Friday, July 31, 2009

To Friend or Not to Friend

To [Facebook] stalk or not to [Facebook] stalk: that is the question:
Whether tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of wonder about whether or not to contact your dad or just surreptitiously follow him online — and your half-sister and her new baby — as does the anonymous British girl writing about the man who left her life before she knew him,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles and use the technology to out and reunite with him as did the Skelmersdale (Wales) lass who tracked down the man she hadn't known she was one after losing her mum and by finding him end certain doubts? To stalk: to sleep;
No more; and by a stalk to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks that come every day when a child debates whether to friend dad or vice versa...

[blah, blah, blah ... more parodied Shakespeare To Be or Not To Be]

...And so to other web surfing of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the sense of fun. - Soft you now!
The fair YouTube! Something that can be much more amusing and less morally ambiguous
Be all my time sucked up by foolish dads as posted by their children.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Disentangling for Dadding

While it is complicated to be "the father" when one is not biologically or geographically completely in the child's life it is still important and necessary to DAD UP!

Among men showing the way are actor Jude Law (father currently of three with an ex-), who pledges to also be a big part of the life of the child conceived with last year's fling. There is also writer Gary Blitt who found himself in the ironic situation of not wanting to be a dad, agreeing to be a dad and then finding himself infertile ... before agreeing/encouraging the "adoption" of a sperm donor dad and finally finding himself more and more in love with his new daughter.

The reason it is important to have role models for difficult situations is so that fathers facing the seemingly intractable can have hope — no matter how hopeless the situation appears or how intricately woven the obstacles seem — that they will be able to find their way to happy fatherhood. Currently, poor baby William needs all his "fathers" to figure out how to live for him. In the British boy's case, there is the husband of the surrogate mom who needs to find his place; and then there's the brother of SM, who asked her to carry the sperm of his lover (and here is where it gets even more complicated) who he is trying to marry, assuming he and his lover can get divorces from the men they previously married, who were both "cuckolded" by an affair that all began over a shared love of dogs.

Complicated? Sure, but not without some hope if they'll all just DU.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Not Like the Great Partnerships

Imagine a son who would proclaim his innocence by suggesting dad's psychological acuity was in question when Sr. fingered him as a criminal mastermind (as if?). Actually, you don't have to imagine it, just consider the pleading of Florida's Leonard Patrick Gonzalez Jr., who asked a judge to release him to his own custody, because, "With the exception of the statements that have been made, coerced, bullied or manipulated out of a mentally ill person, there is no hard evidence that links me to the scene of the [parents of 17 who were shotgunned to death].

This is not the sort of working together and partnership we want to see from father-child crime teams. However, in today's world it does seem more common as even firefighting son Paul Bradley Jr. looks like he's blaming his father for growing the marijuana for sale in a Massachusetts-Maine case that has caused them both to be hauled in.

Perhaps the boys need to look to the girls for model as so far, as California's Sholeh A. Hamedani does seem to be standing with father Nasser V. as the two are charged with taking millions from investors who thought they were supporting a web site to keep kids safe. Instead, the money was put to non-childish uses such as supporting the Hamedani's gambling, cars and mortgages and other personal expenses.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Talk Nice about Daddy

Dads are often denigrated and it's not fair. So it is nice to hear kind words describing a father, even if he finds himself in the same circumstances of Daniel Patrick Boyd. "If he's a terrorist, he's the nicest terrorist I've ever met in my life," says a [former] neighbor to the dad just arrested for leading a terrorist cell (including his sons) planning suicidal mayhem.

Even something as simple as describing a man as "her father" is kind, particularly after many years when that right was taken away from you. Unfortunately, in the case of "C.A.," it seems in life he was a crack addict, but in death — after a car ran over him in the street — a relationship with his daughter means that she might inherit the money from a wrongful death suit that otherwise probably doesn't get filed. A Florida justice has been asked to give him back his parental rights (and responsibilities?) to the daughter he lost.

So talk kindly about daddy, after all his situation could be much worse.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Daddy Is Bloody Good

Good news for those who find pleasure in the fantasy that fathers can actually dispense absolute justice. Season Four of Dexter, the televised tale of a crime investigating serial killer (and currently step-father to his girlfriend's kids) lets the psychopath become a daddy:

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Not So Simple

This week's objet d'eBay, a Honu (green sea turtle) father-baby necklace suggests philosophical complications. You certainly wouldn't want the necklace to be made from actual turtle, since it is an endangered species, but at the same time that the turtle was spared while a cow lost its life so that its bone could be sculpted isn't necessarily a guilt-free solution.

