Monday, March 31, 2008

Tube Daddies

What should DadTV look like? A bit like mom channels Lifetime or Oxygen, only with beer company sponsored football 36 hours a day?

Apparently, to begin, it shouldn't be on television all day. Hence, the launch of InteractiveDad TV, a company peddling "dad relevant" product to local stations. Not just a PR launching pad (at least they don't admit to that), the station's raison d'etre and big selling point is that half of the men responding to a proprietary survey said they would change channels to watch dadnews. Hmmm?!

For stations who want to outsource their ratings bait for dads, IDTV will send out three dadcentric stories weekly along with:

  • on camera teases
  • electronic downloadable scripts for easy copy and pasting into archives or closed captioning
  • fully tracked, split channel pieces
  • custom outcues

Dads who don't watch or care about the local news are out of luck in seeing something of themselves on TV (or IDTV is out of luck in trying to appeal to them)? Probably not, there may not be much news, but the opportunity to measure yourself as a dad can still be had (at least via reruns) by competing from your couch with members of the TV Singles Dads Hall of Fame, or the Dreamy Dads of current TV, or the best and worst TV dads of all time.

Good luck.

** Ah the 50s dad, long gone, occasionally mourned. **

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Who Really Knew Dad?

Do you see your father the same way you did 10 years ago. Do your children have the same heroic impression of you they held last decade?

This week's objet d'eBay is a 1998 memoir by Reeve Lindbergh, daughter of legendary — although the legend was dimmed for many of the public by his Nazi leanings — American hero Charles Lindbergh. Her thoughts on her high-standards dad are offered in interesting parallel to an essay in her new collection, "Forward from Here," which includes an essay about how her life and thoughts have changed with the news that daddy Charles also happened to have a secret European family she never learned about until after both her father and mother had passed on.

** Perhaps dad's shouldn't have secrets, or maybe there should just be a law that kids can't learn them ... if they're ucomfortable ones? **

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Compare and Contrast ... discuss among yourselves

Same? Different? What does it matter? We'll only consider them together.

The metacommunication of — chubby blond, faux-hot ivy blogs about dad's campaign, the media and shoes — is, according to the AP, that a 71-year-old dad is not necessarily crotchety (12th graf), according to his 23-year-old daughter.

Will it get him votes? Her a date? Or, is it just a place to look for what she will grow into or what he once was?

Fathers and children rarely are considered as individuals. Their stories are told together whether it is how much of former steroid using Met Lenny Dykstra can be seen in son Cutter D. or how the Hershey Bears have a left wing, teen Chris Bourque, with skills remarkably reminiscent of a hall of Famer Ray, dad Ray.

And, ocassionally, it gets so confusing that you can't tell the father and child apart, as in the case of Nick and Bennet Berry, Okie landscape artists whose styles are merging to where they might soon be able to substitute for each other in shows.

But, always, the stories are not complete unless told together.

** Ever the dad-dude/dudette fusion. **

Friday, March 28, 2008

Rock the Baby

In an age when celebrity breeds celebrity — unfairly, paying more for mom curves than dad breeding — it is no surprise that baby rockers get a show based on daddy's success.

But what are we supposed to learn about the dads from MTV's "Rock the Cradle," 10 offspring rocking off against each other, debuting April 3? For WD purposes (and maybe others) we'll ignore the chances of rockette Chloe Lattanzi, daughter of Olivia Newton-John (a rock star?) as she is the only mother's child competing.

The focus will be on what we can learn about the daddy by watching scions

  • A'Keiba Burrell, daughter of rapper MC Hammer
  • Landon Brown, son of the troubled and troubling Bobby B
  • Lara Johnston, daughter of Doobie Tom Johnston
  • Crosby Loggins, highly pitched son of Kenny Loggins
  • Jesse Money, daughter of frat head Eddie M
  • Jesse Blaze Snider, son of Twisted Sisters Dee Snider
  • Lil B Sure, actually Albert J. Brown IV and son of Al B (actually AJB III)
  • Lucy Walsh, pianist to her daddy Eagle Joe Walsh's guitarist
Does this define music celebrity for today and music for tomorrow? Or, should the show also have included all the children of Conway Twitty, currently searching for a walking replica of dad for their planned touring musical tribute, "It's Only Make Believe." Or, maybe the Osbourne kids, Jack and Kelly, recently ABC newsed so they could complain about the pressures of being Ozzie's kids that left them no choice BUT TO DO DRUGS AND ABUSE THEMSELVES.

What do we learn about Ozzie from his kids admitting they screwed up? What do we learn about music dads when their kids aren't as talented, although one will win? Because surely at least at this point, we don't care about the kid, even if we don't really care that much about the dad any more, either.

** If he makes it hip enough, with or without talent his children will gravitate to a dad's world. **

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Powell Loses Out to Dylan

Somehow, a married dad morphs into Bob Dylan's Thin Man. No matter where you go, "you know something is happening, but you don't know what it is, do you, Mr. Jones?"

