Saturday, July 28, 2012

On Amazon Mom and Gay Marriage

The name "Amazon Mom" has bothered me for a while, and I've mentioned it a lot on the blog. I cringe every time I see it, and especially when I get emails like this one:

Amazon Mom

Because although I could definitely use some toning, I'm not a busy mom. 

I love Amazon. I'm a Prime member and I even use their credit card. But every time I use the "Amazon Mom" discount I feel like a traitor to the cause. Basically, I'm a member of a shopping club that ignores fatherhood, because it saves me a couple of bucks on diapers.

Luckily, news yesterday will stop me from feeling guilty about being a member or even about shopping at Amazon: Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon, and his wife donated $2.5M to protect gay marriage in Washington.

Sure, I believe fatherhood shouldn't be ignored by corporations, because that helps sustain a view of society comprised of women who do parenting and men who happen to have kids (and sometimes help Mom), and that view may in turn convince men they don't need to step up, which is a big problem for society. But the big picture is that men, whether they have children or not, are not second-class citizens, and we shouldn't confuse the struggles of stay-at-home-dads with the idea that we're somehow victims here. No matter what, men still do better than women, and much better than gays, lesbians, and transgendered people.

Bezos' donation puts things in perspective. I have it good. I have some problems as a stay-at-home-dad in a changing society, but my marriage is not threatened and my civil rights are guaranteed. My morals are not questioned and my kids are not bullied because of whom I have chosen to love.

"Amazon Mom" annoys me, but it's just a name. Yesterday's donation protects families in Washington while risking the wrath of shopping bigots nationwide. Congratulations, Amazon, all is forgiven.

And while we're here, nice one, Target.

Target Gay Marriage

Thursday, July 26, 2012

A Dad Was Playing Online With His 2-Year-Old. Then, This Happened...

Saw this picture on Reddit. A dad was playing on the computer with his 2-year-old when this ad appeared...

A Dad Was Playing Online With His 2-Year-Old. Then, This Happened...

At first glance, it was kind of funny, I have to admit.

But it's more than that. I wouldn't say it's the fault of the kids' game site, because I remember how tough it was to block these ads in the past. The particular site the ad links to uses a hundred of different domains that forward to their main site, so every time I blocked a domain, the ad appeared under a different one...

The responsibility to block these ads, to make sure a site can't use multiple domains to avoid blocking, and to make sure ads like these never appear in anything but adult sites, belongs to Google. These are Adsense ads, and unless Google wants all parents to start using ad blocking extensions/add-ons, they need to step up.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

I Answer Dude of the House's Questions. Yep.

So Jay (aka Dude of the House) tagged me in a blog post a while ago. Now, the honorable thing would have been to wait a year before acknowledging it, but I have no honor left, so I waited a month.

I'm supposed to answer these 7 questions, then add 10 random things about myself. I follow orders.

  1. What is your favorite song?
    • Damn... I'm already stuck? Maybe "Is She Really Going Out With Him?" by Joe Jackson? Or "Sulk" by Radiohead, because of the bass line? Or "You and I" by Stevie Wonder? Or "Broken Heart" by Spiritualized? Or "Waiting for Superman" by The Flaming Lips? Or "August & September" by The The? I can go back in time, too. How about "Comfortably Numb"? Or freakin' "Stairway to Heaven"? That's a great song as long as you take a decade break between playing it. Or I can go even further! Why not Sinatra singing "Body and Soul"? What about "The Cinema Show" by Genesis? How about "Scent of Lime" by The Long Winters? My head is exploding... Can I move on already? "Venus as a Boy" by Bjork. "Little Trip to Heaven" by Tom Waits. Alright, that's enough.
  2. What’s your favorite desert?
    • Desert? Seriously? OK... I haven't been to THAT MANY deserts, to be honest. I've been to the desert in Israel and it's beautiful, but I can't really compare it to other deserts. Was it supposed to be dessert? Because then it's Nutella.
  3. What do you do when you are upset?
    • I go, "Arrrrrghhhhhhhghhhhhhhhghhhhhhhh!!!!!!!" You know Inspector Clouseau's boss from the original movies? The one with the gun lighter? That's me.
  4. Which is your favorite pet?
    • We adopted two Pit Bulls in 2000. One of them, now 16, is still with us, and she's the greatest, stinkiest creature on Earth. I don't get cats. And I don't get small dogs.
  5. Which do you prefer, White or Whole Wheat?
    • White. Gotta live a little.
  6. What is your your biggest fear?
    • I'm afraid of fire. Does that count, or was I supposed to put something meaningful, like regret?
  7. What is your attitude mostly?
    • I probably have undiagnosed bipolar disorder. I move quickly from "I'm old and pointless" to "It's a Wonderful Life."

