PAPA RONALD, WHAT DID YOU DO DURING THE WAR AGAINST FAT?

Wendy's announces that it will drop the oil it uses to cook its french fries and chicken nuggets and switch to a trans fat-free replacement. The restaurant will begin selling products made with the new oils in August, putting its larger competitors to shame:

McDonald’s Corp. pledged four years ago to switch to an oil that would cut in half the level of trans fats in the top-selling chain’s fries. However, Chief Executive Jim Skinner said in April that the Oak Brook, Ill.-based company was still testing the oil and did not know when they would make the change. A McDonald’s spokesperson could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Corporate one-upsmanship aside, though, there was one disconcerting note from the home of the curiously square burger:

Wendy’s also has to train workers on how to use the new oil, which has a shorter shelf life than the old one.

Which has to make you wonder, exactly how long do Wendy's franchises keep cooking oil on the shelves now?


DON'T CALL IT A COMEBACK, HE'S BEEN MEAN FOR YEARS


At Slate this week, Emily Bazelon reviews Dr. Ferber's revised sleep guide, and finds reports that the Sandman has softened in his old age to be greatly exaggerated. To summarize:

- OK, fine, so don't let them scream more than 30 minutes, whatever.
- You really want to co-sleep? Knock yourself out, moron.
- You may have read that the worst thing you can do to a screaming toddler is close the door on him. Now, please go and close the door on him. "Then stay on the other side of the door and hold it closed as needed."
- Your kids aren't listening to you? Well, maybe you have the most willful children in the world, that's definitely a possibility. Or maybe, as Bazelon paraphrases Ferber:

. . . if you have difficulty setting limits, you 1) don't understand their importance; 2) feel guilty—do you travel too much? 3) are using your child's wakefulness to avoid your spouse; or 4) are drug-addicted, sick, or depressed.

BUT WE DO HAVE SOME GOOD NEWS: WE’RE SAVING A BUNDLE ON OUR TUITION BILL BY SWITCHING TO PUBLIC


It's official. Tiny Girl will leave her elite, Upper West Side nursery school - the kind people will humiliate themselves on Nightline to get into - and enroll this fall at Big City Elementary, which is offering the only full-day public pre-K in our district. The only downside is, turns out Big City didn’t really want to have a pre-K at their school – they don’t currently have one - and so their planned Welcome Wagon for their littlest students this fall includes: No art, no music, no gym, no afterschool activities, and - really adding insult to injury - no naps, no treats, and no hugs. But Big City’s principal and parent coordinator are leaving this month, so perhaps a new administration will show some mercy on the kids. Should be an interesting season.

THE NEXT MORNING, AS WE GOT READY FOR WORK IN RELATIVE PEACE, TINY SCREAMED, "MOMMY! DADDY! COME QUICK! COME INTO MY ROOM!" WHEN WE RUSHED IN, SHE PROUDLY POINTED TO FELLOW'S BED AND SAID, "LOOK: NO FELLOW!"


Small Fellow had his first sleepover the other night, way out in Flatbush, Brooklyn, with one of his earliest childhood friends, and by all accounts it was a smashing success. The highlight for us, though, was when he called home right before his bedtime and said in a nervous little voice, "I have to talk to Daddy for a little while before I go to bed."


FRANKLY, IT’S STILL A MUCH BETTER CAMPAIGN THAN THE UNION’S CURRENT APPEAL TO YOUNG FANS: “HEY, KID, CAN I BORROW A VIAL OF URINE? I’VE GOT A BIG GROWTH HORMONE TEST THIS AFTERNOON”


The Major League Baseball Players Association is trying to revive kids’ interest in baseball cards, but it will be an uphill battle. This article details the rise and fall of the card business, which to our mind mimics that of comic books: During the early-to-mid-80s collectibles boom, new companies flooded the market with cards, and everyone joined an arms race to produce fancier, more expensive products, eventually exhausting and pricing out the kids who always have to be the base of the business plan, no matter how much adult interest there happens to be at a given moment.


(And did it bother anyone else that as card companies invested more and more in hard-stock, laminated cards with sharper colors and superfluous holograms, they stopped proving what, for us, had always been the most interesting, and fun, part of the card – a player’s lifetime stats?)


The new campaign has players encouraging kids to actually do stuff with their cards, like trade them, flip them, read them, or play proto-rotisserie games with them – contradicting the main advice kids have been getting about cards for the past 15 years, which is, Get them under plastic quick and don’t even look at them again until you retire. One has to like the new approach to the marketplace better:

…studies showed that kids were confused by the vast array of cards on the market. So last year, the players association cut back the number of licensees to two -- Topps and the Upper Deck -- and cut by more than half the number of cards sets produced to 40 from 89.

You may wonder why the players union is so concerned with the decline of card collecting that it’s spending $3 million of its own money on a national media campaign. You may imagine it’s because they want to build their young fan base, or to reconnect kids with a cherished childhood pastime, but you’d be out of your mind. Fact is,

This is a big issue for the union because trading cards are its top revenue source from licensing, generating more money than clothing, videogames and online fantasy leagues.

Now, that is old school.


AT THE MOVIES WITH SMALL FELLOW: “CARS"

Chickcar

We escorted Fellow to an 11 am showing of Pixar’s new feature “Cars,” as part of a classmate’s birthday party yesterday, and contrary to the negative reviews in the papers last weekend, we’re happy to tell you that the movie works: The anthropomorphized cars are believable, the scenery is staggeringly well-rendered – the film takes place around a fictionalized Monument Valley – and, as always, the biggest laughs come in the after-the-credits bits of business, in this case, a series of brief sendups of past Pixar films, with all the beloved characters replaced by cars. And while the plot is 1000% predictable once you get 15 minutes in, it’s not predictable for six-years-olds – it held their attention for close to two hours and they were on the edge of their seats during the climactic race.


