THE LIST: Preparing for a Hot (or Not-Hot) Summer
Tear out the denim upholstery. Scuttle the cabin cruiser. And, while you’re at it, get rid of those unsightly badminton rackets. House & Garden has issued an edict on “what’s hot & what’s not” this summer, and none of the above make the cut. Polarfleece upholstery is now de rigueur, while kayaks have left cabin cruisers in their wakes and boccie has displaced badminton. Other pairings include lap pools (hot) and hot tubs (not), golf shoes (h) and Rollerblades (n), and skyboxes (h) and screening rooms (n). As a reader, one can easily be annoyed by such lists. After all, there’s an inevitable arrogance to such haughty declarations. What’s worse, one often suspects that the people who concocted a list had more fun with it than the people who are reading it. Sterner critics condemn the whole exercise as a capitalist trick, driving trendy consumers from one purchase to the next in their doomed quest to get it all right. Maybe that is what you’d do if you regarded this sort of list as a guide to your behavior. But anyone who takes these things so seriously deserves whatever consumerist angst ensues. What’s useful about these lists, when taken cumulatively, is that they teach people to stop worrying about whether they’re au courant. Recalling that this season’s passƒ embarrassments were last season’s must-have items, one is entertained by the lists rather than batted like a shuttlecock from one fad to the next.

THE KIDS TELL: For Men, Domesticity Is an Outdoor Sport
The search continues for fathers who share equally in the household tasks once classified as “women’s work.” Not surprisingly, surveys among adults find men and women differing about just how much the storied New Dad helps out at home. As part of its study on mothers and children, the Whirlpool Foundation solicited the opinions of an unbiased source: kids. The findings suggest fathers still are domestic laggards. Eighty percent of kids said ma usually does the cooking, versus 7 percent saying pa does. The gap was similar for laundry (74 percent mother, 5 percent father) and dishwashing (62 percent versus 6 percent). Only when it came to taking out the garbage and mowing the lawn did kids say dads are more likely than moms to shoulder the brunt of the work.

ENDURING COOL: And Just When You’d Caught On to ‘Phat’
If your grasp of current slang is weak, you’ll be relieved to learn that the familiar “cool” remains cool, while the more exotic “phat” and “fly” may be on the way out. According to Chicago-based Burrell Communications Group, “cool” is one of the top three terms young African Americans use to describe those they admire. The others: “tight” and “straight.” And what are the attributes of a cool person? “Fun to be around” topped the list, cited by
89 percent of the respondent pool of African Americans age 14-20. “Smart” was the runner-up, followed by “a leader, not a follower,” “has an outgoing personality” and “funny.” These findings come from the latest round of the agency’s ongoing Burrell Barometer research, which also revealed which sorts of celebrities appeal most strongly to those respondents. As you can see from the chart below, rap musicians were edged out by actors/actresses, while athletes were far down the list. Marketers in search of useful celebrity endorsers, take note.