Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Daughter Trifecta

Sweet, separated and torn apart are much of what a father goes through with his daughters.

But what are cliches without extremes?

So, for today, let's consider Dan and Amy Trieber who became the first daddy-daughter duo to achieve the magic 100 milestone at Upland Indiana's Ivanhoe Drive In. In just over three years, beginning when Amy was 9 in March, 2005, the two bonded over milkshakes made from all 100 ice cream flavors.

And for separated consider border dad, U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama whose intermittent home drop-ins during the campaign marathon are much more appreciated than what he is doing the other time. It is "boring," according to daughters Malia Ann and Natasha.

Finally, while it is usually emotions that are torn apart, Brighton's Steve Don, thinking himself an unfit parent because he couldn't get his older daughter into the school of her choice, took a dive under an oncoming train. And his daughter did get in, although he didn't believe the phone call he received with the news shortly before his last ditch effort to achieve something (?).

** Daughters: interested in the sweet life; hard to impress; and enough to drive you crazy. **

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Off the Page

Less material? Simply other material?

What will be the fate of fodder for memoir and fiction — although in the case of Augusten Burroughs' and particularly his latest, A Wolf at the Table, it is probably both. Burroughs had a horrible childhood made glorious career thanks to a damnable dad. But there exists the possibility that there is no future in such a career.

No future fathers is the hypothesis of Bryan Sykes, who suggests in Adam's Curse that men could well become the spleen of procreation — something that once had a purpose evolution and science have "overcome."

The collateral damage to the father-child writer legacy (neither necessarily good nor bad) will include those such as Dmitri Nabokov, who believes his father Vladimir would want The Original of Laura published, even though the literary canon icon said he didn't. [Earlier: Advise and Content]

And it will preclude future father and son teams like the Van Ripers, Gary and Justin, who research and write a series (now up to eight) of adventure stories for kids 9-12 that began with The Adirondack Kids. Two guys pursuing and recapturing the father child bond on the page that will be lost when men have nothing to do at home but channel surf, quaff and scratch.

** Without procreative participation all men will be "uncles," not a bad job but certainly not the same one. **

Monday, April 28, 2008

Leadfeet and Another Appendage

Unfortunately, dads can really race time and win. But racing is still about dreaming of eternal speed and dreams of father and child do tie the two together.

So, it's nice to report that while Ashley Force sped past her dad John again, this time she did so in the finals in Atlanta and claimed her first funny car title and making her dad the world's happiest loser. [Earlier: Car Culture]

Force may be the only female outgunning dad on a speedway, but she is hardly the only one whose attempts to follow her father's leadfootsteps is being chronicled. The New York Times just chronicled Nico Rosberg, Nelson Piquet Jr. and Kazuki Nakajima, three sons of Formula 1 fathers who shadows no longer reach quite where their sons now stand. As Piquet describes it, "... I prefer to keep a distance [from dad's world championship legacy] and just do my job. The circuit for us is our office, and nobody brings parents to the office."

Alas, not all dreams do come true and so while on the subject of racing, it is probably also relevant to note that 64-year-old Hollywood stuntman Stan Barrett recently was a tad too slow to race for his son's team, although he hopes to do a bit better by the sire soon.

A bit better, however, is not in the mind, or perhaps loins or plans, of War Emblem, father but not father enough. So far he is the $55 million dollar loss stud. Seventy foals and no "liquid gold" since 2006. Surrounded as he is now by mares, perhaps he just wants to husband more than father?

** Fathers and children are best as a relay team, passing the baton, than simply having the latter focused on eventually catching and passing the former. **

Friday, April 18, 2008

People, Not Just Places

They (the omniscient "them") say that there are two sides to every story. But the tales of dads are polyhedrons — a shoutout to Thing 2 who is now mathing them at school.

