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The Archive of Blackframes.com.au posts

Old posts from the original Blackframes site

Filtering by Category: Fatherhood

Little Lion Man

Lach Ryan

Lion Man

My three year old son has so much natural energy it would make a wind farmer weep. I put it down to the simple fact that he is three and male. Speaking with a few friends who have multiple kids, (and whose family name was dishonoured by not bearing a male as their firstborn) they are surprised at the difference in intensity between little girls and boys. Right now my guy is obsessed with two things- nightly wrestling matches and pretending he’s a lion. The lion thing comes from watching too much Lion King and I put the wrestling down to a combination of testosterone release and being inspired by the Mexican wrestling mask he was given as a present. El Kido (as he likes to be known) is full-on, coming at me like a young lion cub taking on the older lion. The dual combination is apt. Young boys are just little lions wanting, and sometimes waiting, to roar. We shouldn't cage them- life will do that for us eventually. The role of a father is like that of Siegfried and Roy- we are to tame the lions. To control their natural, raw expression into something that can be focused...and maybe sold-off like thousands of showbiz parents before us.

The example of a lion isn't just a convenient analogy allowing me to craft a few hundred words around some witty gags. My kid is a pseudo Simba!

Just this afternoon I had de-claw him with clippers after he scratched up my face like Michelle Pfeiffer auditioning for her role in ‘Batman Returns’. The child has taken to roaring when he is angry, which can be hard to explain when buying cured meats from the Deli. My wife is frustrated with a lack of progress regarding toilet training but I suspect he is just marking his skinny jeans as his territory, so other style-deprived children in his day-care don’t try and take them. When it comes to day-care, he has been bitten a few times by another pesky cub but that was probably part of a struggle for leadership of the playground. When it comes to hunting, he has recently joined in with his father, helping take down a wild and large capricciosa (no anchovies), even stealing the last piece from his old man.

Eventually this cub will grow a mane,probably still in primary school if he’s like his Dad, and go off and start a pride of his own. My job is to teach and protect him until then, keep him away from poachers and Broadway productions of Disney classics.

I know that society is not too fond of wild lions, big or small, roaming around. I just hope that the schools and offices he finds himself in don’t end up caging the pure, expressive energy of that Little Lion Man.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Lach Ryan

Christmas look

It seems retailers are trying to push Christmas out to a nine month season, launching it earlier and earlier each year. This year I swear that no sooner had the last melted Cadbury cream Easter egg been wiped off the shelf, then they were being replaced with little chocolate Santas, quicker than you could say '"Holy-chocolate-covered-religious-holidays!" So how do we know when Christmas has officially begun? This helpful checklist below will help you know when it’s all systems go with the Ho, Ho, Ho.

Invitations for work end-of-year parties - it's the end of another corporate year (nearly...late November when the function venues are a bit cheaper) and its time to celebrate our wins (ignore the losses...particularly those relating to staffing positions, funding, court cases or revenue). Let's all get together as a team/family (far-fetched perhaps, but what is the appropriate collective noun for a bunch of strangers forced to spend 8 hours a day together? Inmates?) and have some fun (as much as $44.95 per head will allow, in-line with the HR Party Policy distributed as an attachment to this invite).

Increased trading hours (and catalogues) - Did you know that Buypoint Heights Shopping City Metro Square will be open for the entire month? That's right; we won’t be closing our doors! Come on down, do some present shopping, meet Santa plus the local teen street gang that now lives in our foyer. Not sure what to buy for that person you feel obliged to have a standby gift for in case they give you one? Don’t worry! We'll be sending you enough catalogues to your letterbox to paper-mache an elephant.

Pine trees- are like the jockeys of the tree world. They are ugly and people tend to only notice them one month of the year. I remember going to get a Christmas tree as being a significant event. You'd go with your Dad and your Grandfather out to the country to find the right tree, chop it down and bring it back home, with its aroma filling the house for the next few weeks. Nowadays you go to the Target post-Christmas sales to find a plastic imitation tree with laser lights, DVD player, WiFi and GPS at 50% off. You happily chop down the knees of the old man considering buying the last remaining one, take it home and let the toxic fumes of the Chinese-plastic fill your cupboard for the next year.

Talk of seasons, holidays and Xmas- if there is one thing Christmas can no longer be about, it's the Christ. Remove all references to it and talk like a tourism brochure in generalities about 'season' and 'holidays'. If you must, make it sound like a talent quest for Catholic priests and call it X-mass (extra 's' optional). It seems the baby in the manger has grown up to be too confronting a theological and philosophical question for today's human. We are more concerned with living in a world where a magical, frequent flying, red suited old guy drops off presents to kids he's been watching sleep all year. Not only that, but parents encourage their children to go sit on the lap of this fat weirdo while his elves (don’t even start!) take a photo of the whole thing. Best not to mention the story of God taking the form of man to live amongst us. That’s just too weird.

