Friday, August 31, 2007

Happy Father's Day

Rather than leave the world hanging in suspense, the Australian Father's Day Council chairman Maurice Newman announced David Koch as "Dad of the Year," at the annual Father's Day Luncheon at New South Wales Parliament House.

Koch is father of three girls and one boy and made news earlier this summer about making handbags from the "family jewels" — presumably not the reason he received this recognition as they celebrate down under dads the first September Sunday.

However, as is fathers' fate, even with dad's day on the horizon, most of the news is still about the focused on the femmes.

Speaking for himself and many others, Koch, who came to fame as a financial journalist and tv personality responded, "I love being a dad."

** It doesn't matter what the calendar says, fathers' days are the one's you make yourself, either by reveling in the world of your children or by buying your own gifts. **

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Six Years On

Creaky, but not crusty. A newly-published study of 11,600 Swedish people identifies males who are six years older as the perfect target for women desirous of more than two children. (The average for the "more mature" spermers was 2.2 kiddlings. Should a man marry a woman who wants .2 of a child?)

** The study also found that when the relationship fails, both partners usually go younger shopping. **

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Beet Red

Where was the wisdom of the Califan, N.J., produce manager father when his sons went bananas and lost their jobs?

In fact, not only did Mark and Matthew D'Avella get fired from their jobs at their dad's A&P, they have also been slapped with a $1 million-plus defamation suit by the grocery chain based in Montvale, N.J. And all because the two college-age sons of a 30-year company veteran posted a gangsta rap parody prepared as part of a class project:

** Why doesn't dad produce any comments for public consumption? **

Can't You See He's Stalling

Now, of course and with all thanks to father-of-three, Idaho Senator Larry Craig's solicitation of sex in a men's room, everyone will understand that being a father has nothing to do the enjoyment of any particular sexual activity.

And it doesn't have anything to do with what you say — as in signing your name to a pleasant essay celebrating Father's Day.

There is creating a child; there is being a father. Related, but not synonymous activities, whether attitudes change or [more likely, sigh] don't.

** Acronym alert: Stay-in-Closet (SIC) dads. **

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Lions and Tigers and Bears ... and Penguins

Apparently, penguin daddies are the scariest of all God's creatures. Their story is the most banned, boycotted and controversial in libraries today.

** Nothing scares like real-life daddies. **

Glad SAHDs

Somehow, Garth Brooks seems to be stretching the definition of "stay at home dad" in announcing the release of his new album.

The mega-selling country star had three daughters with first wife Sandy Mahl Brooks (they announced their divorce in 2000 and he is now married to singer Trisha Yearwood) and vowed with his 2001 "retirement" to stay at home to care for the girls until the youngest, Allie Colleen who was born in 1996, graduates high school. But there will be live performances and maybe even limited touring in support of this self-distributed collection of "Ultimate Hits."

Someone who might have taken a page out of his book — for purposes of self-definition only — is Cincinnati Reds rookie starter Tom Shearn, 30, who had to return to baseball and his major league debut after 11 seasons in the minors because his wife wouldn't let him live the SAHD life with his 18-month-old daughter... as if playing baseball were really a full time job.

** If a stay-at-home-mommy includes the women with maids and nannies, why shouldn't fathers be granted some flexibility as well? **

Naked Adventures in Fatherhood

"I do all the things now that I saw other fathers do that I swore I'd never do," says Burt Reynolds, much better know for his Cosmo centerfold, dating adventures and movies than as the father of an 18-year-old (from his five-year marriage with actress Loni Anderson). "... it's a comedy of errors [living with Quinton]; we could probably have done a television series about it. It's like: 'Why didn't you call me? Where are you going? What are you doing?'"

Reynolds credits lessons from his father — who agreed to adopt the friend Reynolds brought home after learning he being abused in his home — as inspiring his own parenting ways. In addition to trying to do right by his son, he has also done over 40 years of charity work on behalf of children.

With that background and able to talk football
— Reynolds first attended Florida State University on a football scholarship — perhaps he could be persuaded to impart some of those lessons to prolific procreator Travis Henry . The Denver Broncos running back has nine kids with nine women in four states. But don't worry, his attorney says he's "a really committed father." (Ironic and unlikely, unless the last "er" was dropped.)

