Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Sleepaway Movie

Camp will probably be over off screen probably still with no letter from Thing 1 when daddy will ride to the rescue on the screen. Actually, grandpa, when the "daddy day" brand extends Aug. 8 with the release of "Daddy Day Camp."

"Daddy Day Care" (2003) was about laid off SAHDs who, cluelessly, decide to start taking care of children professonally. DDC2 has clueless white and black dads (Eddie Murphy and Jeff Garlin in One; Cuba Gooding Jr. and Paul Rae in Two) who decide to run a camp. No doubt hilarity ensues until Gooding's dad, the Colonel (Richard Grant), sets everything on course for the uplifting ending.

** A movie plotting mystery to be revealed. Dads handling kid duties are most often the source of comedy while moms handling them provide a source of tragedy? **

Not Just Catch

While a father and son playing catch is Hollywood and Madison Ave. advertising shorthand forbonding, it is more often the spectating that binds both boys and girls to their dads.

Two examples recently in the news.

"I haven't quit my job to go travel with my kid," says former Expo pitcher Bill Gullickson. "I'm still going to eat whether my daughter [tennis pro Carly] wins or not. ... I just sit and watch, and whatever happens, happens."

“I didn’t hate my father," says Sir Elton John. "I was afraid of him because he was a very strict disciplinarian and he didn’t approve of me doing what I did at all [marrying a man, among other things].”

“I made my peace with my father in the end,” says the pop star in the Daily Express. “We were still awkward with each other. That awkwardness never goes. But he was very proud of me in the end and I was chairman of Watford so when I went up to Liverpool and watched Liverpool and Watford or Everton and Watford, he used to come.”

** With the child in charge, the sporting life is always a bonding experience. With the father in charge, things can go either way. **

Monday, July 30, 2007

Two for the Road

Father and daughter share a hobby. They take a Sunday drive to the store to pursue it. It should be a heartwarming story. In Sheboygan, Wisc., it isn't and they both face felony charges.

The unnamed 64-year-old father rammed his car into a parked car in the lot. His 20-year-old, equally anonymous, daughter took over piloting the vessel and drove around as he swam in to buy more hootch. And then the police came to end the adventure.

It was the old man's fourth time being booked for DUI and he was off to jail. The daughter was booked and released, perhaps because it was her first time or maybe because someone had to take care of the two kids, 6 and 4, in the backseat.

** In Hollywood it is Michale and Lindsay Lohan; in Sheboygan it's unnamed and anonymous. **

Like Son, Unlike Father

Two Portland (Ore.) sons brought their dads into businesses. And there the stories diverge.

Environmental activist Sukhdeep Singh envisioned a restaurant, the Kalga Kafe, that would be be a testimony both to his Indian heritage and his philosophical principles. Quietly rebellious scion Travis Knight turned his back on playing the role of industry legacy and followed his passion for animation.

Singh turned to his dad for financial and management help. And father Amrik, an engineer by training, left Washington, D.C. for the northwest, bringing both to what he refers to as a "whimsical" investment. To the father, the goal is family duty: "Being parents, we have invested in this one. We have provided him the opportunity." To the son, this is a mission: "To fight capitalism, we'll have to do capitalism."

The Knights, too, are in the same location, but not a similar place. The young Knight had the misfortune to be a part of Will Vinton Studios, an innovator fallen on hard times. So, father Phil billionaire emperor of Nike stepped in with an investment ... and eventually took over, kicking out Vinton and replacing other members of the management team as well as naming himself and his son to the board. And soon coming to theaters as a test of this parent's involvement and son's attempt to make his own way will be the multi-million dollar, digital 3-D epic "Coraline," based on Neil Gaiman's young adult novel.

Although they work together, father and son Knight continue to see things differently. "I can find solace here," says Travis.

"Obviously, we'd love to do $100 million," says father Phil.

** Meddle or muddle, fathers have to be involved. **

Sunday, July 29, 2007

What a Father Really Knows

Today's objet d'eBay is an autographed poster of a dream.

"Father Knows Best" featured television's dream family for six years (1954-1960). That family evolved from a fantasy radio family with a five year run (1949-1954). Father, Robert Young, would go on to play Marcus Welby, the great white father in the lab coat from 1969-1976. It was a great run for a dadster.

Reality was a little more complex for Young. There was the 61-year marriage (until the death of wife Betty Henderson's. There were their four daughters. But there was also alcoholism, depression and suicide attempt. That eventually led to the Robert Young Center for Community Mental Health. The facts of life include the reality that no dad's life is ever a complete dream.

** As Shakespeare wrote in "As You Like It," "...and one man in his time plays many parts." **

Saturday, July 28, 2007

DNA (do not accept?) Fatherhood

It is written in the manner of unsubstantiated netlore on the importance of DNA testing that studies show, "10 percent of children are actually the offspring of biological fathers other than the men they believe to be their fathers."

What does it mean to being a father if that is true? Actually, what does the DNA link mean to determining who is a father?

