Friday, November 30, 2007

Mano a Mano; Dado to Sono

"My dad is getting old," says Elijah McCall, son of former WBC heavyweight champ Oliver McCall., as he plans to take up the sweet science. McCall says he has no inclination to take on his father in the ring, but the Roanoke Times report is written under the cloud of the younger McCall's quote that "He [Oliver McCall] never took me seriously [as a boxer]."

Under a cloud of family dysfunction grows Lehkei Mayweather, son of Roger and cousin of current welterweight contender Floyd Mayweather Jr. But he's looking pretty fearless taking on dad

Also living under a shadow he may never emerge from is junior middleweight contender Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., son of Mexico's greatest fighter, who also will have to contend with whatever legacy is created by his younger brother Omar, who looks and fights more like dad.

** When boxing isn't brutal is it the essence of competition and what can be more essential than fighting a dad's legacy? **

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Dads' Campaigns Not Big with PFKC

Ambivalence toward being first child seems to be the bond between all the potential first children. All, except perhaps those of "leave my children alone and I'll leave your children alone" Giuliani, whose estranged kids were caught up in a controversy over the level of their support for their father's candidacy.

Even Craig, part of the ever present effervescent (Mitt) Romney (boy) Quintet — who made a recent Florida campaign swing complete with 18 stops in three days and flipping flapjacks, feeding a watermelon to a hippo anda cting the teetotaler chatting with tipplers in a beer tent — admitted to a Wall Street Journal reporter, "Part of me just wants this all to be over."

Among the lesser (i.e., un-) known Potential First Kids Corps (PFKC), Univ. of South Carolina pre-dent Mary Ellyse Fendig gives her father Cap's campaign at best a tepid endorsement. "He's very fun-loving, but he's very serious about this," she says. And she hasn't quite put her life on hold for the county commissioner's POTUS campaign. With no apparent passion about the campaign or what it might mean for her (beyond the local press she is getting), she takes a more dad's-just-being-dad approach to the quixotic campaign: "He does just hold a local office, but he does a lot of state policy and he's very involved in things that affect our county," she said. "But I feel like that's like saying, 'If the Gamecocks thought they couldn't win, they wouldn't still try.' It's a personal ambition of his."

** It's a kid dad thing: Support the Player, even if not the game. **

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Estrange Times

"Dad is losing his mind, or something..." begins the trailer for "The Savages," a movie described in Terry Gross's interview with writer/director Tamara Jenkins as children estranged from each other coming together to take care of the father from whom they are also estranged.

And, like many dad-kid relationships, it's a dark comedy. Jenkins wrote it out of her own experience with a father who lost his mental facilities as his life ended. Still, "out of the blackness of dementia he would say something and just slay you," she says.

The movie's dramatic tension comes from the search for "closure," a search filled with tension and made necessary by the dysfunction during earlier years of their "opensure," which, of course, is the source of the comedy. Real life lesson: If kids are surprised at the end of a dad's life then they haven't been listening. For even if a dad isn't talking, he's still communicating — although probably not so well.

** Thing 1 and Thing 2 can't wait until they become the parent and I the child ... but they have no idea what they're in for. **

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Of The Year

Almost any quick internet search will reveal that foster fathers are about as loved as mothers-in-law. But the ones to love are certainly out there and include "foster father of the year" Wayne Harris.

For years the 43-year-old Harris of Corpus Christi, Texas, has opened his life to kids, already adopting five and currently foster dad to one more. He's take even more, because "My heart's big enough but my house isn't," Harris said.

** Love conquers not all, but a heck of a lot. **

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Ones That Got Away

A son has the name of the man who could have been his father. Michael Krikorian pondered in Sunday's NY Times what could have been when he re-met the son who had his name as the latter waited for trial for a gang-related murder.

It wasn't biology, it could have been environment, but this son growing up with that father just wasn't to be.

** Fathers and fishermen always wonder about the ones that got away. **

Boys with Toys

Four Austin boys with electronic toys are having fun, having created (so far) 221 episodes of DadLabs videos — although Ad Age only counts 90 so maybe there is a counting issue — and a few fewer blog entries.

