Friday, April 30, 2010

Smashing Success

It could be a Jane Austen novel, if the prime mover of chick lit wrote today about fathers and sons and baseball (and basically was a completely different author writing completely differently than she did). Actually, that's just a twisted way of talking up the story that could be titled "Pride and Vexation."

Hudsonville (Mich.) Junior Shane Trevino hit the first home run of his high school baseball career, a game winner, smack through the window of the car his father parked outside the stadium. Was papa Tony ecstatic? Obviously. Was he taken aback to realize that he had to go in to his boss and explain how the (estimated) 67,000 to one occurrence will cost his company some change? A bit, but only before he went back to celebrating his son's success.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Castrate or Celebrate, That Is the Question

While there is an argument to be made, as Malaysian senator Ahmad Hussin does, that fathers who abandon their children should be castrated, let's not rush too quickly to judgment. Perhaps there is a good reason; perhaps there is a backstory that explains the situation in a way that touches hearts across the galaxy; perhaps it is even strong and good enough to serve as the basis for saccharin sentiments — something like Hallmark's new Star Wars-themed Father's Day cards ultimately celebrating the love of Luke and abandoning-pop Vader.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Tie That Nicely Binds

A perfect father-daughter story was mostly ruined last Friday. Gordon Wood and daughter Amy, both college professors and historians were also finalists in the history category of the 2009 The Los Angeles Times Book Prizes.

Wood the elder, a history professor at Brown, was nominated for his study of the turbulent first years of America, Empire of Liberty. Amy Louise, pride of Illinois State and mascot Reggie Redbird, was honored for her take on events a bit after daddy's bailiwick in Lynching and Spectacle: Witnessing Racial Violence in America, 1890-1940.

Alas, neither Wood were able to outpoll winner Kevin Starr, who writes of the glories of California (an inside job LA Times?) during glory years 1950 to 1963 in Golden Dreams. So while it would have been a glorious ending if the historians' families could have celebrated a dual win, there is perhaps some comfort to be drawn from the fact that they tied for second (along with the other nominees who didn't win).

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Should We Stuff It?

“It is not about stuff," says Peter Buffett in Business Week." ... it’s not about accumulation or the bling.” The quote raises an interesting question about its author as Buffett has written Life Is What You Make It and also lives the life of son of gazillionaire investor Warren "sage of Omaha" Buffett.

Does PB gain credibility for talking about making it on your own when he has mostly forsaken the safety net of his father's fortune or can his prescription only be taken with a grain of salt because that safety net is so prominent ... and nobody, least of all he or his father is going to forget it? Similarly, does brother Howard Buffett earn his new role as the new chair of his father's Berkshire Hathaway company because of his values — outlined in his book talking about the frailty of humanity, Fragile? Or is he just there because of his name and how that might calm nervous investors when his father steps away?

We could simply pretend PB doesn't have the comfort and take his lessons without context. But in real life that is unlikely to happen, because to greater and lesser degrees (and ignoring whether it should be the case) it is about the bling.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Funny, That Doesn't Sound Like a Joke

This week's objet d'eBay is actually an important lesson from a different site of sales. You probably already know that it is a very bad idea to sell kids (on eBay or elsewhere). NOW BE WARNED: Do not even joke about selling your kids. Some people have very different sense of humor.

Joshua Stagnitto, 24 of Rochester, N.Y., thought it would be at least mildly amusing to add to throw up a Craigslist offer to sell him one- and two-year-old boys, for "child slaves and footstools," with the accessories of a 12-pack of diapers, and one dirty t-shirt. "Special pricing" was $40 dollars for one, $200 for both.

Police and child service agencies were not amused and he was arrested with a "falsely reporting an incident" charge. That doesn't seem to make any sense, but remember, not everyone has the same sense of humor.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Hey World, Look at (Little) Me!

Based solely on the out-of-control myspace-like confabulance of painful color and graphic contrasts making up his website  maybe George Mason economics professor Bryan Caplan shouldn't even have been allowed to have twins. But there isn't (and shouldn't be) any law that the graphically-challenged can't be great fathers.

So, if at least in theory and practice Caplan could be a great father, exactly why is he creating such a great storm with the to-date hypothetical musing that he wants to clone himself and, truly literally, raise himself up by his bootstraps?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Comic vs. Funny: Dad's Death

A movie and near tragedy remind one that a father's death can be comic, but it can never be totally funny.

Getting very mixed reviews is Death at a Funeral, a Hollywood remake of a British comedy about the posthumous unraveling of a man's life — very, very complicated, secretive and slightly scandalous life — and how it unravels his family as well.