In Ireland, the biological father was granted the right by a court to keep the two lesbian parents of the child product of his sperm from vacationing in one of the couple's Australian homeland. On the other hand, an Los Angeles court commissioner took a (non) dad off the hook for $168,000 he owed in child support but wouldn't give him back the money he actually paid when a DNA test proved he wasn't the father he thought he was.

So there is unsettled legal ground for the fatherer. But what about the fatheree? What can of worms gets opened when a child selects who's his or her daddy?

** Evidence is in and fathering is not just a "show me the money" kind of gig. **

Friday, July 27, 2007


A report datelined Washington, claims David Hasselhoff will use "respect and not overreacting [as] the magic rules that [will] help him bond with [daughters] Hayley, 14, and Taylor-Ann, 17."

The former "Baywatch" boytoy, singing sensation and celebrity show judge credits the video of him drunkenly sprawled on a carpet slobbering down a hamburger for his new maturity as a parent. But it was daughter Taylor-Ann who shot the suces d'youtube so it is difficult not to be skeptical about how much control Hasselhoff will really have over two teens
who like most children are probably at least a step ahead of dad on their worst days.

Amazingly enough, following the release of the video for which he is now suing his ex and her attorney, claiming they secretly released it to the media Hasselhoff was able to wrest away sole custody of his daughters from their (B? C? actress) mom, Pamela Bach.

** As reality battles cynicism, and despite his newfound "fitness" as a parent, it seems most likely that over the next few years when it is "boys night out for the Hoff, it will be boys night in for Hayley and Taylor-Ann. **

Hate with Horns

From Operaland comes some unsung high drama. Wolfgang Wagner is standing up for his daughter Katherina as she faces waves of criticism for her recent direction of grandfather Richard's "Die Meistersinger."

Few critics weighed in favorably and most were hateful, denouncing her production with topless dancers accompanied by her (presumably increasingly de-)composing grandfather shaking it in his underpants. The plot of the opera includes the offer of a daughter's hand in marriage for the winning of a singing contest; in this real life production, father Wolfgang, 87, is insistent that he will only step down from directing the famed Bayreuth festival (the German summer celebration of the controversial composer's work, replete with strong father characters) if his daughter gets the job.

** A father's work is never done until the fat lady sings. **

Thursday, July 26, 2007

THE DADDY VOICE - Son Inequality

"Chip off the old block" won't do. It's lame, at least compared to "daddy's girl." The DG is (usually) favored, but the boy who is close to his father? (Not that "momma's boy" is a good thing.) What should he be called that will make both son and father proud? Suggestions welcome.

Sandwich Man

Matt Groening's dad told him he couldn't draw and would fail as a cartoonist. His sons push his buttons by announcing his show is sooooo over.

His revenge: he gave the socially maladroit dad of his cartoon family his father's name and went on to give one of his two sons the Homer label, in combined tribute to the grandfather/cartoon pops.

It is, of course, father Homer who sets the action in motion in the "The Simpsons" movie that debuted in Springfield, Vt. (winner among 14 U.S. Springfields). As Groening put it in a recent Daily Show appearance, "Homer falls in love with a pig. And the rest of the movie wrote itself."

** Just an average father; taking heat and dishing back to and from above and below. **

Danger, Danger

No surprise to any dad, it's a dangerous world. Danger arises serendipitously and you may have to rely on good karma as to whether it ends well or not.

A Grand Rapids, Mich., pops passed out in the pool. His 6-year-old daughter followed the instructions of her 9-year-old sister, who had just taken a swimmer safety course, and the two saved their dad from drowning.

From the other end of the expected danger spectrum comes the "thank God, but who knows why" story of Ashley Force's escape. Moments after father John Force put himself back into contention for the NHRA season-ending playoffs, daughter Ashley slammed into the wall. She survived at least in part thanks to added safety equipment Force insisted on after the fatal accident for a team member earlier in the year. But the TV Stars' family drama was over. The engine of father John's funny car blew up in the finals. The quarter-million dollar car was totaled, but both daughter and dad were both safe.

** When it comes to danger you look for more than the usual stories of "daddy's girls" **

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


Sometimes the greatest honor from son to father is so quiet as to be easily missed.

So it is in the recent interview of American tennis star (and current best selling "author") James Blake. While discussing with Tennis Week magazine's Richard Pagliaro a scene from his book, "Breaking Back" where Blake and friends had been caught throwing eggs and cars by the police there is mention of his father's display of a very controlled fury. Buried midway through the Blake-Pagliaro conversation, comes a nearly perfect one sentence eulogy from son to dad: "I hope that I will be able to do the same thing and express to my kids what they did was wrong or what they did was right and communicate both things as clearly as my dad did."

Three years ago this month Blake's father Thomas died. His own devastating physical injuries a broken neck and Zoster (a paralyzing viral infection) had forced him from the tour and home. But it was misfortune that gave him what he refers to as the "blessing" of being bedside for his father's last months; drawing even closer to his dad; gaining a better sense of who he wanted to be and how much he was willing to work at it.

