Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Hot and Not

Single dads are television heat. First there was Jason Mesnick ramping up The Bachelor's ratings [Earlier: Dad Bads] and now BBC3 is introducing five pops and their kids to a house that last year was only filled with single moms. The resulting, Young Mums' and Dads' Mansion premiered last night with a single mom trying to get her revenge on evil men. The buzz is building.

However, older dads are still funnier. He may not be hot, but John Sadler can certainly bring on the funny. The coroner of Kosciusko (Indiana) County, answered the cops call to pick up his drunk son, the assistant cornoner. He was drunk and the police objected. Both father and son are now in the Whitley County (Indiana) hoosegow for DWI.

Maybe if we could get a mom and daughter in their too, reality TV and hiliarity might ensue?

Monday, March 30, 2009


According to a recent survey from the Families and Work Institute, more and more dads want to give their children time, even though it will add stress to their (the fathers') lives. Naturally, few children recognize — and almost nobody appreciates — the true gift fathers are trying to give.

In an extreme case, a son in Lagos, a cripple, hacked his 70-year-old dad to death, apparently under the assumption that pops had gifted him cancer. In a less extreme, although much more common case, the child just believes his or her father is insane and is insisting on sharing portions of that (although there are certainly cases, in the cases of boys at least, where they do become fathers and realize that true insanity comes from trying to take care of kids).

So, it is the story of the generations. A father gives; a child complains. The child ages; the father begins to look a little better.

But the father only looks a little better to the child. To everyone else, the father has aged to the irredeemable point of ridiculousness and will never return from the isle of crazy where all dads live:

Friday, March 27, 2009

Good Words

"I believe in making my dad proud," is one of the nicest phrases that can be written or said. It is also how Van Jones, author of The Green Collar Economy and a special adviser to the White House Council on Environmental Quality, began a recent oral essay about what he wants to be able to say to his dad — a middle school principal who brooked no nonsense — when he sees him in heaven.

"I want to do what you do," is equally flattering and that was how Jackie Davis let her dad, retired jockey Robbie Davis, know she was impressed by how he lived his life. She said she was ready to put her Barbies, dresses and makeup behind her so she could dress in the silks and guide tons of horseflesh around the oval. Dad said she wasn't, but she proved him wrong.

Some days are just happier than others.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Time's Up

Some fathers get the barn door closed before the horse escapes and some don't. Still, the horse always gets out

One who likely missed his best chance to keep things under control (but does get something of a do-over) is Dennis Patten, who will shortly be settling down with son Alfie, 13, to discuss the birds and the bees. [Earlier: What's It All About Alf] The good news for Ole' Alf is that he is not the father of his 14-year-old girlfriend's baby. The bad news is that he is apparently heartbroken to learn that his girlfriend cheated on him.

For a better sense of timing, you can consider Gerald Henderson Sr., who had an unbroken streak of one-on-one wins against Jr. He was an ex-NBA star and his son was about 12 or 13 when that competition ended. Still, the father could see his son was getting closer to topping him and was well on his way to his current college stardom. While he knew his son would soon be dunking over and all around him, he also knew that if he didn't compete he couldn't get beat.

The key to fatherhood: you gotta pick your moments.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

U Da Bstest

What does it mean when "they" say, "You're the bestest daddy in the whole world."

To begin, obviously, it is important to know who "they" are. However, assuming it is a child of yours, does it mean you have done whatever it takes to give your loved one something s/he wants for its satiation of a current desire or that you have done something that will live with them and change their lives for the better and forever?

I'd like to think it's the second choice — in full disclosure, I've never heard those words uttered without irony or sarcasm by Things One or Two — which is just one of the reasons I won't be running off to enter the Mr. Montana Karaoke Challenge. This Disney promo stunt encourages dads to dress up as Hannah Montana [Earlier: Picture This] and lip sync their guts out in the middle of Mall of America in order to win a trip for their beloveds to the new HM movie. (Even if Things One or Two still watched the show, I doubt this would win the YTBDITWW designation; I don't think the Youtbue of me as Miley would win them many cool points with their friends.)

