Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year, Every Year Wishes

The year ends, but the wish for fathers and their children remains evertrue:

Celebrate your dad. Wear his gun ...

Just don't turn into the "old bastard"

Happy, Healthy New Year.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Van the Tired Man

UPDATE: We Wuz Fakd Ot
respect to the coming days of singer, songwriter Van "Brown Eyed Girl" Morrison, we present the lyrics as pre-recorded (in "I'm Tired Joey Boy) of the 64-year-old dad with his new son:

I'm tired Joey Boy
While you're out with the sheep
My life is so troubled
Now I can't go to sleep
I would walk myself out
But the streets are so dark
I shall wait till the morning
And walk in the park

This life is so simple when
One is at home
And I'm never complaining
When there's work to be done
Oh I'm tired Joey Boy of the makings of men
I would like to be cheerful again

Ambition will take you
And ride you too far and
Conservatism bring you to boredom once more
Sit down by the river
And watch the stream flow
Recall all the dreams
That you once used to know
The things you've forgotten
That took you away
To pastures not greener but meaner

Love of the simple is all that I need
I've no time for schism or lovers of greed
Go up to the mountain, go up to the glen
When silence will touch you

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Brandishing Lessons

Everyone knows that included in a father's responsibilities is teaching important life lessons to his children. Still, there is a certain art to teaching and not every dad has mastered it. Sometimes, even when the lesson is a good one, the delivery keeps it from being learned.

For instance, the Widness (UK) wonderer David Flynn was seemingly trying to explain how much pain the problems presented by his daughter and ex- were causing him. However, it was really not a well-thought plan to snatch up a sword and swing it about in a room with an 18-month-old baby and two other young children while threatening to literally demonstrate the stabbing pain they were giving him. Surely, with thought — and probably a bit less alcohol imbibing — Mr. Flynn could have made his point in a more readily grasped manner.

Similarly, kids should be careful with guns. Obviously, they have no idea of the pain that can be caused or the potential consequences of something fired ... even a bit of metal as tiny as a pellet. So we must take a moment to praise Palm Beach's Christopher Cady for disciplining his son after the latter shot his autistic cousin in the backside with his Christmas present. However, with that moment passed, it is important to point out that shooting his son in the chest to demonstrate the pain has proven an unsuccessful teaching moment unless dad was focused on teaching how one can get hauled off to the slammer for shooting someone, even with an air rifle.

Both instance do bring to mind one of the most important things fathers can teach. "It seemed like a good idea at the time" doesn't make it the right thing to do ....

Monday, December 28, 2009

Putt Putt Yuk Yuk

Ah yes, the universe has its jokes. The latest is that Tiger Woods new audiobook, something or other about golf, is timed for release on father's day. Of course, by that time if the various tabloids are to be believed, he could no longer be with his kids.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Gifts

At this time of year, the cliché "I couldn't think of a better gift" gets enough overplay to last a year, if not a lifetime. Still, it is pretty hard to think of children being returned to their fathers from difficult circumstances without getting at least a tad misty-eyed.

Merry Christmas to the Wichita, Kansas, father who was careless enough to leave his son in a parked and running truck. Fortunately, the someone who came along and snatched the truck before realizing the 10-year-old was in it told the kid to get out ... which he did before walking back to report to his dad that the truck was stolen.

And Merry Christmas to Dick Dekker, who had his daughter put in his care rather than social services. Laura, 14, had run away when told she was not going to be able to sail solo around the world. As he should, he's agreed to help her work through a court-ordered period of study and preparation before she — with his blessing — takes to see how she can sea.

And, finally, the veriest, merriest of Christmases to New Jerseyite David Goldman, who has spent five years without his son. [Earlier: Cooking Rights and Responsibilities] A Brazilian court has ordered the politically well connected step-family his ex-wife married into while still married to him to return Goldman his son, Sean.

Cliché alert: 'tis the season.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Father-Lizard News

The Yin. The Yang.

Singaporean Bima, a Komodo dragon, is father of a newborn of so far undetermined sex after being caged up with Yoko for the last year. Apparently this gives hope to imprisoned Komodo dragons worldwide as it is the first time a dad in captivity has been able to sire.

Unfortunately, there is balance to the good from Eastern Kentucky, where a 44-year-old human dad led his 18-year-old on a crime spree that saw them pickpocket a 2-year-old bearded dragon named Big and then try trading him for hooch.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Who Sucked the Life Out?

Nature's father-teen metaphor: Pipeline father's "suck the life from their young."

Few will hear of it — it being a nature story, after all — but teens in particular will feel the pain of the pipeline. That fish, looking like a straight version of the related seahorse [Earlier: Is Pops Preggers?], also is one of the very rare species where the male carries the babies. (In this case, the fertilized female passes her eggs to inside the daddy-to-be for nourishment 'til birth.)