Having mourned, having rehabbed from his ailments, Blake returned to the tour in 2005 to memorialize his dad with a run from a ranking in the 200s to ending 2006 among the Top 5 in the world. A very public tribute, but no more powerful than the quieter announcement that he hopes to be the dad his dad was.

** The golden dad rule: leave the legacy as a father that you wanted your father to leave. **

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Oy, My Papa

Larry Austin, an agent who has written nothing beyond insurance policies, was crowned at Sloppy Joes as the most lookalikable to noted suicide Ernest "Papa" Hemingway, author of the "Old Man and the Sea," "A Farewell to Arms" and other American literary classics.

Intriguing and despairing for so noteworthy a literary talent is the irony of the nickname "papa" hung on the writer by friends from his days fishing in Key West. The writer's dad shot himself when Ernest was 29; and he would take his own life by shotgun at age 61. As for his legacy as a father, his son Patrick, a 79-year-old Montana resident survives his older brother Jack "Bumby" Hemingway, who passed away in 2000. He also survives his half-brother Gregory lone child from Hemingway's first marriage to Pauline Pfeiffer who died in a woman's prison cell in 2001, answering to the name of Gloria after being arrested on charges of indecency and public intoxication ... and some undetermined period after undergoing a sex change operation.

No word was forthcoming on Austin's patriarchal legacy, but he has been married for nearly 35 years to the same woman so it is likely to be at least a bit more stable.

** Once more a father's fiction on paper is no match for the facts in his life. **

A Bad Rap

Manaj, formally Tyra Young and probably forever best known as rap empresario Dr. Dre's older daughter, is either walking in dad's shoes or rebelling by wearing a similar outfit.

The 22-year-old celebstress cries out for buzz and cred with a public tantrum that daddy is cutting her off over "Daddy's Shadow," a CD and DVD on her quest to climb the stairway to stardom one rung at a time (albeit by starting closer to the top than the bottom).

The 42-year-old Dre (born André Romell Young, who also has a son Marcel with wife Nicole) is the genius behind artists such as Eminem and Snoop Dogg, as well as a founding visionary of West Coast Rap and a multimillion album-selling artist on his own. It is his business acumen that calls into question whether he is actually behind the public announcement of Manaj or whether she really doesn't want to be daddy's little girl no more.

by filmmaker Matthew McDaniel on the set for the video for "Little Ghetto Boy" cut from his 1992 debut solo album "The Chronic" Dre explains why he left NWA to go solo but could also be explaining either why he is still pulling the strings in his daughters career or why she can't even trust pops with her career.

"Don’t trust no Mo**f**s," he responds to a request for advice to aspiring rap stars. "Cause everybody in the music industry is out to get you."

** Maybe the child thinks s/he rebels, but the wise dad knows its just a new generation of the SOS. **

Monday, July 23, 2007

Tommy Two Time

What a tangled web Tom began to weave when ere he took no precautions to conceive.

Entering training camp this Friday, New England Patriots QB Tom Brady may be out of the Red Zone with girlfriend Gisele Bundchen. The Brazilian supermodel, who was rumored to be pregnant earlier this year, was also reportedly quite displeased with the timing of the possible birth of Tom's son, via former girlfriend, American (but not super) model and actress Bridget Moynahan. That was to happen last Friday, the Brazilian's birthday.

However, the two minute warning for the son and first child of T&B continues, as the baby, like Pat's coach Bill Belichik's free and easy nature, has yet to arrive.

** What quarterback isn't repeatedly reminded to be careful when he scrambles out of the pocket? **


What seems like a step forward in Iran is the result of some very unusual reasoning.

Tehran's Sarem hospital has become the first in the nation to allow fathers-to-be in the delivery room. According to a report in The Guardian, Dr. Sarem believes fathers are a calming influence. Also, husbands seeing wives through labor may reduce the womens' fears about the reaction to the re-shaping of their body after birth, with its increased psychological pressure encouraging caesarian sections.

Maybe it will be the ever-happy experience of western delivery rooms we all remember so fondly. But it is not yet the endgame and science marches on to find other "solutions" to the pain and worry of childbirth.

** Were the good old days of men's part in delivery really bad old days when cigars, alcohol and a bit of exercise by occasionally pacing were all standard procedure? **

Sunday, July 22, 2007

The Curse of Father Time

Today's Object d'eBay , an Elgin "Father Time" chronometer, speaks to a certain prejudging prejudice on its own is such a harsh word of dads.

The characters for moms, Mother Earth/Nature are bountiful, embracing beings to be worshiped. (Although they do both have their dark side when crossed.) Father Time, however, is always something to be feared, a silent stalker, a taker; and the unwelcome visitor who defines one's final hour.

This pocket watch could be described as stately, utile, dependable and dignified. Instead (on the back) it is named, "Father Time." And so your clock is ticking.