It is also true that I probably won't be making the decision to live the life of Leonard Bernstein, whose daughter Jamie is among his children carrying on his legacy with children and music. Nor will I create something as influential as Gene Roddenberry, whose son Rod/Jr. shoulders the mandala of Trek. Still, if these short reports are any guide, I have to believe T1 and T2 would be happier for many years longer if I can some how even faintly follow in the creative footsteps of Lenny or Gene rather than grab a few minutes of the limelight and a couple plane tickets at the cost of their dignity.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Troubles Search for Solutions

Face it, we have issues. The trials of television's single dads has nothing on what is really happening. And reality could make for some truly captivating TV, not that crappy "reality" stuff.

Perhaps nothing more needs to be said than Sheboygan ... okay, perhaps a bit more might be helpful. Anyway, from the Wisconsin wonder city comes news of a dad who hid his son from the police to keep him from having to pay a few overdue fines. Brian Paarmann turned out to be a bad good liar, not fooling the police at all when he said his son wasn't home. So, he got busted for lieing (and for having substantial amounts of marijuana and drug toys) and his son was tasered to "encourage" him to emerge from his hiding place in the closet.

And the stories just keep coming, including that of a father battling the discrimination he faces when confronted with a social welfare system that doesn't respect him because he's a man. Of course, not every dad has a good solution to what confronts him, like the poor Filipino dad who
fried and ate his son's dog in front of him as the spark that lit the fire Manny Pacquiao needed to become one of today's toughest fighters.

In any case, while it may be impossible to fix all the issues, but come one, come all and see at least a few worked through at The Seventh Annual Kansas Fatherhood Summit April 2-3, because if you can make it in Wichita, then Sheboygan shouldn't be that much of a challenge.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Singing in the Fire and Rain

This week's objet d'eBay, James Taylor's 1981 vinyl release, "Dad Loves his Work," was a Top Ten album. At the time it was celebrated for the song "Her Town Too" but it is not a particularly strong point of the 61-year-old's musical legacy.

What is most intriguing today about the album might be it's title. Taylor's father was a doctor whose four children all tried their hand at musicianship, which would certainly suggest one dad who did not pass along his love of his work. On the other hand, Taylor's two kids, Ben, 31, and Sally, 34, both strum, strut and croon vaguely in their father (and mother Carly Simon's) style. So, perhaps his love of singing did get passed down, although possibly his mixed thoughts of being a father versus working came through as well — the album was released and he was on the road constantly when both kids were under 10; Sally, gave birth to her first child about a year and a half ago and Ben remains a non-father.

Is there an answer to combining a love of work and fathering? Not in this album and not to be found from Sweeet Baby James's life.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Facing Choices with Wisdom

Obviously, take care of dad should be the numero uno guiding principle for children and decisions should be easy. Life, unfortunately, just doesn't work out that way.

Not everyone may get the chance, like Peru congresswoman Keiko Fukimoro, to pardon pop — controversial former dictatorial prez Alberto Fujimoro — and save him from prison time. That is, you don't always get to be a hero.

Usually taking care of dad these works out to be something a bit more difficult to manage, like defriending him on Facebook — because he doesn't understand when you say you're engaged there but really are not — or you have to cease his consulting contract with your company, that is fire him (for the second time in recent years) because business has been dropping off.

What are needed is one set of guiding principles, words from a wise father that will bring comfort and wisdom in all circumstances:

Friday, March 20, 2009

Fame Game

I can't help it. When Thing get a 100 on a test or score a goal, I tell them how proud I am for them, but (truth be told) there's a little bit of me celebrating me going on as well. Fathers see themselves in their children.

And this brings us to today's guessing game: can you match the son with the famous dad, and guess their reaction to the son's success?

Son One is making his way in the movies and on the stage along the same, generally good guy path as his dad. When asked about his association with his dad, he said: "... if I change my name, then I'm going to be asked, 'Why did you feel you had to change your name?' It always comes up, but it wasn't until people started asking me a million questions that I had to sit and take stock of stuff. It is what it is."

Son Two just called his dad "cheap" on television, because he wouldn't bail him out of a $5000 personal trainer bill that the son told the trainer he would pay, just as he had paid previously. (It's not clear anyone ever told the father prior to the billing that he was on the hook.)