** There is always the tension as a father about to hide from your kids. **

Monday, August 27, 2007

Krazy Kids

Not just strict or authoritarian. We're talking dictatorial daddy in the case of North Korea's Kim Jong-Il and his wayward son Kim Jong Nam, 36, and Iraq's chip off the old Saddam Hussein block, Iraq's Raghad Hussein, 38. Oh, and did we mention they might have passed along a little craziness the tyrants passed on to their children?

Both are headed home. Speculation is that Kim is returning to throw his hat in the ring for the cage match to succeed daddy and granddaddy, after time spent wandering, begun with an attempted visit via fake visa to Tokyo Disneyland. Hussein faces different circumstances, possible expulsion from her Jordan safe haven to trial and possible death in her native land.

** Aspire to be tyrant of your land, king of the castle is so passe. **

Joint Struggles

The headlines go to the fathers and their children battling over the family business. (Earlier: When the King Dies and Daddy Dreary.) The hope comes from father and son working together, whether in the same British troop in Afghanistan or on the frontlines of the war against drug dealing and violence in Richmond, Calif.

** Stronger together than apart, but much the relationships is more fun to observe when it's one at the throat of another. **

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Running for Home

Is the father at work the same man as the father at home? What if his home is (say) The White House? So what do you learn about how a president will govern by the way a man campaigns?

Today's New York Times offers a look at fathers (and mothers) and children on the campaign trail. Whatever you thought about your favored candidate and the others will most likely be reinforced by what you read about the extraordinary compromises made by dads (and kids) in the hunt. However, you might pick up something on another candidate you can always use against them when arguing with hour friends.

** In reality, the president is just another stay-at-home-dad, who just doesn't stay at home that much. **

Christmas in August

What better time to think of the cold joy of Christmas than when facing the heat (or storms, fires and floods) of August?

This week's objet d'eBay comes from the father of modern adult fantasy; father of linguistic theories; father of the Elvish language; and father of four kids, children to whom J.R.R. Tolkien originally wrote the letters collected in the book over 20 years.

Although Tolkien took his St. Nicholas in eccentric directions as he wrote tales to his children, the heart of his father is still the same as the model, the 3rd century Turkish Bishop of Myra, who was legendary for traveling in his red bishop's robes and giving to the poor, especially boys and girls.

Mystical, somewhat mythic, eccentric and a giver to boys and girls. An everyday definition of most fathers.

** Did the jolly Father Christmas ever change a diaper? **

Saturday, August 25, 2007

I'm My Daddy

Is "The Hottest State" the passion of love or the gut wrenching that goes on when it ends (or when you discover you never found love with your father)? Or is it just the title of Director Ethan Hawke's new movie based on novelist Ethan Hawke's first novel and starring actor Ethan Hawke as the unloving dad?

If you wish to make the perfectly reasonable assumption that the book is autobiographical you can now see [real-life] father-of-two Ethan Hawke play his own [fictional?]father, although he (sort of) recently denied it: "Our relationship is, of course, very different from the one in the movie. It touches on some similar themes but it's very different and, of course, everyone thinks [my dad's] that guy. ...I bet he wishes I hadn't made [the book] into a movie."

Friday, August 24, 2007

Happy (School) Days (Almost) Here Again!

Be your kid's escort on his/her first day of school, maybe win a prize.

The organizing idea is that a father's presence offers safety, support and encouragement. And, according to Phillip Jackson, executive director of Chicago's Black Star Project, which spearheads the annual Million Father March, “...children whose fathers take an active role in their educational lives earn better grades, get better test scores, enjoy school more and are more likely to graduate...”

It's almost back-to-school day, one of the year's most glorious. Walk the talk in celebration.

** But isn't dropping them off at the door prize enough? **

Michael & Micah

Win some; lose some. It's not sweet, but the lucky dads — history remembers them as the smarter — get across to der kinder that how you play the game matters.
Recent losers include Michael Vick, convict-to-be on charges of gambling and dogfighting (more formally: "interstate commerce for the purposes of dogfighting"). Vick's father, Michael Boddie, urged him to give up this vice ... or, based on the USA Today report, hide his involvement better to keep his assets (and dad's gravy train) safe.