Of course, the philosophical complications about this father and child are not that much more detailed than many problems fathers face with their kids. And it is nothing at all — complexity wise — to the ongoing story of whether or not the world's last surviving Galapagos tortoise, Lonesome George, may finally (at around 90 or 100) be getting around to fathering. [Earlier: Fathers Time]

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Ugly, The Bad, The Good

In today's policing blotter we have one dad arrested who (fortunately) does seem to outweigh with glory the ignominy of another two.

Ridiculous fathers getting pulled in to the pokey include Dayton, Ohio's Gary Rodgers, who left his five kids — 2-year-old twins to a 10-year-old daughter — to stew in home filth while he wandered off to the bar. Equally poor-choicing is a Texas pop who left his 7-year-old daughter in the truck while he went off to break and enter. He was shot and she proved a reliable witness, letting police know that he dropped off evidence along the route they took to the hospital.

The man covering fathers in honor — although he did get arrested for doing it — is the Iranian father who was arrested for letting people come to his house in order to honor the life of the son who was killed in the recent election protests. Not only did he stand up for his slain son, but he also taught his other sons well, as they insisted on accompanied their father as he was taken by security forces.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Tweets, Twits

For better or worse, Twitter is moving the picket fences of good taste as the formerly private becomes increasingly public.

There are dads tweeting (sending Twitter posts) from the delivery room. There is a father who decided that the way to honor his soldier son was to try and get a bunch of strangers to let their thumbs do his bragging and move "aaron" ("They killed my son," he originally posted) up the tweetscale. And then there's the celeb son who twittered his love for dead dad Billy Mays, as well as the original announcement of his passing.

From a currently favored POV: Twits, indeed.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

New Dallas Dad

Aspiring rocker William Bynum, 32, has become a famous dad (at least momentarily and in the Dallas area) for bringing his daughter home after her mother (i.e., not his wife) abandoned the newborn in a hallway of the apartment complex where she lived with her parents.

Given the exclamation points he sprinkles on his MySpace page, it seems he's pretty happy. And you have to assume daughter Rhiannon Bella is much more satisfied to be out of the hallway. How the path of daddy-fame will influence the daughter is a story for the future. No telling at this point, but it seems unlikely she'll spend her days turning this way and that to see his face selling "revolution" as does Aleida "daughter of Che" Guevara, who has become a spokesperson for Cuba as the embodiment of the romance of her father. More possible is that she, too, might follow a musical path and years from now folks will be able to consider both his acts and his DNA when they listen to her sing her stories — much as critics can consider the influence of daddy Hank Jr. on daughter Holly Williams' new album, "Here with Me."

Perhaps it's best to leave the speculation for another day. For today: all congrats and best wishes to the new Texas popi.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

On the Waterfront

It is hard to explain exactly why, but most of the time when dads, daughters and water are part of the story, the ending is unhappy. Typically, fathers and female progeny are part of stories like the current one from Wales featuring the little girl who died in her daddy's arms at the bottom of a waterfall.

As a result, it is truly the rare pleasure to read of happy and wet times, such as when daughter Kass,12, gets "trout whisperer" Karl Seckinger to shut up long enough so she can reel in the first trout of her summer. Dad helps (and even gets a "thank you"), but mostly this is just DNA at work. Similarly, while gondolier pop Dante Boscolo questions daughter Giorgia's biceps, it is pretty clear how proud he is that his daughter has passed the test to become Venice's first female gondolier. (Her own rejoinder is that if he thinks this is so hard he should try child birth.)

We send thoughts of happiness (and a touch of envy) to two fab dads and our condolences to the family of the unfortunate father.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Sometimes Pops Get Happy Endings, Too

Kids in real life and adolescents (and 20-somethings) in love get stories with happy endings, but dads rarely do. However, it does happen sometimes and at least a few of those times should be noted, if for no other reason than as balance to all the tales of daddy woes.

Jones Creek, Texas, dad and grandad K.M. Watson got a chance to look his baby in the eye, just 43 years after she was born. His teenage sweetheart, pregnant with his child, was sent away from him and gave birth to a daughter who would be adopted and whisked away eight days later. After years of search and both father and daughter starting other families of their own, they finally got a chance to meet up in an airport lobby. The result, as the father tells the story, "I just found my daughter,” he said, crying openly. “I looked for her for 43 years. I’ve got all my babies. I’ve got all of my children with me now. My family is complete."

Mizzou men will also be getting some good news, thanks to changes in state law regarding father's rights. Dads who want to stay in touch are given second (and maybe third chances) before being separated from their kids and DNA results will be accepted in new ways to let some guys off the hook who aren't ready to step up and take responsibility for kids who aren't biologically theirs. Happy endings, both.