So when the Country Music Hall of Fame wanted to celebrate his father as a way to bring in a bit more tourist business, Hank Williams Jr. became a hard son to romance. His dad's musical legacy claimed many children, but his biological offspring were left with some more difficult issues to deal with in life. [Earlier: Embrace, Escape, Repeat]

But the study of one father's family tree was grown in Nashville and "Family Tradition: The Williams Family Legacy," will be available for vacationers and others through December 2009.

Not that every vacation has to go somewhere to be joyfilled. Some vacations can be ecstatic celebrations of simple love, as when Ohio's Andre Sanders took his place among fathers with their children when he took a vacation day to build a Rain Gutter Regatta sloop with daughter Andrea.

** And now Things 1, 2 and Me are off. **

Thursday, April 17, 2008


Suppose they actually gave out capes and tights to dads so they could dress up to match their role as their son or daughter's hero?

The clothes would not make the man. Not like actions and living the life. So, while Pope Benedict VXI is the idol of many, the adulation might be better aimed at (or at least shared more equitably with) his father, Joseph Ratzinger Sr. who put much at risk for many years by expressing anti-Nazi sentiments during that group's rise to power.

And what else can be said about Gary Thompson, a 51-year-old father of five daughters, who left reserve service to set an example by service in Afghanistan. And who paid for that choice by losing earthly contact with his children. It is highly unlikely, of course, that he will have inspired papal dreams in his girls, but where they go, what they do, will surely reflect a hero's legacy.

** It's all about balancing the secret identify of ordinary working stiff with the superhero actions that determines a dad's legacy. **

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Gay ... Gaye ... Gay?

If Mariela Castro is successful, then it will be safer for a gay son or daughter in Cuba. She is the 45-year-old wild child of current Cuban President Raoul.

A mother of three with two different fathers she has dad behind her (albeit cautioning her to move slowly): "I've seen changes in my father since I was a child. I saw him as macho and homophobic. But as I have grown and changed as a person, so I have seen him change."

Not that legislation will change people's minds immediately. Either you accept your gay child, as British conservative MP Derek Conway does, or you work on it. Of course, even if you say you accept your child's sexuality there might be prejudices that sneak in. And Conway, who was suspended from the House of Commons for steering £50,000 of taxpayer's money to son Frederick, had sent the same sort of money to his older son Henry, as well. Henry, who is gay, only received £32,000 out of public coffers.

Nobody was punished for that, but the gossip sheets have now fixated on the elder son's sexuality. Not that it ruffles father Conway: "It is complete rubbish. These homophobic clowns think every gay wants to be a woman. ...Why should he be pilloried for being gay? He's my son."

And Gay Lindberg is his father's son. His father, who named him Darryl Gay (after Toronto Maple Leaf Great Gaye Stewart) echoes the steps of the father's above. There are sometimes mistakes, but checking with the children you love does cause things to eventually work out.

** Comic with the Gay/Gaye naming, there is always something of the father in the essence of the child. **

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Words of Wondering

Do you "father" or "parent?" Either; neither; both ... and when?

What exactly is the difference between fathering and parenting other than the former is often used to mean creating a sperm-egg interaction that results in life?

Perhaps that is the question with which to test your expert, the one you hope will shepherd you down the perilous road of rearing junior. And experts there are aplenty, from the religious (such as the Mormon-run seminars) to the bloggers (like the Wall Street Journal's John J. Edwards III) to those who decry all the parenting/fathering advice as they offer more.

Case in point is Carl Honoré, author of Under Pressure. The best part of learning from him — perhaps suggesting he actually could explain the nuances of the parenting-fathering question — is his sensitivity to words. His favorite term for the people who take over their children's life as if it were their own is the Scandinavian, "curling parent," someone who sweeps the ice in front of little Johnny and/or Janey.

** Did you ever pause to consider if the specific interaction with your kid was fathering or parenting? Or both? Or neither? **

Monday, April 14, 2008

Day's Doubles

Dad news today is all about doubling: beds, dates, twins and even beds.