A winner from across the pond is Micah Richards, coincidentally another footballer. The 19-year-old Man City defender explained how he was able to void the pitfalls of drugs and violence in Leeds as well as living in the glare of the spotlight: "That's down to Dad. He's brought me up well. My Dad is a strong character. He is very principled. He's a Rastafarian. He has set standards for me."

Which shouldn't be read to suggest the Boddie didn't set standards, only that (perhaps) they weren't high enough.

** Pretty far off-subject: why isn't "losesome" the antonym of "winsome?" **

Thursday, August 23, 2007

TaTa Tim

"With our third child on the way, there's an even bigger incentive to [retire]," said 33-year-old Tim Henman as the four-time Wimbledon semifinalist announced he would make himself eligible for the dole beginning this fall.

With two already here I know just how he feels. If only I could have cashed the same $11 million plus of tournament winnings checks (currently No. 22 on the all time on-court earnings list).

Henman, who despite a more-than-respectable career, is synonymous in his native Britain with the person you root for even though they'll always disappoint (think Chicago Cubs, baseball fans). As the Guardian's tennis obit reads: "Over the course of [his career], he repeatedly became a vessel for the nation's hopes, and then the object of its ire. Eventually, the idea that Tim couldn't win because Tim was Tim took hold."

So it's good training for staying home with the kids. After all, isn't every dad a goat in hero's clothing, undressed as his children ages? In "Tiger Tim's" case, he is retiring while he can still bask in the adulation at home. His two daughters are 2 and 4 and for at least a few more years he is still the big guy to be loved and feared in his castle.

** The joke on Henman, of course, is that despite all the prize and endorsement money, he'll probably have to unretire when No. 4 pops into the world.**

America's BaddaD©™®

The things people say. The "crimes" of which we are accused. It's not our fault ... but it must be admitted there are some bad apple dads in the barrel.

Currently, Lie'n Seacrust is begging you to call or text in your votes (at your expense) for this summer's BaddaD©™®. From one quirky corner of dadland, skips MIT's John Donovan Sr., who shot himself in his stomach to take revenge on his son for allegedly hiring a Russian hit man. And out of a dark alley in Chicago knuckledrags his worthy opponent Frank Calabrese (Earlier: Following Footsteps), who is on trial because one son ratted him out. Another, a convicted loan shark, walked out of court yesterday rather than give him the thumb-up as a role model and caregiver he called for as he ended him defense in the "Family Secrets" trial.

Votes are still being counted.

** Anyone willing to work at it can be a bad guy and good dad. But, like anything fatherhood-related, it's not easy. **

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Daddy's Girls

Two little girls of a doting mumsy grow into a Hollywood starlet and randy novelist but ever-bitter rivals for the affection daddy withheld. They spend their entire adult lives searching for and, despite all their fame and fortune and good times, finding unfulfillment from what their womanizing father never gave them.

It should be a trash novel; no, it should be a made-for-tv movie. Oh, hell, given the people involved it will be — perhaps already has been — both.

"Joan Collins: Biography of an Icon," by Graham Lord — author of various other gossipy looks at Brit celebs — is available in the U.K., but the depiction of novelist Jackie and actress Joan struggling for the love of theatrical agent Joe Collins is now available everywhere.

** Sometimes there's no doubt where daddy's little girls first went wrong. **

It's a Man's Man's Man's World

Not just the hardest working man, but the hardest working father(er) in showbiz turns out to be James Joseph Brown Jr.

There's another child. An anonymous Florida woman, has come forward with DNA testing, to claim a piece of a legend, unacknowledged prior to the Godfather of Soul's 2006 Christmas day death. More genetic allegiance with the man whose signature lyric (well, one of them anyway) was "I Feel Good" (from the song, "I Got You"). And apparently he did. And often.

