The Father Of Our Country

lincoln(I am re-posting this as I do every February 12, on Monday, Feb. 12, 2018, the 209th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth.)

This site is mostly about the funnier aspects of fatherhood. But while humor is necessary to get through the insane situations your kids put you in, being a dad isn’t all silliness.

When you become a father, your responsibilities increase by an immeasurable rate. You are not just in charge of yourself, you are in charge of another life and all that it can become from the moment it enters the world. Everything you have done before that moment you hold your child for the first time doesn’t matter anymore. Everything you do from that moment on, for better or worse, will be etched in perpetuity.

You will wake up every day, and know that this experience will not end. Ever. Even after you are gone. You will find yourself amazed every day at what this life will bring to yours. You will make decisions that at times will not be enjoyable for yourself or your child. But you have to do such things because you have to. And sometimes, as a father, that is the only reason that matters. Because you have to.

I can’t think of anyone who, during the worst time in the history of the United States, had to do so much just because he had to than Abraham Lincoln. And because of this, he became the true Father of Country.

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The Drink Of The Weekend: 19 Crimes Cabernet Sauvignon

As part of our mission here at Why Daddy Drinks to revel in the humorous lunacy that is fatherhood, and to promote the drinking of quality beverages, we bring you our erratically scheduled segment highlighting something that should be in your glass. This is The Drink Of The Weekend.

I have always had a thing for Australia. It might have started back when I was a kid and Olivia Newton-John was singing and acting her way into my dreams when she was in “Grease”. I’m sure it involved kangaroos and koalas and the mystery of why these animals were only found in this strange land where everyone spoke English, yet also seemed to live about as far south as anyone could get without ending up in Antarctica.

And there’s no denying that Men At Work and their still-monstrous hit “Down Under” played its part in piquing my Aussie interest.

(True story: Men At Work’s “Business As Usual” was one of the first two cassette albums I ever bought. The other was the self-titled debut from Asia. You may laugh if you want, but I KNOW you are enjoying “Heat Of The Moment” as it plays in your head right now.)

Of course, as soon as “Down Under” was played for the first time, I knew it was a hit. I probably heard that song a thousand times before figuring out what a vegemite sandwich was. And once I eventually did try vegemite years later, I completely understood what someone meant when they had told me that vegemite was “something only an Australian could like.”

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Star Wars Episode ZZZZZzzzzz…..

At the time I am writing this, the new Star Wars movie, “The Last Jedi”, has been in theaters for about a month. For the most part, “The Last Jedi” has gotten strong reviews. In my opinion, the movie is great. Director Rian Johnson has created a film that has a lot of action, drama and excitement, and which moves the “Star Wars” saga forward.

And goddamn was it good to see Mark Hamill, again, as the ultimate “Star Wars” protagonist, Luke Skywalker. Like in 2015’s “The Force Awakens”, I found myself openly cheering several times during “The Last Jedi”.

I took my family to see the movie on Christmas Eve, or nine days after “The Last Jedi” premiered. We’ve come a long way in “Star Wars” viewing experiences since the original “Star Wars” came out in 1977. I don’t remember how much my parents paid for the tickets when they took my brother and I to see “Star Wars” at the Roxy Theater in Tacoma, Washington, but I’m going to guess it wasn’t more than $3 each for us to watch the movie with about 1,500 of our close, personal friends, all at the same ground floor level seats.

Now? I didn’t think twice about paying almost $94 for our reserved seats in an IMAX screening that were dead-red center and in a row raised above the row in front of us so that even my seven-year-old daughter had an unobstructed view of Luke, Rey, Kylo Ren and everyone else.

I have completely bought into this new round of “Star Wars” sequels, as well as the “Star Wars” story, “Rogue One”. We can thank the good people of the Walt Disney Company–and its $4.05 billion buy of Lucasfilm back in 2012–for this revitalization of what is arguably the most-popular, most-beloved and definitely most financially successful movie franchise in the history of cinema.

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After nearly 20 years since I first saw it, I wanted to find out if I could be a “Phantom Menace” convert.

And, I have gotten my kids into “Star Wars”, too. My seven-year-old daughter liked Daisy Ridley’s “The Force Awakens” character, Rey, so much that she even wore a Rey costume around Disneyland a year ago. Needless to say, I had her get a picture with the Stormtroopers walking around the the Star Tours area. I’m pretty sure those guys considered rounding her up and taking her back as a prisoner to the First Order’s headquarters.And while the newest additions to the “Star Wars” canon have received roundly positive reviews by the franchise’s fanbase, the return to glory of “Star Wars” makes one wonder even more about the status of the three prequel movies: “Revenge of the Sith”, “Attack of the Clones”, and, especially, the first prequel, “The Phantom Menace.”