The latest evidence that a dad's sex consumption, for example, has become something sad for other people to consider comes from the Philippines, where the soon-to-be launched, no frontal-nudity Playboy will be marketed as a "dad's" (not lad's) mag. Playboy's Philippines' editor, father-of-four Beting Laygo Dolor, wants something he can show his mother — dads will be attracted by the articles ... and some semi-nude women.

It's Dylan's:

You walk into the room
With your pencil in your hand
You see somebody naked
And you say, "Who is that man?"

And your payoff, maybe, comes after your dead when your son hires a stripper to perform at your funeral.

Dylan's resume includes six children from two marriages (and, given the various confusions in his life maybe some others), including Jesse Byron , Anna Lea, Samuel Isaac Abraham, Jakob Luke, (step-daughter) Maria Lownds Dylan, and, from his second marriage, Desiree Gabrielle Dennis-Dylan.

Fathers may imagine themselves the William Powell Thin Man (although Powell is not actually Dashiell Hammett's "Thin Man")

but the facts are kids turn you into Dylan's instead.

** The dad you see in the mirror isn't the man other's see on the street. **

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Daddy Mommy

In our brave new world men no longer have to strap on an empathy belly and [temporarily] experience their own pregnancy. They can now go whole hog [sort of] and experience it all.


Thomas Beatie, smalltown Oregon's married and pregnant father, does offer in his personal narrative the small detail that he happens to be a not quite fully transgendered female. But as a preggers papa, he feels, "Incredible. Despite the fact that my belly is growing with a new life inside me, I am stable and confident being the man that I am. In a technical sense I see myself as my own surrogate, though my gender identity as male is constant. To [wife] Nancy, I am her husband carrying our child. I will be my daughter’s father, and Nancy will be her mother. We will be a family.”

At first it seemed this seemed a terrific solution to the drama of the absentee father. But then two thoughts. The first is that the presidential campaigners in the fall could owe their paths to absentee fathers — so maybe, and depending on the father and child, it is not always a bad thing — the second, the more obvious, having a baby doesn't keep moms from running away and leaving the child with the husband, or in this case Beatie's wife (the not mother).

** If dads startd giving birth, how long before humanity would naturally evolve to a one-sex species? **

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Daddy-Daughter (never dirty) Dancing

Could the daddy-daughter dance actually be an event without any father-son (or even any other daddy-daughter) parallel? We're not talking about the gay dad-professional dancer daughter team on Your Mama Don't Dance [12th paragraph] — that's a whole other and interesting discussion.

No, this is just about the femme tween celebration — usually in the service of some charity — of fathers and their daughters dressing to the nines, shuffling feet and getting in some early practice for the wedding dance. Maybe the bond could be likened to that of father-son hunting trips? Or, maybe not.

In any case, it is a very different synergy created between father and child from others, whether it is a father coaching his softball star daughter or powerlifting with his son. With the DDD there's likely a unique bond being built, memories of something special that will remain forever. But can anyone define what makes it more specialer?

** Perhaps there's the oddity of dance usually being more a part of the mating ritual rather than a family activity that gives the dad-daughter dance its asexual frisson? **

Monday, March 24, 2008

New Daddy Learnings

Most girls seem to pop from the magic V ready to start learning how to be moms. Thing 1 and 2 began early to play with dolls; have tea party klatches; they intelligently critique TV moms. Fortunately, except for the last they have pretty much put it behind them — at least with me.

But dads-to-be? They magically pop as well, but from immediately after to much later they are pretty much oblivious to the future and — via popular cliche — oblivious when they get there as well. Would the dadworld be better if there were an education path that led from dad preschool to Dad University.

What class should teach the choices one can make about continuing to smoke dope and drink alcohol during their wife's pregnancy. Would it be dad home ec when the fashion sense is gained that will keep them away from wearing the new daddy safari vest in "cool" orange and black and special pockets for #5 diapers? Yes, there are now daddy classes reaching down into the teen years, but students in those are already papas or well on their way.

Of course, maybe the secret is not getting boys to learn to be dads earlier, but getting girls to change their focus a bit. After all, one of those women who always dreamed about becoming Cinderella and a mom did power hose her daughter at a car wash. Maybe she just missed a day or two of mom classes.

** Nature's way? Hard to comprehend, sometimes. **

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Egging On Fathers and Sons

Tradition is a key to the story of fathers and sons. Today, the Holy Father &mdsh; who, ironically, won't have children — delivers the traditional Easter "Urbi et Orbi" in honor and celebration of the resurrection of Jesus, son of God.

Another part of the Easter tradition is remembered with today's objet d'eBay, a tchotchke in the style of the famous Faberge eggs. Those decorative huevos began life as a present from Tsar Alexander III to (his wife) Empress Maria, Easter 1885. The Easter gift giving tradition was followed by his son, Tsar Nicholas II ... until the 1917 revolution. And, since the revolution scattered the house of Faberge, the tradition of making such extravagances was carried on by Carl Faberge's son's — Eugène, Agathon, Alexander and Nicholas — as they set up the Faberge diaspora in Switzerland, Scandinavia, France, Britain and Brazil.

For years, the most prominent collector of the actual eggs was Malcolm Forbes. Upon his death and to pay off debts of the company whose assets they diminished, his sons sold off the collection and they returned to Russia from America.