Along those lines, changes to the law and in social attitudes have provided many more divorced men with a much more fulfilling time with their children than they ever would have had during the marriage that failed. And that is perhaps the most dream-comes-true ending of all.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Staring at the Answers

The question of what you see within a father-son portrait is raised by this week's objet d'eBay, a "cabinet portrait"mounted on a sturdy card probably from the 1890s.

In this case the general demeanor and chin and mouth seem very familiar from pop to poppet, but there are differences to be developed further as the years go on. Perhaps people looked back years from when the picture was taken to remark on how the shape of the head was different, or that the child carried a walking stick while the father sat or how the clothes were formal, but subtly different on both.

What became of the two? How did the differences between father and son manifest? Who knows but the person willing to write a story based on the fiction s/he can find in the picture?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Death and Fairy Tales

There's a very breezy story coming out of Kenner, La., of a dying man's deathbed prediction of his 57-year-old son's lottery win and the $1.8 million prize that followed about two months later. Ah, the fairy tale.

Simple and nice. Not at all like the usual complications of a father's final days more likely to be spent deciding whether or not to "engage in heroic measures" when his heart stops pushing him into the pain his life has become; or watching the dad who beat you and loved you — and both to help you overcome a crippled body with a fiercely strong mind — die of a heart attack when you surprised him while he was engaged with his mistress; or of dealing with having brought a son into the world when your father and grandfather both suffered from the hereditary Motor Neuron Disease that is about to claim your life.

Of course, even in the fairy tale death tale there is death, so maybe it's not really not such a fairy tale after all.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Polygamy Post

South African Prez Jacob Zuma not only has to worry about a troubled country, but also his 19 children by 5 wives. Good luck to him, although if he wants to make sure that all 19 and are his so as to reduce his burdens, a British chemist is offering a possible off-the-shelf biological bond testing solution.

It is certainly possible that the many children of one man may all feel loved — even as in the case of a American mormon polygamer who had 47 kiddies with 7 wives — but it seems an unikely scenario. While there is no way to know for sure before the face whether the seed spewing man can be a good father to many, there is debate coming from Angola that would go against the current world tide and legalize polygamy (and possibly the female version, polyandry, as well) freeing up the the father-to-be-and-be-and-be... if he could afford it.

Fortunately for everyone, Zuma (as long as he stays out of jail) can afford it.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Climbing the Pop Charts

Pretty soon we can have dads dueling posthumously on the county charts.

In addition to the Roseanne Cash tribute to father John [Earlier: Cashing In] coming this fall, wildchild grown older Tanya Tucker has just released My Turn, a collection of classic covers she really wanted to call "Songs My Father Wanted Me to Sing." And, not to let the Y-chromosomes down, Ricky Skaggs is releasing "Ricky Skaggs Solo (Songs My Dad Loved)" a collection of tunes Skaggs associates with his earliest memories of his father introducing him to music and songs he really would have wanted his father to sing with him.

Let the pop races begin.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Sweeping Dust from the Corners

From the less interesting niches of daddom on a very slow news day:

  1. Proud Parenting (a site catering to gay dads) has 8 "tricks" to getting kids to sleep, almost as if kids of two fathers might somehow sleep differently.
  2. (a new web site devoted to some of the plainest vanilla commentary and trying to get visiting fathers to click on advertisements) has the scoop that dads like grills and Sears is offering discounts.
  3. Alison has her dad on her show, "The Daily Alison" (again), but this time to announce he is selling his car and — at a little less than 4 minutes — to go on and on about his daughter and John Wayne:

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Looking for Literary Legacy

In one of the more intriguing fights that will never end, Jan Kerouac (who passed June 5, 1996) continues to fight to claim her part in Beat Generation Jack's legacy.

The better known Kerouac died October 21, 1969 having left the masterwork "On the Road" for the world and a troubling personal legacy for his only daughter. During her life she tried to claim her part in her father's life through memoir, but most people felt she never did. One who disagreed was elder Kerouac biographer Gerald Nicosia, who recently put together a collaborative celebration of the daughter's life in Jan Kerouac: A Life in Memory.

Alas, Jan does not seem to have yet claimed her part in life or death ... and so the struggle continues.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Rodeo Pops and Kids

The Glovers, Chris and Cole, had a pretty good Father's Day, with son Cole outroping pop Chris in Grover, Colo. It's sort of a family tradition: "It's just the greatest to get to rodeo with your son,” Chris said. “I got to do it with my dad, and now I get to do it with my son." [Earlier: PFs in the News]

However, it is not just a Glover tradition, but a national one, as fathers introducing sons to the Rodeo can be found even in such unlikely places as Monroe Township, N.J., where Ernie "Junior" Allo alternates between coaching t-ball and wrasslin' steers, both to his son's pleasure.