From his four church-sanctioned marriages, Brown gave the world eight children (five men, three women), although his eldest son passed and there are some questions left from his final marriage about the "legitimacy of his youngest child. Is this all? Time and testing — other men and women have already come forward to have their Brown-paternity denied — will tell.

** Hopefully, this much (or more) seed spread will be good for the future of music, not just the the future of lawyers. **

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Hit the Showers Boys

There seems to be some question about the New England Patriots' family leave policy. Unsmiling, cowled coach Belichik hasn't announced whether he will let QB Tom Brady attend the imminent birth of his child, saying everything is decided on a case-by-case basis. Is this legal?

No doubt company and league lawyers are scurrying to draw up the official policy regarding attendance at the birth of a child one has with a woman one never married and no even longer dates? While Brady waits for the signal, his teammates are surely planning to surprise the father-to-be with a baby shower. Maybe they could all chip in for the big box of condoms, as well as wipes, diapers and stuffed animals? (Earlier: Tommy Two Time.)

** An unfair world: everyone complains boys don't take enough showers, but nobody gives them when they grown up. **

UPDATE: Brady a new daddy; no word on shower.

Clashing Cliches

Children rebel against the father; children become their dad.

Two tests of the dichotomy are Bushes 43 and 41 and (variously spelled) Gadaffis 1 and (maybe) 2. In Washington, 43 appears intent on aggressively avoiding every mistake (i.e., anything that made him look like a wimp) of 41 during his presidency — staying in Iraq, cutting taxes on the wealthy at every turn, governing with a [my] America only first mindset.

Across the Atlantic in Tripoli, via a wild southeastern tailwind, G2 (not officially a Libyan government official) is talking the talk of his papa — the visionary who promises people's utopias, not the international blackguard one who bombed innocents or tortured citizens or outside health workers.

And in this cynical age more questions. The American ponder: does 41 now wish son Jeb had emerged as 43? The Libyan wonder: Is the more temperate front all about keeping power and if G2 gets too far out in front of G1 will he get the axe so to speak?

Finally, do a son and father think of themselves a team, with a joint legacy? And in these cases will history?

** Yeah, it was messy, but Oedipus and Laios never had it this compex. **

Monday, August 20, 2007

Are Those Plastic Thingies in the White House Wall Sockets?

Ask yourself why a 63-year-old father of daughters five and two wants to be president. Doesn't Connecticut senator Christopher John Dodd, son of Connecticut senator Thomas Joseph Dodd and one of six who represent that same state their dads did, already have enough on his hands?

** With Jenna Bush pregnant by blog innuendo prior to marriage you have to wonder if the White House is the kind of environment you want your daughter growing up in. **


The vote is in! The better metaphor for a rollercoaster existence is "being a father" rather than "running for president". Campaigning at the Iowa State Fair, Barack Obama tested both, putting off a radio interview to accompany his daughter on the Big Ben rollercoaster. The L.A. Times (second post) captured his sentiment as, ""The things you do for a 9-year-old." (Images here.)

** You go up, down and have moments of both horror and elation, but no dad ever ends the rollercoaster ride in the same place he began. **

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Unlikely Equation

Merciless beating equals comedic genius? Dad's evil yields son's funny? That is Steve Martin's story and he is sticking to it in his November autobiography, "Born Standing Up."

Mr. "Wild and Crazy Guy," and lead in "Father of the Bride" movies and "Cheaper by the Dozen" among others, has had an extraordinary career as a comedian, actor and (screen)writer. It's been magic:

He's had it all — recently even a surprise wedding — but he hasn't had kids. Dad's influence too?

** How many places do you find the father's influence in the finished product of a child's life? **

Progress. Hah.

This week's objet d'eBay, a postcard sized tintype of a father and daughter, is from a different never-again-to-be-seen-nor-heard day. One well-dressed dad, a quiet, loving daughter. And quiet time together enough to pose.

Having driven, hiked with, kayaked, entertained, medicated, adjudicated, pushed together and separated Things One and Two for the last few days, I can only marvel at this suggestion of serenity. (And no doubt, the wife/mother hovers just out of camera range to change the daughter and serve the father's needs as well.)