** There is always tradition a father passes on to son. No, the tradition is not always good. **

Saturday, March 22, 2008

A Perfect Duet from Clarkville

Four perfect video minutes of father and son, although Alain Clark entitled it "Father and Friend."

"Every time I look at you I see myself ..."
"Someone so different is a soul like me ...
"You may have gone left when I would have gone right ... I'll always have your back ..."

There are other father and child duos — and even non-singing crazies like the the Florida tatoohead BeBees — and we'll get to them, but today we live in Clarkville.

** It's the joy together that becomes the joy shared. **

Friday, March 21, 2008

Not Forgive Exactly

Even though forgiveness is a central theme of the Easter celebration, it is perhaps still too much to ask that all father's be forgiven all their missteps. But it shouldn't be too much to ask that at least some be cut some slack ... at least for their childrens' sake.

So, maybe, if it wouldn't be too much trouble, could Jason Yaeger be carefully escorted out of minimum security federal prison for a few days — he is willing to double his sentence — so he can see his cancer-suffering daughter as is her dying wish?

And now that polygamist John Darger is being nationally outed by the success of his son, UNLV forward Joe, in the annual college basketball bacchanalia, lets consider that the crime he will be accused of is marrying without divorcing. By all accounts he is a good father to his brood of 17. And he appears to be a reasonable husband — if somewhat faithless by non-Mormon, traditional standards.

** And probably you know some as well ... feel free to spread the slack. **

Thursday, March 20, 2008


"This mountain stole my father," claims the steely-eyed 30-something. And so begins "The Hawk," described by its documentitians as "one man's journey to face his demons, come to terms with his father's tragic death and fulfill a family legacy that goes back ten generations. And that's all in the first three minutes."

"The Hawk" is the video that takes the sagacity out of saga. Much about it rings true, a son wants to honor his dad on the 25th anniversary of his death — "I
'm gonna finish what my dad started. But there are other moments such as when it is announced that if the narrator's ancestor, an American revolutionary war, "...hadn't built this board [snowboard prototype] we'd all be speaking British right now."

Did I mention that the five minutes honoring a father lost while snowboarding is a spoof honored by a snowboarding company hoping to encourage boarders to illegally travel down "ski-only" hills?

** Knock, knock. Who's there? Fathers inspiring [real] humor. **

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Dads' Creations

His story is almost too perfect to be true. It is the daddy (non-religous) version of the Trinity as Gary Moore writes (holy ghosts) a book about his father that when produced as a movie his son will star in.

"Playing with the Enemy" is Gary's father Gene's story as a ball player. The non-Cinderella saga is of his major league hopes and his time teaching baseball to secretly imprisoned German POWs — the Allies broke codes with the capture of them and their sub — so he could keep up his baseball chops until war's end. Oldest son Toby is set to star as his grandfather, no word yet on what roles his siblings Tara Beth and Travis will take in the project.

Also building something for his child of what others have left behind is Brigton pop Matthew Taylor, who (re)creates toys for 2-year-old daughter Elizabeth out of other's garbage. (Yes, this does border ever precariously on the cliche of the cheap daddy. ) Still, at least for now Elizabeth will do a bit of bragging to friends that, "Daddy made this for me."

Which is the exact opposite of Chris Stills' message. Not that it matters. An article in which the pop singer goes to great pains to separate himself and his career from his father, harmonic dazzler Stephen Stills, is entitled "Daddy's Little Rocker."

** Dad's are builders. Even when what they build is not always appreciated. **

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Father-of-three Abe Karpen gave up his (likely) one shot at Hollywood fame so his kids wouldn't be thrown out of school. Mysteriously, the Hassidic cabinet salesman was cast as husband for Natalie Portman in one of the 12 vignettes making up "New York I Love You."

He already said he wouldn't hold her hand in a scene from the movie because Hassidic husbands don't publicly hold their wifes' hands. Standing up for religion wasn't enough; it was important the father stand up for ignorance — The Daily News quoted "activist" Isaac Weinberger, "We don't watch television. We don't go to the movies, so to be in a movie is the worst thing. It's a shame for any Hasid."

Just wait until Weinberger hears that an Israeli family court confirmed
Giora Shavit and Avi Shadiv as the two legal fathers of their adopted son. Or about the program of Minister of Welfare and Social Services Isaac Herzog encouraging adoption by same-sex parents.

Probably not as important to Weinberger, but even more shocking to others, there is a movement (?) to let Fathers father.
University of Manchester professor Conrad Leyser claims that celibacy for priests was developed not for religious reasons but to keep the religious better under control (as if Fathers or fathers could ever get out of control). He writes that about 1000 years ago celibacy was imposed to keep the Fathers from siphoning church funds to wives (and lovers) and children ... and no doubt to keep them quiet about The Da Vinci Code conspiracy of Jewish carpenter (cabinet salesman?) daddy Jesus and his child with Mary Magdalene.

** Dads and sacrifices. Large. Small. Mysterious. **

Monday, March 17, 2008

War Daddy

It won't necessarily be fair, but John McCain will look bad. If he is elected president he will have to accept responsibility whether or not his sons fight in Iraq.