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The $2,000 Cat

People love their pets. People can be weird about their pets, too. I used to think people who would spend hundreds, if not thousands of dollars on a dog or a cat were exceptionally weird. I mean, if you told me that, for $2,000, I could either buy four round trip tickets for my family to go to Hawaii and rent a car for a week on the Big Island, or get a purebred GoldenRidgebackDoodleLabHound, well…I would be on my way to the airport with a Mai Tai in my hand and Fido would be forgotten.

But, that price point took on a new meaning for my family recently when we got a new cat.

I should state up front that when we got Geddy Lee (Yes. We named him after Geddy Lee, the bassist and lead singer of Rush, my most-favorite rock band of all time) we didn’t pay two-large for him. Like many cats, Geddy was a “rescue cat”. I don’t like using that term because I think it was put in place in recent years to make the “rescuer” feel heroic or superior for taking on a stray pet. But, whatever. No one seems to get their pets from “the pound” anymore, and like many pet owners, we got Geddy from an animal rescue group that has set up shop in a local pet food and supply store.

I had to be sold on Geddy. My cat, Corina, had died a couple of months earlier at the age of 16, and I wasn’t up for getting a new cat right away. But, every couple of weeks, my wife would take me to our local pet food and supply store to look at the cats available for adoption. Eventually, I began to wear down as I spent some time with Geddy (who had been named JoJo by the store workers) and, after a couple of visits, I filled out the forms and forked over the dough to take JoJo/Geddy home with us.

I admit that I did a “Gulp!” when I paid the $150 fee for Geddy. But, that covered his initial shots and getting him “fixed”. And having all that done ahead of time and not needing to arrange my schedule to deal with those time-consuming things after the fact was worth the price. A store associate loaded Geddy up into a cardboard carrier and we took the four-month-old kitten home.

And with that. All was well. Until it wasn’t.

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The Drink Of The Weekend: Kona Brewing Co. Kanaha Blonde Ale

As part of our mission here at Why Daddy Drinks to revel in the humorous lunacy that is fatherhood, and to promote the drinking of quality beverages, we bring you our erratically scheduled segment highlighting something that should be in your glass. This is The Drink Of The Weekend.

I am a sucker for a a lot of things.

If I go out to a nice restaurant and there is halibut on the menu, then there will be halibut on my plate. Unless I’m at a steakhouse. Then it’s a ribeye, rare, please.

I have a soft spot for classic power pop. If Sweet’s “Fox On The Run” comes on, just cover your ears because I’m taking over the lead on that one. Cheap Trick.Todd Rundgren. Fountains Of Wayne. It’s all good. And if you think there has ever been a better song written than Big Star’s “September Gurls,” I will fight you.

My movie taste are pretty varied, too. But ask anyone who knows me what my all-time favorite is and you will get two words in response: “Apocalypse Now”. Charlie don’t surf. Not when Robert Duvall is leading an air cavalry assault, he doesn’t.

I know there are probably a hundred more things I could add to my “Soft Spot” list, but lately, there is something that hits that spot more than anything else:

Hawaii.

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Family Ties, Big Island Style

For many people, going to Hawaii offers up the promise of adventure. And depending upon your interests, that adventure can take many forms.

Feel like exploring nature under water? There’s no limit to the snorkeling and scuba diving options throughout the islands. Surfing is at the top of a lot of Hawaii travelers’s lists. If you have a four-wheel drive vehicle, you can head up to the almost 14,000-ft summit of Maura Kea. And almost as adventurous as the drive up is mastering your 4×4’s low gears as you try not to burn up your brakes on the way down. A hike along the lava fields near the constantly erupting Kilauea can be breathtaking, or life-ending if you take the wrong step near one of the flowing rivers of 2,000-degree magma. And there is always the solemnity and history that comes with a visit to Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial.

A few of these items were on my family’s itinerary as part of a recent trip we took to the Big Island of Hawaii. But there was also something more adventurous than all of those items combined that we had in mind. Something that really doesn’t show up on the hundreds of activity fliers that are in every Hawaiian hotel lobby. Something that gets at the the heart of who we are and where we came from.

We were looking for family.

It’s no secret that all families have their own stories, and characters, too. For example, my dad used to say that when he was in the army during the Cuban Missile Crisis, he and the other paratroopers had to sleep on the runway, under their planes, in order to be ready to invade Cuba as soon as John F. Kennedy said the word.

Now, this story might be apocryphal, but it’s become part of our family lore. But, in order to have such lore as part of your family, you need to have a family to be the source of such tales. And this how we came to spend a day driving through the southern, Kua region of the Big Island on a quest to find my wife’s roots.