Still, my (and probably your) present and future troubles pale compared to those descending permanently on dadland's newest Sisyphus, Calgary "happy dad" J.P. Jepp, new father of identical quadruplet girls and two-year-old Simon. The complexity of his future so boggles the mind, it almost wipes out concern for the short-term challenges facing Manhattan, Kan., (non-biological) father of 16 newborns Rich Vargo.

Polio was cureless and internet porn downloads starring others' daughters unthinkable, but all the father days suggested by that image are worth a ponder or two on one of summer's final lazy, Sundays.

** A wise man pondered, "After I had my first child I wondered what I did with all my free time when I didn't have a kid; and after my second I asked what I did with the free time granted by having only one."

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Vacate As School Looms

Too often family vacations start off with high hopes but end with the dad down in the dumps.

** Off to bond and memory-build with Things 1 and 2. Back soon. **

Working Dad

This Sunday's Objet d'eBay is a 1981 message in song. James Taylor, then part of the folkie storybook marriage with Carly Simon, proclaimed for the world that he preferred life on the road to hanging at home with Carly and the kids. In 1983 the two divorced.

Not that the divorce wasn't good for all. Simon has acted, written and (despite sometime debilitating stage fright) even sung. And the couples children Ben — a Thing 1 heartthrobber despite being an ancient 30 years old... don't tell her — and Sally have become celebrated singsters in their own right. And, with third wife Kim, James even went on to combine continuing work with surrogate-assisted twin boys.

** Coincidence or not, as this auction of an LP appeared, an Iowa dad owing child support that had reached six figures was jailed for trying to sell a stolen stereo. **

Saturday, August 11, 2007

And Then the Bear ...

Rock not; Murphy so so the daddy [earlier: Murphy's Law] ... again. Ah, the magic of paternity (tests).

It also another peek behind the scrim at the difference between "celebrity" and real life, or, what Chris Rock thinks at work

and how Eddie Murphy deals with kids while on stage:

** Enjoy the comedy of fatherhood; the tragedy always lurks in the shadows waiting for its chance. **

Friday, August 10, 2007

Plenty Peso Papi

Some fathers — even really, really, really rich ones — get it right and so where you expect to find turmoil, you find none.

For example, the future legacy of Mexico's Slim family stands in striking contrast to the high profile struggles over corporate control in the Sumner Redstone (Viacom) and Rupert Murdoch (News Corp.) clans.

Patriarch Slim (more formally: Carlos Slim Helú) currently ranks as the world richest man. He acknowledges the lessons learned from his father, a Turkish refugee who owned a general store, invested in Mexican real estate and taught his son the personal and business value to thrift. He passed along the lessons to his three sons, ages 40, 39 and 38 who who stand together and ready to take over the empire when the from the 67-year-old billionaire.

"Many people want to leave a better world for their children," Sims announced in a recent speech. "I'm trying to leave better children for my world."

** Is it (should it be) easier or harder to be a good father when richer than Croesus? **

Ménage à Trouble

Two dads of controversial reputations who seem to want to do right. One mom, married to neither, stole saliva to outwit a paternity test, but was outwitted in divorce court by stolen dental floss. One nine-year-old daughter of all. And a gazillion simoleons!

Green-mailing, arbitraging, job destroying richie, Kirk Kerkorian, has filed papers to allow access to his daughter Kira (who evidence confirms is the biological daughter of ex-wife Lisa Bonder Kerkorian, to whom he was married for one month) by her biological father and the man "saved" by the faked paternity test, Stephen Bing — father also of Damian Hurley, with actress Elizabeth, to whom he is also not married.

Currently, Kerkorian pays over $300,000 a month in child support and Bing is said willing to kick in another $25,000 as his ante into this down-the-rabbit-hole "who's your daddy" game.

Mom also has a 27-year-old son, Taylor Jennings Kreiss, with journeyman tennisista Tom Kreiss. The two married during Bonder's days on the women's tennis tour (she did win a couple tournaments and had a career highlighted by wins over Chris Evert and Andrea Jaeger).