** When fathers become a protected class, there will be lawsuits filed in response to the aspersions cast by those blithely using the FT reference. **

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Qs&As with DoDads — The Story of the Baby

Seattle's Jeff Vogel is by turns a game designer, a writer and father. Two of the three came together a few years ago and begat The Story of the Baby, which begat the sequel, which led to a not-so-misbegotten tome, The Poo Bomb. Momentarily bringing the entire universe of game design to a halt, Mr. Vogel offered some who, what and when:

Whinydad Chronicle: What was the biggest challenge to starting and continuing your blog?
Jeff Vogel: Coming up with new, fresh material, week after week, for a whole year. I insisted on it being actually funny.

: When and how did the book come about?
Once I did a full year of the journal, I realized that I had a book's worth of quality material. Then I went through all the standard steps. Querying agents, writing a proposal, etc.

WD: What are you going to tell your daughter when she googoogles you and finds out what you said behind her back while she napped?
That the advance from the book went into her college fund. So suck it up.

WD: What are the two or three most interesting dadblogs (other than yours) and why?
JV: I've never read another one, I'm afraid. I only read blogs that don't remind me of the awfulness of having children around.

WD: A few words on how you'll continue to cure the planet of evil?
Right now, I'm not doing much writing. I'm focusing on my computer game business, which is doing very well. They're good games. They're at http://www.spiderwebsoftware.com. Plug!!!

Friday, July 20, 2007


Every child sees more by standing on the shoulders of a dad. And every musician plays better riffing on the chops of the giants before. Combine the two thoughts and you get, the Zappa Plays Zappa tour led by musical genius Frank Zappa's 37-year-old son, Dweezil née Ian Donald Calvin Euclid Zappa.

In a recent interview, Dweezil (a nickname he insisted become his legal tag) says of his motivation that his goal in playing his dad's music was to, "really show the difference between what Frank was about and what the traditional popular music scene is about. Frank always maintained his integrity, and he traveled his own path that virtually no one followed. There is stuff that he recorded 40 years ago that is still as shocking, provocative and contemporary as anything now."

The tour plays with minds in Chicago this evening and is currently scheduled to travel through North America and Europe with the final note to ring out Oct. 14th in Stockholm.

** The father was a Mother of Invention. Enough said. **

Daddy Dreary

Nothing succeeds like success. Which multi-billionaire Sumner Redstone, like Mr. Murdoch, won't let happen. An orderly succession, that is.

Redstone, who earlier this year settled a suit with son Brett involving charges he favored daughter Shari in "sharing" the spoils of his National Amusements (which controls Viacom, which owns CBS, MTV, Paramount, etc.) seems to be exiling said daughter until recently considered the heir who happens to own 20 percent of NA. (To be fair, there have also been a few men successively and temporarily installed as next-in-lines to the 84-year-old Redstone.)

An unamed "fellow Hollywood mogul" described Redstone to Brian Burrough for the Dec. 2006 Vanity Fair, as a man, "[who] has no sense of other people. It's all about him, and it always has been. He has a tremendous ego. But he has no grace. No charm. Really, he's not loyal to anyone but himself. Well, there was the 53-year marriage to wife No. 1, Phyllis, although it did include a non-traditional social aspect between the two allowing him to date nearly openly outside their Newton, Mass., hometown.)

But loyal to his kids? We'll just have to see how the will shakes out. However, with a 45-year-old second wife there is still the Murdoch-like possibility of new children stirring up some family business.

** Even some dad's forget, you can't take it with you and even if you could, what matters is what you leave here. **

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Moving Images

Two new films about fathers debate the cases for the insanity or heroism of larger-than-life dads. Every father has been there, but few so prominently as Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869-1948) and Emanuel H. Bronner (1908-1997).

The familial struggles with Harilal, the eldest (of four) and self-destructive son of the man who led India to liberation from Great Britain, are the focus of the newly released Indian film "Gandhi My Father." And the irony of the less favored, second son, Ralph, becoming more and more dadlike (except for the threatening craziness) while running the business is a key subplot of "Dr. Bronner's Magic Soapbox," a documentary on a counterculture icon.

** Imagine the movie to be made about you in a few years. **

When the King Dies

King Lear had three daughters and turned his succession into farce, drama and, eventually tragedy. King Rupert has six wee ones. And his kingdom is much bigger. Alas, we don't have William Shakespeare to tell this tale for it will get good.

All the kerfluffle about what Rupert Murdoch will do once he purchases The Wall Street Journal is myopic. He's 76 and the history of how he runs businesses is clear. Current employees will lose their jobs (which under the mismanagement by the Bancroft family they were likely to do anyway) as he cuts certain costs while he highly leverages the purchase to grow the business in new directions. And he will direct his businesses to suck up to whoever is in power, whether it is the Chinese government or Hillary Clinton.

So that's a given. As is his mortality.

Rupert began empire building by leaving school to take over his father Keith's News (Australia) upon his death in 1952. So, which successor should journalists really be worried about. Profane James? Unloved Lachlan? Cordeliaish Elizabeth? Forgotten Pru? Or will (then) widow dragon lady hold the reins of power until the newsome twosome, Grace and Chloe, are arisen?

