Tuesday, July 28, 2015


Dadhood (not to be mistaken for fatherhood) has been rescued by thirty-somethings and forty-somethings from the oblivion of the ‘stupid dad’ and the ‘distant dad’ that popular culture created in the 1980s. Dad Rock. Dad Bods. Dad Culture. Like any culture, Dad Culture sometimes requires some explaining.
Being a writer and a tinkerer and a dad as well as a professor, I did what any good professor would do – write a program of study so that I don’t have to spend all my time (re)explaining things. What follows is a comprehensive curriculum designed to introduce Millennials and Generation Z teens to the essence of Dad Culture. 

Any scholar will recognize the format. The curriculum consists of seven part: Dad Methods; Things That Were Better In The 1970s and 1980s; Sports; Dad and Film; Consumer Science; Special Topics; and Philosophy of Dad.


DAD 101: Introduction to Dad
Who is Dad? What is Dad? How Dad met Mom. Why only Dad gets to tease Mom. Gently. Rarely.

BLOC I: Dad Methods

DAD 201: Duck Tape and WD-40  Introduction to basic home repair and improvement. Use and application of solutions to basic physics problems (‘If it moves and it shouldn’t / if it doesn’t move and it should’ theory).  Whether to ask Dad about something when he is holding a tool, has his head down, and is muttering under his breath.
DAD 202: On (Not) Reading the Manual When and if to read assembly directions. The location and storage of appliance manuals, warranties, and item exchange receipts. On the use of shortcuts.
DAD 203: Putting up Tools
Where tools go. Why tools should be put back where they were found. Why tools should be cleaned before being put away. Why it is important to put a tool where it can be found, so that you know where it is when you – or more importantly, Dad – needs it.  Class materials include back issues of Popular Mechanics magazine, reruns of ‘Home Improvement,’ and the RIGID Tool calendar.
DAD 204: Basic Automobile
What goes in an emergency roadside kit. Preventative maintenance (i.e. changing oil). Changing flat tires. Driving a standard without riding the clutch. On the use of cruise control. Texting and driving (don’t). Whether you need basic liability or comprehensive coverage. Why you don’t take the car to the dealership’s garage. Prerequisite:  DAD 203: Putting up Tools.
DAD 205: Trip Planning and Preparation How to pack the back of the car.  How to make sure you think of that before we go. Why the GPS cannot necessarily be trusted.  Why we’ll get there when we get there. How to not be that jerk who cruises too slow in the left-hand lane. The story of the mason jar. Games Dad and your uncles played in the car before there were hand-held electronic devices (also covered in ‘DAD 400: Special Topics – What We Did Before Cellphone and Email’). Prerequisite/corequisite:  DAD 204: Basic Automobile
DAD 206: Television
Where the ‘football chair’ goes relative to the flatscreen.  Showing Granddad  how to program the DVR. On not cancelling or deleting Dad’s DVR’d recording of the game. On not telling Dad the result of the DVR’d game. On turning that d*mn thing down. Channel-surfing. On what was TV Guide.  

BLOC II: Things That Were Better In The 1970s and 1980s

DAD 301: Why Music Was Better  
Classic rock. Outlaw country music. Alternative music. Punk rock. Indie Rock. The importance of the Beatles, REM, U2, Boston, and Led Zeppelin.  ‘Soul Train’ and early hip-hop.  The importance of Pat Benatar, Debbie Harry, Joan Jett, and Reba. Why not everything from disco was bad, but Dad won’t admit it.  Helping Dad find that station on satellite radio. Programming Dad’s iPod.
DAD 302: Movies
Overview of the importance of Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Sylvester Stallone, Clint Eastwood, Spike Lee, Blacksploitation movies, introduction to ‘The Godfather (parts I & II)’. Why ‘Desperately Seeking Susan’ is the only good movie Madonna ever did.
DAD 303: Tom Clancy & Ronald Reagan
How America beat the Commies in fiction based on fact and in fact based on fiction.  Related topics include John Wayne.

BLOC III: Sports

DAD 311: NASCAR   
Introduction to pit stops, slidebars, restrictor plate and ‘drafting.’ Who were Junior Johnson, Richard Petty, the Alabama Gang, Awesome Bill from Dawsonville, Dale and Dale Junior. Other topics include when GM and Chrysler made great cars, disliking Jeff Gordon, and the elocution of Eli Gold. Possible field trips include Atlanta, Daytona, Talladega, Bristol, Pocono.
DAD 312: Jim McKay Studies
Spanning the globe to bring you the constant variety of sport. The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. The human drama of athletic competition. Selected topics include ‘when the Olympics were the Olympics,’ ‘where is Munich,’ the Harlem Globetrotters, and how Dad learned to like ice skating.