Kerkorian currently shares custody of Kira (dad is west coast home; mom takes the east coast duties). And there is no evidence he doesn't care for her as much as he does his two other daughters, courtesy of marriage No. 2 ... Bonder was No. 3. Still, the situation for Kira seems far and away from the idyllic situation presented in [vaguely] similarly themed "Jennifer Has Two Daddies."

Thursday, August 9, 2007

$40K Question

Son looking for a handout from dad? Usual, but not the current case from the Baltimore political ramparts where a dad's paw prints were found in a son's cookie jar. $40,000 in campaign funds was missing from Councilman Mitchell's mayoral run. In a straight up cash deal, the money has returned but Dr. Mitchell Sr. is no longer a part of the campaign.

** What's your dad worth to your political campaign? **

What Goes Around

"He is the wrong father to appeal to in terms of strength. There is a higher father that I appeal to," said Bush 43 when asked if he sought his father's advice before careering into Iraq. (History will long ponder how appealing he was.)

“I love you, sir, but your son’s way off base here,” is what people often say to Bush 41, according to The New York Times article on how hard it is to be father to the son who outdid you in popularity decline, among other things.

Alas, there is no googleable comment to add to the irony from father to 41, Prescott, who died 16 years prior to his sons ascension to POTUS. Connecticut senator and Republican party string puller in the Eisenhower and Nixon years, the father and grandfather of presidents first made news lieing about receiving military medals and as a business failure.

** Even if a dad learns from his mistake, a child often only learns to repeat it by trying to avoid it. **

Wednesday, August 8, 2007


If only Sr. had run over Jr.

From Four Oaks, N.C., comes report that a dad drove his truck into his 33-year-old son's scooter to keep him from killing his wife. Which is the kind of love Cuba Gooding Jr. could have used based on the early reviews for "Daddy Day Camp" [earlier: Sleepaway Movie] If only dad kept him from what probably seemed like a good idea at the time.

Tellingly, Gooding Sr. was part of the R&B trio The Main Ingredient, best remembered for the 1972 hit "Everybody Plays the Fool." The group always added punch to sometimes, the word following EPTF in the lyrics and one can only hope that Jr. will keep that lyric in his head when choosing future roles, as well as learn his lesson so he can pass it along to his sons and daughter.

** Dads are always twisted in new directions, but can you really stab your own career in the back? **

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Red-faced Family

With Caroline Giuliani backtracking on her alleged Facebook endorsement of Barack Obama over DOD, it is time to wonder whether in politics it is the father who embarrasses the child more often (and in this corner we have Presidents Clinton and Bush) or the child(ren) who more often embarrass the father (and here we have Al Gore III and President Bush — embarrassing his father — with daughters Barbara and Jenna). The votes aren't all counted, but given that its politicians, most of those who go to the polls probably pick the father.

** Politics proves itself a richness of father and child embarrassments. **

Chefs Dads

Is it a gender deficiency or a cultural imposition that has kept so many fathers from learning an important culinary lesson? You don't earn anywhere near the kidcurrency for bringing home the bacon as you do for frying it up.

This lesson of the exceptional man should have carried over from dating. It is, after all, the common wisdom that all single men have one kitchen performance they can unveil when "closing" the deal.

Unfortunately for fathers, kitchen performance doesn't mean barbecuing. There is no good reason why kids aren't impressed when their dads perform magic over an outside grill, but they aren't. Live with it. Learn it. Move on.

Maybe it's the smoke without a mirror? Not for years have Things One or Two stood around to chat or marvel as meats or vegetables were grilled. When they sit at the table it was just another meal prepared out of sight. But even at their seen-everything-and-done-that ages a few moments spent shaping a pancake in their initials can reliably be counted on to return the investment with a kiss. And if you work hard enough to get them to cook with you it can even mean a hug and a lifetime's memory and devotion.

** Kids have a shorter distance between stomach, heart and brain. Use the knowledge or lose the opportunity**

Monday, August 6, 2007

Fifth Commandment

Different paths are easy to find when following the injunction to honor thy father.

After a bit of on-and-off, Keith Richards now claims he did snort his father's ashes, although he didn't cut it with cocaine. He suggests it was his way of (sort of) honoring his father, and the ambiguity of the ceremony is probably a fitting commemoration of their father-son relationship.

