Monday, August 31, 2009

News v. News

This weekend brought not only real news — Ted Kennedy was eulogized by his sons; Shinjiro Koizumi took over his ex-Premier father's seat even as his party was clobbered at the polls — but also some intriguing russip (rumor/gossip).

In the most extraordinary theory to be created from the continuing sage of Michael Jackson's children [Earlier: Ashes to Ashes; Crazy to Crazy], Macauley Culkin is projected to be the sperm benefactor for Jackson's youngest son, Blanket. Culkin, best known for Home Alone films and his own family troubles, is alleged (by unnamed Sun sources) to have been chosen by Jackson to father a child because he is the child the pop star always wanted for his own.

In the dad's world, too, there is news and then there is the news we all really care about.

Sunday, August 30, 2009


"You change, all of a sudden," Federer said [to the AP about being father of twin girls], snapping his fingers, "from needing nine hours of sleep, to saying, 'five is plenty."'

"Federer," of course, is the current (and perhaps all-time) No. 1 tennis player — appearing left on this week's objet d'eBay, a pillowcase. He begins his defense of the U.S. Open men's single title with his less than two-month old twin daughters, Charlene Riva and Myla Rose, in attendance (actually, probably in the hotel room). It's been a very good year since his last win and the betting is that he will cap it off with another title in Flushing Meadows, Queens. He (and you) will surely need a good night's sleep after that.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

On the First Day

Once again this year The Black Star Project is encouraging fathers to be part of the Million Father March, walking their child(ren) to school on the first day as a sign of commitment and involvement.

Walking is always a good idea. Involvement should be a given in a father's life. If, however, you happen to have a helicopter handy, and think you are involved enough in your son or daughter's education, there is also the way of Bart Sutherin to — as he put it — "...make a positive impression on the other students." He and son Joseph, dropped from the sky via helicopter on the boy's first day of high school. The administration, not having been informed, was quite unhappy with the landing amid temporary classrooms.

While the helicopter is out, Thing 1 and 2, being standard kids of the suburbs, would likely be content with the stretch hummer limo dropoff. Let me give it a moment's thought ... and, now, over and done with. Walk safely kids.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Singing Sibling Rivals

Sibling rivalry is tough enough to deal with, but what's a father to do when it seems almost to cross generations he has created? Such is the dilemma of singer Paul Simon, father of Harper Simon, 36, (with first wife, Peggy Harper) and Adrian Simon, 15, (one of three with third wife, Edie Brickell).

Coincidentally or not, just as the elder Harper prepares for his debut album to drop October 13 comes news that teen Simon is getting his debut out and online in September ... which turns out not to be news since it has been quietly available for months.

How is father Simon going to deal with the competition? No word yet, but it can be expected somehow that the angst and pride will work its way into some new songs.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Mystery Author Mystery

One not-yet-popular theory about why author Lisa Ann Reardon took a 20-guage shotgun to her father's backside is that she did it to drum up interest in her mysteries. Plots of her books include an abusive father, a woman who is desperate to figure out her life and a euthenasia-gone-wrong. So it is only natural that, if as reported there was some undefined dispute with her father prior to the shooting, that tongues will start wagging and people will look into her stories on paper for an explanation for her choice in life.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Edward Kennedy

Imagine Ted Kennedy with a different father. The Massachusetts senator, who passed away earlier this morning from the effects of brain cancer at 77, was the third, nearly forgotten son of a true bastard, Joseph. His oldest brother Joe was the star in his father's universe, but the mantle was passed to brother John — who some say was bought the presidency by Joe. Sr. — when their older brother was killed in WWII.

It is probably impossible to do, but it is clear that after his father's passing, the assassination of two of his brothers, dealing with cancer in two of his three children (who all survived and were able to accept his presidential medal of freedom at a recent ceremony), and being knocked around by life in what could have been a gilded pleasure cage, Ted Kennedy became his own man and the gentleman and father his dad never was. RIP.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Lemons from Lemonada

Probably father Richard should have known better — suppose everyone did it? — than to let daughter Clementine Lee, 10, open her own lemonade stand in NYC's Central Park. However, she had a dream and he indulged her by helping bake the chocolate chip cookies and mix the drink. Unfortunately, after grossing under $10, they were hit with a $50 ticket by park police for selling without a license.