Today it is "Starter Pets" on the video and the most recent blog entry concerns the puzzled dad puzzled by the requests and puzzles of his kids. Fathers still haven't reached Martha Stewart, Dear Abby or even Dr. Ruth peaks, but it is good to see someone's working on it.

** They claim to be "Taking Back Paternity," but don't ever hint at where it has gone. **

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Sharpening a Legacy

Usually it is the child who creates a mythology about the father. Often it is the father who tells tales of his larger-than-life children. This week's objet d'eBay, a replica dagger of Uther Pendragon, is a meeting point for mythologies.

The early British king, son of King Constans and father of King Arthur, was originally just Uther Pen, but added a suffix in recognition of the dragon-shaped comet appearing in the sky at the time of his brother (King) Ambrosius's death. He took up arms on behalf of his slain father and brother, was involved in the creation of Stonehenge, but for all his accomplishments, the greatest accomplishment is siring and leaving to history son King Arthur.

** And no matter who creates the better mythology, history should always recognize the father on his own, but just less than the legacy he creates by his child. **

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Justice Served Cold

In almost every circumstance it is expected that father does know best, but there are times ...

Was it right or wrong for the child that Mark Spaid confirmed his "son" was not his? And would it be better or worse for a 19-week-old girl if a British court had decided otherwise than that a reluctant mom didn't have to tell the unidentified father about the product of a relationship that numbered merely minutes?

** Daddy knowledge is power to be used judiciously. **

Friday, November 23, 2007

Bond ... Baby Bond

Bonding between father and child can happen at any age. Obviously, it is most usual with a newborn.

Just because it can happen at any age doesn't mean it will. And that is the problem facing a couple dads — a Turkish car mechanic and Saudi camel breeder — who took each other's biological sons from the hospital. Now, four years later, the paternity is settled, the legal situation will be decided in the Grievance section of a Saudi court and all the remains is how well the children and fathers (and mothers) will bond.

** It's not the biology, but the bond. **

Thursday, November 22, 2007


A misdirected Australian "father's rights" group is demanding mandatory DNA testing for every child born ... building on the company that makes the tests claim that one-quarter of all fathers who do the test find they are not the child's biological dad.

But only a tiny bit of dadding is about biology. Dads earn their thanks by being there. Most recently, Philip Allison delivered his new daughter Hannah outside the East Yorkshire Women and Children's Hospital because none of the staff could be troubled to join or help them in their friend's Renault when the 7lb 14oz child began to pop her head out to take her first look at the world.

** If it were just about biology wouldn't you have to spend your life mourning all the sperm that never match up with an egg? **

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

(Not) Letting Dads Go

Do you really need a traditional family to know the importance of daddies?

Doubt it. And it's a good thing because the traditional family (not really that traditional in most cultures or times), according to British Conservative party leader Lain Duncan Smith, the proposal letting lesbian couples (sans hombre) be parents to one embryo would, “drive the final nail into the coffin of the traditional family.”

Fathers aren't necessary, they're irreplaceable. As Trisha Yearwood sings on her new CD in the final cut, a paean to her late pop, ""If I could write a song that would bring you back to me, it would be the only song I'd ever sing."

** How can anyone forget that fathers are not just fertilizers? **

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Unusual Dad-Daughter Duos

Tia let daddy Michael borrow her leopard-print makeup case. He tweezes her brows. This is a father-daughter duo to marvel at. He is white and gay with AIDS; she's black and the biological daughter of a drug addict. They came together when she was five months old. They are very much in (family) love.

As are Hoff and Hayley. "I love my dad," says the (Ford) model daughter. "He is a little kid.” And, of course, he is also a singing star in Germany, the featured performer in a fab YouTube vid, and at some point after the writer's strike is over again the punchline of late night jokes.

[Earlier: Some S/B in Custody ...; Dadelusions]

** It's not the circumstance; it's the love. Always the love. **

Monday, November 19, 2007

SAHD Lessons

Choose not between God or Mammon. Choose the child. But make sure to help him study; she'll do all right on her own.

