Dear Mr. Man…

March 24, 2009

UBP: Things I Love About the ’70’s

Filed under: Mr. Man's Random Thoughts — P. J. Easter @ 10:41 pm
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Q: Dear Mr. Man,

I found you at the Ultimate Blog Party. What kind of fun are you bringing to the party?

A: Thanks for checking in. I think it is very cool to be one of the select few “dad-bloggers” to be invited to this party comprised of mainly mom-bloggers.  Since this is a unique kind of party, I thought my contribution would be to take it back in time to the 1970’s. Here is a list of things I love from the ’70’s:

  1. You didn’t need an excuse to call someone a “Jive Turkey”.
  2. “Dynomite” wasn’t a terrorist threat.
  3. All In The Family. Brought the issue of race into my home and how to laugh at its absurdity.
  4. Afro Picks.
  5. Being able to call people “Jack”  whether that was their name or not (i.e. “What’s happenin’, Jack?”).
  6. Big Cadillacs and big collars.
  7. Purple Kool-Aid Kool Cups (frozen grape Kool-Aid in a styrofoam cup).
  8. Foxy Brown and Shaft (Watch yo’ mouth!)
  9. Every party needs a Disco Ball.
  10. I’m bringing the black Michael Jackson (sans Bubbles).
  11. How about some Jefferson Airplane?
  12. How about The Jeffersons? “Weezy?”
  13. Florida Evans and “Damn, Damn, Damn!!!”
  14. Barbarino, Horshack, Epstein, and Freddy “Boom Boom” Washington are all invited.
  15. Wolfman Jack can be the D.J.
  16. Charlie’s Angels
  17. How about “Mr. Yuk
  18. Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, and Richard Nixon are NOT invited.
  19. I loved the “Big Wheel” and “The Green Machine”.
  20. Star Wars is really from the ’70’s.
  21. The ” ‘Mean’ Joe’ Greene” Coca-Cola commercial.
  22. The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman. I always thought they were a better match than he and Farrah. 72xrayspecad
  23. I gotta bring my “X-Ray Glasses” to the party.

I’ve gotta let my kids read this. They know nothin’ about nothin’ when it comes to this. Thanks www.5minutesformom.com for inviting me to the party and thank you for dropping by. I hope you will continue to “get down and have a funky good time, Jack”.

Mr. Man

Question: What is your favorite ’70’s expression, show, or memory?

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March 22, 2009

Mr. Ayers’ Cello

I was watching 60 Minutes this evening and received a very unexpected surprise. There was the facinating story of  Nathaniel Ayers, a homeless, schizophrenic, musical prodigy and Steve Lopez, a down and out reporter for the Los Angeles Times. Mr. Ayers and Mr. Lopez  do not refer to each other by their first names out of deep respect for each other, so I will proffer the same respect in this post.

Although I included the trailer for the upcoming motion picture, The Soloist (starring Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey, Jr.), I am not going to discuss the movie.

What was fascinating to me was the relationship that developed between Mr. Ayers and Mr. Lopez. Initially, Mr. Lopez was only interested in Mr. Ayers as a human interest story to revive his faltering career. Instead, he discovered a virtuoso. A musical genius who lost his dream to the demons that plagued him. He lost a full scholarship to The Julliard School as he slowly lost his mind. He ended up as one of the 60,000  homeless people that roam the streets of Los Angeles at night. He became one of the forgotten ones.

Mr. Lopez began to discover the magic of this special man over the course of writing columns for his paper about him. The two men developed a mutual respect and admiration for each other. Mr. Lopez would bring Mr. Ayers to his home and to his family simply to provide a sense of normalcy and stability to a man who possessed neither. In the process, Mr. Lopez gained more from this man that a few columns in his paper.

Two men from two different worlds. One would normally step over the other invisible one as he rushes to hail a taxi. One would look normally look at the other with pity, disdain, or contempt. One would clutch his briefcase just a little tighter as he passed. Until he got to know the man and not the stereotype.

What if we move beyond that which is safe and comfortable and got to know someone who is different from us? What if we removed the barriers of race and religion and place in society and truly saw each other as children of the Creator? Many people are one paycheck away from becoming destitute and homeless. Could be your co-worker, your neighbor, or you. Can we truly afford to not to try to walk in Mr. Ayers shoes? There is a chance that we will miss out on the sweet barotones of his cello.

Man up.