Although the ticket was voided (after the farce became public fodder), there is still something about this that leaves the taste of backward engineering, making lemons from lemonade with the help of a father. Clementine says she is not completely fazed and is ready to go back out with her pitcher.

Which calls to mind the question of what happens with a dad bringing lemons from lemonade. We have the undetermined fate of Ms. Lee. And on one hand we have Newsweek reporter Tony Dokoupil, who had an Edenic life until 10 when his father's drug dealing bust crushed the family, which he eventually overcame to a more interesting (and safer) place in life. On the other hand there's Nebraskan John Golden, whose dad got him smoking pot at 4 and who only now —at age 37 and with 11 more years to serve at a maximum security prison — is beginning to figure out how he might do better with his own four kids.

So no real answers to the questions of lemons and lemonade, but if we were building a brand, Golden Lemonade would be the most likely name, but in real life we have to say the most likely bet is on Lee's Lemons.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Boys Toys

Recognizing that boys like toys, Sony is feeding their new products to daddy bloggers — alas, not this one — in the hopes of picking up some solid viral verbiage.

It does need to be noted that dads are not a fan of every toy, so a breastfeeding-ready doll, for example, is not likely a papablogger fave, even for those typers with daughters (or particularly curious sons), or even most male biology teachers. Also worth mentioning in that not every dad toy succeeds, as demonstrated by the sad fate of Chris Kumar PVE toycompany: it started out as a way for him to follow in his late father's footsteps, but has ended up in bankruptcy court . And as one papa toy company goes down, another starts up. Lafayette's (La.) Chris Hume begins his toys for boys (and girls) company with a top that draws.

So, the fathers and toys dreams live on. No word yet whether Sony has stolen the idea for an electronic version they can feed the blogging pops corps.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Fearless Father

From summer's muggy oppression arises this objet d'eBay, Issue #1 of Daredevil: Father, a tale of a serial killer loose among people with daddy issues in the deadliest heatwave NYC has every known. It is the is the first of six in the series,created out of the pain of losing his own father by Joe Quesada.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Pol Paternity

Traditionally it is a cakewalk for the kid if the daddy was a bit time pol. But if that's the rule there are exceptions.

Among the more entertaining was the on-again, off-now (and probably forever) saga of a handicapped spend-and-don't-tax son running against his tax-and-spend father for Westchester (N.Y.) county executive in the day-time drama known as Spano v. Spano. However, there is competition for the more farcical pol inheritance coming from Gabon as Ali-Ben Bongo runs virtually unopposed for the seat from which his father ruthlessly exploited the country. His platform seems mainly to be that his late dad wasn't the scumbag he is often portrayed to be by "traitors."

Less amusing, just pathetic, is the likely fate of Rory Reid, who is 21 points down in the most recent poll of likely voters who will decide his chances of being Nevada governor. Papa Reid, the U.S. Senate majority leader, is also apparently polling pretty low, but at least so far he has nobody to run against him in his upcoming (re)election campaign.

Speculating about the elder Reid's campaign — and whether disgust for him is hurting his son's chances — leads (sorta) naturally to thinking about the chances for a political career for the youngest of John Edwards children. [Earlier: Judgment Days] His youngest, the baby girl he fathered with mistress Rielle Hunter, is already getting pretty comfortable in front of the cameras, but she has yet to announce her positions on the issues of the day.

Let the campaigns begin.

Friday, August 21, 2009

FFF Fathers

Celebrating Foul Language Friday we highlight two fathers in the news. First is Louis CK, the comedian who brought his life to the stage as a married guy (and father of two daughters) and has just been signed to take on life as a divorced father, his current relationship status, for a series on Fox to begin shooting in the late fall. It's pretty clear he loves his kids, but also somewhat evident why his comedy hasn't worked on network tv so far. His take on his daughters:

Also spitting out NSFW language (but with a fine backbeat) is rapper Lil' Wayne, who is now on his fourth kid while stuntin like his daddy — two in 2009 — with four different moms. The question to be answered is how many of them will be making him proud stuntin like their daddy (and real daddies, don't try this at home):

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Who? What? Why? Huh?