More traditional honors come to poet Miller Williams via (Grammy-winning) daughter Lucinda, probably related as well to the more stable relationship of the two wordsmiths. Proceeds from her Sept. 20 concert in Fayetteville, Ark., will endow the Miller Williams Poetry Prize at the University of Arkansas Press. Father Williams' acclaim as a poet includes reading at the first inauguration of President Bill Clinton and his professional experience includes founding the University of Arkansas Press; he serves as professor emeritus at the University.

** From the it-all-comes-out-in-the-wash cycle, is the honor bestowed on the child who honors his or her father. **

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Achy Breaky Dad

This week's objet d'eBay, a Bally's casino promotional $5 chip, features a swivel-hipped mullet-do'd Billy Ray Cyrus.

Exemplifying the maxim that before he was a dad, every father was his own man, Cyrus is the one-hit wonder of the early 90s whose "Achy Breaky Heart," inexplicably set millions of line dancers in motion.

Today, Cyrus is best known to millions as the couch-perching, guitar-strumming, platitude-spouting dad of "Hannah Montana" (the one of Disney Channel's many witless but popular kid-coms that stars his daughter Miley.). And, despite his numerous albums, acting roles and taking his two left boots on a turn around the flooring in TV's "Dancing with the Stars," Things One and Two mostly experience him even after multiples of hours in his presence — pretty much like their own DOD — as a distraction from what is important, taking up visual space, acting, talking and easily ignored.

** You can give yourself to your kids, but nothing says they have to take it. **

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Valley Guy

A deadly infection to his baby sends a father out of the plane not knowing if his parachute is packed.

So it is not surprising to learn that San Fernando valley denizens Ronald Boyer and his new wife Liza Harper returned to the faith of their youth when an amputation of their 11-month old daughter's arm was averted at the last minute by a drug able to treat the life-threatening staph infection.

Their story becomes a deeper one of faith when The New York Times claims (registration required) he is pursuing the priesthood as an expression of his renewed faith. The story ledes with its twist: Ronald Boyer is best known as "Rod Fontana," 30 year veteran of just about everything (warning: explicit images) in sex videos, often intimately paired with his wife.

And then comes the overlay of so many celebrity stories. He was playing the reporter for some good buzz; or the reporter was sloppy in fact checking; or he just lives in a separate reality. Church folks dispute significant parts of the story, although thankfully not the recovery of daughter Diana.

** Tragedy. Salvation. Redemption. Farce. Porn star or accountant: it seems to be every dad's saga. **

Friday, August 3, 2007

Our Father

Still no June or July baby for famous-for-fathering Jim Bob Duggar, but every other month had been covered at least once by the time this portrait (l) was taken a few years ago.

Real estate investor James Robert and wife Michelle Duggar welcomed their 17th child, Jennifer Danielle, to their perhaps still-growing brood of boys and girls spannng ages 19 to 2, all with names begin with the letter "J" — presumably honoring Jesus, as Duggar held an Arkansas state senate seat for a few years as a politician of conservative Christian fundamentalist stripes.

** Delete necessity and invention: efficiency is the mother of procreation. **

Papa's Like a Rolling Stone

No self-respecting rock and roller has a proper parent in sight. Yet, they have dads and sometimes even are.

"Daddy's little princess," Amy Winehouse, admits to getting a "rollicking" from D(ear)O(old)D(ad) for skipping out on gigs. Legendary (for music and excesses) Dixie rocker Gregg Allman has a 31-year-old son Devon (who met his dad age 15) now getting some press — although he hasn't earned a slot on either Thing One or Two's iPod — in praise of his display of chops. And rocker dad living an Ozzie and Harriet TV-life (sort of), Killers frontman Brandon Flowers and wife of two years welcome baby [noone knows the name but "Brandon Jr." has bored folks listening to the grapevine] to their Vegas home.

** Who knew Traffic's "Dear Mr. Fantasy" was an ode to dads? **

Thursday, August 2, 2007

In Attendance

Your children are better off with you in prison than at war. Not that those should be your only choices.