Mr. Man

March 19, 2009

Fatherhood Friday:A New Kind of Cool

Filed under: Fatherhood Fridays — P. J. Easter @ 9:15 pm
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Q: Dear Mr. Man,

I turn forty this year and I am starting to think I’m “over the hill”.  How can I recapture my youth?

A: Sorry to be the one to break it to you, but attempting to recapture your youth is akin to Bobby Brown making a successful comeback. Sure, there are things you can do to ensure that you are living a healthy lifestyle. Physically there are lots of activities that we can do to maintain our vigor.  Aside from the physical aspects, I personally prefer my life today than where I was nearly 20 years ago. fatherhood-friday2

I’ve heard people say that “40 is the new 20”; I understand the spirit of that statement. However, I would counter that 40 is the new 40; which is a new kind of cool.

When I was in my early 20-somethings, life was crazy, confusing, and convoluted. I spent years trying to discover who I was and what I wanted and needed from life. Biologically an adult, but not truly a man. Full of mistakes and bad decisions, my 20’s were chaotic. I am fortunate in many ways; fortunate that I found my faith. Fortunate that Adi came into my life and helped stabilize me. This may not have been your experience, but it was very real for me. 

Fast forward to now. At almost 40, life is  creative, cultured, and cool. I am comfortable in who I am and what I believe. Adi helped me mature into manhood with her patience, tender strength, and support. My faith has grounded me. I am the father of two wonderful kids. A mentor and father figure of mine once told me he thought, “Life was ok. in my20’s. Then I turned 30. 30 was a great age for me, but things got really good around 40. Now I am in my 50’s and I feel like I’m on top of the world.” I didn’t understand when he first said this to me because I was in my 20’s.

Here is my Top 10 list of the “new kind of cool” I’m talking about.

It’s a “new kind of cool” to:

  1. Have faith in God and submit myself to a power greater than me.
  2. Have a wife to shower with adulation and to share my thoughts and fears and dreams with.
  3. Finding teaching moments when the boy and I play basketball (or any other activity)
  4. Know that I am the model my daughter looks to in order to know what type of man she will marry (even if she doesn’t know yet).
  5. Hear the heartbeat of my firstborn for the very first time through the ultrasound.
  6. Be the funniest guy in my house. My kids will laugh at almost anything.
  7. Learn someting new every day. And to share that knowledge.
  8. Have friends with the same values as you and aren’t afraid to correct you if you get off track.
  9. Serve others.
  10. To teach my kids to be respected for their work no matter what they may do for a living.

It’s a “new kind of cool” that many of you are choosing to man up each and every day in your own unique ways.

I like this new kind of cool. Do you?

Mr. Man

Question: What is your “new kind of cool”?

March 13, 2009

Fatherhood Friday: Kid Humor

Filed under: Fatherhood Fridays — P. J. Easter @ 7:56 pm

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Q: Dear Mr. Man,

Do you have any jokes you can share?

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A: Some days when I get home from work, J.C. or Bae greets me with a “new” joke that they have heard. Many of the jokes are classics that have been around for years. Others I have never heard before. The kids usually run the anecdotes by Adi first, so she gets the benefit of “first laugh”. Here are a few of their favorites:

Bae: Knock knock.

Me: Who’s there?

Bae: Noel.

Me: Noel who?

Bae: How many times do I have to tell you “Noel” -bows on the table?

Here is one of the boy’s favorites:

J.C. “So there is a duck that walks into the store and picks up a chocolate bar. The duck brings the candy to the counter and the cashier says, “Do you want to pay with cash or credit?” Then the duck says, “It’s okay. Just put it on my bill.” 

Here’s another from Bae: “Why don’t bears eat clowns?”

Me: Tell me why bears don’t eat clowns.

Bae: “Because they taste funny!”

And lastly, this gem from the boy.:

J.C.:” What did the skunk say when everyone was arguing in the courthouse?”

Adi: “What did he say?”

J.C. “Odor in the court!”

I really get a kick out of kid humor not so much because the jokes are particularly funny (okay..I do think they’re funny), but because my kids tell them with a zeal and freshness of a person discovering laughter for the first time.

Man up.

Mr. Man

March 11, 2009

A Not-So-Obvious Victim of the Economy

Filed under: Mr. Man's Random Thoughts — P. J. Easter @ 12:34 pm
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Note: This post is out of the norm for the topics usually discussed on this blog. However, I think today’s subject is sufficient food for thought for us all. Please read. I hope it expands your horizons as it has mine.

