Dynamite Dads Go To School

I have always said that the toughest crowds to speak in front of are 5-year-olds. They are not afraid to let me know whether I’m bombing or not. But speaking to a group of dads may have topped those tiny tikes!

It was all smiles at REL Washington Elementary School in El Paso for their first annual Cool Guys read event in January.
It was all smiles at REL Washington Elementary School in El Paso for their first annual Cool Guys read event in January.

Last month I had the honor of reading and speaking to a gymnasium full of dads and grandfathers – all of them cool – during REL Washington Elementary School’s 1st Annual Cool Guys Read event. The idea was hatched by librarian Rosie Rodriguez and brilliantly executed by staff and volunteers. We talked books, literacy, the importance of setting an example and most importantly – letting go.

What do I mean by letting go? It means forgetting about how silly you may look when you read in funny voices, make weird faces and let loose in front of your kids. As guys we need to set aside our egos sometimes and give our kids an experience that will stay with our children

. And believe me, I know as a father and a son how positive moments like these can be.

Hats off to all of those fathers, grandfathers and even big brothers that showed up to the event!


Why does Trump Have A Problem With Women?

Screen Shot 2016-03-14 at 9.25.19 AMIt’s a scene that can be played out on televisions everywhere:

Child enters the room (waaay past her bedtime) and in the most adorable of ways drops this little gem:

“Daddy, what’s a b*#ch?”

Dad knows the drill all too well, giving his wife the “it wasn’t me” look while hoping to God the child didn’t hear it from him.

“Where did you hear that word?” Dad asks, demanding an answer, but not really because there lies the very real possibility that one simple word will basically guarantee the panicky father many nights in the doghouse:


Cue the lame laugh track.

Thanks to Donald Trump and his sad trail of misogyny, degradation of women and racism (to name a few of his deplorable qualities), dads like the example above now have the ultimate scapegoat. See how differently the scene plays out when you apply the Trumped Up, Trickle Blame Down method to such a scenario:

Cut to child entering the room.

“Daddy, what’s a b*#ch?”

Dad gets angry, looks at mommy.

“You see! This is what happens when we let the kids watch Trump debates! He’s starting to rub off on her!”

Dad leaves room in disgust (a brilliant move in the event dad wants to laugh). Dad then opens the fridge (looking for a beer):

“That’s another reason we’re not voting for Trump!” he yells at the grapes.

All joking aside, this isn’t some made-up television show with a fake laugh track. This is real. And based on last Monday night’s debate performance, Trump’s a guy that’s unprepared, unrefined, unfiltered and unfocused. Hell, he may have spent more time talking about a woman’s weight and (I can’t believe I’m typing this) Rosie O’Donnell than to better explain his policies that would “Make America Great Again.”

“Why is that man so angry?” my 4-year-old asks, staring at the Dorito-faced man with the feathered front comb over.

“The woman in red is kicking his, uh, is much smarter than he is and it makes him angry.” My God, it’s starting to rub off on me!

Any child will ask a ton of questions. But what happens when my older daughters start asking tougher questions. Like, “What is the big freaking deal with Trump and women? Why does he seem to have a *problem with us?”

*There are 134,000,000 search results when you Bing the following phrase: Trump’s Issues With Women.

I might not be the smartest parent in my house, but I’m pretty sure about this: I wouldn’t want anyone, much less a presidential candidate, talking about one of my daughters the way Trump has talked about some women. In a world rife with bullies, body shaming and perverted Internet trolls, hearing Trump describe former Miss Universe Alicia Machado as Miss Piggy, Miss Housekeeping or an eating machine makes my skin crawl.

Realize, people, that I’m not even talking about his politics. And for Trump, that’s a huge problem. It’s a problem because that’s what we should be discussing. Instead, he’s citing phony polls, defending his actions and threatening to bring up Bill Clinton’s infidelities as a way to play mind games before the next debate.

And for some odd reason we continue to give him a free pass for this odd behavior/strategy. What if we all took a page from Donald and applied his Trumped Up, Trickle Blame Down method for all of our discrepancies?

  • Your daughter learned a new cuss word because you didn’t change the channel from Howard Stern? Blame it on satellite radio technology!
  • Don’t want to pay your Federal taxes? Disagree with how the government uses the money and don’t pay!

You see, by applying the Trumped Up, Trickle Blame Down method, you can skirt any issue and deflect the way Donald has his entire career. With enough practice, you, too, may find yourself blaming a microphone, a mean debate moderator, a Mexican-American judge, the liberal media, etc.

