Family Man Recommends: Quick Picks for November

Reviewed by Gregory Keer

This month’s FMR: Quick Picks include some holiday-oriented goodies and a couple of other tasty morsels. One of my favorite music people, Debbie Cavalier, releases her third Debbie and Friends album, Variety Show. The album features more of her brightly colored story-based songs (“Cinderella” and “Pinocchio”), along with original tunes (such as the holiday-themed “Santa and Baby (Santa’s Little Helper)”. With the rare confluence of Thanksgiving and Chanukah (known popularly as Thanksgivukkah) comes Mami Doni and The Acoustic Jewish Holiday Collection CD/DVD. Because this upbeat and diverse collection of everything from dance music to bluegrass covers three holidays (including Chanukah, Passover, and Shabbat), it’s the winter gift for all seasons.

The luminous Elizabeth Mitchell offers her elegant The Sounding Joy: Christmas Songs in and out of the Ruth Crawford Seeger Songbook in time for the festive season. On the 24 songs, Mitchell — whose gentle voice and warm instrumentation are enough on their own — benefits from guest artists like Peggy Seeger, Natalie Merchant, Dan Zanes, and Joan Osborn. Finally, we have the surprising treat of Pacha’s Pajamas: A Story Written By Naturewhich is about magical PJs that transport a young girl into a jungle festival hosted by animals. The featured artist, tween rap star Bentley Green, is joined by an all-star cast, including Mos Def, Cheech Marin, and Les Nubians.

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Family Man Joins Life of Dad for Dads Doing Good Video

I had an amazing time working once again with director David Guest from Life of Dad for an installment of their Dads Doing Good video series, sponsored by Honda. In this video, we transported a bunch of materials and equipment in two spiffy Honda Odysseys to a baseball field in Hawthorne, California. There, David, contractor Ken Pepper, and a bunch of dedicated coaches/dads went to work improving a Little League Baseball field. Along with help from the kids at the Holly Park Little League and a film crew (including my own 15 year old son), we spent the day refurbishing a backstop, painting and putting up safety boards along the bottom of the fences, and installing a new pitching mound and pitcher’s rubber. We also presented the hard-working kids with new bats, balls, and helmets. What was especially impactful was getting to know the number of league coaches, who talked about giving back to their community as fathers and role models as they teach the kids to pitch, hit, throw, catch, and run. The video below tells the rest of the story in ways words just can’t convey. Special thanks for Tom Riles and his crew at Life of Dad for including me on this project.

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Hollie McNish Makes Poetry of Public Breastfeeding

I like breasts, I really do. Despite the (excuse the pun) titillation they provide, I value their original purpose for providing sustenance for babies. This is why, even though it takes me a moment to adjust, I have no problem with public breastfeeding. There should never be any shame in this, especially because there is no shame in a woman, who is physically able to do so, feeding the best food she can give to her child. Here’s one woman, poet Hollie McNish, who weighs in on the public breastfeeding debate with her reaction to those who would relegate a woman to bathroom stalls to nourish a baby.

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Dads Serenade Us With “A Whole New World”

In preparation for Father’s Day, we have a new funny dad music video as those brave souls at Life of Dad give us a cavalcade of paternal types singing Alladin’s “A Whole New World.” Come on, you know you want to sing along…

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Anti-Bullying Video “To This Day”

It’s Mother’s Day, so one reason I recommend viewing this anti-bullying video by the stunningly brilliant poet Shane Koyczan is for a line: “The definition of ‘beauty’ begins with the word ‘Mom.'” But you have to see the animated version of Koyczan’s poem “To This Day” because you need to hear and see and feel the context of what it’s like to be bullied, yet grow up to be so strong. Please trust me when I say that, even if you totally get that bullying is a problem and are making efforts to protect your kids and those of others, this video offers perspective so exquisitely presented that you will have at least a few minutes of feeling transformed. Shane Koyczan also has a Web site worth visiting to hear/see more of his powerful work.

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Brothers Try to Take a Mother’s Day Photo

My three sons can barely do anything together at home without it involving a headlock. While they have been surprisingly good about creating greeting cards and artwork, this year, I can imagine them creating a Mother’s Day video like this, if they had to collaborate on it.

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Thankful Dads Sing ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’

To honor the heart surgeons, doctors, and nurses, that saved their babies who were born with congenital heart defects (CHDs), Life of Dad’s Tom Riles (the first dad with his daughter in the video) and friends present dads singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” This is genuine, unfiltered inspiration.

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‘My Life of Dad’ Dad Video Series Kicks Off, run by those fun and funny dudes who’ve brought you so many comic looks at fatherhood and so much opportunity to virtually bond with other dads, has a new video series called “My Life of Dad.” The premiere dad video interview is with the gutsy forward of one of the NBA’s current top teams, the L.A. Clippers’ Caron Butler. Kudos to director David Guest, producer Tom Riles, and the rest of the crew for giving us this window into a dedicated dad of five who just happens to star for Lob City, too.

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Dads Croon Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas”

Following their cover of the Little Mermaid’s “Part of Your World,” the gents at recorded this version of Mariah Carey’s holiday chestnut, “All I Want for Christmas.” Everyone from Marines to a pop in footsie PJs unabashedly warble along in this dad music video.

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Tom Riles Asks Kids – What Are You Thankful For?

Tom Riles, dad, comic, filmmaker, and founder of, asks kindergartners: what are you thankful for?. This Thanksgiving, try turning the video camera (or iPhone) on your kids and ask them they’re thoughts. Hopefully the words, “I am thankful for my amazing, selfless parents” will come up.

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