-Mr. Man

A friend of mine asked me to provide feedback to an open letter she wrote on Facebook about animal endangerment and neglect . This was a huge step for her because she admits her insecurity about sharing her personal thoughts with others. Initially, I was looking at the letter with an editor’s eye,  but I really began to get into the substance of the letter. Here are some excerpts (with her permission. Thanks, C.W.).

“With the current economic situation there are many people out there that are forced to make difficult decisions; whether to feed their families, pay an electric or water bill or to buy food for their animals. Unfortunately the rescues are starting to see the sad results of these difficult decisions. The past two days I’ve seen two news articles in Texas where horses (and other livestock) were so malnourished that the local law enforcement removed the animals. These two particular instances involved a large number of animals, not just one or two.

To me, it’s personal; to many of my “rescue” friends, it’s personal.

Anyone that has ever held an emaciated animal and made a promise to that animal that they do deserve better and that their life is going to change knows how personal it is.

Anyone that has ever held an animal when it took it’s last breath because there was nothing else that could be done knows how personal it is.

There are many sleepless nights, many tears shed, many thoughts of self doubt…wondering “what if”. It IS personal!”

Adi and I do not personally own any animals, so I admit, this is not a subject that I think about often. However, this letter reminded me that every living thing on earth is a product of the Creator and should be treated as such. If a person makes the choice to own animals for whatever reason, then they also must assume to responsibility to care for those animals. If you cannot care for pets or livestock, it is better to find someone who can than to allow them to suffer from neglect.

 

C.W. -Thank you for expanding my range of thinking on this subject. Thank you for “manning up”.

Mr. Man

Question: Hopefully I made a difference by bringing the subject of preventing animal neglect  to this blog. What are some ways that you can make a difference?

March 9, 2009

Chris Brown…Have You Lost Your Damn Mind?

Filed under: Uncategorized — P. J. Easter @ 9:22 pm

Chris Brown Appears in Court on Domestic Violence Charges

Mr. Man has a question for R&B singer Chris Brown…

HAVE YOU LOST YOUR DAMN MIND?!?!?

Since when did Chris Brown become a thug? Is he hanging out with Suge Knight these days? I have to tell you, this story is incredulous to me. I don’t pretend to know much about Chris Brown or Rihanna (I couldn’t name a single song that either of them produced). I remember seeing him on the Grammys a year or two ago. I thought he was a talented performer with Michael Jackson-esque moves and boyish good looks. He was doing some really cool dance moves on dinner tables at the Grammys, American Music Awards, or whatever.

Why did this pretty boy think that it was okay to punch this woman in the face? Repeatedly?

Men who beat up women are cowards and losers. Period. Chris Brown is no exception. By his own account, he watched his stepfater abuse his mother. Brown says that “he hates him to this day” for the abuse his mother had to endure. Yet, he does this to another man’s daughter? Def Jam President and rapper Jay-Z is reported to have said, “Chris Brown had better watch his back. He’s messed with the wrong crew.” If I were Chris, the LAPD would be the last thing on my mind.

There are very few things in this life that would make me resort to physical violence and someone kicking the crap out of my sweet little girl ranks pretty high on that list. I’m kind of an eye for an eye kind of guy. Jail time would be to easy for this crime. This is a family-oriented  blog, so I will refrain from mentioning what I think his punishment should be.

Despite all of this, there is a possibility that he will not receive any jail time. He and Rihanna have since reconciled (why?). In fact I heard on the radio that they even exchanged vows. Not wedding vows, but the words went something like this:

“Chris- Do you promise to take this woman…to love and to cherish until another of your sexual conquests sends you a text message? Which she reads and gets angry with you…at which point, you get ticked off and decide to get your Billy Blanks’ Tae Bo workout on by using her as a punching bag? At which point, you cool off and apologize and beg her to forgive you. Which she does. Until she does something else that ticks you off and you try to play “Ultimate Fighting Championship” with her face? Again?”

Nearly 1.5 million women are abused each year according to the Support Network of Battered Women. 1.5 million wives, daughters, and mothers. Not cool at all.

Chris, I won’t even tell you to man up because I’m not sure that you know how.

Mr. Man

Question: Rihanna reconciled with Chris Brown after this incident. What makes some people return to abusive relationships?

March 6, 2009

Fatherhood Friday:The Daddy Daughter Dance

Filed under: Fatherhood Fridays — P. J. Easter @ 12:20 am

 

 

dsc02323Q: Dear Mr. Man,

I like to do special “Daddy/Daughter Dates” with my little girl. Can you share something special that you and your daughter do?