Son Three just earned a college scholarship for his basketball play, which may not have meant much to the family checkbook of his multi-millionaire, sky-leaping pop, but did make the son cry for its validation of his hoopsiness.

And the answers for the sons are:

Son One: Colin "son of actor Tom"Hanks, in the news for his current starring Broadway and Hollywood roles.
Son Two: Sean "son of rocker and aged roue Rod" Stewart in the news for an appearance on "Judge Jeanne."
Son Three: Jeff "son of bball icon Michael" Jordan, who takes his first turn in the NCAA men's basketball tournament, coming off the bench for Illinois.

The answers for the dads? Surely, at least two of them are proud, but only a father really knows how much of himself he sees in his kid's actions.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Pathways for Pater Familias

Each dad approaches life's difficult differently and — and even if not asked — will dispense it in his own way. Those who are currently trying to explain the big and small to fathers (and others) include a dad preaching religious solutions, a pop who joined with his daughter to offer insight into the infinite as a way to understand one's own place and an old man who just wants to rock with his boys.

Tony Dungy, the former Indianpolis Colts coach is currently sojourning about the country promoting his evengelical-based outreach program, All Pro Dad to young and old fathers, and his book, "Uncommon: Finding your Path to Significance."

Offering a significantly less religously inspired answer to the big questions is astronomer Stephen Hawking, who has teamed with daughter Lucy, to write the second of their proposed trilogy for dads to read to (and probably try to explain to) their kids, George's Cosmic Treasure Hunt.

Heading out on a very short road trip with his teen sons is suburban Atlanta rocker John Boydston, author of lyrics along the lines of "I’m sitting here wondering with a clothespin on my nose/I’ve changed so many diapers, I might as well change my clothes."

Obviously, Boydston offers answers to fathers that are a bit more down-to-earth and harmonic than Dungy or Hawking, but, as noted above, each dad has to find his own way to the answers and his own way to share them.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Buy vs. Build

And now another of the problems confronting the father who wants to be a part of the life of his children. Should he build bookshelves or just bring an ice cream cone?

On the side of construction are the fathers from Lisbon, Ohio, who joined with each other and their kids to create a better life through decoration for their children in the local Head Start classrooms. The idea was based on the philosophy that kids will do better when their fathers are involved in many different aspects of their lives.

However, according to Kirk Douglas, 92, all his success in life was destined from the moment his father, who had previously ignored him, bought him an ice cream cone to commemorate his performance in the kindergarten play. He became an actor and recently had the chance to close a run of his one-man play in California by having his son, actor Michael, bring him to tears with the on-stage gift of an ice cream cone in lieu of the more traditional flowers.

So do you build or buy?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Age of InNoSense

Wouldn't life be easier if everyone could agree on what is an appropriate age to become a father? Well, wouldn't it at least be easier for the child?

The too-old father possibly endangers the life and intelligence of his child. Too young and he doesn't seem to have much idea of what he is doing with his own life, much less that of young junior or the new mom.

Landing today on the younger dad side of the problem, we wish good luck to Tripp Palin, whose father Levi Johnston, 19, still seems overwhelmed by the relationship with the media he landed atop. And best wishes as well to Grace Yannetta, whose pop Matthew Burns, 18, found out via a cell phone pic that Grace had arrived, via the 19-year-old new mum who started to get some pains in her side and was quite surprised herself to find out she was having a baby.

Maybe it shouldn't be an age thing? Perhaps we could come up with an intelligence test that potential dads (and certainly potential moms) would have to pass before they were allowed into the loyal order of parenthood?

Monday, March 16, 2009

Measure of Success

Wired's Geek Dad turned two, with contests and reflections celebrating the paternally and technologically obsessed. What it doesn't do, however, is answer the question of what it means for the child (in general terms) to have a dad who is mechanically minded.

Could technological interests or abilities shadow a child in the same way being a Beatle could? And in exchange, to be fair, how far can a child knock you off your mechanical game, because no matter what he thinks, Roger Federer will have quite the adjustment to his tennis game after baby Fed arrives.