You see, my wife, Megan, was adopted. And as is the case with many children who are adopted, Megan has always wanted to know where, and who, she was from. Her story isn’t uncommon among children of adoption: Her birth parents were young, her mother got pregnant and didn’t feel she was in a position to be a mother, and she gave up Megan for adoption. Within a matter of days, the couple that would be Megan’s parents, her mom and dad, had found her and took her home to Oakland where she has always lived. In fact, we live in the home where he parents brought her and gave her a name and a life. She found her birth parents, who never married or stayed together, back in 2003, and has developed good relationships with both of them.

But, as it turned out, her birth father was from Hawaii. He met Megan’s birth mother on Oahu, they went to California together, and, the rest of the story is history. Or, it was, until Megan began pulling at the strings of her birth father’s family.

And it was all of that pulling that took us on a trip around the Big Island.

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Rules For My Daughters

Over the last week or so, I have seen a few dads on Facebook post a list of “Rules For My Son(s)”. I don’t know what the source of these rules is, but I do know I have seen the same set of rules posted by different dads. This is fine, but those rules have little to do with me.

That’s because I have daughters. Two of them, in fact.

So, I decided that my girls needed a set of rules, too, and I sat down to come up with some guidelines. Some of these are specifically for girls, Some of them are more general. Some of them are humorous. Some of them even play upon things I have heard elsewhere.

All of them are based in common sense.

Feel free to take some, or all of these, for your own use. You’re Welcome.

Rules For My Daughters…

1. Never refuse the chance to have ice cream. You can never be in a bad mood when you are eating ice cream.

2. You each have just one sister. Be friends with each other. This will really help out when it comes to sharing clothes. Or, if some day, one of you needs a kidney.

3. Don’t ever be late. For anything. In fact, be 10 minutes early.

4. Get a AAA membership. But know how to change a flat tire, anyway. Your cellphone battery might be dead and you’ll be unable to call AAA.

5. That said…Always keep your cellphone plugged into a car charger when you are driving.

21751438_10212550996744435_2342740166762045685_n6. You have no excuse for ever running out of gas. That thing on the dashboard with the “E” on one side and the “F” on the other? It tells you how much gas is in the tank. When it gets to the quarter-tank mark, pull off the road and fill up.

7. You want to date someone, fine. But I have to meet him before you go out. And I maintain the right of first refusal on the guy.

8. Same things apply for a girl, too.

9. If you are supposed to be home by 10, you will be home by 10.

10. Do I need to repeat Rule No. 9? No? Good. Be home by 10.

11. Always buy the best seat you can afford at the ballgame.

12. When someone puts a specific song on, that means they want to hear that song. Don’t talk over the song while it’s playing. Especially when that song is Boston’s “More Than A Feeling.”

13. Cast-iron skillets. You can cook anything on one and it will outlast you, your children, and your children’s children. And it’s not a bad weapon, either, if you need it.

14. Never go to bed with a sink full of dirty dishes.

15. Hawaii is always a good idea.

16. Accepting a gesture of politeness does not make you look weak. So, let the man hold the door open for you.

17. When you are older, you will learn the value of keeping a good curse word chambered for emergency use.

18. Pick up those AA batteries when you’re at the store. You will need them for something.

19. Always raise your hand in class.

20. Help the kid who can’t figure out the answer. Don’t give him or her the answer, but show them how to get there.

21. When you meet your friends’ parents, or any other adults, it’s always Mr. or Mrs. (Last Name). If they say you can call them by their first names, it’s still always, Mr. or Mrs. (Last Name).

22. No one ever gets tired of hearing the words “Please” and “Thank you.”

23. Sometimes, you will have to judge someone. And they will deserve it.

24. A roll of duct tape, a pair of Channellock pliers and a good hammer. Almost anything can be fixed at least temporarily with one of those items.

25. Take $1,000. Hide it somewhere in the house. And don’t tell anyone else where it is.

26. Know that it’s OK to feel humble.

27. Some places where it’s OK to feel humble: Mt. Rushmore, Niagara Falls, Arlington National Cemetery, the Eiffel Tower and when you get home from the hospital after having your first child.

28. It’s better to take a steak off the grill 10 minutes early than leave it on one minute too long.

29. At times, there will be girls that are prettier than you, smarter than you, and better than you in school. Accept those situations. Because there will be times when you will be one of those girls who is prettier, smarter and better in school than someone else. And remember how it felt the other way.

30. Sorry, but you don’t always get your way.

31. Sometimes, you can say more with less. Want an example? Read the Gettysburg Address. It’s only about 260 words long.

32. Memorize the Gettysburg Address.

33. When you have to put your shoulder into closing your dresser drawers, it’s time to donate some of your clothes to charity.

34. Always tip your haircutter, your bartender, your garbage man, and if you see him, the pilot of any plane you fly in.

35. On a hot summer day, you will never regret drinking an ice-cold Coke.