Minister Vini Nunez chose stay-at-home-dadding rather than fight for a full-time life in the Church. Steve Haderlein left corporate-banking and learned quickly that the SAHD life, "isn't for wimps," but that it would give him more time with his two kids, now 13 and 9, as a high school teacher. Both are happy with their choices.

Today, all is right with the SAHD world, except for the one note of concern from a British study finding that stay-at-homes diminished the test scores of their sons. Daddy's girls, however, don't rely on him to crack the academic whip and do just fine. Or is it just that they don't listen to anything he says?

** The Everything, the lucre and homework. Dads get to the homework! **

Sunday, November 18, 2007

And Worth Every Penny

Ninety-seven cents. The sales pitch for today's objet d'eBay is that for $.97 you will have all the knowledge for handling your kid(s) that you will ever need. And, this can be yours via e-book, with change back from your dollar.

But Wait! There's More! A Free Gift with purchase is included and, of course, there's the money back guarantee!

Yep, I'm guessing it's pretty much that easy. As soon as I find a free buck Thing 1 and Thing 2 better get ready. I'm coming after them and expect they will have done their part by reading their "Child's All Purpose Guide to Kidding."

** Being a father is a constant rebuke to the wisdom of getting what you pay for. **

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Someone's in the Kitchen with Daddy ...

Is there a law that dads can carve, but cannot cook the turkey?

Dads and sons can cook up diesel fuel from used cooking oil. Pop can pass on culinary lessons and a love of a hot stove learned from his mother and service as an army chef. But the phrase, "Oh, dad is doing the turkey..." is only offered when the skin is crisped and the king picks up the knife:

** Of course, even though he didn't kill or cook it, the turkey does becomes dad's stage as soon as he starts to cut. **

Friday, November 16, 2007

Bunnies and Hops

Wisdom, luck or circumstance? Is there a process or a secret for a dad to know how and when to turn over his enterprise.

Hugh Hefner seems to have lucked out in turning Playboy over to daughter Christine. He gets to parade around with multiple girlfriends, make executive decisions about the magazine and she's rescued the company from economic doldrums and leveraged the brand throughout new media and old ( witness, if you can stomach it, The Girls Next Door" on E!).

On the other hand, a so-far-unnamed dad made the executive decision to turn the steering wheel over to his son. That he was drunk diminishes the Hallmarky aspects of this moment a bit. That his son is only 13 diminishes it a tad more. And, unfortunately, the fact that his son was drunk as well seemed to be the final monkey wrench for the solution of the enterprising pop.

** Would the fathers have made the same decisions if their situations were reversed and would the result have been the same? **

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Forget About It

It is true that People magazine named Matt Damon the "sexiest man alive 2007." And it is true that he responded, "You've given an ageing suburban dad the ego-boost of a lifetime!" But, honestly, he's a multimillionaire movie star. Where's the proof of his sexihoodidness?

The real sexiest man alive, at least in the daddy division, is John O'Connor, husband of former Supreme Court Justice's Sandra Day O'Connor. The couple's son John revealed that the 77-year-old Alzheimer sufferer and nursing home resident made ambrosia out of lemons, landed himself a girlfriend while maintaining good relations with his wife and son.

** Dad's overcome obstacles every day, but few so gloriously as J O'C. **

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Ol' (Pale) Blue Eyes

Wouldn't it be great to get a technological do-over to fix any problems between a father and son?

No one will ever answer that question better than 63-year-old Frank Sinatra Jr., never yet able to escape his legacy as son of Sr. "The Boy," having nightinggaled his way most recently on "That Face," isn't able to redo his whole life, but he is currently erasing the music from unreleased tapes, writing and recording new orchestrations and touching up anything errant of his father — like he probably wishes he could have done his whole life, for a new CD of his father's music.

** Damned if he takes advantage of dad's legacy and damned if he doesn't and damned if he doesn't live up to it and, damn it, it's impossible to do. **

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Run Daddy

For most people it is a never-in-a-lifetime opportunity. But when dad runs for president or even snags the office,where is the line between using, abusing or just having the kids perusing on the campaign trail? Current pops for prez John Edwards, Fred Thompson, Chris Dodd, Barack Obama all see things a little differently.

