Welcome to feis dad

Hello, my name is Matt. I have a daughter ... no, make that two daughters ... who LOVE Irish Dance.

There. I admitted it. I’ve come clean.

It's the first step in recognizing I have a problem.

Did I say problem? Well, maybe that’s not quite right.

It’s more like a crisis of epic proportions.

If you’ve got a daughter in novice, prizewinner or championship, you know what I mean. Don’t worry, if you’re just starting this ride, you’ll find out soon enough.

If you don't know what a feis is. you're on the wrong blog. If you do know what a feis is and like it, you're on the wrong blog. If the thought of going to a feis makes you feel queasy, you're in the right place.

So, you're supposed to be here, now what?

Take a look at my first post, titled: Feis Dad Syndrome.

See if you've developed this terrible condition.

If you've got it, don't despair. There is help. I may not offer any right now, but don't lose hope, I'll get to it eventually.

Above all, I am looking forward to your comments, funny stories and helpful suggestions.

Thanks for joining me.

-- feis dad

Blog Posts

The following are posts. Please read, laugh and comment.

-feis dad

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

feis dad stepping down

As many of you have already guessed by my lack of posting in the last year, I have hung up my feis dad shoes for good. Yep, this feis dad is done! Finished. Completed. Finale. Over. Ended. Kaput. Okay, that’s all Word gave me in the Thesaurus.

But the end to this segment in my life is not all jumps and cries of joy. Okay, mostly it is, but some aspects of leaving this behind saddens me.

Both of my daughters really enjoyed it. The dancing was good for them and feis people are good people. I know my wife surely misses it. All the talk about dresses, hair, wigs, shoes … come on, this is like having a living Barbie Doll that you can dress up and take to the dance!

My daughters are pursuing other interests now, and I encourage that. There is absolutely no accordion music allowed during a tennis match! Woohoo!

I would like to say thanks to all the feis dad fans out there. Your support was fantastic. I had a lot of fun. You have a great sense of humor (at least most of you :-), are able to take a joke and laugh at yourself.

To all the current and future feis dads, you have my sympathy and my respect. Keep supporting your daughters (and your sons) though all the accordion music, dance lessons, solo dresses, wigs, heavy shoes and dancing injuries as best you can. You make a big difference in your children’s life. Enjoy it while you can. I will leave this blog up for the foreseeable future to try and help any future feis dads that may need some of my advice.

As for me, I’m on to other things too. I’ve started an outdoor adventure website at www.experience-az.com. If you like Arizona and the outdoors, you’ll want to stop by for a look.

Okay, enough of the serious stuff. I’m off to find another place to explore. Oh, and if there’s anyone playing accordion music there. They better watch out, I’m carrying a baseball bat that’s just itchin’ to create some accordion kindling …

feis dad

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Feis dads throughout history

Just in time to celebrate the 4th of July, I’d like to continue our nation’s policy of incorrectly teaching history to the our children. I’m going to do my part with a new series called Feis Dads Throughout History. Or for those who know me better, A bunch of Crap I Made up in my Spare Time. Either way you look at it, why don’t you join me as I take a stroll down history lane in honor of some of our nation’s most famous feis dads? If you’re actually reading this blog, it’s not like you’ve got anything more important to do, right?

Okay, let’s get strolling. I thought I’d might as well start off big. With the Number One Feis Dad of our country: President George “Wigman” Washington. What? You didn’t know ol’ Georgie was a feis dad? You bet. One of the best. History seems to have forgotten this important aspect of our first President.

George "Wigman" Washington

Back George’s day, Irish dancing and going to feisana was all the rage (sort of like going to the mosh pit when we were young). And George’s little girls did their part too. It was Irish dance this, Irish dance that, Irish dance till George wanted to puke. But George was a good feis dad and supported their addiction. He paid for lessons, helped powder their wigs and spent his weekends at local fesiana (video games wouldn’t be generated for another fifty years so he had nothing better to do).

