lamb chops, turkey, ribs, chicken, pasta, salmon...and it's been good! Not like the buffet at your cousin's wedding. We try to restrain ourselves so as not to appear greedy, but I suppose we look like hungry moms, eagerly wolfing down anything that's not nailed down.

Food always tastes better when someone else makes it for you.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

mechanical bull-riding mini pads

Ok, this is probably the most absurd commercial I've seen.

You know the one: where the mini pad is riding the mechanical bull? Maybe it's a panty liner. It hardly matters.

And why not? I know the first thing I want to do after I've stuck the thing to the crotch of my underwear is ride a mechanical bull. My crotch really craves that rough stuff at the peak of its flow!

Sanitary pads (or "napkins" as they were so graphically named way back when, when sensitive mothers explained this mysterious find to their children after finding them prying in the cabinet beneath the sink: "Yes, Billy, it's called a napkin, but not the kind you wipe your chin with." "And Billy, by the way, that's "chocolated" Ex-Lax, it's not real chocolate. Well, heh, heh, you'll find out soon enough.") have really evolved so much over the years. When I started menstruating, I needed a damn contractor's toolbelt and an instruction manual to strap this brick-like thing on. Now they can go swimming and ride horseback and mechanical bulls all by themselves!

And, really, why should I have all the fun? Hey, mini pad, get on the bull and ride! It's fun! Yee-haw!

I'm a tampon gal myself. But sometimes a gal likes that extra layer of protection. And when I go supermarket shopping for mini pads, I think, "hmmm. What brand of mini pad would be a better mechanical bull rider? So many choices. Do I go with the extra-longs? The extra absorbent? That would make sense. The ultra-breathable? The freshly-scented?"

And then, of course, the choice becomes obvious. The winged mini pad. Of course! The wings keep the mini-pad from flying off the mechanical bull! It's genius! The wings must have spurs built in!

But wait. Unless...the wings help the mini pad..go flying off the mechanical bull! Because, well, they're wings, after all.

Geez, it could go either way. I don't think I'd be having this debate about tampons. Have you ever seen a tampon trying to balance itself on a mechanical bull? They fly off, they climb back on, they go flying's pathetic. They shouldn't even try.

At the end of the commercial, I was told to "have a happy period." Is there any other kind? God, I'm ecstatic when I'm on the rag. I can't think of anything I'd rather do than down a few shots, strap on my winged mini pad and go hump a mechanical bull.

And that's just on a Monday night. Imagine what me and my mini pad would be capable of on the weekend! Just me and my high-flyin' bull-ridin' mini pad! Yee haw!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

making no scents

I went to Kohl's today to spend my free $10 in "Kohl's cash." What a subversive, manipulative trick that is: we'll give you $10 for every $50 you spend. I'm a sucker.

Anyway, Yankee candles were on sale. The sign said a 12-ounce Yankee "Simply Home" candle was $14.99. Next to that was a sign declaring that said candle, in the "autumn foliage" fragrance--so it smells like dying leaves--was 25% off.

I took the candle and a couple of other items to the cashier. She rung me up. It seemed to add up to more than I thought it should. I was on my way out the door, and I looked at the receipt and sonofaBITCH! They charged me $20.99 for this stinking tinyass candle.

Hey, I'm a mighty consumer! I'm confident! I can stand up for my right not to be overcharged!

So I go to customer service and meekly, politely, explain the dilemma. She rescanned it. It came up $20.99.

"I'm sorry. It scans $20.99."

Oh, even the the all-knowing, omnipotent ouija-scanner makes mistakes, my stuck-in-the-back-room-dealing-with-dissatisfied-customers customer service lady friend.

"Well, it might scan that, but the sign says '14.99' for the 12-ounce candle," I politely informed her. "Plus the 25% off." I stood there in a daze as my lightning fast head calculations put the final cost at about, what...11, 12 dollars. Give or take.

She was unimpressed. "You'll have to show me the sign."

The burden of proof now rested on my shoulders. She probably expected me to back down at this point, so I wouldn't embarrass myself marching around the labyrinth of aisles with the customer service gal in tow, my arms flailing wildly as I explained my point.

She was wrong.