Perhaps surprisingly, this isn't a new issue. Long ago prez, Teddy "Bear" Roosevelt let his older sister raise daughter Alice for the first three years of her life, but got her back in time for the two of them to move into the White House when Alice was 17 and ready to serve, according to Alice Cordery's new bio, "Alice," as a roving ambassador worldwide on behalf of dad's vision.

[Earlier: Running for First Dad, Running for Home, Are Those Plastic Thingies in the White House Wall Sockets?]

** See dads. See dads run. See dads run after their kids. See most dads trip and fall. **

Is Too; Is Not; Is Too ...

Just five days left to the open call in LA for contestants — kids must be between eight and 13, dads breathing — for reality TV "genius" Mark Burnett's new show, "My Dad is Better than Your Dad." There's the promise of money, fame and fun galore, particularly if the writer's strike continues and nothing but reruns is its competition. It all reminds me of the one about three boys ....

** Inevitably in the Jerry Springerland that Burnett is currently mayor of, father's will brawl, kids will bawl and cameras will catch it all for some sort of public enthrall. **

Monday, November 12, 2007

Bad Jokes

Have you heard the one about the Hoosier dad who walks into a bar. Bartender says, "what'll you have?" Man says, "what you got?" Bartender says, "I have a tire iron for your head, you idiot. You left three kids in the car at 1:45 a.m. to come in here and get drunk."

What about the Maine EMT so desperate for business that he accidentally dropped a tree on one son and then ran over another with his pickup truck?

** Why again do we let people parent without a license when you need one in most places to paint nails? **

Veteran Secretkeepers

Every kid believes dad is a hero, but too few learn in time the secret truth of how or why that's true.

Teresa Irish of Saginaw, Mich., discovered her father's secret in his trunk after his death.

A month and a day following Aarol Irish's death his daughter lifted the lid of his "Army trunk" and found thousands of letters describing his soldiering experiences during WWII. He had promised his children that one day he would show and tell them about his baggage. The day, too late for him to tell, finally came and as proud as Irish is of her father — and even as she now knows what horror her father commemorated every year on April 9 — she still regrets she didn't get a chance to talk with him about this part of his life.

Charlie Watson's superpower secrets were kept in his lungs. Two years before cancer killed him — lung cancer traceable to the Army's "wheelbarrow-full" distribution of Camels and Luckies — he showed and explained the story of his Bronze medal and much else of his life to son Warren.

** If the child doesn't ask when the father wants to talk, both lose. **

Sunday, November 11, 2007


Memory can a large part of love. Today's objet d'eBay, commemorating one-time Armistice — now Veterans — Day, is the hat of a Michigan man who celebrated the memory of a child's World War I service.

What is often forgotten by the father who celebrates his child, is how the child will celebrate him after he is gone. For that, life's stories have to be shared. And an effort has to be made to be humble but open when asked questions like, "Which war did you fight in, Dad, the Civil War?" are asked by an 8-year-old (or any child) of her father who previously said little of his service in Vietnam.

** Every father's day is a battle, but not every battle should be treated like just another day at the office. **

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Norm Leaves Nine

It is hard to believe the late Norman Mailer had time to dad. Surely a man so immersed in Macho could find time to father, but dadding is different. It takes much more time and its success is not known for many years. But based on his children's willingness to collaborate with him, Mailer found time in a literary life to stab a wife, spar in and out of the ring, write novels and biographies, producing and writing films, and succeed as father to eight biological and one adopted children.

The two-time Pulitzer honoree leaves Susan from wife #1; artist Danielle and Elizabeth from #2; actress Kate Mailer from wife #3; sons producer michael and actor stephen from #4; Maggie Alexander from #5, to whom he was married one day; John Buffalo (with whom he published The Big Empty, 2005) and adopted son Matthew Noris from #6.