Not only was he a great feis dad, but what most people don’t know was that it was his affinity toward Irish dance that sparked America’s declaration of independence. And you thought it was about tea and taxation without representation? Not hardly. No one really cares about tea. Not back then, not now (except for the British, but their opinion doesn’t count ever since they made Mr. Bean movies). In reality, the colonists didn’t have a Boston Tea Party, but a Boston Wig Party.

Here’s what really happened. A ship carrying a fresh load of the new “Martha” Irish dance wigs anchored in Boston harbor. But the British evil bad guys, wanted to tax the wigs. Well, being the upstarts we were back then, we flatly refused. The British, not used to having one of their colonies talk back to them, had a little bit of a temper tantrum. They dressed up as Native American's and tossed every last one of those wigs overboard. It was horrible. Over two hundred innocent and curly wigs were thrown into the sea that dark night. All drowned.

The Boston Wig Party

As you might imagine, the colonial dancing daughters and feis moms were furious. They were so mad they demanded our founding fathers do something right then. Our founding fathers, being our founding fathers, decided to take swift and decisive action. They went to the local pub and drank a few pints of dark beer in unrivaled joy that they need not spend another Saturday at a feis listening to accordion music that not even their goat intestine ear plugs could drown out.

Then Mr. Party Pooper (that’s what the founding fathers called ‘ol Georgie before he became famous) told them they had to declare their independence from the evil British or his wife was going to nag him to death. The founding fathers drank a toast to George and silently wished he’d mind his own darn business. But he didn’t and they reluctantly declared their independence and brought up arms against the British.

Initially, those dang Redcoats won battle after battle and our fight for independence looked grim. But once again, Old Georgie came to the rescue. The British didn’t expect him to cross the Delaware River and kick their butts in a little town called Trenton or his army to survive the winder at Valley Forge. But he did. And his secret to success? You guessed it, Irish dance wigs. Our founding father’s dancing daughters saw the nation was in trouble and they donated their old Irish dance wigs to the cause (their old “Elizabeth” wigs were so last century). Washington found that not only did they make an excellent insulating material which kept his army from freezing to death at Valley Forge, but they could be turned into the world’s first WMDs (Wigs of Mass Destruction). His use of wigs during the war gained him the nickname, Wigman Washington. So, it was Washington and his infamous Wigs of Destruction that won the Revolutionary War and for whom we owe our independence. Your teachers didn’t teach you that in school, did they?

Kudos to them.

Washington and his troops keep warm with wigs at Valley Forge

Washington letting his wig fly in the wind as he crosses the Deleware

Cannon firing a WMD

The terrible results of using WMD's against the British

Well, we’ve now reached the end of this history lesson and I’m sure you’ve learned more than you ever wanted to know about our first President and why I shouldn’t drink shots NyQuil while writing a blog.

For our next dive into history, we’ll study the life and times of Confucius (China’s most famous feis dad) and see if the little twerp had any insight into one's daily life.

--feis dad

Monday, May 10, 2010

More cluelessness

You can take the feis dad out of Irish dance, but you can’t take the cluelessness out of feis dad. Truer words have never been written, particularly considering what happened yesterday.

Here’s a true story. My wife and dancing daughters went to see a movie and do some shoe shopping for Mother’s Day, giving me the afternoon off at home. After the movie, they called and asked me to call the Olive Garden restaurant for call-ahead reservations at 5:00 pm. Being the efficient father and husband I am, I did just that.

At precisely 4:45, I left home and drove toward my place in history as a true bonehead. Ten minutes later, I turned into the large shopping center containing Wal-mart, DSW, Best Buy, a movie theater, Olive Garden and Red Lobster.

At this point, my daughter called me and asked where I was. I told her I was just coming up on Olive Garden and would be there in less than a minute. She told me they were just leaving DSW and would be there shortly after me.

Not concentrating on where I was going, I pulled into the first restaurant looking building. I parked, strode confidently into the building and announced my name to the hostess and told her that I had called ahead for a table for four. She gave me a strange look and told me that had a bunch of tables open.