Believe me, this is not an endorsement for Hillary Clinton as much as this is an appeal for decency and respect. Want to know why Trump has dragged this election into the pits of Kardashia? Because we’re suckers for this type of content, that’s why. We’re a growing population of timeline-scrolling zombies with the attention spans of cats on crack. We’re fascinated with wreck on the side of the road, which is why so many people watched last Monday’s debate – we were waiting for the wreck and Trump came through!

Many people feel that we don’t have quality candidates this election cycle. My response is, uh, yeah, we actually did. But we sold ourselves short by choosing the entertainment value of a Trump candidacy over qualified candidates who actually respected the office they were seeking.

If we want better candidates, then we have to be better, too. And it starts at home with me. You. We try and teach our kids right from wrong and that doing the right thing is important. We want them to treat others the way they expect to be treated. And that includes the way this dad wants his daughter’s to be treated.

It’s hard to take a candidate and his policies seriously when he can’t seem to take women seriously.

Dorito-faced man in suit enters the Oval Office, sits on gold-plated chair.

“I asked you to bring me my coffee, you fat cow,” Trump barks.

Enter a panting Chris Christie holding a coffee cup. He stares off into the distance, wondering how a once-promising career led him to be Donald Trump’s b*#ch.

Cue sad music. Fade to black.

New book – Pancakes For Dinner! (Waldorf Press) – out September 15, 2017. Follow me on Twitter @phillipdcortez

Dear Matt Forte…

“It’s an honor to play for such a great owner,” Forte didn’t say.

We’ve started our 2016 Fantasy Football campaign on the right track, despite a Week 1 loss to something called Oprah’s Circle. And even though you hardly played in the pre-season, you’re over 30-years-old and toting the rock with a new team, the 915 Ballers are looking to devastate the league this season, led, of course, by you. And me.


Week 2’s tilt versus some team called Year of the Raging Chinamen has our squad up a fat 28 points heading into Sunday. If only I could have picked you up in the other fantasy football league I got suckered into joining (even though my team did manage to beat Kiss My Big *I Can’t mention the rest of the name because you and I are decent men of faith and esteem but it rhymes with Lass), the victory would have been sweeter with you in my lineup.

Thursday was a thing of beauty, you scampering through a porous Buffalo defense en route to 100 yards and three TDs – me with the foresight and cunning to insert you into the lineup.

Can you believe that this is my 20th year playing fantasy football? It seems like only yesterday that I was fidgeting with a team that featured one of your New York Jets predecessors, Curtis Martin. Curtis took me to the playoffs that year – here’s to you doing the same! Together we’re going to beat the likes of the Saltydogs, Yeehawks, Scout Snipers and my brother, Paul’s stupid team: Lick My (And once again, I apologize for his vulgarities, but it rhymes with Malls).

As I reflect on the last 20 years I recall the people who called me and my friends, nerds and dorks and all kinds of names because of our passion for sports. Today the very same people that labeled us are now playing against us, as millions of people throughout the world, from CEOs to porn stars, are playing fantasy sports. Matt, my mother is playing in our league (and I’m too embarrassed to tell you her team’s name).

In essence, Matt, I’d like to think that we were ahead of the curve, trailblazers with foresight – personally I forget my kids’ names at least 20 times a day but ask me who still holds the rookie rushing title set in 1983 and that would be one Eric Demetric Dickerson, thank you very much.

So much has changed in my life since that very first fantasy draft, Matt. Technology has evolved (we don’t need an abacus to figure out scores anymore), the guys in the league are separated by many miles and even oceans but we still manage to talk as much smack to each other in our 40’s (and 50’s Keith Garcia) as we did when we were teenagers going to college in Honolulu.

We’ve managed to weave our league into our every day lives during the season, something that takes skill and moxy. In 1999 while living in San Francisco, I dated a girl with big toes for thumbs (I found it intriguing at the time) that absolutely hated my involvement in the league. So I faked a stomach virus and many “trips to the bathroom (laptop)” for an entire weekend just so I could get through the draft that season. It was the same girl that shared my desire to never have children. Today, I stopped counting after my wife and I gave birth to our fifth child. Or is it four? Anyway…

You know, Matt, I used to think that managing a team in this league helped me stay on top of the happenings and goings of some pretty incredible people I met a long time ago. And that certainly hasn’t changed. But in addition to this, I see this time of year as the outlet I need to keep me from losing my mind. I mean with all these kids (this includes three girls, mind you), the league is the equivalent to how most parents feel using the bathroom in peace, free from interruptions, knocks and tiny fingers sticking under the door.