If they don't serve the Iraq rotation with their units — a la Prince Harry — his influence and integrity will be questioned. If they stay and fight, their presence (in theory, at least) causes the potential for greater harm to those around them. And as a dad he has to suffer the possibilities if they fight in a war that fighting alone is unlikely to end.

He served as his father did and brought great prestige home, although he survived horrific tortures to earn it. The fate awaiting a possible president's sons will be ...?

** Children often lose their fathers to war whether or not injury is involved. **

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Duck Daddy Sermon

You may not be reading this in church, but that doesn't mean you are missing the sermon. This week's objet d'eBay is accessorized with a moral.

The most obvious accompaniment to this Donald Duck cross-stitching pattern is that it is not so easy to be a duck dad — currently the city of Reykjavik, Iceland, cries out to ask if you are even man enough to try.

Surprisingly hard is probably true for whatever cross-stitching is and certainly for being or having a father. Hard times (written by father of one daughter and "American music" Stephen Foster) are many, dealing with a hard father can be, well, difficult.

Finally, sometimes being a dad is out-of-fashion, which is, of course, embodied by trying to peddle a Happy Father's Day anything when most dads are geared up to celebrate St. Patrick, a man for whom many miracles are claimed but never the actual hard work of raising his own child.

** It's the dad curse: turning even the most mundane into a teaching moment. **

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Qs&As with DoDads — Daddy Dialectic

Begun to give an online voice to the musings of then new dad Jeremy Adam Smith, the nearly 2-year old Daddy Dialectic evolved within months into a trans-American, but San Francisco Bay area predominant, collaboration of six intellectual and progressive dads.

They blog from the perspective of different life paths and having reared (at last count) a combined nine children while writing, editing, educating and publishing. Using real names and nom de blogs, DD offers the postings of Smith, and Chicago Pop , Chip, Tomas Moniz, Christopher Pepper and TrophyHusband (married to blogger DoctorMama and father of the blogged Hellboy). Blogging on DD and on their own, they write about relationships and the changing nature of parenting, more specifically, fatherhood — and how those identities should change further — in modern American culture. Smith (with Chicago Pop sitting in for a few questions) was kind enough to take time from real life to provide
insightfilled As for WD's much more mundane Qs.

WhinyDad: What was the biggest challenge to starting and continuing Daddy Dialectic?

Jeremy Adam Smith: The biggest challenge was translating my life into writing. I had been a writer for many years before I became a dad, but I mostly wrote about books, authors, and ideas for publications like The Nation, The Bay Guardian and the SF Chronicle. I was good at dissecting big ideas, but bad at dissecting my own (and other people's) feelings and experiences.

And yet when I became primary caregiver for my son, I found it to be really emotionally challenging, and I wanted to write about that as a way of trying to understand how I was changing. At the same time, I was fascinated by the social world of parenting and where I fit in as a caregiving father, and I wanted to understand the forces that shaped that world. I started researching the family — psychology, anthropology, history, biology, all of it. I used my experience to illuminate and guide the research, and I used the research to illuminate my life. I read during my son's naps; I read early in the morning, before he woke, and late at night, after he went to bed. I really put myself through several graduate-level courses in family studies.

I couldn't relate at all to the parenting magazines out there, but one day I did a Google search for "stay at home dad" and discovered this world of dad blogs, as well as smart, progressive mom blogs. I saw my life reflected in those, and I learned a lot. It took about a week for me to realize that I could start my own blog without too much trouble.

I tried to write when I got the time, in early-morning or late-night snatches. I discovered that blogging is really an ideal vehicle for writing when you're being constantly interrupted by a crying baby. My posts are still just a series of rough drafts; I think of the blog as a notebook. I've since turned many posts into magazine articles or integrated their ideas and information into my book. In the blog I try to be aggressive and adventurous and experimental. As a result, sometimes I am just wrong or off-beat — but I really try to listen to my reader's feedback. Some comments on the blog changed my ideas, or pointed me in new directions, or helped me to understand my life as a father better. I'm very grateful to my readers.

WD: Why and how did DD evolve from a lone blogger?

JAS: I wasn't seeing very many blogs out there trying to do the same thing I was trying to do at Daddy Dialectic — that is, writing thoughtful, introspective posts based on experience and evidence. I wanted a blog that tried to capture complexity and contradiction, intellect and emotion. I started to realize that were other dads out there who shared my sensibility and I thought that my blog might be a forum for different voices and get us talking to each other. Also, my role in my family was changing: my son got older and went to preschool, and I started work as managing editor of Greater Good magazine and I got a contract for my book Twenty-First-Century Dad. But I still wanted to keep that stay-at-home dad voice and continue to explore those issues, even as I moved on with my life and into a new stage of fatherhood.

And so I carefully sought out dads who might contribute. Some of them, like Chip, I found in the blogosphere; others, like Chicago Pop, I ran across in real life.

WD: Chicago Pop, recently you credited your dad with great philosophical wisdom when he said "it's fun" to have kids. Was that a guiding principle when you began blogging?

Chicago Pop: Not at all. I've only begun to realize how fun it is, and how right my father was.

WD: How much of your dad is in the blog?