In real life, also comic without really being funny, is Mullion'  (somewhere near Cornwall) Andrew Wythe, 52, whose life was saved by his son spritzing a bottle of Coke all over him. Wythe set himself aflame while trying to start a fire by using gasoline. Son Nicholas grabbed a 2-liter bottle, shook and sprayed away. Comic? Absolutely. Funny? Not so much.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Mitigating Factors

Does Fielding's (NZ) Wayne Schwamm make poor choices or is he actually stupid. Unfortunately, that is not what a judge got to decide, nor was the justice enshrined with power to even suggest a better path for the 42-year-old father of one.

The case Judge Michael Behrens actually heard was about Schwamm leaving his 18-month-old, who suffers from a heart condition, in a car outside a strip club. Schwamm's plea was that he was only going in for a couple minutes to pick up a stripper who was going to help and his partner (not the mother) work out some kinks in their relationship. Long story short: the stripper had to work a bit of overtime and 40 minutes later when Schwamm excused himself from the bar and got back to his son, police had broken into the car.

Originally due for a (NZ)$2000 fine, Schwamm impressed the judge (and maybe we should consider his choice/stupidity equation separately) by explaining that he would have taken his son with him into the Mermaids Splash Club, but then he would have gotten in trouble for taking a minor into such an establishment. So, not-quite-father-of-the-year Schwamm walked out of court and into a pub with a (NZ)$200 fine and his son with the mother

Monday, April 19, 2010

Here's Looking for You, Kid

Is it a curse if your father lives forever? That is the question at the heart of Stephen Bogart's every day life.

The minor media star (think G list) is the son of the the iconic every (little) man, Humphrey, and has wrestled with being enveloped by his father's legacy pretty much every day since he was born to Bogie and [Lauren] Bacall. The elder Bogart died in body when his son was eight, but in spirit and character he is the reason people call his son out of the blue to ask somewhat random questions. In 1995 Stephen tried to come to terms with his life in Bogart: In Search of My Father. In 2010, he is still promising behind-the-scenes looks into what his dad was doing before he was born because that is what people want from him. As time has gone by and he has  searched for dad and only maybe found him, perhaps it's time he goes searching for dad's son?

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Getting Dad a Job

Multi-millionaire, former VPOTUS candidate Sarah Palin is a controversial figure for many. Trying to find some common ground, can we suggest that all feel positive about her as someone who found a job for her father? Chuck Heath, dad to Palin and three others, was a retired Alaskan teacher up to his daughters' campaign. Now, he is a featured speaker flown across the country to support political candidates and movements.

Good on you, Sarah.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Whuppin' Time

One of the great and romantic visions is of a father carefully disciplining his son, teaching a lesson that will last a life time and forever curb the child of his misbehavior.

So who wouldn't believe Nasser al-Awlaqi's promise that he'll make sure his son behaves?

Unfortunately for father and son it turns out most people, particularly those in the U.S. government who are trying to toss his preacher son, Anwar, into jail.

Apparently, the g-men aren't fans of the younger al-Awlaqi's reading of religious texts — particularly the part that inspires vehement loathing and physical violence against his fellow American countrymen. Now,  maybe if father al-Awlaqi was willing to duct-tape his son and then  whip, pinch, and kick the beejezus out of his son (like the Texas dad who said he was only doing what his Bible told him was right) then maybe he could seal the deal. Until then, the son remains in the crosshairs.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Good Times

Is it payback time for Charlie "not me" Rangel?

The Manhattan congressman captured his seat in 1970 by besting Adam Clayton Powell Jr. , who was elected to the seat in 1944, but fell slowly from power through one ethical mudslide after another. Now, Adam Clayton Powell IV — one of two ACP IVs as his half brother ACP III has a IV, as well — the former Congressman's son has decided Rangel is the mudslider and will challenge for his seat.

In a good omen for the entertainment value of the run, Powell IV begins the campaign against the recently scandal-soaked Rangel a little over a month after being convicted of drunk driving.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Not a Bum

Susan Walker had a father she thought was a hero, a baseball hero even, but she's always been reticent to tell people about him. This week's objet d'eBay remembers her father, Fred Walker, with an autographed picture from 1947 the year when he went from hero, "the people's cherce" of Brooklyn Dodger fans downward.

In that year, Jackie Robinson joined "the Bums," breaking major league baseball's color barrier over the objections of many, including Fred (better known as "Dixie") Walker. With that nickname, he was an obvious person to be prominent in opposition and that prominence has continued despite his later recognition of his own mistake.

