Wednesday, September 30, 2009

From a Father's Loss

The fathers' loss category appears to be an odd, but growing, international marketing niche. The good news — for now, at least — is that the fathers who suffered and their future like are the ones to benefit.

Out of Indiana comes Tuesday Mornings with Dads, tales of fathers who have lost a son or a daughter. With obvious reference to Mitch Albom's Tuesdays and the Chicken Soup series of personal growth essays, the book hopes to reap profits for charities important to these fathers of tragedy.

Via Paris (although focused on American service) comes a calendar raising funds to support, a site for the grief and support of men who have lost children to war. There is martial art and for every man who contacted producer Blackwell (whose son was blown up by mortar in 2007) about his own loss there is a star noting the day when the child died.

Honoring grieving fathers and helping them honor their children is a noble idea. Unfortunately, it is one thing to hope that only those personally affected guide these products and another to truly believe it will be a long time before random and unconnected folks and businesses start making money off the "father's loss" hook.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Evil d. Good, Again

An unfortunate life lesson is offered with two recently published books.

St. Louis Park's (Minn.) Lloyd Svendsbye has written about growing up with an honorable man. His memoir is titled with his father's death bed statement about his contentment with life: I Paid All My Debts. Svendsbye, a Norwegian immigrant, created a life from the Minnesota soil, fighting against the harsh climate and through the Depression, among other farming challenges.

Queens (N.Y.) Victoria Gotti has also recently penned some thoughts about her dad. This Family of Mine talks about growing up as the child of a thief, extortionist and killer. With her brother and sister chiming in with publicity to help remind folks about their dad's evil — even as they claim he was practically the stereotypical loving papa at home — it seems pretty likely that the heinous will vastly outsell the virtuous.

Presumably (hopefully), the afterlife reward varies significantly from the one here on earth.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Father of Father Goose

As imagined by L. Frank Baum (father of four ... and of The Wizard of Oz):

Old Mother Goose became quite new,
And joined a Women's Club,
She left poor Father Goose at home
To care for Sis and Bub.
They called for stories by the score,
And laughed and cried to hear
All of the queer and merry songs
That in this book appear....
And so this week's objet d'eBay is a relic from 1899, the second edition of nonsense poems (some quite offensive to modern taste) that paid quite a few bills, which is a pretty good reason for a father to get his nonsense on.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Pink and Gray Stories

What daddy stories should you tell? Our current preference is for all pops to tell Binky the Pink Elephant types of stories

like the two fathers who decided to publish iPhone books. After all, Binky is much safer a tale than lying to your son about what kind of spy you were during WWII with tales of gray.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Singing the Dad Songs

Unfortunately, there isn't enough news (even so-called news) to rinse out the taste of Mackenzie Phillips' joint sordidity with her musical father John. There is the news that son Adam Cohen has begun to embrace the musical influences of his folk legend father Leonard. And a father-son (ages old and 7) rocking out to Pearl Jam is a heart-warming story of a boy's first concert and a dad's dream-come-true.

It's a microcosm of most lives with fathers where the extremely bad so often blankets the many small goods. Alas ...

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Dreaming Big

Daddy dreams news.

We have the wonderful, such as the fulfillment of Mizzou man Johnny Stabno's generation-long dream of climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, reaching the summit on his 64th birthday alongside his son, Andreas. And we have the likely loony theory that Barack Obama's Dreams from My Father [Earlier: Dreams] should really be called "dreams from a Kenyan father as transcribed and repurposed by a discredited 60s radical." That theory (established belief among those who hate the current U.S. president) in simpler terms, is that Bill Ayers is the real author of Obama's memoir.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Fake Daddies. Real Lessons?

The caring-but-out-of touch-old dad, the oblivious-I-am-your-friend dad and the gay dads. Four actors play pops in the new ABC sit com, Modern Family and so let the competition begin for best dad (or least best lessons to be learned from any dad). Hopefully there'll be at least a few.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Not What You'd Think

More material for the "don't jump to conclusion's file": From the culture of gay can come surprising fertility.

In nature, evidence comes from the partnership of two Griffon vultures. Dashik and Yehud, both male, were an item before a zookeeper thought about making them foster parents, which they did successfully before splitting up. However, post split up, the gay dads biologically fathered with new, female partners, having baby GVs on the same day and with the exact same weight.

In politics, we have the case of San Francisco (the Gay Sodom, according to some who believe the San Francisco treat should be nothing more licentious than rice). Mayor and gubernatorial candidate Gavin Newsom has been busy off the campaign trail twittering the birth of his new baby girl, Montana. Newsom follows in the stroller path of former mayor Willie Brown, who also fathered while in office and joins an apparent heterosexual fertility culture by the bay in City Hall as supervisors and others have also become new pops.