CP: More than I even know. Being a parent is like going forward and backward in time, all at once. I am learning to be a father while remembering I was a child, and remembering my childhood father now that I am

WD: What have you written that you think might "horribly" embarrass your son years from now when he search engines it — or calls it up in whatever manner then exists?

CP: Nothing yet; once he hits puberty, everything; when he's 30, probably nothing

JAS: Tough to say. I've written about his imaginary friends; that might be embarrassing, but he also might think it's cool. Frankly, I hope he does read about my experiences as his caregiver, warts and all, because I want him to be a caregiver someday and I want him to be prepared for it. I've also written about how much I love him. That might embarrass him. Actually, I think Chicago Pop has the best answer to this question.

WD: Other than sometimes as subject, how does your child influence your writing?

JAS: He reminds me of my own fallibility. I try so hard to be a good parent, but I sometimes fail, and sometimes I feel so right about something but then later it turns out that I had it all completely wrong. It's important for a writer to remember that. Of course, you can come to believe too much in your own fallibility; I have to refrain from beating myself up all the time. You just have to do your best and hope for the best, but remember that you're not perfect and try to keep on learning. That sounds a bit like a cliché, but I think it's a good guideline for life.

WD: What is the most important thing you've learned about being a dad from
working on the site?

JAS: I've learned that I have a lot in common with other parents; I get this from real life, too, but you can go much deeper in writing than in casual conversation. Paradoxically, I've also learned in a deep way that parents are different, and different things work for different people.

WD: Daddy Dialectic seems more political than most SAHD or Dadbloggers. Do you think it is a fair assessment and was it a conscious choice when you began?

JAS: I've always been involved with politics and that didn't change when I became a parent … well, I did become less politically involved, but my values didn't change. To me, parenting intersects with every sphere of life, including politics. Nobody parents in a vacuum. It's a social activity, and our choices are shaped by economic and political forces. Take, for example, parental leave: many dads aren't able to take time off after the birth of their child, they have to go right back to work. This hurts their relationship with the mother as well with as the kids. Parental leave for fathers is a political issue, because employers and their allies in Congress have battled against it tooth and nail for decades.

So if we want men to be better, more involved fathers, we need parental leave and we also need more flexible workplace policies for both men and women. Some people claim that dads won't take leave even when it's offered, but we know when it's been offered in places like Germany and Sweden men have indeed taken it and gotten more involved with their families. These changes didn't happen overnight. Public policy has to change, but so has the culture of the workplace and the way couples relate to each other, and the way extended families relate to couples. When bosses take leave, so will employees. When grandparents and aunts and uncles are supportive of dad's involvement, dads will be more involved.

Right now, the pressure goes the other way, to make more money. Until that changes, fear and anxiety will drive the choices that fathers make, and they bring that home with them. I want every father, both caregivers and breadwinners, to stand up together and for government and workplaces to recognize the essential role they play for their children and the mothers. I think this is a fight for both moms and dads together, not apart.

WD: Which are the two or three most interesting dadblogs ... other than yours?

JAS: I like Rebeldad for its consistent coverage of fatherhood issues, and I think Brian Reid of Rebeldad has done an excellent job as a guest blogger at On Balance, the Washington Post parenting blog. I love Lesbian Dad and Doodaddy for being so honest and real. I also really enjoy Rice Daddies. Equally Shared Parenting also has a lot of useful things to say, and Evolution of a Dad is probably the closest blog out there to Daddy Dialectic's sensibility.

It's not a blog and it's not for dads, but I've always thought Mothers Movement Online has really smart coverage of parenting issues. I think dads can learn a lot from reading it.

I should also note that the Center for Law and Social Policy and the Council on Contemporary Families both do really important research and outreach.

That's more than two or three, I'm afraid. I could list even more.

WD: A few words on how you'll continue to cure the planet of evil?

JAS: There's a huge gap between public policy and the way people live in this country. Policy is designed to support suburban heterosexual male-breadwinner, female-homemaker families. But families today are very diverse. Most moms work; there are stay-at-home dads and highly involved fathers. There are gay and lesbian families. The divorce rate is falling, but it's still high and still a part of the landscape, and so are step families. And many people today have children without ever getting married. As the historian Stephanie Coontz once pointed out to me, policy needs to help these families to leverage their strengths and minimize their weaknesses.

I think MomsRising deserves a lot of support, though they do not recognize the stake dads have in their issues. They say they do, but I don't think they really get it. I know they started a companion project for all parents, but to me it feels like a token effort — sort of like those "parenting" magazines that are written from a mom's POV but toss in an occasional article designed to appeal to some stereotypical dad: the articles assume dad is an idiot who can't cook and doesn't know how to do the laundry, but here's a few helpful tips on how to manage the big lug. Well, not every dad is like that, and many dads have a strong interest and stake in the issues championed by MomsRising.

Still, I agree with every change they are advocating for, and, of course, it's true that dads have not started a parallel organization of their own — not one that's claimed wide support, anyway.