First, Britain's Fatherhood Institute issued a report encouraging hospital policy changes to allow couples giving birth to book a double so the new dad can overnight in the hospital bonding with and learning about his new child.

Next, up is the just published Assisted Loving: True Tales of Double Dating with My Dad. What did the gay author, Bob Morris, learn about hanging with his widowed Pa? His dad shared wisdom many dads teach their kids — although not always in such circumstances — that good is usually better than perfect.

Then comes news of the 59-year-old new dad, whose 56-year-old wife has given birth to twins after their combined 35 years of marriage (together, even). Obviously, life has gotten harder, but Qassem Sukkarieh says nothing could be hard enough: "When I get into the house, tired or even exhausted, and hear one of the babies crying, I forget all my fatigue and smile .... I have waited for these moments for years."

And, finally, there is word of a son who may be following his dad into space. Krosh was in a 1992 Soviet space ship and now one of his sons have joined with 39 others being considered for a possible Mars landing. Oh, did I mention father and son are macaques?

** Gentlemen, you have two of them. Use them! **

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Ho, Children

How many children will be sipping a Mai Tai tomorrow in honor of their father, Hawaiian entertainment icon Don Ho, as they commemorate the one-year anniversary of his passing on April 14, 2007?

Whatever the number is, this week's objet d'eBay, three Polynesian Palace (Waikiki Hotel) glasses, would allow other fans of Mr. Hawaii to toast in style his 76 years creating a myth of the 50th state for mainlanders.

As for his children, the official number is 10, and their memories and tributes to their father are distinct and moving, but there are rumors of many more.

In fact, he is such a hip, fatherly figure, perhaps everybody should claim him. Aloha.

** Spread the tiny bubbles of love around. **

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Manifest Destiny

Illness, struggle, comedy and the inexplicable. Such are the manifestations of the dad life.

Robert Schimmel, who asked his dad to kill him, has the wisdom of that man to thank for getting on with his life. Comedian Schimmel was lying in bed with Non-Hodgkins lymphoma that made him feel like his "bones were breaking from the inside out." He asked his father to do him in and, instead, his dad went and got two of Schimmel's kids and said, "tell them what you just told me." So life goes on and recovery included new material in a book, Cancer on $5 a Day.

Another father-of-three now relying on his own father is Client #9, Eliot Spitzer, who has stepped back from the scandal that ended his tenure as NY guv. [Earlier: Eliot ... Eliot ... Eliot; Tsk ... Tsk ... Tsk] Now he's running his father's $500 million real estate empire as his dad convalesces with Parkinsons in a NY hospital.

On the other hand, suffering from a hitherto unnamed malady is celeb dad Charlie Sheen, father already of daughters Sam and Lola and soon — although incapable so far of a committed relationship — to whatever and whoever might someday be formed from within the swell of girlfriend Brooke's belly. A tale also rife with struggle, comedy and inexplicable.

** Comedic suffering or suffering comedy. Which better describes the pop? **

Friday, April 11, 2008

Losing Your Religion

Kids lose when dads and moms feel so strongly and differently about religion — or are just so angry with each other — that they can't find a place for agreement.

So, it is that eighth-grader Michael Ryan will be Exhibit A in court over whether his atheist father or strict Catholic mom will hold sway over whether or not he attends Louisville's St. Xavier High.

And after having lived two-and-a-half years with his mother in an ultraorthodox Jewish community in Israel, an eight year is on his way back to Belgium to live with dad because, mom ... like ...well, she sort of ... the facts as decided by the Israeli Supreme Court are that she stole him and has been ordered to give him back to his Christian father. Vincent Georis did invite his wife to be a part of their son's life; we'll see how that works out.

But agreeing on religion may not be best for the child either. Although it must always be problematic if you and your wife have given birth to a god. Indian farmer
Vinod and wife Sushma Sing have been blessed with their first child, two-faced (no, really) daughter Lali Their problem (Lali's dilemma) is whether or not to impose modern medicine on a child being celebrated as a deity. If it turns out she is mortal, her condition is associated with a host of medical issues. But what should a father decide if his child might not just be his little angel but, in fact, an actual god?

