Saturday, June 30, 2007

Fishing for Smarts

Maybe there is something magical between fathers and sons about the number 7? Mark Twain is famous, among other reasons, for noticing how smart his dad had become as the author was aging from 14 to 21. President Bush 43, in a little bit of trouble nearly 7 years into his term, has decided that having ignored 41's example of leaving well enough alone in Iraq and trying to get along with other countries, it might be time to call the old boy in for some help. So, it's time to go fishing with dad and let the elder try and reel in Russian President Putin.

** WhinyDad's russian is not good enough to translate the "if you teach a man to fish ... " maxim from the original, but no doubt the eastern European wisdom applies. **

THE DADDY VOICE - Indulgence

Indulgence is the anti-gravity. Too much for you and the kids quickly and unhappily fall to earth, feeling neglected. Too much for them and a dad descends heavily to ground (or even below, depending on the weight of the spoilage), possibly broke but certainly having to deal with bratty kinder. Put another way, indulgence is a fulcrum for the pleasure seesaw.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Nuclear Family

Matt Groening's Simpsons — with the role of "the dad" played at one time or another by every family member, least often the dad — can no longer blow things up like it did when it began in 1989. It descends on movie theaters in July, no doubt continuing the focal transition of its story line which began by revolving around an anarchic kid, but evolving into one circling an inept father.

** Is that just the 43-year-old, two-sonned Groening's story or every dad's? **

First Man

All hail and best of luck to Chuck Saylors, the 47-year-old, South Carolinian father of four who is "running" unopposed for a two year term as president-elect of the national PTA. If as is custom he then steps up, he will become the first man to top the organization first known as the National Congress of Mothers.

On the honey-do list for Saylors prepared by incoming president Jan Harp Domene is service as a role model for other fathers to encourage their involvement in their kids' schools. Oh, and he is supposed to do something about crumbling school buildings, as well.

** Is there any father who has tried to do more than take his orders of how to serve at a school function who doubts this mongoose is more stupid than brave as he enters the nest of vipers? **

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Marriage Shtick

Much from the mouth of Doug Stanhope is crude, disgusting, ill considered and profanely spoken. On the other hand, there is something cruelly, comically wonderful about someone who can throw into a routine (warning: adult material) on marriage the sales pitch that the only thing that would make a real connection between a man and a woman any hotter is to get the government and lawyers involved with it. Based on no mention of children in any bio material, he also appears to be someone who knows his limitations pretty well.

** It's a sad thing about comedy, it is funny when a kid falls, but you don't want to get caught up laughing if s/he is really hurt. **

Plans and Plants

Another day's mail. Another patchet of bills. If only money really could grow on trees. Or plants. To take a moment from moving money toward the creditors, it would be helpful to dreams if it was even clear how this, that and the other can all be the money plant needed to pay the pipers.

** Even dreams need to start with good information. **

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


Specialization is a fact for kids who want to succeed in sports, except that it leads to more injuries and more stress for parent and child, sometimes to the point where kids leave athletics behind them before puberty.

It is made nearly necessary by the programmatic progression from pee wee leagues through town, travel, regional and junior Olympic teams. The competition for high school spots and college scholarships is doing it. Do you help your kid become normal or encourage them to become super? (In individual sports — e.g, tennis, gymnastics, swimming — the choice has to be made by the age of 7 or so, if the highest level will be achieved.)

Get left behind at any level and the child doesn't get the best coaching, the biggest profile, the top competition. All of which help continue progress. In short, if your kid misses the train at the first or second station, it will get too far ahead and s/he'll never catch up. It's not that sports won't be fun later on. It's just that — with very few exceptions — the top-level college (i.e, scholarship) or pro experience will be unknown. Ironically enough, pro athletes have found that once they have achieved the highest levels, it is cross training that lengthens their careers.

As if that is not enough you can also worry about redshirting beginning in kindergarten to encourage/discourage academic as well as athletic success.

** How long do you wait to turn your child into a robot and you into a dictatorial taskmaster? And if you don't have you failed or served your child? **

Living With It

Hunter or voyeur? Men have a (mad, wicked) hard time keeping eyes from even momentarily wandering to any women entering the vicinity. There's the pseudoscience explanation; there's the random noise explanations; and there's the "live with it" argument that they do and women do as well, so let's all take advantage of it.