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A: There are so many things that I enjoy doing  with my little girl. Bae is an avid sports fan (moreso than the boy when it comes to watching), so we enjoy hanging out and watching our local sports teams together. With college sports we enjoy talking trash to each other. I support the Texas A&M Aggies, she roots for the Texas Longhorns (I don’t know where I went wrong on that one). She likes it when I take her shopping (of course). She also loves going to Rocket City Fun Station and Joe’s Crab Shack.  We love to cook together. She seasons the meat and I grill it (think of the “Tim ‘The Toolman’ Taylor” noise at this point). However, there is one event that we have done every year since she was six years old. The Daddy Daughter Dance.

For those of you that may not be familiar with this, many churches and private schools host this event which is designed to build upon the bonds of the father/daughter relationship. I, like most fathers I know, also use this event as another opportunity to teach our girls how they should be treated by when they start dating.  Bae knows not to get in or out of the car unless the young man is standing on the other side of the door to open it (I forgot once and she sat in the car until I remembered). Communication is reinforced. She is to talk with respect and to be spoken to in the same way. She learned early on not to ever be coerced into doing something she doen’t want to do. As for the dance itself, there is hardly any dancing being done by us. She tells me that she is shy (I don’t see it at home). One maybe two dances at the end is all I normally get. As she gets older she is more concerned about being embarrassed in front of her friends. And that’s okay. Because for that special evening, it is just me and her. And I don’t know who loves it more.

She’s eleven now and I have to work harder now to find the common interests between us. I know I need to be more interested in Claire’s and The Limited Too and Hannah Montana than she needs to be interested in the things I like.  At some point, she will become interested in boys and Adi and my lives will be turned upside down. Even so, when does begin to go out, I hope she will remember Daddy as her first date and the lessons learned.

Mr. Man

March 4, 2009

The Unfortunate Story of a Weekend Fishing Trip

Filed under: Uncategorized — P. J. Easter @ 8:06 pm

Like many people, I have been keeping up with the news story about the two NFL players, Marquis Cooper of the Oakland Raiders and Corey Smith of the Detroit Lions and two of their friends who have been missing since last week. There was a lone survivor, found atop their 24-foot capsized fishing boat holding on for his life. This young man, Nick Schuyler, was rescued by the Coast Guard on Monday. The search for the remaining three men was suspended at sunset on Tuesday. This morning I was reading parts of Nick’s account. Some question his account due to his condition and he may be delusional so soon after the ordeal. His story made my heart sink because it was said that two of the men “just gave up”.

Paraphrasing, Schuyler desribed a scene that started off as a beautiful day for deep sea fishing with some friends to a fiery turn in the weather with powerful gusts of wind and high tidal waves that eventually overturned the boat. None of the men were wearing life jackets at the time. One of the men repeatedly swam under the boat to retrieve life vests and bottled water. All four of the men clung onto the hull of the fishing boat.

After “two to four hours”, hypothermia began to set in the men from the icy waters. Hypothermia sets in when the environment surrounding the human body becomes so frigid that it negates the body’s ability to generate heat. This condition also causes a gradual loss of mental and physical and mental abilities. According to the story, one of the NFL players took off his life vest and let himself drift out to sea. A few hours after this, the second NFL player did the same. Schuyler and the fourth man (Will Bleakley) hung onto the vessel until early Monday morning when Bleakley thought he saw a light in the distance. He decided to swim for help. A life jacket and a cooler was found 16 miles away. Schuyler held on until he was rescued later that same day.

Although it is impossible to know for sure, it is possible to conclude that Cooper and Smith felt a sense of hopelessness and dispair. Maybe they began to believe that they would never be rescued.  It has been suggested by others that these two men simply lost the will to live.

Then there was Bleakley. He was the young man who repeated swam underneath the capsized boat for life vests and bottled water. He was also the one who decided to swim in treacherous waters for help rather than remain with the boat that was found by rescuers hours later.

Lastly, there is Nick Schuyler. The one who chose to stayed with the boat and was rescued.

No one knows what goes through the hearts of men when confronted with the very real probability of death. I don’t dare to guess. Some may choose to believe that Cooper and Smith chose to take the easy way out by simply removing their  life vests. Some may think that Bleakley was foolish for choosing to swim for help. Others may believe that Nick Schuyler simply got lucky. I choose to think each of these men manned up in his own way.