An Australian study found that kids with dads doing time had problems, but not necessarily for lacking a housebound role model. The causes of their difficulties were more likely from "socio-economic status, marital disorder, an unstable family life, mothers who drink and smoke and have poor mental health."

That let's-blame-the-mom result segues nicely into the new study just published in the Journal of American Medicine on at-war families. With more moms than dads left behind, there is a 42 percent greater chance of a child's maltreatment during deployment than at other times.

While the results noted above suggest it's moms more than kids who suffer when a family is (temporarily) single parented, dadalones are still coming in for some "what are you thinking?" criticism. According to another new study, and all other things being equal, a single American father is less likely to have health insurance for himself and kids than a single mother.

Cultural, environmental and hereditary aspects do influence the decision. Both Thing 1 and Thing 2 have put on shows of stoicism, either out of fear of the doctor (they have learned how often an office visit confirms bad news) or in deference to my own preference not to see medical personnel to whom we are not related. And the study does confirm that an average man is less likely to go to the doctor for himself than an average woman ... and suggests — without actually judging — that gender tendencies influence when children see their pediatricians.

Still, it all ends up a very mixed result for the children.

** It is all well and good to know from studies and statistics what is going on with the average kid. But who has the average kid? **


Infamous polygamist Tom Green, convicted in 2001 of four counts of bigamy and one count of nonsupport, is popping up his head from within the chasm between politics and common sense.

Green's most notorious marriage, to his then 13-year-old stepdaughter, is also the keeper. Now of age, Linda Green, will go forward as his legal wife and the woman he will live with — although the other, former, wives will be next door. (Except the one who has remarried and gone to court to try and keep him away from her and their five children.)

What makes Green's release interesting is how it clearly frames the difference between marriage and fatherhood. President Bush's "Responsible Fatherhood Initiative" is pointed in linking marriage and fatherhood. So, Green, a father of 32 and willing (in the past) to be married to five women at a time should be in the running as posterman for the program. But it seems unlikely he'll be a hero, sitting in the galley at the president's final State of the Union speech next January.

** A man makes a baby. Neither marriage nor a baby makes a father. **

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Just say what?

One dad keeps a stiff upper lip; the other brags about partying with his son.

Throwing stereotypes into the pond between them, America's Al Gore stands silently in support while son Al III pleads guilty to drug possession and speeding. British billionaire Richard Branson, on the other hand, tells anyone who'll ask, that he smoked pot with his son and, "...We had some nights where we laughed our heads off for eight hours."

Drugs and dads. What'd you do; what do you say? And which father is most likely to keep their child out of trouble?

** As Salon so eloquently stated, "Do you puff, daddy?" **

Bad Dads and Divorce

"In a perfect world, there are no lawyers."

Who would expect such wisdom from backup-dancer/former-Mr. Britney Spears/unselling rapper/Super Bowl ad character Kevin Federline? Well, nobody. And they'd be right, but we wouldn't have such a perfect quote without him. His lawyer, Mark Vincent Kaplan, was responding to whether Kevin and Britney (Spears) should have stayed together for the sake of their children.

Maybe they should have stayed together for the children of others? If Kevin could somehow have become a good father, maybe the marriage and fall of Pop Tart Spears wouldn't have been a disillusioning factor for Things 1 and 2?

Fortunately, T1 and T2 have no interest in politics beyond the presidential horse race as (in other OMG!, what was and is the father thinking news) we also have the divorce battle update from former New Jersey Governor James McGreevey (shamed from office for financial shenanigans as well as an affair with a male aide) and his wife. Dina Matos McGreevey is looking for $56,000 a month in alimony for herself and the couple's 5-year-old daughter.

According to The Star Ledger report, the name calling is hot and heavy. McGreevey accused his ex- of wearing an "inappropriate and ill-fitting ball gown" on the Oprah show. The former first lady of the Garden State fired back that Mr. out-of-office-and-the closet is "a disinterested and irresponsible father."

** When complaining how low the bar for fathers is set, it sometimes helps to remember which ones get the headlines. **