You understand. You’re a baller – a 915 Baller.

Here’s to an incredible season of domination, Matt (so long as you stay healthy and average 15 fantasy points a week).

Your friend and GM,


NEW Book Update: “Pancakes For Dinner!” (Waldorf Press) will be included in Book Expo America, held in New York City in May 2017! The expo is North America’s largest gathering of professionals from around the globe and is the leading business event for publishers, librarians, retailers and more.

Schools are already booking their 2016-17 readings and events. Make sure to schedule yours today!

My dog is a Son of a Bitch (Literally)

Rocco, married less than three month and already acting like a dog.

Let’s not mince words – my dog, Rocco, is a punk.

There. I said it. He’s wild, uncontrollable and has little to no regard for anyone other than himself. In essence, he’s exactly the kind of character I want my three daughters to stay away from.

Oh daddy, look at his pretty eyes!

Sure, I suppose that’s where it starts with Rocco (and perhaps future boyfriends). The eyes will draw a person in, the same way Rocco, the con artist, fooled us. As a puppy he didn’t just look at us. He stared into our souls, gave us visions of love and laughter for our children. It’s as if he spoke to us, Take me, I’ll be a puppy pal like no other. Rocco totally fooled us, of course.

He even fooled the puppy trainer when we enrolled him in a 6-week course. There we learned to have him obey basic commands, like sitting and lying down. The catch to all of this was that we needed to reward him with treats. So naturally, Rocco figured it out pretty quickly that he wasn’t into being a good boy unless he got something out of it. The class should have been called Puppy Bribery 101.

Sure, Rocco “earned” a certificate for passing his course, but there’s been no retention of what he was supposed to learn. It’s as if he just went through the motions, like some scoundrel. He can be deceptive, too. During the day when nobody’s around but me, Rocco can be an uncontrollable nightmare. When the kids are home from school he turns into a lovable plush toy, eating up all the attention. The other day, as my daughters were doting over him, Rocco turned to me and winked. True story.

But he’s just so cute, daddy!

Rocco is kind of a metaphor for some of the would-be suitors my daughters will face. And as is usually the case with fathers that have to size up said suitors, I’m the only one that sees what kind of a jerk Rocco can be, mainly because I did some dating in my past life. I know how boys can be, what we want (no matter the age) and what we’re willing to say or do in order to get it.

You see, girls, boys have the potential to be a lot like your dog, I’d tell them. They might be cute and lovable on the outside, but they have the potential to make a huge mess of things. Some of those messes can be pretty filthy to clean up. But you’ll do it anyway. And then they’ll say sorry while looking at you with those puppy dog eyes and make a mess all over again.

I know. Some of you reading this right now are probably thinking that I’m looking waaaay too into this whole thing. And perhaps you’re right. But ask any father of daughters and they’ll tell you that there comes a time when we really start thinking about this topic. We think about how we’re going to protect them. Because let’s face it, some boys can be, well, dogs. They have the ability to draw a person in yet stray to the person that gives them the most attention, forgetting the most important qualities that make for true relationships, like friendship, respect and loyalty (and before you start yapping about how dogs can be loyal, just give me a steak and I’ll show you how loyal your dog can be). Like dogs, boys will run away, never to be seen or heard from again.

A few weeks ago I ran into a girl that married a childhood friend of mine, a friend that I had not seen in years. When I asked her how he was doing, she had no idea.

“I don’t know where he is or where to find him,” she said. “He just disappeared.” The girl was with their son, a spitting image of my friend, and both just looked at me, waiting for me to break that awkward silence.

“Why would you need him when he left you the best piece of him?” I responded to her, referring to their boy.

Fast-forward to last weekend when I caught Rocco digging up a hole I had just filled in for, like, the thousandth time and it hit me. You have to be the example. In some weird way I have to be the example that my daughters see and learn from. It’s in the way I communicate with them, how I treat their mother, even the relationship I have with my own mother. My daughters have to see that and learn from it.

Now, I realize I’m putting a lot of pressure on myself here. We’re talking about a guy who, quite frankly, can be a moron for large chunks of the day. And I was certainly no saint when it came to dating. The scariest thing would be for me to open the front door and find that my daughter was going out with a guy that reminded me of… me. Maybe if I play my cards right while they’re still young, this won’t be such a scary thing after all.

I love visiting schools and talking to kids. I’m currently writing a collection of short stories and essays called Your Poor Mother: The trials of raising 5 sons. My next children’s book, Pancakes For Dinner! will be published by Waldorf Publishing in 2017.