The practical leads to a more interesting question.Women also seek out women to look at. For example, magazines that focus on women readers all have women on the covers (as do magazines for men). And this is not just a sexual preference debate as gay men are respected as hairdressers, clothes designers, etc. for their ability to analyze what a woman needs. And, obviously, lesbian women are also drawn to looking at other women.

This in no way excuses the rudeness involved in suddenly turning from the person one is speaking with to check out another, but it still leaves the question , why do we all have such a difficult time keeping our eyes off women? Or, maybe the question is that since we don't ask why we breathe air, why do we bother to question this?

** Why didn't evolution encourage hunters to check out other hunters in case of a threat even more avidly than they consider mating possibilities? **

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


A while back on her New York Times blog, Domestic Disturbances, Judith Warner posted a short critique of "dad lit," referencing Neal Pollack’s Alternadad Philip Lerman’s Daditude and Cameron Stracher’s Dinner with Dad: How I Found My Way Back to the Family Table and Michael J. Diamond’s My Father Before Me.

Who reads these things? Do fathers go into stores for these? Does anyone want this as a present? Or is the market women reading the books themselves as a way to understand what should be obvious to anyone (i.e., males)? Based on comments and postings Ms. Warner seems to get the women's side of her disturbances right, but she mislabeled her"Dad lit." It should still refer to what men really read: hefty biographies, tales of war and certain canonical writers of fiction (e.g., Philip K. Dick when young, Richard Ford when older).

** Why are the same women on women's magazines as men's magazines ... only with more clothes? **

Car Culture

In case you missed it, "all media hell broke loose," when Ashley Force decided to race a funny car. That, according to central Jersey's Home News Tribune report on what it is like to follow your dad's profession.

The two faced off in Atlanta in April and it was storybook family time. The daughter took out the father. And the father took it like a man:

She was very much all about beating me, and I was very much about trying to win, because I'm kind of in the cellar in points and I needed every round," he said. "She took me out, was better on the light, car was quicker, and I know she felt bad for her dad. I can read her pretty good.
Can Force with dad, win the battle with Danica Patrick for greater media?

** The dad-daughter-car combo always comes with stories. **

Monday, June 25, 2007

It's Your Funeral

Sigmund Freud described the Oedipus Complex as the ill will a son feels toward a father as a result of feelings toward the mother/wife. It's a shame he's gone, because there is surely a need to figure out what name applies a 55-year-old man shoots his 76-year-old pop in a struggle over a funeral home.

** Was this father-son bondaging gone awry? **


How is "dutiful son" synonymous with "weenie?" Without taking anything away from the idea of a woman as a caregiver, it is not impossible that the male, too, can be sandwiched between caring for children and parents. Rather than offer props for the effort and achievement, most consider the male struggling with taking care of one or two generations of family as perhaps well intentioned, most likely incompetent and almost definitely unhappy in other personal relationships. A better PR agent or even a Washington, D.C., lobbying group is needed ASAP.

Sunday, June 24, 2007


Claiming he will spend time with his new daughter and wife, Tiger Woods will get to miss the Grand Blanc (Mich., as if that wasn't your first guess) Buick tournament instead of the British Open, which he would have missed if his daughter had not been born a couple weeks early ... and he had taken the time off. He certainly appears to have a charmed life.

** An oddity: golf is usually the excuse to stay away from the family. **

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Murphy's Law

"My people have contacted his people and they just had no response to anything," says 32-year-old Mel B (Spice Girl Melanie Janine Brown) about attempts to discuss paternity with 46-year-old Eddie Murphy, alleged father of baby Angel Iris Murphy Brown.

Murphy, who did not know his father growing up, has five children from his previous marriage and various reports have him promising to take care of the child — if it is of his biology. Yet dadding should be much more than sending money, even for celebrities. Various experts will no doubt weigh in on various sides of this example of parenting, but there does seem to be some general agreement about the importance of communication, for example ... and this does not seem to be a good start in the life of AIMB.

** The dollars don't make the sense to do best by kids. **

Image Is ...

Andre Agassi will forever be the tennis icon who shone his beauty at an advertiser's (Canon) camera to offer, "Image is Everything." But he also proves that one image is not everything.

Today's look at eBay finds an auction with an image from 1974 of father and son farmers. Some may still think of their food growers that way, however times do change. The iconic generational soil workers are few and very far between.

Similarly, the Agassi of yesteryear is now a father of two and while image may still be important for Agassi, his work for charity, his charter school for the less well-off in his Las Vegas hometown and his devotion to his wife and children is something else.

