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The Way To A Woman's Heart: The Stupid Dance

Recently, a few single friends of mine have thrown an interesting question my way. It wasn't what I expected --- the usual, "Why did you get married?" Instead it was, "How did you get married?" I guess in 2009 seeing someone you like, having sex with them and dealing with the fallout of having gone to bed with a psychopath just isn't what it used to be anymore. If it was ever anything to begin with.

Getting back to that question. It definitely posed a challenge because I honestly never thought about it. I didn't make a conscious effort to have someone fall in love with me. I didn't plan on getting married nor work to find the woman who would say I do. But as I think back what I did do was to stop taking myself seriously. Completely.

Better put, I stopped giving a you know what about what anyone thought of me. I don't know what brought it on. I distinctly remember waking up on the morning of my 28th birthday and not caring anymore. I just got tired of it. I still dressed to impress, but I sought to impress no one but myself. I didn't sweat not having the things I thought I should have, I developed an immediate appreciation for the things I did have. Life became a beautiful thing that I was able to clearly see. I published a horribly edited book of my poetry and short stories. I gave notice at a job that made me absolutely miserable and landed a new one within a week of handing in my resignation letter. I learned to laugh at myself, with myself and for myself. I actually became quite self-centered after liberating myself from the whims of others. But none of this meant I was a eunuch. When it came to the women I had a simple requirement for relations(hip): she had to be able to laugh with me, at me and at herself. She also had to be able to put a sentence together and not leave her house not looking like who did it and ran, but that's a another story for another time.

Truth is folks, I've let time and circumstances chip away at this freedom I once basked in. This past Thanksgiving I had a chip on my shoulder the size of Texas (shout out to all my Texan readers) because I did the very thing I'm saying not to do here --- I let the thoughts and subsequent actions of others bother me. My daddy blogging brother from another mother, Outnumbered Is Jason Mayo, wrote an excellent, but depressing post, The Saddest Thing I've Ever Heard, about the decline of laughter from childhood to adulthood. I'm going to take up his challenge and laugh in the face of all the crap life throws my way. I can't holler all the time.

I've never been above random outbursts of silliness. Typically music has been at the source of these incidents. As a child who began playing piano at the age of six, music has always been intrinsic to my life. And with music comes the dancing.

That's right, the dancing.

I'm that guy who knows how to dance thanks to cotillions, step shows, school assemblies, etc.. But I'm the guy who chooses not to. I like to have fun with music, any and all kinds.

Such as the theme music to the original Taking of Pelham One Two Three:

I did about 7 more takes of this, but my wife liked this one the best. Especially the part where I was rolling around on the floor.

Yes, folks, I was THAT guy in the club and made no bones about it. If a woman was too uptight to be bothered with my very obvious antics, then it was her loss, plain and simple. When my wife and daughter saw this video they both were curled up together laughing until they cried. That's what I'm talkin' about.

If the way to a man's heart is through his stomach, the way to a woman's is definitely through laughter.

My bottom line to the single set and us tight, stiff, serious married people with children - know that it's okay to be light and be silly, even stupid, from time to time and make sure you're with someone who is able to do the same or at least appreciate you for being that way.

Self Portrait

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Happy A Wonderful Thanksgiving...whether traveling, staying home, home alone, entertaining family, fighting with family, missing loved ones, regretting bad decisions, unemployed, underemployed, unhappy at work, happy at work, etc., etc...

Whatever your situation or scenario, be blessed.

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Testing the Ice: The Winners!

Thank you to those of you who participated in the Testing the Ice Storybook Contest. The following 4 winners have been selected at random by Random.org:

Each winner must do the following within 48 hours of this posting or risk forfeiture of your very own copy of Testing the Ice:
Send me an email via my Contact tab at the top of this page and include your name and U.S. mailing address.

Thanks for participating and congratulations!

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HarlemWeek2009...Classic by E. Payne

Shot this in August at this year's Classic Car Show at Harlem Week 2009.

Wish I had this in my garage...

...wish I had a garage.

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Shaniya Davis: A Child Like Mine

This past weekend I went to see the movie, Precious, with my mother who was visiting from Chicago. As soon as I got home I hugged my daughter for nearly five minutes and almost trembled holding back the tears as scenes from the movie flashed in my head. I would've done the same with my son, but now that he's a teenager he doesn't allow me into his "bubble" unless I tackle him.

In Precious' face I saw my own child. What made the movie so difficult for me is that I know from my own work with teens at risk that this fiction tale is not fiction at all for thousands of nameless, faceless, abused, tortured children with no one to love or defend them from the monsters in their lives.

Shaniya Davis, unfortunately, is the real name of one of these real children.

Shaniya Davis was found dead Monday, nearly a week after mother Antoinette Davis reported her missing. Police say Davis is charged with human trafficking and felony child abuse, allegedly for selling Shaniya into sex slavery.