And the lesson is ...?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Heads Up

Two children have put their fathers' heads to use. One to the good; one to the grizzly.

An Ohio gent, Jack Hopkins, is growing his hair out until it will be long enough to cut into a wig for daughter Heather, balded by her chemotherapy for cancer. As he told The (Ashtabula, Ohio) Star-Beacon, "[My hair] needs to be eight to 10 inches long and I am just about there. She can have it any time she wants it. This is her hair, not mine. I’ll happily go bald for her."

Somewhere near the farthest extreme from that heartwarming tale is the continuing sagae of
Gregor McGurk, 44, who used pop's cabeza as a football a bit over a decade ago. He hacked it off with a knife and knocked it about a parking lot. To general outrage he will soon be moving his previously (and perhaps still) Scottish schizophrenic self to a lesser security prison. Headlines, obviously, proclaim the outrage.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Aaaaarrrrrrrrr Ready to be a Pirate Father

What changes a man from dark to light(er)? "Oh boy, very simply, instant perspective of having kids," according to Johnny Depp, an actor/father appropriately called to attention today, in honor of Talk Like a Pirate Day, for his continuing roles as pirate captain Jack Sparrow and as a two-daddy (Jack, 7, and Lily-Rose, 10) who can't accompany his kids through Disneyland "without things getting weird."

Whereas before, for years and years, none of it ... none of it made sense to me at all. I was confused by it, didn't know what it was all about, what everything was for. Then, suddenly, when you are holding your child, I was like, 'oh, okay, I get it, I was an idiot. Sorry.'

Friday, September 18, 2009

Awe Struck

As Judaism sits on the cusp of its Days of Awe, it may be worth every father — not just the Jewish ones, since this isn't the worst idea you'll be presented with today — considering who he is, how he sees himself and how his loved ones relate to him. In short, do you want to be the California dad whose 39-year-old son trades your car for $50 in crack or theVirginia father whose 9-year-old saved his life when it was threatened by a diabetic siezure.

May you get a good signature in The Book of Life.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


It's PICTURE DAY here in Whinydadville. Apparently this is a big deal for Things 1 and 2.

Hair: check. Makeup (i.e., acne scrubbers): check. Coolest outfit that does not look like you're trying too much: check. Check from WD for pictures that can be taken better at home: check. Father's mystification: check, check, check, checkmate.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Moving On

According to a recent World Economic Forum report, Great Britain is less financially secure than Peru. So should a concerned father say "pip, pip, cheerio" to the pride of the Union Jack and "hola" to the land of the llama?

He might consider it in his role as breadwinner, but in his role as dad he might keep in mind that Peru — in a "groundbreaking" vote — is now offering four days of paternity leave while Parliament just approved a parental split year of leave, giving dads up to six months of quality time with their newborns. Not to complicate the decision too much, there is also the fact that most dads don't take all the paternity leave they're due.

What's a dad to do? We recommend giving himself a break from his worries and comforting himself on his unchallenged role as the funnier parent:

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

If You Say It, Do It

How much does Elton John want to be the father HIV/Aides infected 14-month-old Ukrainian Lev? The boy, and his baby brother, spend their days (may spend all their young lives) in an orphanage, where they caught the eye and heart of the flamboyant singer.

John announced his interest in adopting the boy along with his partner, but, reasonably enough, Ukrainian law decrees that an adopting parent can't be more than 45 years older than the child. More arguable, the law also says the parent can't be single and, unreasonably, couples in a heterosexual marriage can adopt while those in a single-sex marriage are barred.

But what's to keep John from being intensely involved in the child's life even if he is barred from taking the boy(s) with him? What's to keep him from living as a father to the best of his abilities and circumstances just as so many other dads do? It's one thing to say you'd like to be a dad with your partner some day — as Neil Patrick Harris recently declared. It's quite another to take the full plunge by single dadding four Sierra Leone orphans, as did Brit Matthew Morgan-Jones. Within that spectrum leaves plenty of room for John to step up to his stated desire of fatherhood ... and we hope, Ukranian government notwithstanding, that he'll dive right in for the sake and benefit of Lev — a child unlikely to have many better options.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Or Not to Be

It's a race to the non-birth.

An Israeli researcher, Dr. Oren Hasson, posits the existence of "super sperm." SS have the speed and power to fire past a woman's biological defenses and fertilize an egg multiple times, ruining its fetal capacities. At the same time, researchers around the world are pursuing the dream of male contraceptives that can be ingested, not worn.