** The father is always the key, but the children are the ones to watch and worry about. **

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Make It A SAHD Day

What's a hausherr to do with the downtime? Dadstock 2007 is over and little more than a date is posted for Nov.'s 12th Annual Stay at Home Dad convention. (2006 info is available here.) One project for creating some "us" time starting the neighborhood dad's club comes courtesy of SAHD-focused (stay-at-home-dad focused, for the acronym-challenged) web site Rebeldad.

** Can't reasonable men gather to whinge if they don't have to pretend it is more than that? **

Yes, Sire

Fathering might be soon be unnecessary as scientists could use male bone marrow rather than a man to enable women to reproduce. So does that effect what it means to "be a dad?" Two recent spurs to a likely heredity vs. environment screamfest can be found with the stories of a British drag queen who fathered the children of a lesbian couple and India's openly gay prince, who realized it was time to decamp from the closet after finding no desire in an arranged marriage to sire scions.

** Expect stud fees to start sagging. **

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


Television teaches (sometimes) that a black father or a white father can know best. It doesn't seem able to teach that they can know best together.

"The Bill Engvall Show," a family sit-com, debuts in similarity and contrast to the recently deceased "Bernie Mac Show." The separate but equal path is one the two have been on for a while. Engvist was one of the stars of the "Blue Collar Comedy" tour featuring four white "genteel redneck" comedians and nearly completely white audiences. Mac (Mcullough) was a star of the "Original Kings of Comedy Tour," and Spike Lee's movie, that showcased four black comedians and an equally homogeneous, if alternatively pigmented, audience.

** What kind of funhouse mirror does comedy hold up to culture? **

Inner Child

No use fighting it. Boys will be boys ... but it is important to remember that sometimes they have to be the dad, too. So boys, try to have a little more sense than to drag your son behind as you are running with the bulls in Pamplona. And if you get it in your head to start banging around inside the house to build a new bedroom for the kids, try not to saw through beams holding up the roof.

Not only can a dad's stupidity damage a kid now, but it's impossible to know what a slip of sense might lead to: Sharon Osbourne blames her need to send excrement to critics on learning of her dad's affair when the (Mensa-material) mistress brought her a "really ugly monkey statue."

** Dadding is not always acting, sometimes it requires at least a tidbit of thought. **

Monday, July 16, 2007


Father and son James carried the load for a Canadian sportswriter who apparently had nothing at all to report when the Hamilton Tiger-Cats faced the Montreal Alouettes in a CFL showdown. Herb Zurkowsky begins "Father and Son on Opposite sides of the Field" by describing the two equipment managers (father Ronnie of the As and scion R.J. doing the Cats' dirty work) as the most intriguing story likely to come out of the game, but destined to have no bearing at all on its resolution. Alas, that is probably true.

** Society is certainly morphing when a son learns laundry secrets from his dad. **

Gaffe Watch

Can leading Republican candidate Mitt Romney escape his father's fate? Father George Romney was on track to capture the 1968 Republican presidential candidate nomination until August of that year when he suggested to a TV reporter that he had been "brainwashed" in (and about) Vietnam. To date, the son has learned from the father and offered only the careful endorsement of the president's Iraq War policy. But the break with that policy will likely have to come soon ... and in this context it is interesting to consider the thoughts of those who believe George 43 insisted on invading Iraq because dad, George 41, was called a wimp when he didn't.

** Fathers leave some sons feeling that their legacy is "damned if you do, damned if you don't." **

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Embrace, Escape, Repeat

Today's objet d'eBay comes from 1969 and sets the stage for a story still being told: a son struggles to find the balance between escape and embrace of his dead father.

On Jan. 1, 1953, 29-year-old Hank Williams Sr. downed a lethal mix of drugs to help him get from one gig to another, leaving a four-year-old namesake. In the early years of his career the younger Williams was set securely in his father's shadow by mother Audrey's career guidance. Later there was rebellion against his dad's music and the old school country sound. Recent attempts to find peace included albums like "The Best Of Hank And Hank," 1992, and "Three Generations of Hank," 1996 (with Hank III). Junior has had a career far beyond his father's, but as for inheriting Senior's demons, there have also been abuse of drugs and alcohol and even a reported suicide attempt.

** Oh, and you will have to get your father's or perhaps grandaddy's hi-fi if you want to play your new treauser. **

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Name Game

Sometimes naming the child is as easy as fathering it. George and Georgene Trunek were both named for their Chicago-native father. And, of course, the 45-year-old George Jr.'s son is GIII, although the husband did have to overrule the wife during the nominative procedure. Othertimes, it's a bit more of a struggle. (Shoutout to Babyroadies and a parental warning label for the video.)

** Every father knows "what's in a name. It's "me" and "n/a."

Distilling Essence

Teach your child to drink and you may make him or her drunk. But teach him or her to distill a grain and there might be a living in it. So is the lesson from Kentucky hill country where bourbons are born.