Kris Kringle- who is this strange dude and his weird gift giving process? Perhaps the most famous Kris to have ever lived, besides the guys in Kris Kross, his legacy is an approach to present giving that is both easy and infuriating. As one who finds this minimalist gifting custom a stress, the advice I received a few years back seems to work. Always give a cigar. Apparently people can’t get enough of improving their chances of gum and throat cancer, whilst looking like a fat financier.

End of year wrap up blogs - written by lazy bloggers just before they head off on their summer holidays to live it up at a foreshore caravan park for 10 days and nights of keyboard-free craziness. Nothing suggests more than the year list post that the creative juices have been squeezed fully out, and all that is now being served is pulp and rind. Occasionally though they can be helpful. Like the one I read today on the '10 Most Influential Cats of 2013'.

 

 

 

New life is what happens when you're busy making family plans

Lach Ryan

cabbage patch

The planning industry tends to be dominated by the big three- Financial, Wedding and Funeral. It seems that if you do the first one well, it will lead to many options for needing the second.  That in turn will often guarantee a craving to need the services of the third. Family planning though, is the hippy cousin of the planning big 3, long overlooked to attend industry functions since the rise of Google. The wisdom of family planning theory however, still has its place in modern life. I come from a family who practice the 'Band' model of family planning, one child for each of bass, drums, guitar, and vocals. The 'Nationalist' approach of 3 kids, (one for each of you and one for the country) and the 'Catholic' approach (one for each day of the week) although popular, never greatly appealed.  A friend once told me about the minimalist approach to family planning. It goes that you should just have two children, one to replace each parent.

I've always like that.

So it is with much excitement, anxiety and general wooziness (probably more from having been out in the sun for last few hours) that I write of the news of my impending fatherhood. Wifey and I have decided to create the sequel to the much-loved 2011 blockbuster that was 'Archer'. The studio was more than happy to green-light the project, and production on-set ran very smoothly. Unfortunately, Joel Edgerton was unable to reprise his role as 'Kind Hospital Security Guard 2' but there is a great cameo from Kirsten Dunst as a surly community dance instructor to look out for. We are now in post-production and the director is overseeing the final edit. We hope to have it released around late June 2014, just in time for the northern hemisphere summer season.

I am looking forward to strapping on the Baby Bjorn once again, and heading back into the ball-pit of newborn babies. The responsibility to steward and shape another life is one I take on with great enthusiasm. Having a little life that is completely reliant on you for food, shelter, clothing and comfort makes parenting a control freaks dream!

People keep asking me if we are going to find out the sex. I am undecided. What I will be sure to get the doctors to check is that it is human and not amphibious. Frog-children can start out very cute, but get extremely demanding when they are tweens.

Honestly I don't care if it is a boy or a girl; I will love it just the same. Either way, I will still make sure that it knows how to make people laugh, hold a decent conversation, kick a footy, throw a punch, cook a meal, handle money, pray, appreciate a coffee and that its Dad will always love it, no matter what.

Real Men Don't Catch the Bus

Lach Ryan

weird bus

Riding the bus is a unique term. When you ride any other vehicle you are usually the sole driver. In reference to a bus, you are not even the driver! The ‘bus rider’ in this case is simply a passenger. All though undoubtedly unique and a bit special, adult bus passengers are not individuals. Recently I have been ‘riding the bus’ as part of my commute to work. This is a temporary state whilst other options are on hold, along with my masculinity. You will be disappointed to know that riding a bus doesn't even call for any unique attire. What’s the point of a man getting on, or in, a vehicle if he can’t even accessorize? We can’t come up with Bus-braces or similar?!

Transportation options for men have always been varied. More than just classic cars, iconic men have long transported themselves through time on equally masculine vehicles. We are talking cowboys on horseback, escaping POW’s on motorbikes, Lycra clad lothario’s on road bikes, gentlemanly giants in hot air balloon, astronauts rocking rockets, salty sea-dogs in submarines and billions of bros on boards. How one chosen to get from A to B has always been a reflection of the man himself.

There are some known options that don’t quite cut the mustard sandwich for any Real Man™. You could look at your yacht, tandem bicycle, llama and even roller-blades. But in this instance, I am talking about the bus. Real men don’t catch the bus.

Most young males will first experience the bus during their schooling. This is fine. It can be a place of many youthful memories. The bus is often the place that the Birds & the Bee’s turn into the Vultures & the Wasps. A space where the opposite-sex is clumsily approached, in preparation for a time when the backseat will be traded for bar stools.

I once stopped a bus, and I did it with nothing but the power of mime.