Fathers, I think, are more prone to wrestle with these issues on an individual level, or they are more likely to work on these issues through larger organizations like labor unions. The advocacy language needs to be crafted to appeal to a sense of self-reliance. It also needs to come from a position of respect for fatherhood and assume that fathers are looking out for their families instead of their social dominance as men. In other words, you have to appeal to their better natures and provide some hope, not beat them over the head with the manifold failures of mankind. I think an advocacy organization for fathers will need to recognize this, if it to be successful. I wish the Democratic Party was more progressive on families. They're really not. They don't want to offend constituencies that think things went downhill after the 1950s.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Fathered a Child

If search engines are to be believed, nobody has ever "fathered a child" with the woman to whom he was married. Children fathered, seem always to be born out of wedlock — or at least the lock isn't around the man and woman who are father and mother.

In any case, Dinosaur rapper LL Cool J (whose own daddy-figures were remembered on "Father") recommends that any boys fathered in such a way, or who just find themselves in such a position, go get a father. No advice yet for Angel Iris or father Eddie, who reportedly won't see her because he was tricked into "fathering a child." [Earlier: "Back in the Day"]

** Murphy's Law. Not applicable. **

Dad, It's Me

New York's incoming governor did exactly what he should have ... and his dad did too.

While Spitzer burned, David Paterson called his dad. Father Basil, a former secretary of state and current legal eagle, began marshaling statewide resources and contacts as part of the transition and his son, the blind man, will be set gloriously free — no doubt for too short a honeymoon — from the prison of a lieutenant governorship.

** Dad shouldn't sit in the office, but always be ready on the other side of the phone. **

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Unhappy Should't Mean Insane

A Yorkie dad stabbed his teenage daughter 13 or so times and killed his 4-year-old son in order to get back at his wife for her affair. That he then went to have a pint and calm himself doesn't even seem that much more crazy.

That one man pushed the needle past the red zone on the father-insanity-meter may offer some perspective to the "how stupid could he be" questions circling ex-NY love guv Spitzer [Earlier: "Eliot...Eliot...Eliot; Tsk...Tsk...Tsk"] as we watch his political career swirl down the drain. And his marriage? And his relationship with his daughters? Will his story be worth learning from?

What about those of other (once-) unhappy dads?

Mitch Winehouse's affair is now being trumpeted as a key influence in daughter Amy's music, although it did not do much for their relationship and can certainly be blamed, fair or not, for some (heck, let's go for all) the self-destructive parts of her life.

And it is probably good for all their cartoon-like careers that father Hulk "Hogan Knows Best" had an end of marriage affair with his daughter's best friend — she's 33 and on the prowl for some celebrity of her own.

If only the father really could be a (not holy, but not profane, either) trinity. Then he could do best for himself, best for his children and, if married, best for his husbandrying.

** Original sin? Fathers, like everyone, have to overcome original idiocy. **

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Let's Talk About Er, Umm, Well, Uhh... (sex, shhhh!)

One in four ... 3.2 million?

Eight hundred and change girls were tested and the CDC announced that 25 percent of teen American females have a sexually transmitted disease. Not Thing 1 or 2, of course. Never them. Of course. At least not any more than the son of the religious guy in Anderson, S.C.

Still, we have to talk about "the talk." Except what will work since templates-to-fail surely include the "birds and the bees" (bestial miscegenation is a help?) or abstinence (and how does the species continue?); or it only belongs in a loving marriage (lol, from their divorced dad).

Sure hope honesty and luck don't fail and I don't look really stupid.

** Or maybe there is no way for kids not to think dads aren't stupid when it comes to sex. **

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Eliot ... Eliot ... Eliot; Tsk ... Tsk ... Tsk.

Is Eliot going to ask Elyssa, Sarabeth or Jenna Spitzer what they think he should do?

The father of the three teens, who happens to also be the puritanical New York governor got himself into a smack of trouble by frequenting Kristen, a high priced and hard-working — if rumors (and FBI wiretaps) be true — "lady of leisure." (Where does her father stand on the political spectrum and is he proud or not that she brought down a supposedly stalwart Democrat?)

If he has been a good father wouldn't they be able to give him good advice? Should Spitzer's daughters ask "pimped out" Chelsea what she advises father Bill? Could this all have just been research? Spitzer's inquiry into his daughters's future while spending time with an hourly charge of $4300 — try matching that as a lawyer or banker.

** Maybe there is a case to be made that he was acting the concerned dad? Readying the giggles we look forward to hearing it. **

Monday, March 10, 2008

Change, Two Dads At a Time

The stereotypical dad is the slob who never shows his kids love, only life's hard knocks and the little lessons of physical and business until his life's final reel. Then, weepy eyed he and kinder close the circle of life: lessons are passed on and human love is confirmed.

If we believe this stereotype, is it absurd to think that the gay father might be the better dad? Might he be so in touch with his inner mom, that his child doesn't have to await his taking those final steps from death's anteroom (cf: Florida, et al.)? Or are stereotypes just a useful shorthand in popular culture media such as books, tv and movies that save time on character development so we can move on to plot or laugh lines?