A new study suggests that a father may be ingesting some of the hundreds of possible pipeline. However, another hypothesis of why fewer come out than go it is much more likely to those who have gone through fatherhood. In this scenario, it is not the father who feasts on the embryo, but the pipeline kiddies who cannibalize each other.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Rereading Dad's Letters

While very sweet, the genre of collecting a father's letters does significantly lower the bar to authorhood.

So, we celebrate new authors Jeff Chostner and Richard Leitman. Chostner collected the letters to his grandparents from his WWII naval pop into "Pueblo Sailor" — actually it was his grandfather who saved them (the lowered bar).

Admittedly, Wayne, New Jersey's Leitman did a bit of his own typing. Still, what carries his book, Dear Roz, are the letters his soldier father wrote his mother from the groundwar in Germany. He may have found out a great deal about his father, following the latter's passing, but it is still his father's words that carry the day, but give his son authorship.

But as we celebrate the authors, praise them for keeping their dads' memories alive, we do regret that what is surely extraordinary material is not being made into books a bit larger in scope and imagination.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Dances with Schlock


This week's objet d'eBay, a schlocky daddy-daughter dancing memento, arrives the same week as a ridiculous hypothesis that fathers deliberately (perhaps unconsciously) dance in an absurd manner. Mass retailer Hallmark is selling the schlock, a researcher/dancer/twitterer from Hertforshire is selling the theory that men don't cut but fold and manipulate the rug to show they are no longer of good breeding stock. It's a marriage made in parody heaven.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Ashes to ?

One source is an observation; two is a trend; three is a movement. So, we're watching an uptick in the trend of stealing fathers' ashes.

Naturally, we're also on alert for a movement. A "pretty box" containing ashes of the former commodore of the Puget Sound Yacht Club was stolen from his vacant retirement cabin: his daughters want him back. And, near Detroit, the dad who'd been riding in his son's trunk as a sack of ashes was snatched up.

No motive was apparent in either case, although it is not impossible paparazzi are staking out Keith Richard's house in case he has decided to snort father ashes that aren't his own. [Earlier: Fifth Commandment]

Friday, December 18, 2009

Not Your Everday Legacies

In real life you don't always — or at least think you don't always — live up to your father's legacy. Is it because you didn't listen hard enough to his wisdom? Did you fail him; he you?

Probably not ...

Or at least we like to think not, a preference reinforced by two recently released stories. The first, the graphic novel The Wizard's Tale, which focuses on the quest of aged Bafflerog Rumplewhisker. BR is a trying-to-be-evil wizard, who follows in the line of his evil wizard father, grandfather ....

The second story is the first from Viking Dad and offers the moral we should all live by, "Never Leave Home Ahead of Your Axe and Sword"

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Where His Dad Sat

Time to move beyond "my/his father's shoes" as the cliche — as in my/his father's shoes are large ones to fill.... Fortunately, we've got just the spectacle to help.

The shoe words and images are pretty well shopworn. In addition to all the bad Hallmark poetry and spiritless obituaries that have dragged it down, we've also lived through the country ditty "Walking in My Father's Shoes," and the made-for-tv snorefest, "In His Father's Shoes."

What's needed is a new way to say or do the same thing. A few years ago Eric Clapton tried working with "My Father's Eyes." Nice, melancholy, but not something that draws attention to itself.

Not like RISKING DEATH in your father's seat. That's the way that Robbie Knievel rolls. [Earlier: Daddy Daredevil] Next May, Evel's son will try and jump London busses, the stunt that ended his father's career. Junior Knievel will even upgrade to a Harley, just like dad. So let a thousand cliches bloom, a million images fly as we praise the son for trying to fill his daddy's seat.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Some Tiger Snark

And now a dose of Snark: Like lion like tiger (which does assume the Lion is the father of the tiger, which we do admit is not true, except in popular imagery).

The latest lady to step forward to besmirch the golf glory Tiger Woods is an alleged high school girlfriend. Dina Parr was dug up to report that he could never get over his father going for the hole in one with a woman to whom he was not currently wed.

Despite the gossip goo of Tiger swinging his driver as his daddy died, it is certainly true from all appearances that he worshiped father Earl, who passed three years ago. And thus — to an icon's deconstruction — we have to accept, at least in this case, like father like son.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Give and Take of Death

It's good to read that fathers' deaths make a difference in the lives of their children. It is a mite disheartening sometimes to read how that happens.

For example, Kentuckian Denton Cooper managed in death to saddle his daughters with a step-mom they didn't know much about while he was living. Now they say she married him while he was in a coma on the edge of his demise. A lawsuit has been filed, but as of now, the girls have almost half a year to get their thoughts together about purchasing next year's Mother's Day presents.