Some days situations and questions roll in, as clear as the fog along the Maine coast as to who's the daddy and what are his rights? Today's contestants:

Frank Hatley is newly freed from prison. The 50-year-old childless Georgian was found guilty of not paying his share of child support — which he apparently did off and on for many years, even though a court knew he wasnt' the father of the child or partner of the mother. It's not that the state has decided he shouldn't pay, recognizing that he is not the father. They've only decided to recognize that not having a job limits his financial situation ... presumably he'll be on the hook when again employed. Thank God for common sense.

Living in a world completely opposite to Hatley is Dieter Erdelt, who can't even see his daughter, much less pay for her. Iowan Erdelt knocked up an employee, an Amish girl who wed her Amish boy as soon as she learned she was in the family way. The baby was born with the Amishman and husband Schrock listed as the pops on the birth certificate ... and so Erdelt was knocked completely out of the loop according to judges who have said that while Erdelt is the bio dad, he still has no rights to see or support the child.

Also finding himself relatively rightsless is Ray Janssen (described as a handsome, gay Air Force veteran) who Florida courts ruled is the sperm donor, but not the father of a 3-year-old baby boy. In the race for legal fatherhood, he has apparently come in second to the lesbian partner of the mother. While everything was hunky dory between Janssen and his partner and the lesbian two for the first two years after he donated the sperm that became a baby, the gals now want to take off for California-land with the young lad and Janssen is suing to try and stay in his son's life. So far, his legal ability to claim a father's rights appears impotent.

Daddies or dupes? Text in your votes.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

War Tales

War captures the imagination. The possibility of death, the spectacle of heroism rivets attention. There is no secret why people want to pose with the son of Alvin York, the most famous American WWI vet, as he tours them through his Tennessee home.

York was famously played by Gary Cooper in the film of the hero's life. And a film is also probably in the works as well for another vet with a compelling story, Rudy Contreras Jr., who recently returned from his time in Iraq to his daughters as well as his father. Contreras Sr. took a wrong turn in life and ended up a veteran of California gang wars, missing out on being the good father but trying desperately to make up for it as the good grandfather.

An unlikely film, but a book with a compelling story of how-it-came-to-be is Last Journey: A Father and Son in Wartime, by Darrell Griffin Sr. and Jr. [Earlier: Tear-Stained Pages] The Griffins began their work together while the son was a staff sergeant on his second tour of Iraq dury and before a sniper's bullet cut the collaboration short. It has been completed following his death and highlights the ongoing connection forged by war between father and son.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Everything Changes

While it is generally agreed that a newborn changes everything in the father's life, "everything" can still include some surprises.

Welshman David Conley found the resolve to deal with his lifelong stammer, because he couldn't pronounce the name of his baby boy, Evan. Men shocked into something even more radical include those men (perhaps apocryphyl) who suddenly found themselves lactating pops because their newborn needed them to. And getting his life changed most of all, and most unfortunately, is Swindon's Dave Robertson, 21, who dropped dead while his partner dropped life, his baby boy Sam.

Nothing prepares you for a newborn, indeed.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Saving Dad

Saving dad seems like a pretty good plan. So, kudos to Jack Foster, 7, who saved his father from dying at the hands of a drug addict who invaded their house and Caleb Truesdale, 9, who brought his unconscious, diabetic dad back from the brink.

There's also a shoutout due Lorraine Sommerfield, much older, who is saving the memory of her father, a compulsive saver (or soap slivers still able to froth and the last bits of shampoo, condiments, toothpaste and everything else that might still be in containers others are willing to give up on).

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Heartthrob Times

Little boys grow up. Even the cutest. Often they become fathers, but rarely do they ever live up to the dreams as fathers/husbands that little girls have about them.

All that blather is inspired by this week's objet d'eBay, a 1972 comic book featuring one-time heartthrob David Cassidy. Cassidy, the son of comic Jack Cassidy, is also the half-brother of Shaun, the man behind his current comeback vehicle, the family affaired Ruby and the Rockits. On the show he plays an estranged father and faded rocker, perhaps not that far from his real life as star of the county fair circuit and father of two (from three marriages), son, Beau Devin Cassidy and daughter/actress Katie Cassidy.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Lack of Interest (?!)