Intriguingly, mediaspeaking, the two Cambridge, Mass., effetes who become dads (think La Cage aux Folles/Birdcage) in Michael Downing's novel Breakfast with Scot aren't really in a butch enough situation to make the transition to the silver screen. We now have Downing's novel adapted for screen and possibly (?) only for Canadian audiences, becoming "the gay hockey movie." There's a ex-hockey enforcer and lawyer and since the NHL had to approve the script and use of logos perhaps even an interesting look at a marketing decision of how to increase the popularity of a sport not so big below the 48th parallel or how to build interest in a niche subject (gay dads) above it.

** Can a dad make a son gay or is that women's work ... or perhaps fated by powers beyond human control?

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Crazy Monkey

Crazy Monkey could entitle the story of many a dad's day. It is instead — at least for today — the name of the movie advertised by this week's objet d'eBay, a poster featuring martial artist Jackie Chan.

Chan is father of pop actor Jacyee and (probably) a daughter out of marriage — rumors do abound. Most recently, however, he has been in the news mourning the death of his father.

** Who is the grandmaster of paternal arts? **

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Fathers With and Against Daughters

Gender matters. It doesn't (wo)mandate results between father and child. But it complicates a father's thinking — he can't just assume he knows his child because OBVIOUSLY boys aren't girls. In general the end results are the same. Sometimes dads and daughters achieve great things together, sometimes they have unknown influences on each other and, very occasionally, they just don't mesh.

In the first category are Bill and Sara McGahan. He's approaching 50 and she's can't legally drive, but, having conquered Mount Kilimanjaro together, they have jointly set their sights on Mount Ranier. "I love my dad," said Sara. "He's really funny and I was glad I took the climb with him." Six or seven others are still to come.

Not that you can blame gender complication, but it is necessary to remember that not all good influences bring positive results. Consider, alas again, Dwayne Johnson (who says he doesn't want to be that cartoon character, The Rock, anymore.) Plugging his latest movie [see: "Rock of Ages"] he explains the effect of his daughter on him, "I was very selfish. I’d only take care of me. It wasn’t until my daughter was born that I realised – and this happens to a lot of us when we have children – what being selfless is all about.” The result is, apparently, going to be bad movies — sort of Schwarzeneggering, moving from action hero to comedic (?) movie fish out of water and then to wherever that might lead a very changed father.

The Yang to Johnson's Yin is former Puteaux (France) mayor Charles Ceccaldi-Raynaud. The 82-year-old is in a contentious election contest with the current mayor, a 58-year-old who accuses him of being senile, mendacious, jealous and misguided. He refers to her, his daughter Joëlle Ceccaldi-Raynaud, of stupidity, wild spending and "psychotic" behaviour. Oh, and they're both under investigation for corruption.

** The McGahans and Johnsons are nice, but I look forward to the DVD of this father-daughter so I can settle down with dinner and Things 1 and 2 for either "teaching moment" or just a bunch of laughs at their expense. **

Friday, March 7, 2008

Big Daddy, Crazy Daddy

Your child's story is their own, except that it's yours. Nobody offers that insight better than Tennessee Williams the gay son of an abusive father.

Born Thomas Lanier Williams in Mississippi, the childless playwright dissected the father-son synergy in what is often a throwaway subplot of "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof." (Currently on Broadway with James Earl Jones as the Big Daddy every actor in the part has been measured against even without knowing.) While the drama is usually billed as a star turn for Maggie, the unsatisfied wife of ex-football star Brick. But in every production whether she shines and Brick's failure comes across as pathos not bathos depends on the the success of the actor playing Brick's father, Big Daddy.

More often, writers just have dads coming along for the ride in their child's life, as does Steve Tolz. In "A Fraction of the Whole," he provides a round-the-world romp where a son in rebelling against the world as he finds it tries to both embrace and repulse his crazy father.

** Is there a certain imitative effect on fathers from experiencing art imitating life? **

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Bad Dad Better, Says AP

It's absolutely a petty point, but WD would be the accursed slacker dad if it were not pointed out that the AP's "Dads Aren't the Slackers They Used to Be" headlines an article that conflates housework and quantity (not quality) of time with kids with fatherhood.

The article's buried lede is that doing things (usually) more important to women gets a man more coupling ;-), ;-) ...[What's the emoticon for gagging?]

** Being a dad isn't divorced from making a woman happy, but it isn't always married to it either. **

Fun Knee

Fathers are funny. Kids are funny. But each in his (or her, kid that is) own way. And while much gets passed or taken from father to sun, it is hard to know how comedic viewpoint and performance gets passed along.

So, Slim (grandfather) DeGray apparently "killed" in a WWII POW camp. Calvin (son/father) is reported to have done some Australian television, stand-up and corporate work. And now comes Asher who describes his banana peel moment as, " "One day it just sort of clicked and I thought, 'I'm going to try this - why not?' " His chances of making a living? Obviously, dad just laughs them off.

But he shouldn't let that stand in his way. After all, Pauli Shore hasn't let his lack of funny ruin a career — a poorly staged fake heckler punch is comedic?

Shore has still managed to make a living and date well thanks to being the son of Sammy Shore, who started LA's Comedy Store, which he lost in divorce to wife/mother Mitzi. Now, the two are appearing together ... in Vegas and in chronological order

Sometimes it takes an outsider to divine the humor between father and son. Like Mark Day on Keith and Bert Richards [Earlier: Fifth Commandment].