We marched down the aisles, my arms flailing wildly as I explained my point. We arrived at the candle display, where--very clearly, it seemed to me--the prices of the various sizes of candles were listed, next to a sign that promised 25% off of 3 different fragrances, the smell of dead leaves and rotting foliage among them. As it happens, there was a candle for sale that was $20.99, but it was a much larger candle.

"Here. It says $14.99 for the 12-ounce candle. And 25% off of that." It was CLEAR AS A FRIGGING BELL THIS GODDAMN CANDLE WAS $14.99.

"Well, no. The $14.99 is the sale price, including the 25% off."

"Well, when you have sales, you post the sale price next to the regular price. That's how I, as a consumer, know that an item's on sale." I pointed to another sign that in fact did this very thing. "That's not the case with this sign. As a consumer, I look at this sign, and it says $14.99."

"But that's with the 25% off."

"No. That's not how you do it here at Kohls. Do you understand how I would interpret this sign to mean that this particular candle is actually $14.99?"

"Well, no. You know, that's probably an old sign. I'll take it down." She removed the 25% off sign.

"Um...I'm not sure you're getting my drift. The sign that's still here says the candle is $14.99. Taking away the 25% off sign doesn't matter. The problem is, the sign says one thing, but it's scanning $20.99. Taking the 25% off sign won't change the scanned price. Which, according to the current sign should amount to...(again, using my zippity math skills)...about 11 dollars. Or twelve."

By this time she had crisply removed the 25% off sign that magically added 6 dollars to the advertised price and we marched back to customer service.

"You have to understand. I don't normally do this. I'm not a nag, I'm not usually a very assertive consumer. But I'm just trying to save you from yourselves." By this time, a line had formed at the counter.

I continued. "You keep that sign up, and you'll have more people like me demanding the price be changed."

"Oh, I don't think that will happen." She smiled insincerely.

"Whatever." By this time, I wasn't angry, but...a little agitated that she wasn't agreeing that Kohls was, in fact, wrong. I was right, she was wrong, dammit. The price couldn't have been interpreted any other way. It was like trying to explain the miserable failure of the Bush presidency to...oh, never mind.

I glanced behind me to see the line had grown. "If the price on the sign is wrong, you need to change it. If it's right, then you need to change it in the scanner. Whatever. The point is, the sign very clearly says $14.99, regardless of the 25% discount. I don't even care so much about the discount. But this candle is not $20.99," I said triumphantly, brandishing the candle about for emphasis. The people in line gave me the hairy eyeball and seemed to take a small step backward.

She just wasn't getting it. But at this point, perhaps sensing that I might be armed and crazy, she gave in. The price ended up being about $12. Which was great, but I was disappointed that I had not been persuasive enough for her to just say, "you know, you're right. And I'm a moron."

I'm tempted to go back today and look at the candles again. Just to see if they caved. In the meantime, "Autumn Foliage" actually smells pretty good.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

candy asses

I've figured out why celebration of Halloween has grown exponentially over the years.

It's just another excuse for a grown-up cocktail party.

Some neighborhood parents assembled at the Slus house last evening for food and drinks. They're on a high-traffic corner so they get a lot of trick-or-treaters. All our kids are officially old enough to go out on their own, so we can relax outside for a couple of hours and eat and drink and shove the bowls of candy toward the kids and snarl, "Here, help yourself. NO, just one. Now say thank you. Say THANK YOU, you little bastards!"

There's no way I could outdo last year's
Chef Boyardee costume, so I didn't even bother this year. Boo went out as Chris Angell, or however pretentious way he spells his name, and Remy was Elwood. One Blues Brother. They returned home with 10.6 pounds of candy, slightly short of the record 11 pounds.

And what's up with Dum Dum pops? And Smarties? Kids HATE them. Back in the day, you got regular size candy bars, maybe some Good N Plenty or JuJubes or something, but mostly it was chocolate, and lots of it.

These days you get prissy, diminutive Dum Dum pops and Smarties and those horrible Nerds, and maybe an individually wrapped Lifesaver. What's the frigging point of THAT? Might as well just open the door and throw sugar packets at the kids.

And those...little jelly things shaped like hamburgers and hot dogs from the dollar store. WTF?! What moron thought these were a good idea? Kids are savvy these days, they know the dollar store candy from the good stuff, and they'll just toss that cheap shit. Don't waste your money. Well, it's only a dollar, but