While plugging his latest movie, Funny People, Adam Sandler [Earlier: What's Next, Marriagewise] offered Conan O'Brien the cliche of what it means to have children — in his case two daughters, so far — "Your whole life changes." He also offered the less likely claim that being a father has pretty much ended his interest in sex, which presumably is comedic hyperbole and not something I've experienced or even heard from other men on the street.

If such a loss-of-interest is possible, one can only hope it spreads from Sandler (who with movie may finally be growing up on screen, although admittedly not to the financial reward he garnered acting as the adult baby) to the papas like Levi Johnston, Kevin Federline, Jon Gosselin and others who gained celebrity (and role model status?) through their ability to impregnate. They are not doing us proud.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Gray Matters

Welcome to the summer (or maybe just month) of "the father's ashes." It seems obvious that the quirky use of a father so gray could be an intriguing prop in fiction. And so it is when Richard Russo uses dad in an urn in the trunk as a character revealer in his new book, That Old Cape Magic.

However, grainy, burnt pop also recently played a part in two crimes. In Australia, police nabbed the thieves who snatched up pop in his (tiny) eternal house and returned the urn and ashes to his daughter. In an even more tabloid-friendly case, the Wisconsin bloke who had his privates superglued by four angry-at-him women got back the attention of one of his former lovers — the one who happened to be his wife — by stealing the urn with her father's ashes and threatening to pour out a cup of him for every hour she didn't return his call.

Ashes to ashes, indeed.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

And Father Said Let There Be Humor

Ian Frazier may have hit upon the perfect comedic conceit in his parodic postulation of Father, the god, lawgiver. Who doesn't laugh at the idea that a dad has ever really been in charge?

Thus, sayeth the judges of the 2009 Thurber Prize, let there be a nomination and widespread acclaim for Frazier's Laws Concerning Food and Drink; Household Principals; Lamentations of the Father. And let others enjoy it as a book, with other essays as well.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

More Unlikely Papas

While still awaiting Lonesome George (age: ageless) to finally father [Earlier: Fathers Time] there is good news for those who are rather older (i.e., at least a centennial) but still haven't knocked anyone up: Billy, 100, has gotten Tammy in the family way! Tammy (also a tortoise) had avoided Billy's chasing her around the garden for 15 years now, but based on six eggs laid in the mud does appear to have finally given in to making Billy a man (?).

No word yet on George's latest stab at fatherhood, but there is another unlikely father in the news. It's another story of the father becoming a father as Salford (UK) Catholic priest Father Peter McDonough announced his resignation to the folks at St. Joseph's Mission to Deaf People. After a period of reflection, he decided not to claim immaculate conception as an excuse for his four year old boy with an anonymous one-time member of the congregation.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Fine Fantasy Father Figures

Women of child bearing age and grown men have very different fantasies about fathers.

Based on an unscientific survey of Irish lassies, women are focused on the sex (as in having it) when thinking of who would be the best father to their as of yet unconceived child. That at least is the response of the large percentage of the ladies of the Emerald Isle who chose partyboy/actor Colin Farrel as the man they'd most like to bear with.

Not surprisingly, grown men (artists, anyway) are looking for something different. At the heart of Pat Conroy's new novel, South of Broad, is a fantasy father, an actual good man very different from the cold, abusive, disciplinarian who raised the author. As Conroy told USA Today about his fantasy dad: ""I always needed [a loving father]," Conroy says, "so I created one."

Filmmaker Todd Graff, on the other hand, had a good enough relationship with his own father that he even dedicated his new, Disneyish film, Bandslam, to his recently passed pop — whose coming out as a gay man in his 80s added to the complexity of his relationship to his son and family, although it had nothing to do with Graff choosing David Bowie as the fantasy father figure in his own screenplay. (That fantasy was one near to his own when thinking he'd make his life in music, not on video.)

A rock icon, a nice guy and "the bad boy." Fine fantasy father figures all ... each to his own.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Men v. Rams

Men (dads) are not sheep (dads). Not literally, anyway.