Elsewhere in dadworld there's a fenderbender at the intersection of Drunk St. and Talent Waste Blvd. Lindsey Lohan whose paroled former-addict dad accuses the hard partying mom of setting a bad example is reportedly and repeatedly (if only temporarily) snogging famous-for-being famous Calum Best son of Georgie B.. The father, of course, was the legendary Irish footballer of the 60s and 70s who allowed drink to ravage a talent argued to be the world's best.

** Roll models do not good fathers make. **

Friday, July 13, 2007

Senator Doer

"I am proud to be a doer," said the 69-year-old Alphonse D'Amato in a 1998 New York Magazine profile. Nine years later, New York's former Senator Pothole named for his ability to deliver for constituents continues to live up to that pledge, as he and 41-year-old wife Katuria are expecting their first child together in the spring. The four-time dad (from his first marriage, which has also resulted in 14 grandkids) is by various news accounts anywhere from "ecstatic" to "giddy," with his 90-year-old folks being "thrilled" to learn about the newest grandchild-to-be.

** A new baby and yet it seems most like old times. **

Family Guys

It was the love of father and son that barely knew its name as Frank Calabrese Jr. took the stand for his fifth consecutive days of testimony trying to ease his father into a government run retirement facility.

The black sheep of a black sheep swore, "I know he [Frank Calabrese Sr.] loves me, just not some of my ways," and "I love him, just not some of his ways." The Chicago Tribune reports the father's reaction ranged from broad smiles to occasional chuckling.

Junior is a prosecution witness schooled by hit man Senior in the ways of the Chicago mob. Unfortunately, for the storybook relationship, the younger wise guy, a poor student, was also a drug user who stole money from his dad. With amorality as his ethos, Jr. wore a wire to gather evidence against his father; but he also lied to the government when he was supposed to be gathering evidence for them.

This family saga is proving quite the tourist attraction in the windy city as the son proves a chip off the old block ... with that block turning out to be his father's brother Nicholas, who has already pleaded guilty and also gathered evidence against Calabrese Sr.

(Earlier: Following Footsteps.)

** Could this dad have been too much the romantic in wanting his son to take over the family business? **

Thursday, July 12, 2007


Women are right. At least about the importance of cuddling. Perhaps surprisingly, men are equally wonderful doing it with boys or girls. Such are the findings of researchers at Sweden's Karolinska Institute who tested dads to see if physically bonding with their Caesarean-delivered newborns would bring some peace faster to the nursery. And it did.

** The downside: expectant fathers will be under more pressure to appear in delivery rooms where better behavior is also expected, rather than in hospital smoking areas and neighborhood bars. **

Vote with the DTs

Trendspotters are onto the new dynamo for the 2008 election!

DTs daddytrackers, not a beer, band or ailment are erupting like Mount Gamkonora as a key political demo in the upcoming elections. It was soccermoms in 2000 and Nascardads for 2004, but now it is sensitive, responsible males for 2008. Today's Boston Globe story (registration required) on the increasing number of phallocentric one-parent families is a little more blah-blah than gaga. Still, this follows on the "discovery" that males have work-life issues, even in the animal kingdom.

** A dad can change a diaper and do the laundry. Who'd a thunk it? **

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

You Got to Believe

Osama bin Laden's (27-year-old, fourth) son Omar hasn't talked with his dad for a few years. Actually, he might be out of touch with a few folks. According to reports, his new wife the quintuply-married, multiple sclerosis suffering, 51-year-old British grandmother Jane Felix Browne, who he is not exactly living with says her new father-in-law may just be misunderstood: "Omar doesn't know if it was his father who was responsible for the 9/11 attacks. I don't think we will ever know...." This, apparently despite the father's claim of responsibility.

** Who can predict what sons believe about their dads? Or what they tell their wives about the new father-in-law? **

Tut Tut

Mystery mummy is a daddy! And not just any old pops, but possibly sire of King Tut. Although knowing who is the son won't clear up whether the newfound "mums" is Akhenaten, Amenhotep III or Smenkhkare. As for Tut, he seems to be famous thanks mostly to Steve Martin and because he kept a neat pyramid.

** So, who's your daddy? **

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Father Falls

Mythological sagas usually include the son somehow besting the father. And so it is likely to be as the new Harry Potter title arrives on shelves July 21.

James Potter, Harry's father, perishes at the hands of essence-of-evil Voldemort, it seems pretty much a given that the son will triumph in what seems likely to be the final battle. Each of the previous six books end with the good vs. evil showdown and each time the overwhelmed in force but pure-in-heart Harry defeats the darkest lord. Even as a baby (and before the book begins), the young Potter survived the clash that killed his parents with just a jagged scar on his forehead to physically mark the occasion though if he were not touched emotionally the seven book series would lose a great deal of its depth.

Passages of Harry's unbridled pride in his father mingle with scenes of despair at his failings. Mythmaking by the numbers; at least Harry doesn't have to kill his dad and stab his own eyes to become a star. Not that following a formula (admittedly well) has kept J.K. Rowling from becoming the first person to top $1 billion in earnings from her fiction.