** Measure a man by his children. In this way, too, Mailer is larger than life. **

Friday, November 9, 2007

Hall of Fame Dad

SAHD of three Mark Messier enters hockey's hall of fame Monday, Nov. 12, missing being more of a part of the sport than occasional commentator and shill, but admitting, "being a dad has been the best part of the last three years." He also credits his father for his success. It is a SAHD day to celebrate from father Doug to son to children, Lyon, Douglas Paul and Jacqueline Jean.

** Ah yes, the slips and slides of fatherhood.**

Bush Love

As often as they are used for props, it is also true (particularly as they get older) that children can be political liabilities who sometimes have to be hidden — in the Alabama air national guard, for example. They can even [quietly] be political enemies. But no matter how much they don't listen or continue to screw up on a public stage, it doesn't mean that a father won't love them. As Bush 41 says about 43, "[He] has my full, unequivocal support ... That's a father caring about his son and his president."

** Does 41 let himself consider what would have happened if son Jeb rather than namesake George was 43? **

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Buffoondad's Real Life Legacy

There are still people who believe a dad can't (maybe even shouldn't) care about kids.

Not Greg Bishop. "I just love babies," says father-of-four Bishop, president of Trauma Care of America Inc and leader of daddy boot camps. "Some guys love dogs. I love babies. I think 18-month-old babies are the most wonderful things on the planet."

Buffoondad disagrees:

So Buffoondad is better off without his kid ... and the kid is likely better off as well. But not every dad is BD (maybe not any dad outside of those in or insanely influenced by cliche writers and spouters). Ask Bishop and the 160,000 men who have taken his classes if a man should know about a child he fathered but was never told about. Ask them if the child be better off?

Those and other questions are on trial in York, England, where a judge is ruling in a case prompted by a 19-year-old who hid her pregnancy and the birth before putting her child up for adoption. She argues the relationship between her and the man was casual.

** Odd and sad, but true. BD is actually PC — and BS. **

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Colbert Post-Mortem

Cate Edwards plans to stand shivering in the New Hampshire winter on behalf of the presidential campaign of her father, John. Would Madeline, Peter or John C have stood shivering in the warm South Carolina sunshine for their father, Stephen?

It seems doubtful. Perhaps that — the lack of commitment of his own children to their father's campaign — as much as any actual vote taken in his home state or even his threat to crush Georgia is what doomed Colbert's candidacy.

** No matter what it is, it's always about the father and his children. **

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Awful Man, Very Good Father

Once upon a time (to be honest it happens more often) there was a father who was "a crazy person" according to the son he groomed to be just like him. But, somehow the son came out normal (maybe even better than), the opposite of his father — if New York Times reporters who worked under father A.M. Rosenthal and son Andrew are to be believed. Someday quite the book about fatherhood will be written that fills in the details of father Rosenthal, "the ugly genius," and how he was still a great dad, as measured by the result.

** Distressingly, for years he wrote columns entitled "On My Mind." If anything useful was there, it never made it to the page. **

Vote Dad

There are tough choices on election day in the States. For example, should we vote for the father-of-one or the father-of-five, in-laws, who are contesting the Toledo (Ohio) Municipal Court Judge election?

But there are also some easy choices such as "whoever the opponent is." Which is who we'll pull the lever for in the case of the Anderson (Ind.) Fourth District Council Seat. Republican candidate Michelle Weatherspoon was arrested Saturday after pummeling police Sgt. Bill Casey, who is the father of her 1-year-old child. Apparently, a request for child support got somewhat out of hand. She is out of prison today allowing her to do the last minute campaigning.

Yes, politics matter. But being a father matters more. New York dyed-in-the-wool Republican Barry Goldberg explains why as he cheerleads for his daughter, Democrat Debra Marone, as she runs for town council.

** Cut the confusion from politics by analyzing the candidates position on daddyhood. **

Monday, November 5, 2007

Where's Your Daddy

Dads inspire dreams. Absent fathers inspire dreams sometimes heroic, but often sad.

The father who is not around can inspire your imagination and aspiration for the highest office. He can be the subject or object of your own drama. He (or his absence) can be the genesis for your quest to find yourself. Or he can be that missing piece many long for, the one that will bring eternal happiness into their life.