** Pray for the wisdom and strength of all fathers. **

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Bad Dad Report

And then there are the loser dads.

Yes, yes, every father faces that moment (or what might feel like an endless stream) of being upbraided by the being he'd give all for with "you're sooooo stuupid!" or "you're sooo annoyyingg!" And that might be true — although from the occasions and accusations hurled by Things 1 and 2 I doubt it — but every admonished dad takes comfort in the knowledge that if only the kids knew what I knew; if only they knew what loser dads really were, then they would be significantly less quick to epithetize.

So, for dads who may be facing one of those kid inspired lowpoints, a few real loser dads to toss back in your child's mug.

Father of two "Dopey" Lee Bartholomew stole around $1500 in cash and items (vibrators, lubricants, DVDs, accessories and other miscellany) from the shop where he worked. Although he dropped the store's monthly take by about 95 percent over the average, he claimed to his bosses that it was everyone watching soccer on television that had soured the sales. Not surprisingly, the bosses concerns were not allayed and he'll be waving to the kids behind the bars.

Which some might say is also where Belgium's King Al belongs for not at least sending a few Euros the way of the Baroness Boël, who claims in her new book to be the royal's illegitimate daughter and"dirty laundry."

And, finally, there is the tragic stupidity of 24-year-old Detroiter Gensis, who was planning to commit suicide — thought maybe he'd make himself a sandwich or something while he rethought it — and then heard the shot when his 3-year-old daughter came on the shotgun in his bedroom and fired the gun at herself. Unrelated (hah!), he was just picked up on a weapons charge.

Those children are loser dads. Now gedoudamyface!

** In their tragedies is the good news that they put the bar low enough to make it easy for the rest of us to easily sail over. **

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Daddy's Enigmatic Supply Side Paradigm

It would be wonderful if the book of new daddy rules could specify either or both the right quantity and quality of time a father should spend with a child.

Perhaps The Wall Street Journal, which just published the "good news" that laid off Wall Streeters would get more quality time with their kiddies could evolve a supply side solution to the quality/quantity equation?

For too much time being a bad thing they might consider that Indiana's Paul Lester Norris Jr. should be spending much less time with his daughter, Kerri. Both have just been arraigned for jointly stalking her ex-husband ... and there was the chocolate milk in the gas tank, as well.

But quality time, too, is problematic. The father of rapper Wyclef Jean had faith he could bring his son from Haiti (where he left him as he escaped Papa Doc for Brooklyn's not-as-mean streets) and turn his face to the Lord's work — even if it leaves a memory that "
"He didn't think twice about beating me up so badly I needed to be taken to hospital." Not enough quality time with son, but not a horrible denouement.

Now Jean, whose father nearly died six years ago, is faced with his daughter laughing at him and all because he is spending so much time with her in a pool. Is laughing at daddy a good thing?

** If dads were really evolving, surely the answers to these problems would be written down somewhere by now. **

Tuesday, April 8, 2008


There are other judges available, but I'd say words failed playwright Tracy Letts when he could only muster up, "it's bittersweet."

Thus, was his verbal reaction to winning a 2008 Pulitzer Prize for his play, "August: Osage Country." But what did he feel inside for the success of the play that was also the Broadway acting debut [Earlier: Father Fictions] of his dad, Dennis, who passed away in February, shortly after leaving the case.?

Actually, what does any child really feel when he or she wants to share joys or sorrows with the man who isn't there? And what can a father do about it?

Probably not too surprisingly, two very different legacies for children are created by a man of science and man of religion. But what joins them is that they are both creations the children can share ... and when they do a little bit of dad will always be with them.