I told her I would wait for the rest of my party in the waiting area instead of going to the table (which happened to be the only smart thing I did the entire afternoon). As I waited in near the hostess table, I walked over to the lobster tank and looked at the poor lobsters.

Hmmm, I thought, when did Olive Garden get a lobster tank? I wondered if they were having a lobster special. Seemed like a strange thing for Olive Garden to do, but what do I know about the restaurant business?

After a few minutes of waiting and watching the lobster, an older couple left the restaurant and I heard (or thought I heard) the hostess say, “Thank you for coming to Red Lobster.”

At this point (actually WAY before this point) something should have clicked in my brain, but nothing did. I just though I’d misheard her.

I went back to watching the lobster. Poor things. I was glad I didn’t like lobster. I didn’t want to think about me sending them to a pot of boiling water. I looked at my watch. 5:05. Where was my family? It shouldn’t have taken them this long to come over from DSW. Had they gone back inside to do some more shoe shopping? I was going to have to give them a hard time about being late.

Then a family walked by me on their way out the door.

“Thank you for coming to Red Lobster,” the hostess said again. This time I was SURE that’s what she’d said. What in the heck was going on? Did she forget that she was in Olive Garden? Did she have two jobs? One at Red Lobster, the other at Olive Garden. Or maybe she was just playing a joke on these poor people leaving Olive Garden.

I shook my head. Boy, people can be REALLY stupid sometimes.

The hostess walked by me. She didn’t look all that stupid. Why would she be saying, “Thank you for coming to Red Lobster.”

Then it all hit me. The lobster tank. The maritime pictures. The fried fish smell. The Red Lobster name tags.

Yep, sometimes people can be REALLY stupid. And it just so happens that this was MY time! I thought that at this point Bill Engvall would come up to me and hand me MY sign.

As red-faced as the lobster in the tank, I made a quick exit, looked up at the sign over the door, just for confirmation. Yep, Red Lobster.

I had been in there for almost 15 minutes! I got on my cell phone. My family was sitting in Olive Garden, wondering where I was. Wow. I know where I was physically, but mentally, I’m not so sure.

I can’t even blame this one on Irish dance. This one was all me.

Feis dad

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Feis dad Irish dance suggestions

As all of you should know by now, I haven’t a clue. I’m a typical feis dad. It’s not that we don’t care, we do. It’s just that our brains can’t grasp all the finer details of Irish dance. Okay, truth be told, most of us even have problems with the big picture items.

Recently, I was talking with my family about which dances my daughter should be dancing at the next feis (well, they were talking, I was trying to listen and understand) and it amazed even me how much I didn’t know about something my daughters have been involved in for three years. Or has it been five? Maybe it’s only been a few months. Heck, I don’t know…

What do I know? I know there are two groups of dances. One is done with a soft shoe; the other is done with a shoe that makes all that darn racket. I believe these shoes are called the steel lined, concrete filled, noisy, loud, obnoxious shoes, or in short, the noisy, loud, obnoxious shoes. But that’s just a guess on my part.

Other than that, the names and distinctions between different kinds of dances somehow eludes me. The only dances I know the names of are St. Patty’s Day, a jig and a slip reel. Or are they called a reel and slip jig? Or was it a slip pig? Maybe a reelly slippery pig. Ha! Now that would be a fun dance to watch!

Oh, who knows. Clearly not me.

But as bad as that is, even if I knew the NAMES of the dances, I wouldn’t be able to tell them apart. When I watch my daughters dance, no matter how hard I try, I still can’t tell the difference between a reel and a jig. But that shouldn’t surprise anyone. Men just aren’t that observant when it comes to those kinds of things.

For example, most men don’t notice when their wife gets her hair done. Not even if she gets 6 inches chopped off, a perm and is now blonde. My wife gets upset when she has to tell me these things. And to tell you the truth, I don’t really know if she’s pulling my leg or not. Did she really get a haircut? I can’t remember what her hair looked like twenty minutes ago, never mind yesterday. When she tells me it used to be long, straight and black, I just have to shrug and believe her.