** BTW, attitude is not intentionally funny, as amply demonstrated by late William Buckley and son Christopher. **

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Mr. (Mis)Understood, (Under)Appreciated

Huskie professor and one-time single dad Ronald Rohner (also head of the Rohner Center at the University of Connecticut) is best known for espousing research from his findings that dad's are misunderstood and underappreciated: "What we find surprising and new is that a father's love is turning out to be just as important as, and sometimes more important than, a mother's love."

Surprisingly, the world apparently needed an egghead anthropologist to let us know. Well, some of us anyway. David Shields, author of The Thing About Life Is That One Day You'll Be Dead, who has been trying to best his dad from early in his life to late very late, in his father Milton's is pretty well aware of the importance, even if he makes clear in his tale that he isn't so happy about it.

But as miserable as he is he's still more gleeful — and significantly better adjusted — than the anonymous man from Girona (Spain) who reportedly spent four months living with DODD ... dear old (decomposing) dad. Naturally, he was a quiet señor whose neighbor described him as, ""introverted, but normal and very attentive to his father."

** A father's in your life and always in your head ... for good and bad. **

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Pity the Fairy Tale Man

Who is the male Jennifer Aniston (not that the JA portrayed in gossips is really her either)? Where is the beautiful, talented, wealthy man who somehow can't find his own Mother-to-Be?

Which neo-post-sensitive XY-chromosomed sapient homo sapian is heartbroken in his search for his soul mate and father to his children and so stands in for all us less blessed losers? Where is this father-to-be having his sperm frozen until he meet the mother of the eggs made just for him — or until he finally gives up his quest and goes to the egg bank (chick coop?)? Is he (or maybe them) somewhere out there beyond the grasp of even blogging or vlogging celebrity? Has he been scared off by a media much happier to cover 21-year-old sirer or seven Keith McDonald? Is it just a matter of economics — and, really, what isn't? — and for some reason stud fees are important and mare fees aren't. (Even when stud fees aren't worth it.)

Can't find him? It really isn't any wonder that Bachelor Father — the fairy (not this serial dater) tale of a wealthy Hollywood lawyer's search for his MTB — meandered on ABC, CBS and NBC without making too much of an impression.

** Why no male JA? Societal prejudice. Alas. Weep. Whimper. **

Monday, March 3, 2008

Soul Men

Is the path replicable? Or, was it just dreaming big and or outrageous good fortune that caused the angels to kiss the heads of fathers Earl Woods and Richard Williams.

Retired Army officer and golf fan Earl of course, was the brain caddy for son Tiger. "He taught me so many life lessons on the golf course that I use every day," says The Golfinator.

Coach Richard, on the other hand, is that quintessential riddle wrapped in mystery inside an enigma. Nobody has yet gotten to the heart of his vision, that he and his wife should have two more daughters and that he, having only recently taken up tennis, would make them tennis champions. As he told reporters while at his daughter's tournament in India, "“I am a master planner and I believe that if you have a proper plan you can do what you want. I knew what road my daughters had to take and in the kind of place I come from, there was a bit of a struggle but I always look at the hard times as easy times." Which he can say now, but what if it hadn't worked out?

Not that doubts ever seem to enter into such discussions with some driven dads. For example, Robert Howard is positive his daughters, Ginger and Robbi, will be the Venus and Serena of golf; 50 or so YouTube videos demonstrate the prodigal talents of 3-,4- and 5-year-old club swingers; and Scott Silva picked moved the family from California to France to follow a coach so 6-year-old Jan, who somehow can't yet tie his shoelaces, could pursue dad's (?) dream.

Maybe it will work out for all the dads and kids. Maybe there was nothing unique about the success of Richard and Earl. Or maybe Williams and Woods sold their soul to the devil? Because, for love or maybe fame, there isn't anything a father wouldn't do.

** He didn't give birth to the child, only the dream. **

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Monkee Man

Most fathers may pine for the past, but few would wish to never be allowed to grow up. But "They Made a Monkee out of Me" author and lead singer Davy Jones is, like this week's objet d'eBay forever cast as a plastic creature. — in this case as a 2002 toy caricaturing him as part of a TV band pulled off the air in 1968 that ended in most other incarnations at some point during the 1970s.

To the public he has never been able to grow up, despite fathering four daughters and alimonying two wives. Which doesn't make him any less a daddy's boy:

** Every dad is a caricature, but, obviously, some more than others. **

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Daddy Big Bucks

Part of the dadjob is presenting bad news in a good light and casting a shadow o'er the good so your kid's head doesn't inflate too grandly — carrying him/her skyward where as we learn from the tale of Daedalus and son Icarus a crash is inevitable.

So, as financial markets roil, it is interesting to consider Papa Money, Warren Buffet, who has just released his 2007 Berkshire Hathaway shareholder recap. He coats some bad news with honey, suggests outsize investments are unlikely to bubble forever, and generally seems the sort of man who can somehow turn out two boys and a girl (Peter, Howard and Susie) who pursue their own muse, but still can be counted on to help their father with what he considers important (now, in his later years, philanthropy).

** Never the money, always the man. **