** While it is undeniably a grand theme of literature that the son must battle and surpass the person or image of the father, it is not is it true in most family's lives? **

Monday, July 9, 2007

Venus Risen

Richard Williams, father of newly crowned, four-time Wimbledon champ Venus and current Australian Open queen Serena, molded his most famous daughters in his own image ... and while the public may recognize in them his image of flamboyance and self-obsession, in most ways they seemed to have turned out mostly like their mom, the private and confident Oracene Price.

Father Williams gloats in his mythology of creating tennis champs from ghetto cinderellas. He claims he saw a white woman handed a big check on TV for winning a tennis tournament and decided he would sire and rear tennis's future, although he knew nothing about tennis. And while Venus and Serena (having established their potential) actually grew up mostly on Florida courts, rather than between the glass littered lines in Compton and pro coaches did parade in front of them, there is still a certain essence of truth in the stories their father spins. Not that the stories don't occasionally spin out of control he was found culpable but not liable by a jury last year over various shenanigans.

But it is Price who sits meditatively at their tournaments. She is the one who seems most clearly to know who she is and where she wants to go. And rather than ache to stir up trouble like her ex-husband, she simply flicks a fuss away when it finds her, much as Venus did in being the unexpected ruler of The Championships for the second time in three years.

** The father has his goals, but the children have their fates. **

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Father and Son

Today's objet d'eBay comes from Bali, via the Craft Network Store. Can father of four Dek Wik's "Father and Son" succeed at auction? Does it succeed as art?

It certainly offers a much more colorful perspective than is usual for this relationship, but is it good art? Or does that veer too far into trying to define what ingredients are always needed and does this have them?

It is hard to reduce art that touches a viewer to a checklist -- much like you can't say what ingredients or recipes always result in wonderful or horrorful or sosoful father-child relationships.

Each recipe might have similarities, but the outcome always depends on the individuals (artist and viewer or parent and child, with the former in each pairing needing to take more responsibility).

** Where are the pop culture reference to a father and son involved together in something artistic? **

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Following Footsteps

Chicago attorney Joseph Lopez certainly has that spin thing down. On the one hand, his client, Frank Calabrese Sr. star of the Family Secrets Trial is, "happy to see his son [Frank Calabrese Jr.]; he hasn't seen him in a long time." But his client's happiness is mixed with melancholy: "It's very difficult for any parent to see his child testify against him."

The 68-year-old Calabrese is charged, along with with his 62-year-old brother Nicholas and three other defendants with violating various laws, including conspiracy to commit murder and attempted murder, in connection with illicit organized crime activities including loan sharking and bookmaking, as well as obstructing justice, extorting "street taxes" from businesses, sports bookmaking, operating video gambling machines, making "juice loans" charging ruinous interest rates and using extortion, threats, violence and intimidation to collect on those loans. Chicago prosecutors have been crowing about this family break-up.

To bolster the government's case, the 47-year-old secretly taped his dad while they walked the Milan, Mich., prison yard together a few years back
they were imprisoned in 1997 together for loan sharking. In court, he spoke of an unusual upbringing that included loan sharking, extortion, beatings and even a firebombing. It is also true that he did happen to steal $600,000 to $800,000 from dad, "investing" in a restaurant, vacations and a cocaine addiction."I blew all the money; I spent it wildly," he admitted.

Cross-examination of the prosecution's "star witness" (wouldn't his mother be proud?)for motives and credibility is to come.

** An interesting conundrum for a dad of where to draw the line regarding bringing his son into the family business? **

Friday, July 6, 2007

Older and More Alive

Each father lives in the shadows cast by his father's life ... and death.

Arlo Guthrie, father of four, who turns 60 next Tuesday, July 10, is son of folksinging archtype Woody Guthrie. The elder Guthrie died at age 54 of Huntington's (as his mother did), a hereditary disease that usually appears between ages 30 and 50 and then progresses without pity to destroy the areas of the brain controlling emotions, intellect and movement.

From 40-plus years of playing, the younger Guthrie is probably best known for the Thanksgiving radio staple "Alice's Restaurant" and "City of New Orleans" (his only Top 20 hit, a cover of Steve Goodman's song). He has gotten old enough to be freed from the usual fear of dieing as one's father did, but he remains connected in popular imagination by the folk tradition and his own passions. His current Solo Reunion Tour, plays the Woody Guthrie festival in Okemah, Okla., beginning July 14, and he plans to include his fathers work (both lyrics and mixes involving both their voices) when he performs there.

** The arc of the father is from living under a shadow to casting one. **

Thursday, July 5, 2007


Reactions range from crikey to creepy as 8-year-old Bindi Irwin follows in father (stung to death by a stingray) Steve's footprints as the Baby Crocodile Hunter (actually, "Bindi the Jungle Girl") on the Discovery Kids channel. No notice yet of whether 3-year-old brother Bob named for their herpetologist grandfather and part of a media scandal when father Steve held him while also feeding a crocodile is also scheduled soon for some TV face time.

While everyone stands ready to offer thoughts on how other people raise their children, Bindi finds herself in a very public push-pull between pundits and her family. Is she missing out on a "normal" childhood or was she fated to happily embrace the carrying on of her father's legacy?