It took a friend of mine FOUR DAYS to notice that his wife and kids had taken a vacation without him. And that’s only because my wife called me from Disneyland and I was still at home. I’d wondered why I’d been able to watch sports on TV without anyone complaining lately.

This same guy, however, spotted a typo in the second significant digit to a baseball player’s ERA within two seconds of it being displayed on ESPN’s Sports Center. Go figure.

What’s my point in all this you ask? Good question as I’ve already forgotten.

Ten minutes later and after asking wife for point of blog post...

Oh yeah, it’s about making the dances interesting to feis dads so we can remember them. If you want a feis dad to pay attention, the dances must be something he can relate to. Here are a few suggestions:

THE JACKIE CHAN JIG: This dance would be full of awesome karate, tae kwon do, jujitsu, ninja (and any other cool Japanese word) moves that really kick butt. Also, the dancers would have to perform while speaking cheesy dialogue which no one understands.

THE CLEAN YOUR ROOM SET: This dance mimics all the moves that are made when one cleans their room (which of course none of our daughters know). With time and lots of practice, they will learn moves like the Pick Up Your Dirty Clothes Kick, Take Out the Smelly Trash Cut, the Sweep the Messy Floor Jump and the Throw Out The Old Pizza Box Twirl. Although this dance is a parental favorite, teenagers loath it and you’ll be lucky to see them perform it once a year.

THE FISHING REEL: This dance involves sitting in an uncomfortable folding chair for hours on end while waiting for freakin’ anything to bite. Dancers will have to master the following positions: slouched in chair, sleeping in chair, scratching butt in chair, drinking beer in chair and finally folding up chair and going home empty handed. But it’s not all static poses. One lucky dancer will actually get to perform the “reel”. This is done by furiously acting like she’s reeling in the BIG ONE. After ten minutes of this she realizes it was just an old boot, spends ten minutes furiously swearing, ten minutes furiously packing everything back up in the truck and, finally, ten minutes furiously lying to all the guys down at the pub about the BIG ONE that got away.

Lastly, this is for adult Irish dancers only: THE POLE DANCE is anything that involves a pole, loud music and enough cigarette smoke to choke the state of New Jersey.

Yep, if a typical feis had these dances, we might just remember more about them. But, then again, maybe not, I can’t even seem to remember where I put my keys when I’m getting ready for work, or if I put my pants on. Either of which makes showing up to work a dicey situation.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Another painful admission

Everyone who knows me should've seen this coming. It was only a matter of time.

So I'm just going to come out and say it. Yes, Jesse James DID hit on me when he came to Tucson for a promo tour for Monster Garage while Sandra was filming The Blind Side. And, no, it wasn't pretty.

I was out in my garage, working on my hog. It was hot and I wasn't wearing my shirt and I was sweaty and my tattoos were gleaming in the desert heat. Too much for ol' Jesse to resist.

What? You didn't know I had a few tats? Come on, I spent over ten years in the military. They're required. So, during basic training I got one or two. No big deal. As you can plainly see, it's only when I don't have my shirt on that you can tell I've got a few tattoos.

But Jesse saw them and went a little crazy. I told him no, no, no, no. That's when poor Jesse settled for second best: Ms. Bombshell.

I feel bad for Sandra. I really do. Maybe if she would have gotten a few tattoos like Jesse had wanted. No, your right, he's a jerk. It wouldn't have helped.

-- feis dad

Thursday, March 25, 2010

feis dad of the opera

I guess someone associated with the San Diego Opera read my last post. And, unbelievably, instead of being really, really angry, they were just plain angry. They emailed me, I emailed them back. They called me. I listened to their voicemail. Then, a few days ago, we actually got to communicate with each other the old-fashioned way. By that I mean, we texted each other.