Do the GDs have a tool to accurately measure that?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Maybe You Can Drive My Car

There will be frustration. Maybe yelling. And pouting. Thing One already wants to switch front seats when we're driving and Thing Two is only a couple years behind. So, maybe it's time to get them a copy of this week's objet d'eBay, a driver training manual with all the hints about how to not run anyone over when motoring between points A and B.

Admittedly this one's from Australia and 30 or so years old. Still, not that much has really changed about teaching kids to drive. It has to be done and it will likely be unpleasant. Also, dads have always made the best instructors, at least among parents. And for 75 years it's been a good idea to try and keep the family upset to a minimum to outsource the whole evil child-learning-to-drive enterprise to the high school driver's training course.

As a commercial makes clear, dads can certainly impart their wisdom and teach their kid mad skills. However, it might not always be the best way to go. Maybe I will send T1 and T2 to driver's ed and avoid some yelling.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Job Jabbering

Times are tough and it is time to get some dads to work.

A Brandon (Fla.) dad, the former marketing director of an NHL club, needing a job is "smart, creative and hardworking," according to his son

A Gaylord (Mich.) dad has a job and considers himself blessed, but he also has five kids he has fought to keep and to keep together and could use some support as he tries to keep climbing up the social ladder.

Rounding out today's let's-get-dad-a-job report is early 90s pop and rapper and poprapper Stanley Kirk Burrel [Earlier: Daddy (Dog) Days of Summer], who has had a judge's hammer come down on him in bankruptcy proceedings and who is now being sued for $60,000+ because he has decided to dance away from writing his book on being a father. Unfortunately, the suit is the most publicity he's had in a while; hopefully it leads to some ratings for "Hammertime," the projected A&E series being shot of him dadding it up for his five kids.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Mashing Up Dads Materials

Today's imaginary mashup requires considering how one dad, acting as the star of a Blair Witch Project sort of father-son dramedy, is morphed into another who has been captured by the gremlins behind one of the "funniest" (?) home videos show.

Somehow fathers and children have been joined in the same "youtube" generation.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Cooking Rights and Responsibilities

News of the death of James Cook, the divorced Californian who led the fight for custodial rights after being told by a judge that he couldn't share equally in the life of his son, serves as a fulcrum for two other newsmaking fathers who are seesawing public opinion.

Taking perceptions of caregiving dads higher is David Goldman, whose Brazilian wife took their son to her native country, remarried and never let the son return to his American father. Brazilian courts supported what was labeled "kidnapping" in America. However, the mother's passing has given the father another chance at providing for his now 9-year-old. The courts awarded the child to his Brazilian stepfather, but a resolution fairer to Goldman is being talked about at the highest diplomatic levels.

On the other hand, former NFL star Travis Henry is adding fuel to the pyre built by "deadbeat dads." He says he loves all nine of the kids, ages 3 through 11, he has had with nine different moms. He says he understands that he is responsible for them ... even as he suggests not all the moms were truthful in their dealings with him. However, the headlines are going to be all about how his multi-mllion dollar earnings are not being used to pay his child support payments.

It is too bad Henry, Goldman, actually all of us, will no longer have Cook, who went on to volunteer for children scarred by war experience, to call on as an adviser for the right things to do.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Blame Games

It runs against everything most people believe about dadding, but there is glory in getting out in time. If a dad misses his moment — either leaving too early or too late — to let go, there's only blame.

So let us celebrate the surprising sagacity of maestro Jamie Spears [Earlier: Imagining Steve], who having brought daughter Britney back from the edge and just as she finds great success living in a Circus is about to let her go. Who (other than Mel Gibson) knew what a genius the Louisiana layabout would turn out to be?

But that genius is what is needed to avoid blame. Drew Barrymore blames her failed relationships on her dad checking out too early. In "Humor Abuse," his autobiographical stage show, Lorenzo Pisoni blames his dad for his poor timing as well. Father pickle, Larry Pisoni, brought all sorts of angst into his son's life (although there seems to be some sort of undefined credit offered as well to the old man).