** Every father was once a son. **

Pearls of Wisdom

"Hopefully, our son will oppose them [terrorists] ...," says Marianne Pearl about the child she had after her husband, Wall Street Journal reporter Danny Pearl, was assassinated by terrorists. Danny had picked out the name their son's name, Adam, earlier in the pregnancy with the thought that theirs would be a "universal" child. In the "Speaking of Faith" interview Marianne describes Adam as "the best of both of us" and "with a strong sense of his father."

** How you do as a father is tested by what you leave behind. **

Friday, June 22, 2007

What's In a Name

Except for contactors, what dad will call himself a homemaker?

The Washington Post reported (registration required) Father's Day that the number of stay-at-home dads as triple the number of the 1990s, about 2.7 percent of stay-at-home parents, compared to the distaff side's 97.3 percent. Of course, the men in the article all worked outside the home (consulting, freelance, etc.) in addition to being the first line of support for their children.

Such men are the unwitting combatants in a fight between women — isn't it always the way? 1970s Women's Lib "theology" suggested to many women they were failures if they did nothing more than bear and raise children. Then came the backlash and the rejection of the philosophy by loudly (if defensively) claiming one's status in the home and out of the workplace. So, "housewife" (who is actually married to a house?) and "homemaker" (really, shouldn't this refer only to the builder?) both became politically loaded names.

Neither the reporter nor anybody interviewed seemed comfortable referring to such men as "homemakers," "househusband" promotes giggling and "stay-at-home dad" doesn't really seem to fit for men working so much. So, a new moniker is needed — for if the number triples every decade, men will be the primary caregivers in the 30s and given that status, it only seems fair we give them a name of which they can be proud. Suggestions invited.

** If only "dad" or "mom" were enough to explain what one "did." **

Thursday, June 21, 2007

First Dad

Emma's at NYC's City Hall; Georgina's at NYU; Mike's the Mayor. Could a first family portrait get any better if Michael Bloomberg were to become POTUS (i.e., the first father)?

Unfortunately, despite all the hot air being spewed into the punditosphere he's too smart. His politics aren't those of America; he's short; he's Jewish; he's unmarried; a bit nasally-voiced; and he likes to have private weekends away from the crush of media coverage. And he surely knows that after his aides spent two years looking into how he could run and win — according to The New York Times (registration required). Even with all his money, his ideas and execution only add up, at most, to a B- average in the Electoral College.

Still, the announcement and frenzy have unlamed the duck. The unlikely Dad One has another 900-some days in office and as long as his $5 billion sits in a potential presidential run bank account, his phone calls asking for help with his agenda will continue to get answered.

** In at least one way politics mirrors life: the race is not always to the swiftest. **

Another Go-round

Kansas City, Mo., father gets remarried, care of cyberdating and a pushy teenage daughter. Grandfather is next to (re)fall. The spoof of the on-line dating makes good television, as did the heartwarming aspect of the fix-ups in "The Courtship of Eddie's Father" (1969-1972). The facts must be found somewhere amid the fiction.

** Who but the WhinyDad worries about what kids actually "learn" from this? **

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Scare Tactics

Saying he was only interested in "scaring" his ex-wife's fiancee, 55-year-old David Connolly killed 36-year-old David Pike with his van. Linda Potter, in the middle, is 47.

Pike and Potter's nine-year-old twins were in the van when it struck. This was following a pre-father's day argument on a Rome, N.Y., baseball field between Connolly and Pike over who gets to be called "father" by the boys. Or at least that is what everyone is saying as Potter says there was never any trouble before between the two, even though Connolly and Potter were engaged last Christmas, presumably ending the decade long (presumably at least occasionally rocky) relationship between Potter and Pike.

Alas for art's sake, none of them were rich (or ancient Greeks) as chronicling the boy's development could be a Sophoclean tragedy rather than a Jerry Springerian farce.

** Ah, a post-modern argument over the nature vs. nurture question of dadness? **

THE DADDY VOICE - Graduations

Kindergarteners (or 5/6th graders, 8th graders, HS and college seniors) listening to speakers drone on through five and ten minute (up to interminable) sets of bloated prose. All that is missing is the cartoon balloon over the heads of those ostensibly being honored captioned with "Blah ... Blah ... Blah...."