Mr. Man

March 2, 2009

My Name is Adam…

Filed under: Manhood — P. J. Easter @ 3:09 pm
Tags: ,

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Q: Dear Mr. Man.

I am struggling with temptation and I don’t know what to do.

A: Sometimes there are things that run through your mind that, if heard aloud, would embarrass, shame, and dishonor you. As guilt-ridden as you may feel, you allow the decadent thoughts to run across your mind. You take silent pleasure in the moment.

You long to taste the bittersweet succulence that you once enjoyed and long to savor again. You know that you shouldn’t. You know that nothing good could come of it, but you can’t seem to shake the desire.

 

You are a different person now (or so you thought). You don’t want to want to give in to your baser instincts, but you feel your resolve crumbling. If your family only knew, they would be so disappointed in your weakness. That’s why you can’t tell a soul.

 

Your heart is racing. A light sweat breaks across your forehead. You mentally succumb to the fantastical indulgences that have been running across your mind all day long. The moment is finally here. You give in to temptation as waves of guilt and euphoria.  And then…

 

You look up from your reverie and remember that you are sitting at your desk, your co-worker calling for your attention. You clear your throat as you pull yourself together as your sinful thoughts slip away.

 

There is a line in a Prince song called Electric Chair that goes like this:

 

“If a man is considered guilty for what goes on in his mind, then give me the electric chair for all my future crimes.”

 

Let’s get back to reality. The scenario above could be thoughts of taking that first drink after being on the on the wagon for the last 15 years. It could be the temptation of having a cigarette after a long hiatus. It could be a diet that you do not have the will power to stick with. It could be another person that comes and interrupts the tranquility of your life. We are human and we commonly suffer from our frailties. This we understand. Life throws us curveballs that cause us to momentarily forget our better judgment.

 

It is difficult to control the thoughts that come and go though your mind. You can filter what you take in terms of your environment, but something always seems to slip through the cracks that sends your mind into overdrive. However, it is how a person responds to these temptations, in my mind, that shows the true measure of the man. The man of strength and character will recognize these curveballs and knock them out of the park. He will not succumb. He will not give in. No matter what. No matter how much his flesh is pulling him down. He will seek redemption.

 

It is also important to be surrounded with like-minded men of faith who love you enough to hold you accountable. If you are honest and you allow it, these men will call you out, pull you from the depths of hell, and be a source of strength where you may be lacking. They will help you man up when you may not be able to see it in yourself to do so.

 

Mr. Man

 

Question: How do you handle temptation in your life?

February 26, 2009

Fatherhood Friday: Winners and Losers

Filed under: Fatherhood Fridays — P. J. Easter @ 10:36 pm

 

Sports Equipment on White

Q: Dear Mr. Man.

My kid plays in a sports league that doesn’t keep score. How do I teach him about winners and losers?   fatherhood-friday

A: My son, JC, plays in a church basketball league (which I have coached for the last three years). The league is an outreach to our local community to expose kids and parents to our faith who may not otherwise come to know the Lord. As a coach in this league, the goal is to love on the kids with the love of Christ and, if we could squeeze in the fundamentals of basketball, then that was the bonus. This year, I was unable to coach due to an ankle injury (previously mentioned in another post in this blog). So Adi, Bae, and I sat on the sidelines and cheered for my son and his team every Saturday morning.

We would really get into the action. We would yell and holler from the sidelines with every great pass and spectacular shot. We would watch the kids run up and down the court while occasionally having to stop to tie their shoestrings.

Every parent in the stands knew that there was no official score, but that did not keep parents and coaches from keeping their own tallies.

After each game, JC would look at me with a certain pride in his eyes and say, “We won, Daddy. Didn’t we?” Although I had it in my mind who won the game, I wanted to support the goal of the league, because the lessons are invaluable:

JC: “We won, Daddy. Didn’t we?”

Me: “Everyone was a winner today, son.”

JC: “How can that be, Dad, when we got more baskets than ’em?”

Me: “Because everyone is a winner in God’s eyes, JC.”

I talk to him regularly about good sportsmanship. I talk to him about allowing an opponent to lose with his dignity intact because , if he loses, he would want the same. I let him know that I believe that how the contest is fought is more important than who wins or loses the game. I tell him to be proud of his effort and to accept criticism for what its worth.  Although these are difficult lessons for him to understand, I pray that one day my words will be remembered as well as the lessons I try to impart.

I understand that if I don’t teach him the right way to man up, he never will.

Mr. Man

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