Based on a completely unscientific survey — based itself on one father's sleep-deprived memoir of his six and one-half years waiting for his son to sleep through the night, as well as the experience of one champion ram — it appears that sheep have a pretty good run, but not for very long. Memoir pop, Pete Nelson, has just about caught up on lost sleep and is beginning to feel frisky again about six years after his son, Jack, was born. On the other hand, Britain's most expensive ram Tophill Joe, having spent the last six years making googly eyes (and then following up with a bit more physicality) at ewes, has passed on to that grand stewpot in the sky ... or maybe closer to home.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Honk If You Can Read This

This week's objets d'eBay — first the Florida dad plate and then the Pops from Nebraska — may just seem like someone bragging from beneath their trunk. And maybe they are.

They might alternately be considered, however, as part of hobby a father can hand down to his child. A hobby that like any a dad passes to a child may lead — as it did John Northrup, who received 12 plates from his father — to a lifelong obsession (Northrup has held more than 20,000 of his own plates) and even a bit of notoriety, (Northrup is now author of a license plate book).

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Small Fights; Large Love

It's the little battles. The small, usually unnoticed, personal fights a dad takes on for his children are the ones that speak loudest of love.

Among standard-bearers are Brit Fonz Chamberlain, who struggled with his depression in order to keep raising money for charity after having seen his son John, now 13, saved by a heart operation days after birth. There is also Ron Werstler, smacking wood with his hand for the entertainment of others and in order to raise money for double lung transplants to help kids including his 11-year-old son Brandon, who all suffer from Cystic Fibrosis. And finally, at least for now, we salute vet Louis Haros, who has been under increasing phone and personal pressure to take down the now-tattered American flag he has flown over his house. He promised his son it would fly until he returned from Iraq and while that will, hopefully, be soon, it hasn't happened yet. The flag still waves; the faher still faces the verbal shots of those who want to see the red, white and blue threads come down.

Each and others are small acts of defiance by fathers and large proclamations of their love.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Keys and Common Sense

Common sense suggests you keep your car keys close at hand (and certainly out of the hands of young children. However, sometimes a child's will is stronger than any dad's common sense.

The strength of children's will has recently been displayed by a Utah 7-year-old who nicked his dad's car keys and took off — at up to 40 mph — to avoid spending a hot day in church. Similarly (but with a much sadder ending), a 13-year-old near Philadelphia threw something of a trantrum and got the keys to his father's Durango, which he then drove from the fourth floor parking area onto the street below, rolling dad's tank over on a Toyota and sending himself to the hosptical in critical condition.

Sadly, it is not just kids who have to accept some common sense. There are fathers wandering about who could use another couple CS classes, including Louisiana's Matty Dewitt, 32, who correctly figured that since he was too drunk to drive he should hand his keys to a designated driver. So far so good. However, he designated his driver after getting drunk and police pulled over his white van with his nine-year-old daughter in tears and behind the wheel: they were not much impressed with his explanation that he just wanted to teach his daughter to drive.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Escape from Dad's Shadow

Playing at a "theatre" near you everyday is the horror (?) show many kids [barely] live through: ESCAPE FROM DAD'S SHADOW! The stars do change. Currently in repertory is a funkmeister's daughter, manchild of a melodious maven and scion of an action/comedy star.

First up, Ty James, the daughter of passed superfreak Rick James, who is trying to emerge as her own person by bringing her dad's story to both the stage and screen ... possibly giving fathering fool Eddie Murphy another shot at redemption. [Earlier: Accounting] Next, we have Crosby "son of Kenny" Loggins releasing Time to Move the "prize" for winning MTV's "Rock the Cradle" over other kids of musicians who hadn't yet broken out on their own. [Earlier: Rock the Baby] And, finally, we have actor/musician Jaycee Chan trying not quote to break out of dad Jackie's shadow [Earlier: Crazy Monkey] as to actually break into it by starring in his first comedic action film — the type that made pops famous — the currently-in-production "Tracing Shadow."