    And now, I must add 10 random things about myself. Here goes:

    1. I once worked for the security team on one of the Queen's parades in London. I had one those ear-pieces even. I was supposed to look at the crowd the whole time, but I couldn't help myself, and I turned around when the Queen passed with her freakin' chariot. She did that wave she does. You know, the wrist-wave. She looked like the Queen from the Naked Gun movies.
    2. I played bass in a band in London for 5 years. I was a Rock-God, to be more precise.
    3. I'm an Israeli, and I was in the military in Israel for 3 years. I consider it a waste of everybody's time, to be honest. I pride myself on being a terrible soldier.
    4. I jumped off a bridge in Israel. A bunch of us in our unit did that. The guy who jumped next to me later died from a landmine in Lebanon. 
    5. Obviously, I have issues.
    6. And to lighten up a bit: I danced in a cage once. In a gay club. Yea... You never really know where life will lead you, do you...
    7. My mom caught me stealing some candy when I was a kid, and she gave me THE LOOK. I haven't stolen anything since.
    8. I had a near-death experience once. With the tunnel (looked more like eye of the hurricane), and the light, and the clear decision to "stay away from the light" and everything. My wife says I was just drunk, though.
    9. I love being a father, but the responsibility is overwhelming.
    10. I love being a husband too, and the responsibility is just as overwhelming. I've taken the best years of her life!!! Poor thing was 22 when we shared our first beer. I was 54.
    11. I wasn't really 54.

    So there's that. Sorry if I depressed you. This stuff is always and forever at the back of my mind.

    Now I need to tag others? I know not everyone likes doing these things, so I promise I won't be offended if you ignore this tag or complain and call me bad names. Here are the five bloggers I shall indeed tag today:

    1. Tommy from Life of Dad
    2. Brent from Designer Daddy
    3. Lee from Souvenirs of Fatherhood
    4. James from Luke, I am Your Father
    5. John from Daddy's in Charge?

    Saturday, July 21, 2012

    Dan Gets a Minivan -- A Review

    Dan Gets a Minivan

    If you've ever wandered whether bookstore employees judge your choice of books, you'll be happy to know you're very perceptive. As someone who worked in a bookstore for 4 years, I can tell you that we judged, criticized, and scorned you. We made fun of your mystery books, your politics books, your CDs, your wall calendars, and even your pop-up books. We were superior in every single way.

    The good news, though, is that you were not our main targets of scorn. Your ridiculous purchases were nothing compared to a random paragraph from a random best-seller. We used to pick these books, these "beach reading" or even "reading group" books, and tear them apart when there were no customers around.

    Which is why every bookstore employee, like every record store employee (which is also something I did in the past, of course), is so hopelessly frustrated all the time. How come a book about knitting sweaters out of dog hair gets published, but I can't get an agent to read my inner-conflict masterpiece? Vampires? Really? Alternate history novels? Again with the "What if the Nazis had won"?

    Every once in a while, though, we read a book that has the opposite effect. Instead of pushing us to write (because the world needs us, dammit!), a book makes us realize there is in fact such a thing as good writing. It's depressing at first, the realization that the world may not need us after all, but it's also a good thing. It reminds us of the magic of reading (remember that?). It gets us into the mind of the writer, and resistance is futile.