A few quibbles: There were so many previews and Pixar shorts before the film began that at one point, Fellow stood up and yelled to everyone, “This is the wrong movie! It’s not “Cars”! We’re in the wrong room!” Also, fully enjoying “Cars” depends a little bit on being able to figure out what the Hell is going on in a Nascar-style race, which means some subtleties of the racing scenes (such as they are) will be lost on Northeasterners like, say, Freelance Dad. And, unfortunately (spoiler alert), the moral at the film’s conclusion - when Lightning McQueen wins by losing, by giving up his lead and pushing “the king” across the finish line – was lost on Fellow, who said his favorite character was “the green car,” Chick Hicks, because he actually won the race. But, Fellow, what about Lightning, who pushed the other car across the finish line – wasn’t he a good sport? “But he finished third!"


COMING SOON TO A THEATER NEAR YOU: UTTER CRAP


We could not have imagined a more dispiriting set of trailers than the bunch we sat through before “Cars.” First, Paramount’s coming out with a live-action “Charlotte’s Web” (based on “the most beloved children’s story of our time”), done “Babe”-style, with Julia Roberts as the voice of Charlotte. Can’t really go wrong with that source material, right? Well, the producers apparently weren’t so sure, so they took care to punctuate the trailer with a big old fart joke, because everyone knows nobody could write flatulence like E.B. White.


And then there were two trailers for virtually identical, and identically frantic, animated movies in which animals attack, in one case, a group of deer hunters, and in the other, an insect exterminator. (Are Fox TV programmers getting a royalty for the “When Animals Attack” concept?) Julia Roberts plays an ant in the latter, “The Ant Bully,” the trailer for which climaxes with a pair of insects crawling up the pants leg of an exterminator, voiced by Paul Giamatti. As you see them moving up his leg, you hear one say to the other, “Hey, this looks like something to bite,” and then they chomp on his testicle and he screams for a minute and a half. Take the whole family.


Ladies and gentlemen, we’re not a member of the Christian Coalition, but we’ve gotta tell you, at this point, we’ve been a parent for going on six years and, all due respect to the producers of children’s films, there is nothing whatsoever charming about a little kid playing blue, or a movie encouraging him to do so. Fellow has been punctuating his speech lately with “Oh, God” and “damn,” and it is just unpleasant. “Cars” is not a great film - we’d prefer watching “A Boy Named Charlie Brown,” and happily, so would Fellow and Tiny – but it doesn't pepper its screenplay with any of this business and that’s reason alone for Pixar to be considered today’s gold standard for animation.


"WHERE DOES AN 800-POUND GORILLA MUNCH?"

"ANYWHERE IT WANTS!"


603389b1 Organic cereals may or may not conquer the breakfast market, but Fellow and Tiny have a new favorite cereal, and it’s organic, gluten free, and sweetened with organic evaporated cane juice. The name's Gorilla Munch, it’s a dead ringer for Kix, and when there’s a box in the house, it’s what’s for breakfast until it’s gone. Although FD sometimes longs wistfully for his childhood breakfast bowl, a Rice Krispies-Apple Jacks combo that wouldn’t get past the front door today.


"ATTENTION, CVS STAFF, ATTENTION: WE NEED A VACCINATION ON AISLE 2. RUBELLA VACCINATION, AISLE 2. THANK YOU."


Primary care is franchising, as hundreds of mini-clinics are opening up in CVS, Wal-Mart and other stores, offering $30 flu shots, $45 ear-infection treatments, and driving business to their pharmacy desks. In this article, the medical establishment expresses some conflict-of-interest concerns over just that in-store connection, as well as the risk of nurse-practitioners (who typically man the clinics) missing more serious health issues. But mostly, they’re afraid that Wal-Mart’s going to break them like it has everyone else in its path.


HER BIRTH STORY WOULD TOP YOURS – IF ONLY SHE COULD TELL IT


A pregnant Italian woman kept alive for 78 days after a cerebral aneurysm caused her brain death  delivered a 1.5 pound baby girl two months ahead of her due date, then passed away.


THANKS, BUT WE’VE ALREADY GOT A RING TONE WE NEVER HEAR


A few months back, everyone got excited when a Welsh inventor came up with the idea of using a high-pitched tone most adults could not hear to repel teenagers from hanging out where they weren’t wanted. Now his technology is being used by teenagers as a ring tone only they can hear. When the “Mosquito” tone goes off in schools, adult teachers can’t hear it, and the kids can pick up their text messages without attracting detention.


SIR, COULD YOU DESCRIBE THE RUCKUS?


A pair of Carolina Panthers defensive stars have opened a pair of Christian day-care centers, called Ruckus House, where we presume misbehaving tots are often told, “Hey, this is the NFL, which means ‘Not For Long’ with that attitude, understand?"


HEY, IN A PURELY DEMOCRATIC SYSTEM, IF THEY CAN GET THEIR BOYS TO AGREE TO DO ANYTHING OTHER THAN PLAY YU-GI-OH, THEY’RE DOING GREAT


At the Brooklyn Free School, there are no grades, no tests, and no formal classes. All kids in all grades (even K) have an equal vote in setting school policies, and all have the right to do whatever they want in school (even play some video games), whenever they want – everything, that is, except have Fellow and Tiny as classmates.

June 12, 2006 | Permalink | Subscribe to RSS

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