Will the critics be kind? Will you?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Denuncing de Dad

Thing 1 announced that an earring (on my ear) was absolutely out of the question and would only mark me as an old fool. Thing 2 denounced my car and clothing, nearly pleading with me to change my errant fashion ways. Still, I take some solace from the shame others' daughters have cast on their dads.

Tatum O'Neal has suggested her drunk, abusive father Ryan was a tad over the line (although not unusually so) when he suggested a romantic liaison with her as the post-funeral delight to the burial of his longtime "love" Farrah Fawcett. Also, the unmolested Barbara Berlusconi, daughter of Italian prime minister Sylvio, thinks that his dropping 6,000 euro's on a necklace to hang around the necklace of an 18-year-old model was completely inappropriate and offered no comment but plenty of disapproval in case anything else went on between the silver fox and doe eyed kit.

And those are just the words left hanging in the air. author Laurie Sandell decided she had enough of living with the shadow he cast and outed her dad as an incurable, pathological liar in her new graphic novel, The Impostor's Daughter: A True Memoir.

Of course, rather than be glad the Things aren't making more of all this, maybe I should show them the articles and book and let them know how much better they have it?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Love and Longing in Pretend Land

Endless fictional possibilities. Birth to death and back ... all in a pretend sort of way.

Such can be the path of a father's love (or love of a father) which stretches from the beginning point of pretending to be pregnant by hauling on the "empathy belly" — a 33-pound contraption designed to torture men the way nature tortures pregnant women, but without the glow — and carting it around for as long as possible ... no more than a few hours. And that love can go all the way to bringing back dad from the dead, or the closest thing possible as a Vermont man did when he dug up his father's cremated ashes from a graveyard and schlepped pops back home, because "he missed him."

Monday, August 3, 2009

Diamondback Daddy

The Holy Grail of dadding: Doing the stupid (say, holding onto your kid while snatching a baseball) and making it look like you had it perfectly planned all along.

And so we doff our caps to the Diamondback daddy. All honors sir, but it would have been even cooler if you had a beer in the other hand and caught the ball with a cap clenched between your teeth — just something to think about for next time.

The Disappearing

Fathers are disappearing and we can't even alert the media.

An Aussie Doc, Robinson, a parenting "expert," says too many men aren't dadding up — taking one or all the kids on his own. Not enough dad time and the kids suffer.

...and the pops disappear: Fathers are disappearing throughout Australia. However, lest you think this is just a problem down under, a McClatchey Newspaper report explains that fathers are disappearing from the parenting mags as well.

Maybe we need to figure out how to move the father figures from parenting pages to the personals so we can get these men dates (albeit with their own children) and keep them from disappearing onto the backs of milk cartons.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Onesie Wonder

It is, of course, ridiculous to use a baby as a billboard. Still, rather than let the kid do the talking for the father, too many put words into (pull words out of?) his or her mouth. And so it is with today's objet d'Ebay, a cutie-pie onesie positing the conceit that a newborn has any idea at all about father coolness.

More intriguing — tatoo and billboard related — is the tale yet to be completed of a Bloomington, Ill., man who is allegedly offering his arm for advertising in the interest of raising money to go to nursing school and take care of his daughter. An eBay search turned up no such auction.

Another story of dads and tatoos yet to be completed is the "search for the unkown soldier" being conducted by a Duluth (Minn.) lass. She picked up the "I Love You" note from the soldier's daughter that he was having transcribed onto his body before he left for Iraq and — being inspired enough to honor her own father through tatoo — she carried the note around for a year and would like to return the note to the dedicated/decorated dad, if she can find him.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Stats on Richer and Happier

Statistics compiled by the Australian Institute of Family Studies suggest fathers are richer but not happier after divorce. Once again, however, it is the individual cases that really tell the tale.

For example, at least from the outside it is hard to think that the divorced Michael Lohan [Earlier: Wild or Too Mild?] and d-to-be Jon Gosselin [Earlier: J&K+8-K=A Better Idea]are happier, but perhaps not richer — as they now pitch a reality show based on their own scummaledivorcee adventures.

Also richer post divorce is the Melbourne pop whose daughter nabbed him a quickie divorce as he lay dying. We dare the accountants to prove his is also the happier life now.