And, as with all father-son things, the tradition is also spreading out, gender-wise. Lee "Boogie" Ray will surely someday soon be watching McKenzie, 11, and/or Maci, 10, playing a big part in rodeo's around the country, just as he does now when he takes the family with him as he hits the circuit and the girls pick up the lifestyle.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Don't Give It Back

The idea that it's the bad girl who claims to be "daddy's girl" has never been more celebrated than in Cole Porter's "My Heart Belongs to Daddy," which he wrote for Mary Martin to sing in the 1938 musical "Leave It to Me." Since, the song has had a pantheon of memorable female singers wrap themselves around it (e.g., Ella Fitzgerald, Anita O'Day, Marilyn Monroe, Eartha Kitt ...).

By 1942, the irony of the bad chick as the dad chick was dudded down to the movie MHBtD that in DVD form is this week's objet d'eBay. The film places Richard Carlson as the so-far unfathering, widowed, besieged by mother- and sisters-in-law, scientist and Martha O'Driscoll as a widowed, pregnant exotic dancer who shows up at his doorstep. Hijinks (and love) ensue ... not the usual path for those who claim to be DGs.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Opera Seeds Planted in Livingston, Mont.?

Within the daddy-daughter struggles can come great art For example Giuseppe Verdi's used his own unhappy time as a father to create operas Rigoletto, Stiffelio and Simon Boccanegra. So what is needed is for either the daughter who added lamp oil to her dad's Jello or the father of the Livingston, Mont., 15-year-old who was upset with her for staying out past curfew to turn a teen's simple act of vengeance into the complex cast of art.

Or, maybe someone else can take a shot at it so that someday large people with large voices can give voice to the tragedy of a daughter who kills her dad, or, as in the case of Rigoletto, a father who mistakenly kills his daughter.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Cashing In

Here's an interesting father strategy. Don't tell your kid what you know, tell them what they should know and wait to see what happens.

Singer/songwriter Johnny Cash was a tad unsatisfied with his daughter Roseanne's musical knowledge of classic country. He gave her a list of 100 songs she ought to know ("really know") if she was going to be a musician. The result, other than the influences found in her music, will be on display in the fall as she releases "The List," what she learned from her father's suggestion distilled into 12 songs. As she put it in her press release:

"If my father had been a martial arts master, he might have passed a martial arts ‘secret’ on to me, his oldest child,” Cash says. “If he had been a surgeon, he might have taken me into his operating room and pointed out the arteries and organs. If he were a robber baron, he might have surveyed his empire and said, ‘Honey, some day this will all be yours!’. But he was a musician and a songwriter, and he gave me 'The List.' "
Johnny Cash's Top 100 Essential Country Songs

For comparison's sake, her brother, working without his list but from the same material offered — in a surprising collaboration with Snoop Dog — the "Johnny Cash Remixed" last year:

Thursday, July 9, 2009

In Some Cases, Not the Worst Idea

Thanks to the British researchers who claim to have created viable human sperm from stem cells, we are once again encouraged to say so long to natural fathers. [Earlier: Gifts that Keep on Giving ... With Limits; Today's Betting Line; and No Good Procreators]

While on the one hand it seems unlikely we'll be rushing into a situation anytime soon where we say goodbye to natural pops, there is at least a moment every once in a while when it doesn't seem like a bad idea — such as when you hear about the guy who asked his son to help him dump the body of the prostitute he picked up and killed.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Humoir (un)Limited

There is, perhaps, a touch too much cutesy in combining "humor" and "memoir" into humoir, as in "The 40-Year-Old Version: Humoirs of a Divorced Dad." T4YOVHoaDD is a short collection of essayist — and father of a ninish boy and sixish twin girls — Joel Schwartzberg's ramblings on fatherhood that have appeared on web and page. And while there are passages that seemed culled from a best of Lifetime (the cable channel) collection there are certainly a greater number of scenes described that will suggest a tear from observing the love of father and kid.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Giving the Audience What It Wants

Introducing himself to the readers of MomLogic, Token Dad brings the predictable shtick (e.g., "Moms buy tomatoes ... Dads buy ketchup"), even if is in the unpredictable guise of a SAHD.

He knows his audience. Dads are blunderers challenges no reader in the same was as, say, how a dad did best by crushing his son's hoop star dreams with a single game of one on one. And a cheap laugh is much more fun than how a dad can lose his own anchor and become the neighborhoods, as in "Quiet Chaos," the new movie about a widower with a 10-year-old who just hangs out on a bench. And it is certainly true that the oaf dad in the picture is much more comforting to most than even the most thoughtful tales of European boomers searching for the American GI dad they never knew.