DAD 321: Introduction to College Football
The history of the need for BCS and the need for a playoff. The Heisman Trophy.  Great quarterbacks, great running backs, and an introduction of offensive schemes from the single and double wing through the Playstation Offense and the Wildcat. Why Dad dislikes Steve Spurrier.
DAD 322: College Football II
Introduction to defense. Les Miles and Clock management. When to go for two. When to go for it on 4th and short. Offsides, clipping, holding, pass interference, intentional grounding. Why Dad dislikes Nick Saban.
DAD 323: College Football Special Topics: Herschel Walker
All about #34, Georgia Football, and The Most Significant Trade in Pro Football History.
DAD 331: Bracketology
Why you never pick Gonzaga to win. Why Dad hates/loves ____________ (insert Kentucky, Duke, North Carolina, Michigan) and ________________ (insert Rick Pitino, John Calipari, Tom Izzo, Mike Krzyzezski(sp?)). Exploration of whether one-and-done is ruining college hoops. Was Adolph Rupp a racist? The Italian Masters (Dick Vitale, Jim Valvano, Rick Pitino, John Calipari)
DAD 332: Magic, Bird, and Michael
Discussion of the NBA’s second Golden Age. Michael Jordan’s hang-time versus Julius Erving’s hang-time. The ABA.  The 1979 NCAA title game. Related topics include Moses Malone, HIV, Clyde Drexler, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Pat Riley’s hair.  Offered while shooting free throws with Dad.
DAD 333: Pennsylvania Sports in the 1970s and 1980s
Terry Bradshaw, Iron Curtain Defenses, and Immaculate Receptions. Why 1980 was the Greatest Sports Year Any City Ever Had Or Will Have. Willie Stargell and Sister Sledge. Mike Schmidt, Steve Carlton, and how the Reds Won Two More Pennants as the Phillies. Dr. J.
DAD 334: Knees and Backs
Why Dad’s knees and back hurt. Where the phone number is for the orthopedic surgeon. Ben Gay and Icy-Hot. Content irregular.
DAD 335: Tailgating
Prerequisite: DAD 205: Trip Planning and Preparation.  Topics covered include the Geography of Tailgating Locations; corn-hole; Nerf football throwing; introductory grilling; food preparation, packing, and transportation; tailgate setup and breakdown; not asking Dad questions in post-game traffic; and finagling sideline passes.  Special topics include relevant alumni traditions (i.e. ringing the chapel bell at UGA) Can substituted for with DAD 402: Special Topic – Grilling.

BLOC IV: Dad and Film

DAD 341: Lucas/Spielberg Studies I: American Graffiti and Jaws
The importance of the USC Film School. Identification of cars in American Graffiti. Who is Suzanne Sommers. Who is Ron Howard. Why you don’t show the shark in the first act. Why Richard Dreyfuss used to not be a weenie.  Why we need a bigger boat.
DAD 342: Lucas/Spielberg Studies II: Star Wars Trilogy, ET, CE3K
Why there are only three Star Wars movies. Why Han shot first.  Why ET home phoned. Doo-dah-dee-dah-dah. Why Richard Dreyfuss used to not be a weenie because of Teri Garr
DAD 342: Lucas/Spielberg Studies III: Indiana Jones
Why Indy shot first. Nazis and occult.  
DAD 351: Mel Brooks Movies
Why the sheriff is near. How to get a ‘harumph’ out of that guy. Why it is good to be the King. Spring time for Hitler. Guys who were in the writers’ room of Your Show of Shows.  
DAD 352:  The Godfather
It’s just business. Going to the mattresses. On making him “an offer he can't refuse." Horse heads. Why you don’t want to be Fredo.
DAD 353: Kelly McGillis
Amish studies. The applied physics and models of communicating and keeping up foreign relations with a MiG 28 in an inverted 4g negative dive.  

BLOC V: Consumer Science

DAD 396: Don’t Go To The Dealership
How oil changes and minor maintenance pay for that giant showroom. Why those guys would have their own garages if they were any good.
DAD 397: The Grocery
The one place where Dad isn’t allowed to go shopping unsupervised. 
DAD 398: The Hardware Store
Why we don’t need help finding anything. How to hold a hammer. Buying wood that isn’t warped. Why it takes six trips to get stuff for one job.  Prerequisite/corequisite:  DAD 203: Methods III – Putting up Tools.
DAD 399: On Hunting And Killing Shirts
Why either (1) Mom buy his clothes or (2)  Dad just orders them from LL Bean. Dad’s tailor, who was Graddad’s tailor. How to tie a tie.

BLOC VI: Special Topics  

DAD 289: Special Topic – Mustangs, Camaros, Chargers and Trans Ams
The genius of Lee Iacocca. What is a small-block V-8. Why they are called ‘pony cars.’  On Jim Rockford, Burt Reynolds’ last good movie, and why Dodge Chargers can’t really fly.
DAD 400: Special Topic – What We Did Before Cellphone and Email
How we showed up where we said we’d be, when we said we’d be there.  Why paying a quarter to play a game built character and discouraged socialism.
DAD 401: Special Topic – Dancing and Karaoke
Dad can dance, with his daughter; he can’t sing. This field course shows why.
DAD 402: Special Topic – Grilling
Fire. Making fire with gas versus charcoal versus mesquite. Dry rub, sauces, and marinades. Beef, turkey, pork, chicken, fish, and sausage. Slow roasting. Vegetable preparation.  Hank Hill impersonations and quotes.  Beer.
DAD 403: Special Topic – Beer & Whiskey
Why the best things in life are brown.  Lagers, pilsners, chocs, hefes, stouts. Irish, Scotch, Bourbon. Why Jack Daniels isn’t really very good, but it gets you where you’re going. Beer goggles.  How beer created civilization in Mesopotamia and Egypt.
DAD 404: Special Topic – Fishing
On being quiet.  The boat. Just enjoy the morning. Hook baiting, gutting and cleaning, driving the boat, drinking beer.
DAD 404: Special Topic – How to Tie a Tie
You need to know how to do this, okay? (Given the right instructor, you might learn to tie a bow tie too)

BLOC VII: Philosophy

DAD 421: Nature
Because you need to have respect for nature.
DAD 422: Guns
Because you need to have respect for guns.
DAD 423: God
Because you need to have respect for God.
DAD 424: Your Mother
Because you need to have respect for your Mother.
DAD 425: America
Because you need to have respect for America.
DAD 499:  Capstone
Wherein you go forth and live a good life and try to be a good person.

Okay. Now go forth and break things. Including your heart. It'll make you stronger.