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Joel Schwartzberg
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Joel Schwartzberg is an award-winning author, humorist, personal essayist and screenwriter whose work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times Magazine, New Jersey Monthly, The New York Post, The New York Daily News, The Star Ledger,, and in the flimsy pages of regional parenting magazines around the country.

His books include Small Things Considered: Moments From Manliness to Manilow (2014) and The 40-Year-Old Version: Humoirs of a Divorced Dad (2009), both released by Wyatt-McKenzie Publishing.

A former Nickelodeon producer & head writer, law school dropout, doomed Wheel of Fortune contestant, and father of three, Joel maintains a personal portfolio at

Entries by Joel Schwartzberg

Putting the Joy Back Into Gift-Giving

(0) Comments | Posted December 19, 2014 | 11:04 AM

My mother wasn't careful about hiding my big Hanukkah present of 1978. A quick scan of her closet's highest shelf revealed the coveted prize: a hand-held electronic game called Merlin. The box was too high to reach, but knowing it was there was sweet satisfaction enough.


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How a Pet Store Trip Can Teach Your Kids About Cruelty

(2) Comments | Posted December 3, 2014 | 4:24 PM

Originally posted at ASPCA Parents

As a kid, I grew up with a string of great dogs: a loyal German Short-Haired Pointer, a handsome and majestic Collie and an incredibly smart black Standard Poodle. I never thought twice about where they came from, or why that might even...

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Note to Divorced Dads: You Didn't Divorce Your Kids

(8) Comments | Posted August 12, 2014 | 3:56 PM

Having been through a divorce, I know the minute a divorced dad steps into his new life -- uncluttered by the toys, noise, and wall-to-wall responsibilities of the last one -- he can easily feel like he broke up with his kids as well as his wife.

At first there's...

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It Takes Over a Village: Calling Out American 'Mommyism'

(2) Comments | Posted July 16, 2014 | 6:58 PM

This essay originally appeared in StepMom magazine and is excerpted from "Small Things Considered: Moments from Manliness to Manilow".

"Excuse me," the mommy said, tapping my sister-in-law Jessica just below her shoulder tattoo. They were in a trendy frozen yogurt shop called Let's Yo!...

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A Letter to My Cat, Who Died This Morning

(4) Comments | Posted June 2, 2014 | 6:44 PM


When you took your final labored breaths this morning, I'm sorry I mistook them for typical heaves.

You were laying on the hardwood floor, looking under the bed; I thought you were staring at another cat or a toy. Maybe you were looking for the safe spot you...

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What's the Connection Between Memorial Day and Radio Countdowns?

(0) Comments | Posted May 26, 2014 | 5:41 PM

If we know nothing else, we know Americans love lists. We love to rank football teams, rock albums, cars, pizzerias, movies, former girlfriends, and anything else of which there's three or more.


Because we Americans understand -- more so than any other culture -- that some things...

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'Small Things Considered': A Father's Day Tribute

(2) Comments | Posted June 16, 2013 | 6:46 PM

Originally posted on

Back when I competed in middle school debate, my dad would rouse me early on Saturday tournament mornings. With night sky still hovering, I'd pull on my only blue suit, grab the thin attaché case that was once his, and he'd drive me to...

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Who Knew Guns Had Their Own Pro-life Movement?

(397) Comments | Posted May 2, 2013 | 11:01 AM

On Monday, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed legislation reinforcing existing laws prohibiting local governments from destroying weapons they collect from the community. This is the third law protecting the life of guns Brewer has signed since becoming governor.

Previous laws required municipalities to sell guns found or seized,...

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A Divorced Dad's Girl Scout Kookiness

(3) Comments | Posted February 5, 2013 | 10:24 AM

CONFIDENTIALITY NOTE: This email message may contain work product, non-work product, meat by-product or other information which is confidential, privileged, entitled, prissy, or simply dumb. This information is intended only for sole use of the sender, as well as anyone he accidentally copied, or anyone who happened to be in...

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A Parental Perspective on Super Bowl Lingo

(0) Comments | Posted February 1, 2013 | 3:50 PM

You'd be surprised how many common football terms can apply to the equally-combative and tactical world of full-contact parenting. So, in honor of Sunday's Super Bowl, I offer these offensive and defensive double-meanings. Which is your favorite?