Billy Graham, nearing the end of his life, created a model and context for daughter Ruth. Having lived a country music song — experiencing three failed marriages and her children's drug abuse struggles and teen pregnancy — she is now following in her father's ministry, traveling the country and preaching. She carries her dad's words in her heart ("We all live under grace and do the best we can.") and answers questions about her father in every church to which she takes her show.

A much less religious legacy is being created by Randy Pausch, the Carnegie Mellon professor with pancreatic cancer who is devoting his remaining time to making movies for and playing with children Dylan, 6; Logan, 4; and Chloe, nearly 2 — in addition to being a bemused spectator as the lecture he created for them but gave to the CM community becomes a viral blockbuster. [Earlier: Death Be Not]. The hour-plus video, a lecture on life entitled Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams, was his attempt to speak directly to his kids when they're older and he won't be there every day to provide the wisdom and comfort they'll seek.

A lot of words from everyone, but, ultimately, between father and child it's actions: words fail.

** Say enough to support your actions; and do enough to prove your words. **

Monday, April 7, 2008

Stop Acting Like a Complete Idiot

Lyndsey Buckingham, 21, (female and therefore not Fleetwood Mac's Lindsey Buckingham) would — if she could — say to her dad, "... if you have any love for me and my brother then stop acting like a complete idiot." In this case daddy is a pretend British lord who was shipped off to the States for passport fraud and, since being released from prison, is ignoring his children.

Coincidentally, another "fictional" dad is also being taken to task. To pad Dr. Seuss's original Horton and the Who adventures into something screen length (ostensibly the No. 1 money making movie) and $10 popcorn bucket-worthy, screenwriters have added a subplot to an elephant saving a world. Now, the Mayor of Whoville ignores 96 daughters to make nice-nice with sole sonny-boy. At least one dad is near apoplectic at the slight to [his] daughters.

And speaking of stupid dads — as if that is even close to an accurate description — we must stop in to say WHAT ARE YOU THINKING to Oz Pop John Deaves, 61, who is on his second child with his 39-year-old daughter.

So, yes, it is important that father's pay heed to their children and that they not slight their double-x chromosome offspring. BUT attention is not the same as insanity.

** "You are so annoying, daddy," say Thing 1 and 2. If only they knew .... And hopefully they never will." **

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Stamp Daddy

What does a son follow in when a dad has left no footprints?

Therein the puzzle facing Alexander Volkov, son of Sergei — who is the focus of this week's objet d'eBay. The 34 year old cosmonaut son will enter space sixteen years after his father made the trip — going up a citizen of the Soviet Union and returning to earth as a Russian, although still the pride of Donetsk, which issued this philatelic mashup in 1998 to celebrate his 50th birthday.

Father Volkov was up in space three times, a "Hero of the Soviet Union," and the son has no stated plan to outdo him: "“I just want to perform as well as my father, because there are things that he has done that nobody has been able to copy.”

But the 34-year-old "boy"will accomplish at least one thing his cosmonaut father couldn't. The current flight plan is for him to return to earth with Richard Garriott — wealthy video gaming space tourist — and son of Owen, a U.S. Skylab and space shuttle astronaut in the 1970s-80s.

Could the sons earn stamps as well?

** "I can lick pa, but he's a stamp, of course." **

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Atmospheric Pressure

No secret that delusional behaviour and fatherhood often marry. But is there a cause and effect?

Can you find the link between Matthew McConaughey believing that becoming a father will make him sexier and Max Baer Jr. ("Jethro Bodine") ready to duke it out over his fighter father's legacy and why, while being filmed by his son, artist Isaiah Zagar decided to reveal his affair to his wife?

Something in all of that helps explain the father-child bond, but what it is ...? So far, just a missing link.

** Dad pressure. All all around and pushing down. **

Friday, April 4, 2008

Who Loves Prez Daddy More?

Maybe it is all part of a plan. A misguided plan, but a masterful one nonetheless.