What's a father-to-not-be to do, other than wonder what would happen if he actually did take up an increasingly complex job?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Hot to Trotsky

Leon Trotsky, the featured radical on this week's Time Mag objet d'eBay, was a revolutionary father who couldn't keep sons Lev or Sergei safe from Stalin's harm.

Among other sons he inspired is David Tierney, son of Canadian film producer Kevin T. The inspiration is The Trotsky, a story written by the young Tierney about a boy who decides his biological father has been used by fate only to provide the sperm that allows him to live as a reincarnated Leon.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Dads' Poll Bearers

Admittedly it's only daddy intuition that says so, but we got scr**ed by Liberty Mutual.

To peddle a few more policies they are promoting a survey maligning fathers as worser steerers than mothers. The survey comes up with results like

"Moms are more likely than Dads to follow precautions to protect their teen while on the road, such as asking that their teen call them when they reach their driving destination (89 percent of Moms vs. 79 percent of Dads)..."
as if demanding a call was the same as protecting a kid. And it relies on self-reporting without taking into account the greater likelihood of a man bragging about screwing up something when the outcome doesn't cause a problem. It seems to offer no controls about who drives when or how much and, as reported, seems about as statistically valid as an online poll discussing Michael Lohan and Jon Gosselin as BFFs.

But it's out there. It will be quoted. So, thank Liberty Mutual. Why again couldn't you just stick to suing other insurance companies and leave fathers alone.

Friday, September 11, 2009

A Lying Father Remembered Lovingly

"The aging process is not gradual or gentle," wrote John Mortimer in "The Summer of a Dormouse: A Year of Growing Old Disgracefully. "It rushes up, pushes you over and runs off laughing. No one should grow old who isn’t ready to appear ridiculous."

However, if one is to grow as "ridiculous" as the late creator of Rumpole and other characters eventually did, there has to be some, if not enormous solace in knowing that one has created in life the love among one's children great enough to produce the eulogy his daughter Emily has penned for the man she claimed was having fun living, lying and loving up to his final breath.

Not quite as eloquent, but equally loving is the tribute to a fellow fictionaire, Dominick Dunne, by his acting son Griffin.

The lesson to be learned surely is to raise kids who love you and can write. Good luck with that.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Foot, The Ball, The Variations

The new football season means different things to different people.

It means kicking a ball and not using one's hands to some; unfortunately a group includes a Bournemouth father-of-four named Meadows who was so upset at a referee's decision at his son's school game that he felt compelled to kick the soccer/football out of an opposing team father.

It means the release of themed books, including the kids' book, Family Huddle, constructed around the Mannings, legend Archie and Super Bowl sons Peyton and Eli (and the near-forgotten non-QB Cooper).

And for a very unfortunate few, football is the memory of a sit com's meddlesome father:

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

ABC: About Boobies & Crickets

It would seem likely that the father in the news for the most unlikely act would be Ragnar Bengtsson. The 26-year-old Swedish economics student has decided to try and learn (adapt?) to breastfeed — hopefully not for his 2-year-old.

However, breastfeeding pops is somewhat traditional, or at least part of some discussion. [Earlier: Everything Changes] For today, however, what seems even more odd is the father who is a champion cricket spitter (at least in Wisconsin) and seems to be bringing his son up in his blue ribbon spittle.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Drugs and Dads

Happy endings are not as interesting, but they are more reassuring. So we praise Daddy GaGa, who talked Lady GaGa down from her cocaine habit and, sorta, Canadian Rob Watt, who paid for his daughter's crystal meth habit to keep her from a worse fate and until he could turn her life around as he set his own back on the straight(er) and narrow(er).

However, the story that will get most of the headlines and readers is that of Mitch Winehouse throwing out of bed and house the ex-husband of daughter Amy [Earlier: Good Intentions, Dumb Results]. Father Mitch believes his singer daughter was first enmeshed in drugs through that connection. And few doubt he will lose his battle to keep them apart or that he was wrong when he said, the Rehab singer drug connection hubby Blake will "... kill each other if they got back together."

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Working on a Holiday

Some jobs are better than others when you have to work on Fathers' Day. Playing tennis would seem to be one of them. A shout out then — on FD, as celebrated on September's first Sunday in Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Papua New Guinea — to Aussie Lleyton Hewitt, father of Mia Rebecca and Cruz Lleyton, as he takes on new father of twins, Swiss Roger Federer [Earlier: Ace] today in the US Open Round of 16.

Friday, September 4, 2009


"But it's not my fault!"

Which father hasn't endured that plaintive progenal plea, often following some parental curse at events? Sometimes, of course, it is the child's fault, but it certainly seemed like a reasonable course of action at the time. Such a series of events is reported from Nakuru, Kenya.