Currently, the daughter's hope for a reconsideration of her father's legacy lie with a boy who idolized Walker and grew up to be sportswriter Maury Allen. Their Dixie Walker of the Dodgers is kindling for the promise of redemption.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

My Boy Can Whup Your Boy

While it is a standard part of pre-fight hype for fighters to mouth off about each other, the Floyd Mayweather-Shane Mosley fight scheduled for May 1 in Las Vegas just offered a fascinating side show. The daddy lions were roaring about their boys.

Both Jack Mosley and Floyd Mayweather Sr. have had their ups and downs, as father and managers, with their sons. However, nothing is stopping them from grabbing themselves some limelight, most recently as two ends of a single conference call promoting their sons trying to beat the living daylights out of each other.

I know when Shane fights he fights the way I've trained him to fight... we've already laid the tracks across our brains how to fight him, ....It's not going to be a surprise to me when Shane wins because we've already had the strategies for years.  – Jack Mosley

First of all, I heard Jack. He is crazy ... Shane's going to get his ass whooped. ... Floyd's faster than Shane, much faster, much slicker, more clever, smarter. You understand? – Floyd Mayweather Sr.

Fight On!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Not Quite Masterful

Like a rhinoceros in the living room, it is difficult to miss the irony of the latest Nike ad. On the eve of the golfing whoop-de-do in Augusta, the Just Do It company unveiled a commercial without their catch phrase. And their star, in black-and-white (take a moment, think about it), is Tiger Woods, who just did it and is now being punished for it. Adding even more, he faces the disembodied voice of his father, the late Earl Woods, who just did it as well with a lady other than the one to whom he was not wed. [Earlier: Some Tiger Snark]

Do it, indeed. As the ad asks, "Did you learn anything."

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Boooorrrrrrring. Good Enough?

We are constantly faced with the surprising amount of knowledge kids have about grown up activities. But how much do you trust their wisdom? That is the dilemma facing British Conservative Party leader David Cameron.

His son Elwen, 4, said, "stop making so many boring speeches, dad. However, Cameron's party is currently up 10 points in the polling prior to the May 6 election. Are the boring speeches the cause of success? Could they possibly be holding the Conservatives back from clinching their return to power after 13 years? Most importantly, will the son be able to say, "I told you so" or will the dad be able to hold his head high, still knowing a bit more than his progeny?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Uneaten and Unbowed

Sometimes dads get it wrong. Not often, but often enough to keep us humble. That's the current news with the report that Fraser Robinson — father of FLOTUS (first lady of the U.S.) Michelle Obama — figured her beau Barack wouldn't be around for long. "She'll eat him alive," he is reported to have judged according to A Game of Character, a memoir by FBILOTUS (first brother-in-law of the U.S.) and basketball coach Craig Robinson.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Forsooth Forsythe

Before he became famous playing fathers and non-father father figures (as in Bachelor Father and Charlie's Angels), John Forsythe was a "legitimate" actor. This week's objet d'eBay, the Playbill from a 1949 production of Tony-honored Mister Roberts, remembers the late actor and the time before he became the [male] face of Dynasty. As he mentioned once or twice, making schlock did not make him the best actor he could be. However, it did give him the time and money in his life and to revel in the life he created with one son, two daughters, six grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Punch Love

In one of the more unlikely love stories, we find a father, daughter and boxing. It was explored in detail a few years ago as A Surprise in the Ring in the Los Angeles Times by Kurt Streeter. A former gang banging, heroin shooting, ex-felon Joe has a bond with his third-child baby girl that blooms into an extraordinary partnership in the ring. Now, potential 2012 Olympian Seniesa Estrada, on the verge of turning pro, has joined her father in telling their story, "My Daughter the Boxer," for Story Corps. At eight she wanted to box; at 17 she's on her way to being a media star in so many ways because of the natural love between father and daughter.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

On the Hook

It is not clear from the rules if entry into the Fredericksburg, Va., Free-Lance Star outdoor columnist Ken Perrotte's 12th Annual Take Dad Fishing for Father's Day Contest requires that the son or daughter be the one who initiated the idea for the holiday outing. All it requires is that the child, aged 5-9 or 10-13 write about 250 words (or less) in their own handwriting about why this seems like a great idea.

So, if contests are your thing and you are in, near or have always wanted to see at least a few of the great fishing holes near Fredericksburg for The Holiday, get your child cracking.

If fishing isn't your thing and you're still feeling a bit Anglish, another competition has started up in Lincolnshire. Gerry Burks, 74, and Dennis Ealam, 76, have both laid claim to the title of Britain's oldest new father. Burks got out to a fast start, but Ealam caught and passed him relatively easily. However, there is still time (admittedly not as much as their children might like) for others to start their own engines.