Perhaps George H.W. Bush has deliberately transformed — if you will believe the early reports of Oliver Stone's coming biofictivepic &mash; from drunken embarrassment cursing his father's success to to presidential embarrassment whose "leadership" encourages the nation to pine for the days of his father? That he is smart enough and dedicated enough to his father to do what he has done is a much more acceptable explanation than (for example) to blame a democracy that elected him.

It is also a lovelier consideration of the president father-child relationship than offered by another KOP (kid of POTUS), Chelsea Clinton, who in addition to opining that the world will offer a sigh of relief when Bush 43 steps down, has been dissing dad at the expense of possible prez mom.

** Anger issues focused on father? Anyone? **

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Double "O" Dads

Should a dad bring his work home or create separate worlds. Such is the premise of the just announced NBC show, "My Own Worst Enemy," starring Christian Slater — real life daddy with an ex-wife to Jaden Zach Haddon-Slater, 9, and and Eliana Sophia Slater, 5 — and set to debut with the Fall 2008 season. Slater will live two half lives (international spy and suburban dad) in one body and whether either will be a quality father will undoubtedly be determined by the Nielsen families.

For a look at what happens in real life, consider Oded Gur-Arie's "The Champagne Spy," a documentary about his father, Ze'ev, an Israeli spy who was gone from the family for months at a time living the high life pretense of an ex-Nazi in Egypt. he was doing something bigger than one family ... and his son got a movie out of it. But, on balance, what's a father to do?

** Every child imagines their father with a secret life, but usually only for a positive impact on his or her own life. **

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

It's Your Legacy, Idiot

The Daily Mail offers an extraordinary lede to its roundup of current events in the life of Formula One Racing boss Max Mosley. Geoffrey Levy's article begins by explaining that the favored son of Nazi era-relic Oswald Mosley, would be now simply a standup comics punchline, merely a "foolish and rather depraved man" — he is on tape performing some Nazi-costumed S and a bit of M with prostitutes — if it weren't for his father's legacy.

Quite a legacy he now leaves for sons Alexander, 37, and Patrick, 35, and perhaps grandchildren as well.

Wouldn't the world be richer, but the news less entertaining if there was a law — or commonsense just ruled — and every dad had to ask a simple question and then defend his answer before doing anything: what will it mean for my kids?

Fathers need to be fathers. Nicely phrased by U.S. Prez candidate Barack Obama addressing a slightly different problem than Mosley's (and quoted by the Boston Herald's Joe Fitzgerald in a piece on "the daddy issue"): “We have too many children in poverty in this country and don’t tell me it doesn’t have a little to do with the fact that we got too many daddies not acting like daddies. Don’t think that fatherhood ends at conception. "

Daddies acting like daddies. You would think it would already be an evolutionary and genetic mandate, something like breathing in order for the species to survive.

** It's the present and the legacy, stupid. **

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Faster, Daddy, Catch Them ... Now Me

Every kid wants dad to go faster. They trust their father to protect even as he is takes them to speed's hairy edge: "Can't this car go faster? ...Look that boat is passing us! ... Catch him daddy!"

Of course, not every child is on the downside of retirement age when s/he gets revved up about the speeding papa. But not ever child is Fred Miller, whose father, Gordon, is apace to drive a car and boat 100 mph (separately, not combined — or worse — at the same time) in order to celebrate his 100th birthday.

But, as with all things, kids do eventually grow up. (Thing 1, still a few years away from piloting her own vehicles into — and hopefully out of — danger, is grabbing at the gear shift; Thing 2 isn't ready even to move to the front seat, but is eager to pick out the mammoth four wheelers she will steer through suburbia.) One of the rites of that inevitability is the defeat in one or more things of the man who they so easily trusted with their safety.

But that guy, dad, doesn't always offer a victory. Sometimes he won't be beaten or the child exhibits a talent the father never developed. Other times, as in the case of funny car drivers John Force and daughter Ashley [Earlier: Car Culture], he just doesn't show up.

** It is a mystery of time that it doesn' t matter how fast or slow a father goes, children still grow up too quickly. **