Anyway, long story, short: we came to an agreement. My dissatisfaction for the opera not only comes from my lack of sophistication, intelligence and upbringing, but my lack of knowledge. If I knew the inner workings of what made up an opera (and maybe could speak French), I might learn to appreciate it more.

They suggested the best way to learn more about operas was to actually participate in one. This came as quite a shock to me, until I realized that there must not be a huge pull in today's society to be an opera star.

Dad: "Son, what would you like to do when you get older?"

Son: "I don't know, dad. I'm only twelve."

Dad: "You've got to start planning now. Maybe you could be a fireman or policeman?"

Son: "Don't make enough money, pops."

Dad: "How about an engineer?"

Son: "I'd rather be a trash collector or an accordion player."

Dad: "Yeah, you're right. Whatever you do, don't be an engineer."

Son: "How about a football or basketball star? Maybe play baseball? They make the big bucks and get all the hot chicks."

Dad: "Even better, you could sing in the opera."

Son: "You're an idiot."

Dad: "Yeah, I'm an engineer."

Irregardless, they wanted me to take a shot at it. I guess they're thinking maybe we could bring in the Irish dancing crowd? Drive up attendance by 75% or more. So, I've signed up to do a one night gig next fall in one of the biggest operas around. Here's the promotional posters they created.

I'm thinking I'm a shoe in for an Oscar. No, that's movies. Maybe a Grammy. No, that's for real music. Well, maybe they'll give me a hot Krispy Kreme donut or two.


feis dad

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Feis dad goes to the opera

Last weekend I traded in my dancing shoes for a pair of Z-Coils and spent three days in San Diego as a chaperone with my oldest daughter’s band and choir class. Yep, feis dad became band dad for a weekend.

At first, I thought I was trading up. No accordion music. No curly wigs. No obscenely bright dresses.

Then came the night at the opera.

You haven’t experienced pain, real pain, until you’ve gone to an opera with over 120 extremely tired middle-schoolers. Actually, the kids were probably the best part of the experience. They were well behaved and most took it in stride. This was accomplished by a stern lecture on opera etiquette by their band director … and the fact that they slept through most of the show. As did the adult chaperones.

We had all gotten up early that day for music camp and an afternoon at the San Diego zoo, so everyone was exhausted by the time we got to the opera. But you can’t blame it all on the zoo (not even with all those darn hills).

Some amount of responsibility must fall on anyone who has ever been involved in producing an opera. Come on, singing a story? Really? And to Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet?? In French??? And did I mention it was three-and-a-half hours long? It took the actor/singers thirty long minutes to die in the final act. I could hear the nearby kids mumbling, “Just die already!”

An opera on Shakespeare? Get real. Shakespeare is bad enough when you have to read it. But singing it? And in French. Why French? If I recall my history correctly, Shakespeare was English and opera is an Italian thing. Maybe the producers thought it would give it an “artsy” feel?

Sorry, just because you sing the story in a different language doesn’t make it any better. Watching Knight Rider reruns dubbed in German doesn’t really add anything to an already bad show. Maybe a few hundred years ago this would have been fun, but now we’ve got Xbox and Youtube.

All this said, I tried to watch it with an open mind. Maybe I was wrong? It’s happened before. Maybe I would be pleasantly surprised …


I would say it held my interest for about … say ten seconds. Now, I know what a lot of you are saying, that I lack sophistication, class and proper hygiene. All of which is true. But in my defense, just because something used to be popular centuries ago doesn’t mean it’s still worthwhile and we should continue to support it.

Let me give you a few examples:

The practice of sacrificing virgins to appease an angry god. Yeah, the guy who thought this one up was a real Einstein. It’s like burning your best crops before you get to eat them. Aren’t you glad we don’t do this anymore? Instead of a night at the opera, we could have gone to a “Night Sacrificing Virgins into the Volcano of Death,” which would have been a real bummer for those who were selected for this honor (though the bus ride home would have been less crowded).