** By chance he may live up to them, but the stakes are higher for every dad than he will ever realize. **

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Ode to Heroes

"This was something that we had to do," said Ron Echtenacher Jr. about how he came to enter a burning house with his father (and co-fireman) Ron Echtenacher Sr. And it is with them in mind that we turn to this week's object d'eBay, a print of a poem and fire department insignia.

The poem itself, "A Firefighter's Dad," is a bit sappy. It begins, A Firefighter's Dad is in a class of his own/Like the king of a mountain or a king on his throne. And goes on to pronounce love in poetry that the child is unlikely ever to utter in real life. But there is something about fireman. They are childhood heroes we never outgrow, pretty much just like fathers.

** Other than on father's day it is pretty unusual to find an ode to dad in poetry. **

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Writing Pairs

Dads do good reading to their kids. But there is a special bond in writing with them as well, demonstrated most recently by an Ivy League pair, a son writing from a father's notes and a Catholic duo.

The Ivies are Wolff's, son John and father Rick. They have just released “Harvard Boys: A Father and Son’s Adventures in Minor League Baseball," These dispatches from the front of the son's minor league career (and a father's commentary) parallels the father's earlier memoir of his time, “What’s a Nice Harvard Boy Like You Doing in the Bushes?” Among the other bonding that went on was a building of distaste for Harvard baseball.

Far from distaste, father-daughter Robert Curoe and daughter Carol expected their new book, "Are There Closets in Heaven," to serve as something to help heal rifts in the Catholic Church. But, according to a report in The Star Tribune, that was not the case even in a local church.

Rather than bonding in the writing or reaction, Murray Tucker bonded with his late father Joe in the research for his just-released "Screamer: The Forgotten Voice of Pittsburgh Steelers." Joseph, of course, is the over exuberant voice in the title, the postscript answer to the trivia question of how many announcers have the Steeler's had.

** Reading to writing together. Not a bad father-child path. **

Friday, November 2, 2007

Girls Make Dad a Little Crazy

Overreacting dad or crazy dad? It depends on who you read.

The BBC reports Simon (no E) Green received five years for stabbing Lee Hooley. The latter had surprised a teenage party at his house and threw out the non-family members, including Green's two daughters. The daughters were enraged an when Green showed up he pulled a 10-inch kitchen knife from his pants and drove it into Hooley's neck.

However, the South Wales Echo has Simon (yes E) Greene stabbing two men (Hooley and grandfather Wilcox) who he believed had attacked his daughters.

** Someone's not quite on the cutting edge of journalism. **

New Movie Dads

Movie man John Cusack demonstrates that fiction is nicer with his latest, Martian Child. It is his third on-screen daddy role this year where the real-life bachelor plays a warm-every-potential-wife/mom's-heart concerned parent.

It is true that not every father created in the imagination is more wonderful than the ones of flesh and blood, but Cusack certainly comes off better than reclaimed bodybuilder Bill Friedman, a father who left his son behind soon after his birth, and the focus of the son's documentary, "The Bodybuilder and I." "The B&I" was a fave of those in Halifax, Nova Scotia in September, claiming the prize as best Canadian documentary at Hot Docs and the Atlantic Film Festival. But that doesn't mean the factional father is as favored as the fictional one.

** Not a good sign for a dad when real life is more bloodless than that seen in celluloid. **

Thursday, November 1, 2007

A Spirited Holiday

Celebrate the Day of the Dead with a haunting from a dad of the dead.

That, anyway, is apparently (sort of) the plan of Stuart Davis of Lower Brailes, Banburyshire. Begley and his wife moved into their house a little more than two years ago — one month after former owner Calvin Begley died. Suddenly, and for no apparent reason, Begley's father (who they will not name) takes possession of Davis' body while he sleeps and tries to kill him.

It is a bit suspicious to the outside observer that this only happens while he is asleep and that his wife is the only witness, allegedly seeing him trying to strangle, smother and mutilate himself in his sleep.

But never fear, the local housing office and a priest are on the case.

Happy DofTheD.

** Getting candy is for the kids; celebrating the dead before digging into the candy is for the dads. **