Maybe someday TD will challenge as well as entertain, will transform before his audience from "Stepin Fetchit" to "Go and Get it YourSelf ... and I mean now!" However that will require a change in his audience (hopefully) more than in himself. Still, here's hoping.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Sniff, Sniff

How do the little imps smell?

A recent study by French researchers reached the conclusion that dads treat better those children who look and smell more like them. They were in Senegal for the one study and will be issuing their results from a similar test of folks in France. And, for many reasons, being treated better is key, not least because if you smell better — and children, I'm talking to all of you — you might get a father-made mega toy made from toys, like those created by artist Robert Bradford. If, on the other hand you smell (and behave) poorly, you might end up doubley maced by your dad and with a 20-foot chain around you.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Comic With Some Pop

Celebrate Jiggs, the dad who went from highs to lows in his search of the comfort of the middle in the comic "Bringing Up Father." This week's objet d'eBay is a first day cover of the 1995 issue (part of the comic strip classics commemoritives).

Jiggs — and wife Maggie, daughter Nora and son Sonny/Ethelbert — were the creation of George McManus, although the idea of a father struggling to find some comfort in life did survive under different author/artists to the year 2000, 46 years following his death.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Seek and Hide

Can a father both hide from and enjoy the success he built with a child? Apparently he can if he is Richard Williams, who built the dream that daughters Venus and Serena will live in today's Wimbledon final, but who will be far from the stadium as the sisters battle for tennis supremacy (and top billing in their own "rivalry"). [Earlier: Venus Risen]

Given his conflicted nature at having his daughters battle it out, one almost thinks Williams pere should have gone into business with his daughters blowing things up in order to really enjoy the day.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Tommin' Dad

Should Ray Romano be taken to task as the "Uncle Tom" of fatherhood? The father of three boys and a girl played the doofus father in "Everybody Loves Raymond" and reprises the idea in his "Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs" in which he plays a doofus wooly mammoth expectant father.

It is true that critics are not being kind to this cartoon series in its third incarnation and so perhaps this will convince him to head off in a different direction, hopefully more like a real dad. And perhaps no judgment should be rendered until taking a look at his "Men of a Certain Age" dramady beginning in the fall, in which he plays a divorced dad of two still to come. So, maybe judgment should be reserved.

Or maybe we just don't need more doofus dads.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Together in the Workplace

Working father to son can be a dream, as exhibited by the five father-son mutual fund company teams the Wall Street Journal profiled. They talk together, like each other and each seems more successful than the previous.

But not every father and son is ready to work together. A good example are the Jimmy Crews, Sr. at age 64 and Jr. at 41. Over a meat slicer, and an eviction and probably a few other slights and slanders the Crews gents got into a gun fight at the Olustee (Fla.) corral. According to the Baker County: "As the two men were being arrested, the elder Crews told police he would not be calling them the next time. He continued to make threats from the detention center. ...'Y’all are gonna have one hell of a gun fight,' Jimmy Crews Sr. said. 'Next time y’all come, there will be a corpse.' "

Not good for business.

And then there is the middle ground. The MacGrubers, for example, have some issues complicating their workplace that probable should have been worked out better:

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Crying Dads, Dramatic Movie

Dutch researchers have established beyond a shadow of (their own) doubt that infants of around two months old are 1.29 percent more likely to cry if the father was depressed during the pregnancy.

It is not quite clear what one should take from this ground-unbreaking study. There doesn't seem to have been a look into whether the men were depressed before or after the pregnancy, or just in life. Likely the percent correlates to babies more likely to be overweight if born to men who gain significant weight during pregnancy. Even more likely, it probably correlates to the likelihood of kids who drink or smoke or become accountants if their father did.

Fathers influence everything about their kids from infancy on, except their sex. However, that doesn't keep stupid things from being said along those lines as well. Karl Howman and Ethem Cetintas, writers, directors and producers of the new, soon-to-be-streaming arthouse cine "Fathers of Girls," are, no surprise, fathers of girls. For some reason they seem to believe this makes them experts on the differences between raising girls and boys. Or, as they say in explanation of FoG:

"Being fathers of girls ourselves, Ethem and I often spoke about how different it is to be the father of a girl, as opposed to a boy.” Said Karl, to which Ethem added: “This was a perfect subject matter to be made into a highly emotional drama using traditional methods of cinema that we both enjoy.
Don't count on it ... or, apparently, the utility of Dutch research.