The practice of Castrato. Not too many years ago, the Europeans castrated young boys before their voice changed in order to preserve their ability to hit those really high notes. Yeow. It hurts even writing about it. And these kids didn’t really have a choice in the matter. This was decided by their parents who had been brain washed to think it was an honor or they wanted to get rich off their kids possible fame. Where did this fame come from? You guessed it. The opera. And I thought it was painful just watching it. And the worst thing about all this? These boys weren’t able to pass down their incredible voices to future generations. Yesh. Talk about a no-win situation.

The practice of watching The Lawrence Welk Show every Sunday night. I personally remember this ritual. We’d finish dinner early, just so we wouldn’t miss anything. My grandmother would take her spot on her chair, gently place her full set of dentures down on the TV tray and watch the show in complete rapture for an hour as Lawrence, the Champagne Lady and the polka accordionist strutted their stuff. I’d have to watch in silence, all the while thinking that when I grow up, I was never going torture my kids in the same way. The good news: I’ve been able to keep my promise. The bad news: I’m still the one being tortured. Unfortunately, The Lawrence Welk Show has been replaced by American Idol, which my kids love and is far worse than anything Mr. Welk could dish out.

As you can plainly see, some of the old ways are best kept in the past. Just as there is no reason for virgin sacrifice in today’s world, the same can be said for the opera. And at $50 for the nose bleed seats, this isn’t the cheapest way to get a good nap (this distinction is held by any episode of The Bachelor or Bachelorette).

Now, I’m not saying these people aren’t talented. I’m sure the lead woman performer could break glass with her voice. Which she seemed to try to do repeatedly. But, again, is this something we want to encourage? I can make extremely disgusting sounds with my hand and armpit, but you don’t see me doing it up on a stage for a bunch of people in Tuxedoes do you? And listening to her hit those high pitches was like having a root canal. Without Novocain. On the wrong tooth.

To be fair, there are a few positive aspects of going to the opera.

- Twenty-minute intermissions between acts

- They sell beer. Drinking alcohol would probably make the whole thing a lot more fun (though, being a chaperone, I wasn’t allowed to indulge this time)

- The sets were fairly cool (what I could see from four freakin’ stories up)

- And, finally, no accordion music

Hmmmm… I guess it wasn’t that bad after all …

A serious message from feis dad about being a feis dad

This blog is not to be taken seriously. It’s meant to take a good-natured poke at how Irish Dance affects fathers (something many wives and daughters may not think about).

The reality of the situation is that most dads just don’t get the Irish Dance thing. It’s like asking our wives and daughters why they don’t throw high fives every time our favorite player hits a three-pointer in the playoffs.

I love my daughters, but I just can’t sit through twelve hours of accordion music at feis’ once a month. It is beyond me. And I truly believe that forcing me to do so would make me begin to resent their activity, which none of us want.

BUT, that doesn’t mean I don’t support our daughters in my own way.

That’s exactly what this blog is about. For good or bad, THIS is part of my support for them.

Some may say I’m not a good father if I don’t go to each and every performance or feis. But I believe both my daughters know I think what they are doing is important and good for them even though it’s hard for me to spell feis or oreach … orack … that big national feis thing.

My point in all of this is that although there are some things we just won’t do, I believe real feis dads need to ensure they:

Support their daughter’s (or son’s) love of Irish Dance.

Take interest in how they are doing.

Are excited when they perform well and move up.

Comfort them when they don’t.

Support their activity as much as we can within realistic financial and family obligations

Although we may not understand the specifics (like the difference is between a slip jig and a reel) we take an interest in the general idea

We tell our children we are proud of them every chance we get

Although we make light of some of the aspects of Irish Dance, they are never mean spirited or hurtful

We ensure that our children know what they are doing is important to us

Do what dads do best: build things—practice dance floors, sound systems, etc.

Take them to practices and performances when possible (even if it means missing part of the game, but maybe not if it’s the playoffs).

Again, this blog is not meant to be taken seriously.

No one is perfect. Not even feis dads. If you can’t laugh about it (or about yourself) then you’re missing out.

--feis dad