Each day on the way home from school we would cluster our bikes at the top of  the hill to chat, before heading our separate ways. We were always trying to one-up each other, and this particular day I decided I would do something none had tried before; mime.  As a luxury coach (the type used to take your Nanna to the city once a month to see some TV host from 20 years ago perform in musical adaption of Cheers!) passed, I seized the moment.

Gracefully I mocked throwing an unwanted apple core at the Bus windshield, complete with the follow through of a Yankee’s outfielder. The driver reacted just like the flying fruit safety video advised, locking the brakes manically with all disregard for his, his passenger’s or any other vehicles general safety and desire to live. Not one to wait for the applause or admiration of my colleagues, I bolted; using everyone of the 12 speeds on my bike to get home.

The next day we were hauled before Assistant Principal Lovejoy (real name!) and scolded for practicing mime likely to cause injury in a public space. I felt bad, but then frustrated. Who is that stupid to react in such a way to mimed fruit? Bus drivers.In much the same way dentists are believed to be failed medical students, bus drivers are thought to be failed tank drivers. That, or ex-prisoners and just those with a dislike for their fellow man.

No man ever dreams of growing up to be a bus driver. It is something some people just end up doing , much like orienteering. No man really dreams of continuing to ride the bus during adulthood either. Look at any urban bus today and you will see it populated with majority females. On the shuttle bus I commute on, I am the only male. The bus must look like some weird cult group on our trip into town for supplies.

Most men found on a bus will be there by court or doctor’s order. Nobody chooses the bus. Even eco-greens will use all their solar powered savings to buy a Prius before ever riding the bus.

If like me, you’re currently catching a bus, you’ve got yourself Zone 1 all-day pass to an unmanly ultimatum. The good thing about the bus is they stop regularly, allowing you to get off and get on with more manly ways of commuting. Like a scooter.

Real Men Don't Eat from Cans

Lach Ryan

eat can food

Whether it’s a bumper crop, a feature film, a balanced budget or just a few kids, real men produce. So when it comes to food, something we do three times per day, a man must be productive. Food is sustenance. Without it, shelter, water, emotional support, a torch and perhaps an strategy for dealing with wolves, life will cease to exist. That is why I am stating that Real Men™ don’t eat from cans, jars or tubs. One thing a jar has never produced (besides affordable housing) is a proper meal.

Now to clarify, I do understand that occasional these receptacles may be the chariot by which certain ingredients arrive in dishes; however they are not intended to be the plate itself. Men at heart are hunters, bringing down the beast of the lands and the plants of the rugged soil (you try making vegetarianism sound sexy). This has been the case ever since God clicked the Swatch watch of time onto 'go'. The new hunting grounds are now at the wholesale markets, local farmers market or roadside stalls where men can get proper with produce. But wrestling with a hygienic sealed lid that even Ironman would struggle to open, is not 'cooking'. No matter how creative you can be with a can-opener, it’s not the makings of a Masterchef audition routine.

To dismiss food preparation as a lady-skill is pure folly, like believing socks and sandals to be a necessary combination. Most of the world’s greatest chefs are male. Our mothers and sisters have longed delivered from the kitchen, but when the heat is applied and the cupboard bare, a man must step in. We've got it wrong. Women have it easier in the kitchen. Why did we choose the backyard? Get them under the hood or on the tools while you get your hands into a cake mix. It's an easier way, plus it ends with cake.

Men should know how to cook. I can think of nothing worse than being an old man, my wife long dead from the zombie virus that I survived thanks to my Swiss Army knife, and being unable to generate a regular meal for myself. My hunting reduced to nothing more than a feeble reaching at cans on the shelves of my local Coles, not caring if it is cat food, apricots or coconut milk. I would rather decapitate myself with the serrated blades of the can-opener than subject myself to that sort of daily menu.

So what is to be done about remedying this trend? Man up and buy a cook book! Can't read? Then watch TV or the Internets. There is this guy Jamie Oliver who is pretty killer at doing cooked food. Listen and learn from him. Stop opening the jar/cans and start opening your minds. Women love a man who can cook. Men love women who can cook, so you really can’t lose.

There is well known saying - "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime".

I would add “Teach that dude to cook; and you've got the makings of a successful seafood restaurant."

 

Real Men Don't Walk Small Dogs

Lach Ryan

Chihuahua

At the of risk sounding like a workshop at a juvenile detention center, ‘What is Masculinity?’ In our current state, this notion is as loose and wide as a sumo wrestler's favourite pair of Calvin Kleins. Constantly it is examined in the media through the lens of love, war and circumcision. Sometimes it is easier to chip away at the outer chocolate shell of what-is-not, until you are left with what-it-is; a delicious ice cream of man-truth. In that spirit, over the forthcoming series of posts, I will take a stand and define what Masculinity is not. First item on my agenda- young gents walking their female partner's small dogs. Where have all the real men gone? I can tell you they are not out walking a Maltese Shihtzu!

