passaic-valley

Dad in the Box

October 20, 2010

I am turned away from my laptop looking bitterly out the window.  The sky is bright, but advancing north winds hasten stark clouds across the sky and noisily rustle the tree tops.  With each gust the large oak trees get a little more threadbare, shed a little more of their color.  Underneath a ...

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My daughter asked to see Secretariat over the weekend.  At first I thought she wanted to go into New York City to observe some staid UN officials mediate international disputes, but I quickly discovered she was talking about the new Disney movie.  As a rule, I am not wild about Disney movies ...

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And just like that I drove away and left the forlorn thing sitting near the side of the road, tarnished and empty and green.  I didn’t even look over my shoulder or say a sympathetic goodbye.  I just stepped on the gas and exploded away in long forgotten power.  No, it really wasn’t ...

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This is the time of year when we shun shoes in favor of sandals and sandals in favor of our natural caveman feet. At the beach we love to high step barefoot on the burning sand and run screaming to the cool surf to quickly relieve our flaming soles. But other than this, really, what do we know ...

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Human memory is an amazing thing. It is infused with optimism which over time transforms the mundane into the enjoyable. Take our memories of the 1980s for example. Seriously, how else could we possibly explain the great American nostalgia surrounding family road trips? Long car rides always seem ...

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My brother-in-law Dave is sick. Really sick. Stage IV throat cancer sick. He is way too young and healthy to have cancer. But then, everyone is way too young and healthy to have cancer. It does not favor age or condition or location. It just moves in without invitation. Like a neighbor from ...

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My ten-year-old son and I communed with nature over the weekend in a tribal ceremony often referred to by tenderfoots as a Cub Scout Campout. This annual event is every mother's nightmare. It is a ritual in which fathers bond with their sons over pocket knives and pointed sticks far from the ...

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I was overjoyed to learn last week that a 40 ton whale jumped out of the water near Cape Town, South Africa and landed on a small sail boat. It offers real hope for the unusual. But my enthusiasm quickly waned after it was suggested that the image of a hurtling whale over a small boat might have ...

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One of the benefits to being an award-winning humor columnist is that you get invited to cover some truly momentous, world-class, media events. The rest of us get invited to Inventor Day in Fairfield, NJ. Which is how I found myself standing in front of a giant three-foot egg enclosed in a ...

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Welcome back fans sports fans! It's been an exciting week, and here are just a few of the top stories from around the world . . . Russia Gets Football Team Moscow. Notable in its absence from the FIFA 2010 World Cup tournament, Russia will now finally be able to boast a world class soccer team of ...

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Life is tough. And these days, bad news is everywhere. Wars. Recessions. Infernos. Oil spills. Not to mention our own personal setbacks. And just when we think it can't get any worse, Larry King retires. But I have it on pretty good authority that it will all be over soon. I rented a DVD over the ...

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As a rule, I don't place labels on my fellow man. I believe that all people should be treated as individuals and that gross characterizations are irresponsible. This is why you will never, ever hear me refer to another person as a Big Fat Poopy Head. So I felt bad the other day when I carelessly ...

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I have been awed by the number of wildly creative suggestions put forth to address the massive oil spill in the Gulf. Personally, I like the idea suggested wryly by my son. He wants Superman to fly westward around the earth—reversing its rotation—to send us all back in time so we can prevent a ...

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In my failure to be recognized as Time Magazine's Father of the Year, I forgot two very important considerations. One, Time Magazine doesn't confer such an award, and two, I was never nominated by my children. As a conscientious father, I believe it is my responsibility to shelter my kids from ...

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I have been thinking about writing sentences lately. This is not, as you might expect, because I write this column. But because after twenty-eight years, my children's English teacher is retiring. This is the woman responsible for teaching all of my children how to write sentences. Complete ...

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OK, this is a really blatant headline designed to attract the attention of readers who are looking for something salacious. And so far, it has worked. But last week I saw a slow-news-day report which made the dubious claim that 2010 was the 100th anniversary of the bra. Or maybe it was two 50th ...

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My daughter is ten. She was born in New Jersey. She has spunk and brains and attitude and a laugh that fills up a room. Her friends are different but the same. A scary thought creeps across my mind. I wonder, are they Jersey Girls? The problem is, my image of a Jersey Girl is stuck somewhere in ...

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There is nothing funny about dentists. Nothing. Oh sure, we can poke fun at their floss-happy assistants and the diplomas from obscure dental schools that hang on their walls, but unless the idea of having power tools in your mouth makes you giggle, you are not likely to leave the dentist's ...

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I have a Mother's Day hangover. After a long weekend spent revering all things mom, I feel like retreating into my Man Cave. The problem is, I don't really have a Man Cave. I am not even sure what I would put in a Man Cave it if I had one. Or what I would take out. What I have is this: a dingy ...

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As much as I abhor violent behavior, I have come to the conclusion that it is a God given right for siblings to torture each other. In the small microcosm of the family, it is surprising what forms of physical aggression we tolerate with minimal retribution. This is not because we are morally lax ...

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I am a byproduct of The Greatest Generation, the generation loosely defined by Tom Brokaw as living through WWII, which necessarily places me somewhere in The Not So Greatest Generation. Growing up as the sub-optimal progeny to The Greatest Generation, it was our job to question our parents and ...

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Everyone needs a good excuse now and then. For when we forget appointments. For when we skip deadlines. For when we neglect homework. For when we fail to return from lunch. Unfortunately, a snow day in late April is not all that convincing. And Spring Fever is not really considered legitimate.

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Forty years ago an explosion rocked the Command Module of the Apollo 13 lunar expedition. Floating helplessly in space, Captain James Lovell uttered the most famous words in space history: Oh, %*#@! Years later, in order to obtain a PG rating for the film version of Apollo 13, Tom Hanks modified ...

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I am always intrigued when I hear news reports that red wine is good for you. Not that I really need more excuses to drink, but I do need excuses to watch TV. And news magazines that promote a long and healthy life through the moderate consumption of alcohol seem like a worthwhile investment in ...

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I have been getting a lot of surveys in the mail lately. It seems everyone wants to know how they are doing; the bank, the medical center, the auto service dealer, the plumber. I always thought that if I returned as a customer it was a pretty definitive indication of how they were doing. And if I ...

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A star forms when vast, murky clouds of carbon dust and hydrogen collapse with enough energy to start a nuclear explosion. This is a lot like what happens with teenagers. As parents we expend a good deal of energy helping our young nebulae expand into the universe. First we help them understand ...

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SCENE I. From a television set in New Jersey an image of a golden statue rotates slowly on a pedestal while a honey-throated announcer begins a much anticipated telecast. Announcer: Welcome to the Academy Awards show, brought to you live from the Kodak Theater in Hollywood, California! It promises ...

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Now that the kids are getting older, I have been thinking about replacing our aging and well-worn minivan with a shuttle vehicle that is a little more racy. A little more fun. A little better smelling on the inside. I was perusing Craigslist for deals when I came across this interesting ...

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Birthdays ending in 0 are monumental. They are a time to reflect on life; to reconcile what has been accomplished with what has not, to re-evaluate expectations and contemplate a life that may one day include Bocce Ball. Or worse, endless golf. That is, of course, unless you turn ten. In which case ...

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Watching premier athletes compete on TV always brings a tear to my eye. There is nothing quite like witnessing an athlete who has devoted his entire life to be the best in his particular sport stand on the podium in front of the whole world and apologize for his indiscretions so that he might one ...

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