** Like most parenting, the outcome of the experiment won't be known until it can't be changed. **

Biological Clock

Today's Charlotte Observer notes twin trends of fewer U.S. fathers in their 20s and more in their 40s. While Observer reporter Song's story focuses on the good of being a first time dad at such an "advanced" age, other reports of senior pops describe the benefits and risks for children.

What is missing from all the reports is the formula to determine the best balance of risk and reward. The 18-year-old will have no problem bending over while bathing his child; the 30-, 40- or even older dad will have more patience when confronted by youthful exasperations and more life experience to apply to the perplexing dilemmas of fatherhood. Of course, the laws of the universe could allow for no formula, just the reality that whenever the alarm goes off you just have to get up and be a dad.

** Prince Harry did say the-king-of-forever-waiting-for-mums-to-pass was "old and boring," but that probably would be true no matter at whatever age the Prince of Wales sired future royalty. **

Wednesday, July 4, 2007


"You need talent and dedication and the favor of the gods before you can become a firework-maker," says Lalchland, the father in "The Firework-Makers' Daughter."

Phillip Pullman's fairy tale for young readers tells the story of Lila's wish to follow in her father's footsteps and what she struggles to overcome his concerns among the obstacles. But she has the three gifts talent, courage and luck and for her efforts is recognized by being given the royal sulphur, the Fire-Fiend's term for wisdom.

** And the dad is happy. Happy (and safe) Independence Day. **

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Father-Son Bonds

It is not easy to be sympathetic to San Francisco Giant Barry Bonds, an anti-divine trinity of outstanding ego, paranoia and ball-playing ability. However, while it may just be part of a PR campaign (placed on the team's web site), the article by Barry Bloom on how Bonds' handles knowing his father won't see him break Henry Aaron's home record may still cause misting in some eyes.

Bobby Bonds, who died Aug. 23, 2003, at age 57, was a three-time All Star (and once MVP of the game) whose great natural talent was not large enough to overcome various personal demons and left him with a solid career, but one short of Hall of Fame standards suggested by his first years in the majors. (Surely there are fascinating parallels to be explored when the dual bio gets written.) On the other side of the generations, Bloom writes that Barry Bonds' teenage son Nikolai, who often served as a Giants' bat boy might also miss his record breaking turn at bat while away at camp. So, a few moments after the record ball has cleared the fence and the bases are rounded, baseball's greatest home run hitter will stand amidst tens of thousands of people and could still feel all alone: not with a father, nor with a son.

Sins of the Son

Pork gourmet and Alaska Senator Ted Stevens is discovering how the sins of the son come to be visited on the father. Not that he likely doesn't have much else she should apologize for ... and not just that tubular explanation of how the internet works. But he seemed likely to get away with much of it until now.

Various references throughout the Bible discuss how far (four generations) the sins of the father will be visited on the son, but the assumption is that the child is somehow otherwise blameless. Interestingly, there doesn't seem to be much going the other way with the son guilty and father blameless, that is.

** A rotted apple will roll least far from the tree. **

Monday, July 2, 2007


Nobody can explain love, but everyone can understand it.

Somebody loved Joseph Stalin and Idi Amin. Why? They just did.

On the other hand, love's bond makes absolute sense when put in terms of fathers and children. Particularly when it is "love fierce and true," as in (NPR) Weekend Edition Saturday host Scott Simon's essay on adopting his daughter.

** If you're not getting love back from a child, you're probably not giving enough. **

Bootie Camp

If the title is misleading, then your head is in the wrong place. We're talking newborns here!

Women have nine months of internal preparation and presumably a lifetime before that of chickchat to get ready for the baby. Men need less time. Programs vary, but the experts who set up the program seem to feel real hombres may need as little as one day in Daddy Boot Camp to prepare for feet that aren't yet ready to pitter or patter. But if you can't find time for one day, you can always live as the bad dad and just have faith it will work out all right.

** Bootie camp or not, people can tell you everything about having children, but nobody can really tell you anything — you just have to muddle through like the generations upon generations of dads who precede you. **

Sunday, July 1, 2007


Every father at some time wants (i.e., needs) to erupt. Perhaps life will be better if he can just shoot a potato at a co-worker. Minneapolis father William Gurstelle not only has the answer for how to deal with that feeling in a controlled way, but also how to bring relief when at home. He even explains how to put out one's inner fire by making a paper match rocket.

** A MacArthur genius award can't come soon enough for this answer man. **


Explain to me. Please. If you love (or even like) your father, how do you possibly "honor" him by suggesting he is some sort of female fairy figure? Today's objet d'Ebay is a Happy Father's Day 2007 pin featuring Tinkerbell. Is it a regift? Ah, the boring story that no doubt could be told about how it ends up in the world's flea market. But, all bathos aside, it will surely lead to a great insight into the human condition to understand who was thinking what in conceiving and manufacturing this?

** Would it be worse if one pinned Dad with Minnie Mouse? **