    Dan Zevin's new book, Dan Gets a Minivan: Life at the Interaction of Dude and Dad is that kind of book. It makes me want to be a reader, rather than obsess about writing. It makes me laugh even though I'm sitting by myself. Actually, while reading the book, I tried to remember when was the last time I laughed like that, and I had to go all the way back to Three Men in a Boat. It's that good.

    In Dan Gets a Minivan, Zevin gives us his story--the story of a man in his 40s, who struggles to discover his true identity, in a way. Will his new minivan define him? Will his kids change him to something he hates, to someone he loves, or to someone he should leave alone because introspection is a young man's game?

    Really, I'm probably doing the book injustice by over-analyzing. It's the book I would have written if I had been a better writer and had a better sense of humor.

    Most importantly, don't worry about me. The feeling that the world doesn't need my masterpiece won't last long. And even though I no longer work in a bookstore, the arrogant prick mentality will stay with me forever. Soon, another vampire best seller will make the rounds. I'll watch the movie and see the vampire playing piano with his teenage lover, and think, "I should really start working on that screenplay."

    I was given a free copy to review, etc...

    Wednesday, July 18, 2012

    Looking at My Boy

    I'm early to pick my boy up from preschool, so I walk outside the building with his younger sister. I stop in front of the school playground, where my boy is running around.

    What used to be running for the sake of running, is now more complicated at the age of four, when he's more socially-aware. I see him navigate his way around other kids. He climbs up on a structure, where a girl he has mentioned to me before is sitting by herself. As soon as he climbs up, she gets down. He stays up there alone for a minute, then climbs down, disappearing from my view. A minute later I see him running in circles with another kid. Then he's running by himself--the other kid got distracted and my boy didn't realize he was running alone. He doesn't mind. He keeps running.

    And it's not going to get any easier for him. At least for the next 10-15 years, he will continue to navigate his way around other kids, trying to make friends, dealing with rejection... I see him growing up, learning life-lessons before my eyes, and all I can do is reiterate my promise to be there to reassure him and to support him.

    I promised myself years ago, before I had kids or imagined what having kids would be like, that when I were a parent, Home would be sanctuary away from the insane, random nature of life for kids. I told myself that when my kids came home from the emotional roller coaster that was school, they would be safe.

    And yet I fail. Every day.

    I see the teacher calling the kids back to class, and I walk inside to get him. My boy is happy--he's had a good day, he tells me. Then he says something wrong, or he tells his sister something mean, or he walks the wrong way, or he complains about something... And before I have a chance to think, to reflect on my vision of Home as sanctuary, to remember my past promises to my yet-to-be-born child, I lose it. I yell, or let go of his hand, or diminish his self-worth. And before I have chance to think, I've turned Family into yet another obstacle he must navigate around while he keeps on running.

    Looking at My Boy

    Monday, July 16, 2012

    Dad to Dad -- Book Review

    In the days, weeks, months, and years before our first baby was born, I read about a hundred parenting books. Well, maybe not a hundred, and maybe not years before the birth, but at least ten books, all of which were targeted toward expectant or new moms.

    So I skipped the birth parts and the breastfeeding parts, and a few other parts I skimmed. And the thing is, I thought this was the way things were. I knew I wanted to take an active role in my almost-born kid's life, but I thought I had to learn my way by reading books written for moms.

    However, that was before I became a dad and before I started getting conscious about the way dads were being ignored by the media. Now I look back and think it was unacceptable for soon-to-be or new dads to read a "What to Expect..." book. I'm not saying parenting books for men should include centerfolds, but they should simply be geared toward men. While moms need tips on breastfeeding, dads need tips on helping moms breastfeed. Men need parenting books written by dads for dads, in short.

