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Even the most cynical hipsters are terminally charmed by their own offspring, which explains how the birth of NEAL POLLACK’S first child, Elijah, sparked the satirist’s transformation—with the publication of ALTERNADAD and an online column of the same name—into America’s postmodern Erma Bombeck. Pollack writes of moving from Philly to Austin in 2002 with his pregnant wife, Regina, to raise their young’un in the warm glow of the city’s laid-back vibe. Though temporarily distracted by a fleeting madness that impels him to form a rock band (the Neal Pollack Invasion) and take it on tour, he eventually embraces the trappings and responsibilities of parenthood, not least, one suspects, as a wellspring of comic material. This new Pollack is less frantic in tone than previous models and more engaging for the change. And Gen X parents will nod knowingly when he recalls soothing a frightened Elijah during The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie : “That was the moment that I officially stopped pretending to be cool.”