Unfortunately, his father's death didn't give Yorkie Sean Watson, 5, anything. It even took away a school treat. It seems The Ryecroft Primary School has a disco extravaganza for kids with perfect attendance, but Watson's absence due to the family's grieving for his father disqualified him from strutting his inner Travolta.

Such is the give and take of a father's death. It seems usually to change his childens' world, but rarely for the better.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Dancing for Tears

It's the holiday season and time to cry. So let us induce those tears with two stories of dancing.

First, all Chattanooga (Tenn.) Nola Beth wanted from Santa was one dance with her Iraq-stationed dad. Father and daughter got their ballroom dance, a memory for both when he returns to danger and she returns to life without him.

Second, there are the fathers filling out the corps as dancers with the Longview (Texas) Ballet Theatre's Nutcracker — not really a dad-friendly title, but a classic, nonetheless. They say they do it for their kids, but it's pretty clear the fathers are getting as much or more out of it for themselves.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Father Xmas?

Who the h*** is he the father of? Does St. Nicholas, "father Christmas," actually sire a holiday? That is the conundrum of this week's objet d'eBay, a quilt featuring the saint, icon, man behind jolly ole St. Nick (aka Santa Claus).

There's a bunch of words explaining who St. Nicholas was and how some guy who allegedly drops gold down chimneys in Turkey becomes a reindeer slave driver from the North Pole. But none of the words seem to get to the point of how he becomes a father.

So, is he or isn't he a dad? Just a few more days this year to ponder it and then we can put away the discomfort (like broken tree bulbs and shredded tinsel) until next year about this time.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Tragedy Plus Time and/or Distance

Often, what passes for amusement comes directly from tragedy.

First example is thanks to the Colorado Springs, Colo., son who happened upon his dead dad and, "because he didn't want people to see him that way," puts him out with the trash. Hard as it is to believe when thinking of the what an idiotic criminal would look like, so far the son, who not surprisingly does have priors on his arrest record, has been charged only with tampering with evidence, not yet patricide.

Second, we have the bemusement that comes from poor writing. A Texas marine suffered the horrible tragedy of his premature baby daughter. The day after she came home from the hospital she died. Nothing funny at all about that — in the same way a son who kills his father draws no smiles. However, reduced only to a poorly written headline, A Dallas tv station writes up his memorializing his daughter by running a marathon with the headline, "Marine to Honor Daughter Who Died of SIDS in Marathon." The struggle, of course, is that of a reader trying to understand how a child young enough to die from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome was running a marathon, not at all in the wonder of why her father would honor her.

As father-of-four Mark Twain said, "humor is tragedy plus time," to which he might also have added "distance" as that does seem to make it all safer.

Friday, December 11, 2009

New Newborn News

It is certainly impressive that famous footer father Tom Brady has produced a new child with a supermodel while staying on good terms with the mother of another of his children [Earlier: Tommy Two Time], a mere model.

In the modern miracle sweepstakes, however, sports news takes a distant second place to that of new geek demi-god, Britain's Leroy Smith, who blackberrily googled "how to deliver a baby," when his wife went into labor (labour). Fortunately, he went to a legitimate site.

Of course, if you can successfully search the internet for how to deliver your own kid, is it possible Brady might have webbed his way to fathering with multiple beautiful women or did he have to rely on the old-fashioned way.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

It's Always Daddy's Fault, Isn't It?

Too bad. It's just too easy to blame the father for his notoriety when a child of fame struggles, yet that's the story you'll often read. Today's examples: Alexa Ray (daughter of pop Hall of Famer Billy) Joel and Mark (son of infamous scammer Bernie) Madoff.

The lady of the news OD'd on some homeopathic remedies without having yet gotten her singing career into second gear and was rushed to the hospital surrounded by comparisons to her very succesful father, who had tried killing himself age 21 — that is, he did it earlier and probably better than she. Of course, it is true that if she weren't the daughter of the spotlight nobody except the local paper's police blotter would even note that a girl who didn't seem to be going anywhere and had just broken up with her boyfriend had a mishap.

The boy we're supposed to feel sorry for is a 40-something-year-old man who while he was on top was the personable, hypochondrical, mood-swinging, arrogant son of a very wealthy man -- who gave him much from the stolen sums. Now, he is unemployable by other firms as a result of what his father did (with some help) and hasn't yet come up with a business idea of his own.

Is it all dad's fault? Wouldn't it be nice if the stories could be written differently, perhaps letting the kids have a little more of their hands in their own shame?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Funny but True

Fathers and children may role play — one a businessman by day, the other a daytime math student, for example — but ultimately they are who they are. So it is when Mike and Jessica Weiss (South Brunswick, N.J., father and daughter combo of "Grandma Hates Technology") take to the stage. They improvise a variety of situations with comedy as a goal, but their relationship always comes through, and no time more truly for the father than when his daughter verbally flips him off and he responds, "I'm a little slow, but I [finally, after nine years] got it..."