First Down!
A parent's exclamation after the younger of two siblings goes...

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It's Still Man-ly to Like Manilow, Especially on Barry's Birthday

(14) Comments | Posted June 17, 2012 | 4:56 PM

I'm listening to Barry Manilow, and it's no accident. In my ears, Barry -- who turned 69 today -- is belting out "Weekend in New England" with unabashed diva dedication. And I like it.

My name is Joel Schwartzberg. I'm 43, a husband, a dad, and a Barry Manilow fan.

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The Case Against "Stepmother"

(12) Comments | Posted September 29, 2011 | 11:23 AM

When my wife Anne accepted me into her life, she also graciously accepted my "luggage": three wonderful kids aged 9-12. They love her and she loves them, with clear affection traveling in both directions. But Anne rejects the label "stepmother" for reasons that have nothing to do with parental responsibility,...

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Girls and Jersey Shore: An Unparalleled Mismatch

(52) Comments | Posted August 22, 2011 | 6:43 PM

Cynopsis Kids, the childrens' media news site, notes that, for the week of August 8 (but many, many other weeks as well), MTV's Jersey Shore was the #1 show for teens 12-17.

I don't watch Jersey Shore, but I certainly know Snooki, The Situation, Ronnie, JWoww, and Sammi...

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Under My Skin: What Happens to Newly-Divorced Men

(19) Comments | Posted August 22, 2011 | 1:45 PM

"So, what do you do?" my dermatologist asks, scanning a form on which my job clearly occupies a box.

Dr. Skin is a middle-aged man with a full head of hair, a remarkably leathery and pocked face, and a striking lack of sideburns.

I'm sitting cross-legged on a paper-covered...

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Six Ways Divorced Men Can Treat Themselves (and Their Kids) on Father's Day

(7) Comments | Posted June 19, 2011 | 3:38 AM

Traditional Father's Day gifts -- ties, books, wallets, gadgets, golf-themed junk -- ironically have little to do with kids. It's as if the very point of Father's Day is to distract Dad from the fact that he is one.

But for divorced and remarried dads in particular, Father's Day represents...

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My Oscar Moment... With Kevin, Barbra, Nicole, and Mom

(8) Comments | Posted February 25, 2011 | 12:25 PM

I attended the Academy Awards in 1991 and 1992. You may remember them as the years Dances with Wolves and The Silence of the Lambs took home top prizes, but it's more likely you don't remember them at all. I didn't go as a nominee -- that kind of honor...

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Making #2 Feel Like #1: Creating a New Valentine's Day Playbook

(88) Comments | Posted February 12, 2011 | 1:34 PM

Old habits die hard, but when it comes to Valentine's Day traditions you had with a former spouse, die they must.

When you're in a subsequent marriage or relationship, it's imperative to burn the old playbook and write a new one -- especially one customized to your new...

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I'm With Cupid: Valentine's Day Truths

(1) Comments | Posted February 9, 2011 | 12:44 PM

What holiday is less connected to its historical roots than Valentine's Day? Jesus gets a strong shout-out here and there on his birthday. President's Day may be the perfect occasion for an underwear sale, but at least Washington's face graces the newspaper ads. Even Punxsutawney Phil got a movie deal....

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The Festival of Rights: How Divorce Helps Me "Own" Hanukkah

(9) Comments | Posted December 2, 2010 | 9:28 AM

Excerpted and revised from "The 40-Year-Old Version: Humoirs of a Divorced Dad"

Somewhere in Africa, there's a goat with an unsuspecting Kenyan family's name on it. I adopted the animal for the family after coming across the idea in a holiday catalog from the non-profit group

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Thanks and Misgivings: First Turkey Day as a Divorced Dad

(9) Comments | Posted November 22, 2010 | 3:20 PM

(Excerpted from my book The 40-Year-Old Version: Humoirs of a Divorced Dad)

I'm looking at a photo of myself topless.

I'm five years old, playing the role of an Indian in my kindergarten Thanksgiving Day play, red war paint on my chest and cheeks, and a paper...

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