The fact is that even when you think you have let go blame can still come your way. Just ask Bill Gates Sr., who has just called for higher taxes on his gazillionair son to pay for public schools he is unlikely to ever send his children to.

Some days when checking through the news it seems that "blame" is just another anagram for "father."

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Love Songs

It's nearly spring. Everything is about to bloom and so it's time for the seeds of affection to burst and bloom into love songs, father-child tunes of adoration and devotion.

Among the most serious to note is the music that will make up part of "The Gloria Song," a concert of Kansan Dana Mengel's chorales to raise funds to support the continuing treatment of his 10-year-old daughter, Gloria, whose brain tumor has forced her to endure multiple rounds of chemotherapy and now radiation.

A composer with more swing to his step these days is Aaron J. Johnson, who has packed nine of his own compositions and a cover of Joe Henderson's "Our Thing" into his new "Songs of Our Fathers," dedicated honorably enough to his dad.

Two pops still without recording contracts or much more than heart and homemade videos are RudeRocker and UkuleleRocker, but they too have some words in their head and music in their heart about their kids that just need to be shared:

From classical to kitsch, it's all about the love.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Into the Beyond.

Is it more impressive for a father to head into a place where society has never seen a dad before, or is it overwhelming enough when a father takes only himself to a place nobody could ever have imagined him? Why not vote?

Those who opt for the society changer can consider the case of Army Reserve Lt. Col. Keith Reagan, a father, one of a few, leading a girl scout troop. If ever there was a glass ceiling men couldn't break through it would have seemed to be the world of GSA.

However, while Reagan challenges society, Marc Tremitier challenged himself. Although he's pretty blase — saying of his experience only, "That was life. It takes you for a ride...." — the story in words and pictures of how he delivered his baby boy Niko is breathtakingly haunting. He has been changed.

So, it's society or the invididual. Which father deserves your vote for going further beyond presumed barriers?

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Something Stupid?

It is true that the voice of father and daughter blend beautifully in this week's objet d'eBay, the 1967 vinyl 45 of Frank and Nancy Sinatra harmonizing on "Something Stupid." It is also true, however, that there is something a tad icky about father and daughter singing a love song together.

And it is not as if you can point to new research that older dads — who likely are only a few lost brain cells removed from senility themselves — are likely to have less sharp kiddies. Frank had Nancy when he was in his mid-30s. Somehow, together, they just decided people would forget their father-daughter status if the sound was nice enough:

Saturday, March 7, 2009

And Even Stranger When the Cameras Aren't Rolling

For reasons unclear, the feature on "Top RealityTV Dads" should be noted, even though the folks behind it do seem to be stretching the concept to come up with eight dads. On the other hand, it should be noted they didn't work too hard, leaving off the philandering hard ass Bill Loud who was part of America's original reality show, the 1973 sensation "An American Family."

Reviewing reality dads, however, isn't the same as learning about real dads. Truth being stranger than television, imagine the surreality of just another day in the life ... as Barack Obama interrupts trying to stop the world from collapsing to head off to a parent-teacher conference or retired Seattle police officer Lusher tries to face the world after his 38-year-old son dresses up in one of his old police uniforms in a botched B&E.

Reality, indeed.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Dad Bads

Here's a surprise: a dad upset people by dating.

Now the good news. Father of one, Jason "Bachelor 13" Mesnick, is single. [Earlier: Imagining Steve] But, apparently he committed the TV sin (which doesn't mean it's not good for ratings) of proposing to one bachelorette and then dumping her for another. (He might also have committed some sort of parenting sin by dragging his son into all of this; or letting someone else take care of him while he went trawling for primetime nookied as well.) According to a report on the controversy, the only person willing to stand behind this betrayal of "the viewer's trust" is the person willing to say that you shouldn't be stupid when you have a kid and stick him with someone or something you (or your kid) won't love.

However, this idea of not saddling your kid with something that will shadow their whole life does seem like a good one. So, if your name is Sergie Bubka and you happen to become history's most famous pole vaulter it doesn't matter that you son goes into tennis, name him after you and he's going to feel the pressure of the name. And here's good advice for almost every dad: DON"T GET SICK. Your child may be opstimistic, but it's a shadow that won't really ever go away again, no matter how much fun you may make it.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Dad At The Edge

An "absurdly overqualified high school chemistry teacher and father of two" will be dead in less than two years from lung cancer. And he does what he needs to do, which in the next few weeks of life is cook up and deal high grade crystal meth to round up $737,000 to provide for his wife and children when he is gone.