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Time for the Non-Talk?

Much is made of The Talk ["The Talk" Talk; Blah, Blah, Blah, Sex, Blah, Blah; The Talk]. Less attention is paid to the timing and substance of "the non-talk."

The NT is called for usually in the case of crime and can (or cannot) be led by father or by child. An excellent example of the NT is the one accused Nazi collaborator John Demjanjuk never had with his son about his past. As a result, JD Jr. can insist that it's all an evil conspiracy against Ukranians that has his 89-year-old father on trial for WWII war crimes.

A less exemplary example of the non-talk is that of a Keystone, Colo., boy who did not mention to his father that he would be using the "I am having a sex change" alibi when he was nabbed for using a stolen/borrowed ski pass. Conversely, the father who was going to murder his wife, his son's step-mother, should probably never have brought his son along (or should have first discussed their joint story) as it was the boy who gave him up to the cops.

So, a word (really, words) of fatherly advice: If it's important, get your story(ies) straight ... or don't say anything at all.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Remembering When

Every father was different when he was young. Each pop said he'd raise his kids differently than how he ended up raising them. Celebrity dads aren't different, at least based on the material being cranked out of the publicity machine attached to Robert De Niro's new movie, "Everybody's Fine."

A 30ish De Niro is featured from his younger days in this week's objet d'eBay, a postal cover highlighting the actor in his iconic role — one of a series of De Niro stamps Tadjikistan issued in some philatelic pandering. The 66-year-old is the gent talking about his latest role, as a father of kids who love him, but just can't live with (actually, even anywhere near) him.

In real life and the movies he expresses wisdom and some regrets. As a movie dad of four, he claims he'd "ask less of the kids. ... as long as they're happy, that would be okay." As a real life father of five he claims (from the LA Times piece), "I'm not as good as I thought I would be about forcing them to do things ..." and that as a father, "You find yourself saying things you never thought you'd be saying."

De Niro talking about being a father is a long, long way from the guy on the postal cover. That guy, almost forty years ago is famous as a single, loner whose most famous line is, "You talkin' to me," which is very different from the most famous line of most fathers, the shrilled-to-his teenager's back, "I'M TALKING TO YOU!"

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Facebook Father Facts

Apparently, reaching out to others — even multitudes you do not know — is the new way to reach out to your father. Maybe it's always been this way, only now it's news and so seems new ... via Facebook.

Children can defend dad, as Sarah Henderson did when she FBed about her father's firing from General Motors, "Have fun with GM, I hope to never buy from this God foresaken company again. F- all of you."

Kids can set up a FB page to ask others to help them search for dad, as David Legg's children did when he suddenly walked out of their Christchurch house with health issues and following a family feud.

And they can even try to convince their father in a way they can't by making a one-to-one appeal. Such is the road taken by Speck Mellencamp, who made a deal with dad, rocker John (Cougar) Mellencamp, to collect 1,000,000 FB signatures in exchange for pop going cold turkey on his nicotine addiction.

On line pleadings for offline happiness. Who knew?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Choice Leavings

Today's party game for fathers is "what would you rather leave your child?" The options are an inheritance of immunity for crimes or free money from the government.

On the one hand, you could be crime boss John Gotti and leave a "teflon coating" to your son, Junior. Father eluded conviction three times by virtue of a mistrial (before getting snatched for life on the prosecution's fourth try) and son, privileged inheritor of the "gee, I dunno nothing about that dead body" gene has now beaten his pop's record, achieving four mistrials in the last five years and home making breakfast for his six kids.

Your other choice is to Bruce Beeler, whose passing two years before his wife gave birth to a child doesn't keep her from his social security survivor's benefits, according to a federal judge. Six-year-old Brynn will be banking some federal funds for college in the name of the father she'll never know until we all go Back to the Future, unless a judge's decision is overturned on appeal.

A get-out-of-jail free card or a free pass to the nearest bank. If you had the choice, which Monopoly card would you deed your kid?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Father Figures

A father's journey grows from the abstract to the specific figure to focus on. Not wholly coincidentally, that is the journey described by Helen Park Bigelow in David Park, Painter: Nothing Held Back her tribute to her father.

Her celebration of her father is also part memoir. Once he was bold with a brush, the most important figure in his family and celebrated as part of a larger art movement. And then he grew, becoming more self-contained in his work and celebrating the person or people in front of him (above, Two Heads), not himself by using his model. Park's body was recycled to the earth — he suffered from bone cancer while painting to the end — but his spirit continues through his daughter, a tribute to what happens when you go from the abstract celebration of "you" to the specific complement of the people in front of you.