Rather then celebrating and offering his blessing when he returned from a business trip to discover his son was newly married, Kelvin Ochoko cursed his son and caused him to be cast out of the local society. But it wasn't really his fault. Really.

Ochoko elder had been presumed dead when his family heard nothing from him for a long time after he went off to pursue money enough to make up for what his second wife's dowry cost him. And a body was found and identified as him. Soooooo..., in accordance with custom, childless Brian Ochoko, one of two sons took a wife. Actually, he took his father's new wife. This was the unfortunate surprise when dad finally came home. Thus, dad was declared alive (and cleansed). Dad cursed son. Son was cast out. His fault? Really?

The only good news for young Ochoko is that Justin Halpern, currently underemployed and living in his parent's house, has landed all sorts of attention by keeping track of his father's curses and other critical comments. He Twitters pop's invectives and agents, publishers and even film producers have all come calling. So get those thumbs moving BO.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Pothole Posse

The Yin/Yang of the universe includes many places to turn for advice (about fatherhood, for example) and entertainment as well as many potholes to avoid. It appears that avoidance can be aimed in the direction of the "reality" of Househusbands of Hollywood. According to a grumpy-looking SAHD from LA, a bunch of guys living off wealthy women does not make for a good place to learn about being a dad or anything else.

As for perhaps the worst moment so far, when one loser takes advice from infamous father Ryan O'Neal. [Earlier: Denouncing de Dad] If this show is the fathers (three "stars" out of five) only chance at getting themselves some respect, they are already too far behind the Real Housewives of Atlanta (or Sheboygan or wherever else there are tv-real housewives and should probably turn to Plan B: just being the best non-celebrity fathers they can.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


Bragging on the progeny is one of the joys of daddom. The skill to be mastered by the father who wants to come off looking best is to highlight the excellence of the child, while also getting in a couple plugs for the part parental wisdom played in making it happen. It's not an easy line to walk.

Recent examples include an essay about the joy of being a cheerleader's pop after having the older siblings excel in "real" sports. Father Kuyper lists how much pride he has in his daughter's skills and work ethic and fantasizes how he'll talk up daughter Kamryn's performance to the star quarterback's dad, but never quite stops suggesting how much happier he would be if he had the quarterback and could humor the cheerleader's dad.

Finding a little better balance is baseball scout Chuck Fick, who talked the St. Louis Cardinals into drafting a certain Chuckie Fick: "I signed [my son]," Chuck Fick said. "I was the cross-checker, and I was also the area scout. There's no nepotism involved if you have talent, and he's got talent." Enough talent, anyway for the 15th (out of 50) rounds.

And somehow managing to make both his daughters and himself even more larger than life through a bit of jawing is Richard Williams, father of Venus and Serena. [Earlier: Seek and Hide] Among his lessons from the Q&A with Macleans Magazine are the gems:

"... I’d take them to the police department where they could see people in jail. I wanted them to see people on drugs. I wanted them to see how athletes make some of the worst decisions and lose their money at an early age. If you can see it from the beginning then you can learn."

"... If your child is going to be super good and the child has confidence, your child can be great. But when you push the child too much, you don’t give the child confidence. ...I’ve seen kids get pushed and damaged. You see kids that are told they’re nothing. That’s past the extreme."

"... I wanted to be a dad. Lots of times during interviews Venus and Serena would say, “Well, my dad, he’s my coach.” And I’d say “Don’t ever say I’m a coach, I’m a dad.” I wanted to be a dad more than anything else ...."
Don't we all.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Still Under Daddy: The Singer, Writer and Rodeo Gal

Fairly or not, there are some names that a child will never escape. They are the victims who live under the shadow their father cast by his life and work, no matter how successful they may be on their own.

After admitting that he expected nothing of the son because of how much he admired the father, Nat Hentoff profiled Frank Sinatra Jr. [Earlier: Ol' (Pale) Blue Eyes] and snagged a a quote and mood that sums up much of his life as "His Son: "There's very little demand for my recordings," Jr. says in a somewhat bitter, somewhat regretful manner.

There's also little presumably little demand for the works of physics teacher Felix "son of bestselling mystery author Dick" Francis. This despite the father's reliance on the son for help with his own books. The natural thing, then, is for son to co-author with his father and share a title as a bestselling author.

It is one way of sneaking under the radar, as is taking on your dad's business, but keeping the name. That's the strategy of bronco gal Kirsten Vold, who took over the Harry Vold Rodeo Co. from dad, even though that was never his plan. All seems to be going well for her and she is slowly gaining respect at "the big man," but her biggest problem (like all the others) remains. Dad's still the guy to take her down a peg even if the general public can be encouraged to respect her for who she is. "I'd say he probably can still take a whippin' belt down with me," she admits about her retired octogenarian father.