And the moms weep. And the dads are backseat directed which shots to get on video. Or the dads are not able to make the 9:45 in the morning assembly.

But listen to the in-corner chatter of a few dads and you hear an understanding that the ceremony is not really about the kids at all. It is a Rube Goldberesque social rite that lets us complain (about the length; about the money; about the good old days; about the ingratitude of the kids; about the moms) while taking great pride in our own honoree.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Not Funny?

How can it not be funny to see a frustrated viewer throw a television out the window because he is frustrated with the pitching. Assuming nobody is hurt, that is. Particularly in a comic?

According to Kathleen Parker of the Washington Post Writers Group, many find controversy starts when it is thrown by a beer guzzling father. And this after mention in the comic that someone has two mommies. And there is a talking penguin. Named Opus.

Are there really dads threatened by Berkeley Breathed referencing some unseen lesbian couple? I understand parenting is not the usual heterosexual menage a trois dreamed of. But still.... Our war is often with moms, but they are the moms of our children or the moms of our children's friends (and enemies). Two moms on their own seems like such a waste of ire.

Aren't there enough parenting worries to go around so that everyone can grab all they can without having to worry about someone else's?

** Alas for them, no lesbian can come any closer than aspire to be a whiny dad. **

Dating Unreality

Someday two-time tennis Grand Slam finalist Mark Philippoussis will be a dad. Just like Rod Stewart and Larry Birkhead. In the meantime, "Scud," aka "Flip," is doing a dreamlike parody of the process of selecting a procreation partner.

"Age of Love," premiered last night on NBC. The premise of this reality [sic — can this accurately be written without giggly emoticons] show is that the 30-year-old will choose between "kittens" in their 20s and "cougars" with hot bodies in the spa of death's anteroom (i.e., at least age 40). It is unlikely these are the ages he is looking for.

A few years ago he was engaged to Australian teen popper Delta Goodrem, who was lost without him. And last year he broke off his engagement with Florida teen model/heiress Alexis Barbara. Search out his dating history and there does not seem to be a mention of "older" women. Poor baby?

By all accounts he is a nice guy and, there is no reason to doubt that like Stewart and Birkhead he will one day be a father — maybe even a good one. However, it seems unlikely this is the best training for that time, no matter how painful to watch or pleasurable for him.

** WD suggests mandatory reading, or even a podcast, on being a father. Philippoussis' dating is pretty much exactly what it won't be. **

Monday, June 18, 2007

Spare Me a Moment

"I'm acutely aware that I'm benefiting from a moment in time," says Tucker Max in a New York Times profile (registration required) of a preeminent fratirist — the male version (?) of chick lit, but with the literary equivalent of listening to an MP3, karaoke version of some tune that sounds like a song you never really liked playing over the cacophony at a suds-drenched fraternity house party you are attending as a friend of a neighbor of a cousin.

Among the benefits to Max of his moment was the ability to post to his web site his (not for the squeamish) saga of a woman who e-mailed for an assignation; received it; and tattooed herself where a pantie would cover it — if she wore one — to commemorate the occasion. Voyeurs who prefer their reading between covers may consider browsing his 2006 opus, "I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell."

Literature for boys moves on. When he wasn't writing of foreign adventures, Hemingway penned stories of men in domestic (i.e., with women) wars with short and simple sentences. Apparently, the times and the audience have evolved. Now, the same demo thrills to blogs, paperbacks and rap sharing compounded stories of how boys do girls.

** WD bemoans writers gone wild and where they've gone. **


THE easy stoop is for a women drivers joke, but it could be moms and nannies do it more just because they are with the kids more. Don't stand on the sidewalk — or worse, between parked cars — waiting to cross the street with the stroller in front of you and exposed to traffic. The species did not survive with the babies protecting the senile.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Father's Day

WHY the Mother's Day brunch, but nothing equally iconic for dads?

Barbecue? Letting him out for a non-complained-about round of golf? A tie? Not reminding him of the "honey-do" list? A bottle of scotch? Freud never got the answer on woman. Maybe his time would have been better served discovering "what do dad's want?"

Maybe the happiest Father's Day would be one free from worry. As if .... There is the romantic worrier archtyped by Rogers and Hammerstein in Carousel's "My Boy Bill," and there's the bigger worry — for dads of girls, at least — of not being able to communicate, to losing your daughter and to a new generation of worries from your own "madonna."


** WD frets that the dad who does his job well worries. And the worrier probably whines. **