    Which is exactly where the book Dad to Dad: Parenting Like a Pro comes in. This book was written by David L. Hill, a (male) pediatrician, the publisher is the trusted American Academy of Pediatricians, and most importantly, it's written for dads.

    I believe a society gradually moving toward full acknowledgment of fatherhood needs this book. Dads need to know what to expect just like moms do, but they also need to be addressed as dads. We need to know how to take care of our newborns, we need to know about vaccines, we need to know about fevers, sleepless nights, discipline, diapers, and "the talk." And we need to know about these things and many more without putting fatherhood on hold while we're reading a parenting book.

    I received a copy of the book for this review. Opinions are mine. MINE!!!!

    Dad to Dad

    Dad to Dad: Parenting Like a Pro

    Monday, July 9, 2012


    We fill our blogs with widgets, and we submit posts to social media, and link to previous posts and announce future posts, and before we know it, we forget it's all about the writing. In the end, though, that's what blogging comes down to. That's where it started, and that's what's still best about it: honest writing and real stories.

    Letters to my Daughter, is just that. Each post is a letter to Norman's daughter. There are no pictures, no social media buttons, and no ads--it's blogging, nothing more and nothing less.

    And it works. Each post reveals more about the writer and about his family, each post tells a story, and each post makes the reader reflect about his (or her, really) own actions. And yet somehow it doesn't feel contrived.

    I've written many times that between Twitter conversations and conventions meet-ups, many blogging dads end up talking among themselves. I wouldn't say there are cliques, because the word has negative connotations and that's not what I mean, but limited time to read means we often read blogs by people we already know. I hope I can get you to expand the circle and include Letter to my Daughter in your reading list.

    Friday, July 6, 2012

    The Kingslayer's Daughters

    Here's one for Game of Thrones fans. Like me, you're probably settling in for a long winter that will seem to last a lifetime until the show returns in April 2013. Until then, here's Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (aka the Kingslayer, Jaime Lannister) being interviewed by his two daughters.

    The Kingslayer's Daughters

    Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime Lannister in Game of Thrones) interviewed by his kids, Safina (8) and Filippa (11).

    The Game of Thrones hunk tries, and fails, to slap on the parental controls.

    Filippa: Dad, when are you going to let us watch Game of Thrones?

    Nikolaj: Oh, no! No, no, no. We’ve let you watch a few of the fun parts, but there are many more parts that are just not for kids.

    Filippa: My favorite part was when you pushed that little boy out of the window when he saw you kissing that girl.

    Nikolaj: You saw that?!

    Safina: It’s fun to see you on TV even when you’re being bad! How do you feel about being away from us when you’re working?

    Nikolaj: That’s by far the biggest downside of my job, having to be away from my favorite girls. But we all had a great time on our holiday to Los Angeles, right?

    Safina: Yes. But the traffic isn’t fun.

    Nikolaj: The traffic is pretty terrible. I can’t imagine the road rage in this town — there’s nothing even close to it in Denmark.

    Filippa: And we loved going to Disneyland. Mom was screaming so much that she lost her voice!

    Safina: How funny is Mommy on a scale of 1 to 10?

    Nikolaj: She is definitely a 10! She can make the funniest faces and has a very good sense of humor.

    Filippa: What have you learned from living with all girls?

    Nikolaj: I grew up with a single mom and two older sisters, and now even our dogs are girls. So what have I learned? Three things: great patience, that I’ll never understand women, and that my male friends are very, very important to me.

    Monday, July 2, 2012

    Louis C.K.: "A Kid Never Goes, 'Oh, Thanks. I Get It.'"

    Louis C.K.'s Girl
    Just bought two tickets to see Louis C.K. on New Year's Eve. We're sitting all the way in the back, and all we'll see on the stage is a tiny red dot, but I'm sure it'll be worth it, especially since he's selling the tickets himself, bypassing the evil Ticketmaster.

    Also, how hard can it be to find a babysitter on New Year's Eve?

    And also, watch this video.


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