Thus begins the second television season of Walter H. White life as told in the AMC series Breaking Bad. White is the father of baby girl and an older son with cerebral palsy as well as the father-figure to an ex-student of his, his meth cooking partner Jesse.

The series edge — the question that may make it the perfect series for a time when fathers face economic hardships they never could have imagined — is what's a father to do when he's got to do what he's got to do.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

No Good Deed ...

This morning's peace was shattered by Thing 1 raising a rumpus, unable to accept that someone (i.e., WD) might think that a polite request did not guarantee receipt ... there was also the matter of what was being asked for

So daughters complicate a father's life. A given. However, it is also worth noting — at least for some points of context — that dads can complicate daughters' lives as well from acts done out of kindness or a sense of duty. Elisa Wilson, daughter of famed investor Mario Gabelli is now being subject to unwanted scrutiny of her life thanks to her dad sticking her on the board of his publicly traded investment company. So dad has arranged for a meganormous paycheck and ginormous headaches.

Perhaps Wilson should have given a call to Elizabeth Murdoch before accepting the post. Murdoch was tapped by pop Rupert to join the board of his News Corp, but she turned him down, seeing immediately how being helped to step towards taking over her father's company could severly damage her current activities.

Of course, neither Wilson nor Murdoch have the problems of poor Meghan McCain. Her dad felt the call to run for president. And now she's not happy with her sex life.

So is the lesson here to remember to not even think about doing something nice for your daughters or your country,because it will most likely backfire on them ... and you?

Monday, March 2, 2009

Bad Buck News

Feel free to hum along while reading about fathers and bank larcenies — particularly if you happen to know the tune to Chumbawamba's "Daddy Was a Bankrobber" ditty.

Maybe it's the times, but a quick click through the news makes it seem that dads and bank larcenies are almost as much a match as fathers and children. The biggest dollars are attached to the tale of the Stanfords. [Earlier: Workplace Surprises] Father "It's a Witch Hunt" James happily took money from son Allen "Sticky Wicket" Stanford, leaving the younger enough of the investments to begin building his own private bank, which (blah, blah, blah, yadda, yadda, these things happen) eventually led to his being on the hook for billions of bucks he sorta can't seem to find to give back to investors.

Things aren't much better if a father doesn't share in his son's search for some scratch. That at least is the lesson (hopefully) learned with the report from Santa Ana, Calif., where a 50-year-old son is in custody after robbing two banks, which he only did because his dad wouldn't spare him some change.

Even lessons in doing the right thing seem to end up in stories of bank robberies. There's the college student who ratted out dad to the FBI after seeing the video of a local bank robbery. And, in perhaps the saddest of all the stories, there is the father of four, church deacon and successful (?) realtor, who tried knocking over Greenville (S.C.) First and ending up in police custody, charged with robbery and kidnapping. He could be looking through bars for perhaps the next 30 years at kids and eventually even grandkids.

It's probably just another sad sign of difficult times when fathers and finances come together in such sad ways.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Plastic Possibilities

Something about dad as a doll doesn't seem to work. That at least is the feeling that accompanies this week's objet d'eBay, Steve, the father of the mid-70s Mattel doll collection, the Sunshine Family.

Perhaps we're not ready to have dads as co-stars in doll land because it is too hard to explain all that they are and do in real life. We need one simple story for a doll to work. For example, Barbie gets to be a fabulous 50, after having a multitude of careers and adventures. The best known male doll, the GI Joe, may be "expanding the brand" into an electronic games and movies, but he still only does one thing: he fights and never fathers. What actually do fathers do in doll land?

Yes, they do whatever the kids who play with them imagine dads could do. But what really do kids imagine dads do other than go off to work? The measure of how far we are from the "stay-at-home-dad doll" is the telling sign of when dads will achieve true equality.