This small, cultural ripple threatens to become a wave that drowns me in first world anger. Every evening I see them. Perfectly normal-looking young gents, in the prime of their lives, strolling like owned pets at the behest of their female lovelies. Trotting after designer, cross-inbred toy dogs attached to nothing but a bright coloured ribbon masquerading as a lead. Their robotic expressions tell of an argument lost long-ago. Both man and beast striding in neutered solidarity. Clearly these dogs represent not only a domestic compromise, but a compromise on what it means to be male.

What has created these dog walking wash-outs? Premarital cohabitation? High density living? Hollywood? Experimental dog-breed offerings not seen since German science labs in WW2? When did it become OK for any self-respecting man to be seen within a drop kick of these things? A real man should have a real dog. Think  dingoes, wolves, junkyard mutts and German Shepards like Inspector Rex. Not all man-dogs need to be aggressive. A Labrador is probably the closest thing in temperament in the animal world to the average guy.

I think it is safe to say a real man does not exercise something he could feasibly eat in one sitting. He does not stroll with something that has both been in a handbag, and has a miniature superman costume, unless its his own child. He doesn't engage anything with the descriptor 'miniature' in front of it, unless it is golf or a chocolate bar.

I appreciate it is a slippery slope when you question a demographics masculinity, but if all we achieve today is that we can cross   'walking the dog, regardless of breed' off the list of qualities of a 'Real Man' than we can all walk a little taller.

 

Don't Fear the Beard, Man

Lach Ryan

Beardie

I used to think there are just a few things left that only Men can do - pee standing up, front a metal-core band and grow a beard. After  hearing  of a friend's recent music festival experience, it seems it is only the beard that remains. The beard is truly the last bastion of masculine traits, one not equalized by females. The mighty beard. A strong, aggressive expression of testosterone worn like an apron of hair around one's jaw. An apron that seems to taunt "If you're thinking of coming into this kitchen, you better wear a hairnet amigo,  'cos its gonna get all kinds of beardy." I have been struck and inspired by just how many guys in my daily interactions are currently sprouting some face follicles. What started as an ironic hipster-trend has now morphed into something more. It's as if we've all reached into the cupboard of masculine expression and found beards, discarded like an old jacket left up the back between short shorts and utility belts.

Society has tried for many years to domesticate Men, caging us like lions. Anyone who's ever kept lions knows the second thing you do is trim their manes. The first is to check they aren't from Narnia or a licensed property of Disney. When a lion's mane is taken from him, so is his identity. Now the Lion doesn't know what he is. He's there thinking "Am I a cat? Am I a tiger? Am I a mortgage broker?" As soon as he is confused, he is ready to be tamed and remolded.

It is much like that for many men. Corporate puppies told by their masters to keep clean shaven. Why? Because with a beard comes power. The power of  potential.There is a cultural tide turning back to the way of the beard. An undercurrent of Men are forgoing the razor, and letting stubble turn to growth. A growth, I believe,  that is as much on the inside as it is on the outside.

It should be noted however, that a study by the University of New South Wales proved that women find some facial hair more attractive than none. Guys are meant to be hairy. Somewhere along the line grooming got out of whack and we started shaving everything (side-note- perhaps God intended pubic hair to be some sort of sexual velcro?). Marketers want us to be as smooth as boys, hair and care-free.

I look at my work. A couple of the managers have recently stopped shaving and cultivated some fun fuzz. I realised I started to feel more free to express my urges. I have never been a regular shaver (twice a week at best, with an almost constant state of stubble fit for an early 90's action star), I realise my reaction to my manager's highlights how much we buy into the social stigma of the beard. Men need to rebel. Like the Digital agency director I know, sporting a bushranger beard. Or the Life Insurance guy who's keeping his ginger mane long to entice his fiance. One of my best mates is, like me, not blessed with much on top. But he is once again able to embrace grooming via the hair on his chin'n'cheek construction. My father-in-law is so defined with his beard it has become a part of him. Family and friends wouldn't know him without it and he'd probably need to apply via deed poll to shave it.

In the 60's women burned bras. Freed from having their breasts under arrest, they were able to feel the potential of their physical identity as women. So could not the beard be this for men today? God knows we need it. Generation after generation of guys wandering lost and confused as to what it means to be a man. Walking out on children and marriages, hitting out through misguided aggression, faltering with true expression and imploding into depression. Could the simple act of cultivating, caring for, committing to and maintaining a beard start to redefine a new sense of Masculinity? A beard makes a much cooler path than the other option - a bonsai tree.

So maybe all these beards that are appearing are the outward expression of something growing inside alot of guys. Maybe it is the age I am at, when we stop being 'Guys' and start to become Men. But we shouldn't fear beards. They represent hope that good Men are still possible...and that shaving is for women's underarms and legs.