Police also charged Mario McNeill with kidnapping after he was captured on a hotel's surveillance video carrying Shaniya. McNeill's lawyer has said his client will plead not guilty.

Police say an autopsy is being conducted to determine how Shaniya died.

The father of a 5-year-old girl whose body was found off a rural North Carolina road regrets giving the girl's mother a chance to raise their daughter, even though she seemed to be getting her life together.

The girl's father, Bradley Lockhart, said he had a one-night stand with Antoinette Davis and mostly brought up their daughter before letting Davis take care of her. A month later, Shaniya Davis was dead, her body dumped off a rural road and her mother accused of selling her for sex.

Reporting as per the Associated Press.

I spent a good portion of yesterday afternoon distraught over this. Particularly because this little girl is almost a duplicate version of my own save the difference of a little more than a year in ages. Beyond the stark similarities, in this child's eyes I see all children. The mother is alleged to have done this for drugs. DRUGS! And she somehow thought that she was going to get her child back after pimping her out.

Shaniya Davis was FIVE YEARS OLD! I cannot imagine the fear that ripped through this child after living a happy and safe life, only to have it turned upside down over the course of a month...by her mother.

I don't wish ill will on many people, but I hope Hell has a very hot suite for all parties involved in this abomination. I actually hope they are released into the general population of whatever prisons they are ultimately sentenced to serve time in. I hope a corrections officer looks the other way for free on this one.

May God be with Shaniya Davis and may she rest in peace after her five short years on this Earth. My heart and prayers are with her father as well who is waking up everyday into a nightmare from which he cannot escape.

That kid you see acting a fool when you're out with your family might be a child who is suffering at home. It's too easy to dismiss the problems of others as "that's someone else's problem." That question we often ask, "Well, where are the parents?" might be the same thing that kid is wondering. Where we can we need to help our children. Because as adults we have the power to cast a wide net, via the Internet, via the workplace, via church, via school, via government. We need to love, equip and empower them with all that we have as best we can so that they have the knowledge and tools to grow up to be adults who, God willing, won't travel the path that this poor girl's mother is alleged to have traveled.

I don't think I can or should say any more.

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It Takes A Village: Children's Village

"It takes a village to raise a child."

I am a firm believer in the fact that it takes a community --- parents, teachers, extended relatives, church, mentors, etc. --- to contribute to the totality of the rearing of children. This includes those kids and sometimes parents who don't have the luxury of having all of the above at their disposal. That's why I love The Children's Village.

Founded in 1851 and located just outside of New York City in the Hudson River town of Dobbs Ferry, the mission of the Children's Village is to work in partnership with families to help society’s most vulnerable children so that they become educationally proficient, economically productive, and socially responsible members of their communities.*

Their values fall into the following three core beliefs...

  • First, all children and youth need connections to adults, preferably family members, who believe in them and will remain connected throughout their lives.
  • Second, education, appropriate social behavior, and job skills are essential to functioning independently in society.
  • And third, every human being has strengths and the desire to make his or her life happy and fulfilling; with support and the tools to overcome obstacles, most can and will succeed.*

During 2007-2008 Youth and Families were served in the following ways:

  • Residential School - 457 Youth
  • Day School - 123 Youth
  • Family Preservation Services - 2,145 Families
  • Shelters & Short-term Residential - 647 Youth
  • Foster homes- 325 Youth
  • Supported Community Living – 128 Youth
  • Crisis Residence – 206 Youth
  • Work Appreciation for Youth & Aftercare- 267 Youth
  • Community Outreach to Youth- 4,032 (does not include 792 hotline calls)
And it's not a one-way street. The kids have the opportunity to enter programs such as the Assistance Dog Training Program where they train special service dogs to help children, adults and veterans with physical handicaps. For more information, please visit www.childrensvillage.org.

I cannot tell you how much I believe in the aims, goals and outcomes of this organization. Over the years and as recently as last month, I've donated money, clothes, toys, sports equipment and furniture to assist in their efforts to empower the young men and women of the Children's Village.

No one is oblivious to what is going on with the US Economy. If we're affected just imagine how much the disenfranchised are. I would like to put the power of the Internet and this blog to work for the residents of the Village by pledging a $3,000 donation to assist in their holiday efforts this year. In the right hand column of this blog you'll see the section entitled "Make a Donation To the Chidlren's Village" just beneath the social networking icons or you can visit my fundraising page for the Children's Village directly. It is a 100% tax-deductible, totally safe and secure process (VeriSign) that will allow you to use a major credit/debit card. If all you have to donate is one dollar, that's better than nothing at all (if 3,000 people donated a dollar then the goal will be met).

$35 pays for a teenager to go skiing.
$150 will allow staff to take 10 of the younger children snow tubing.
$200 pays for a whole cottage to go to the movies or go bowling.
$400 pays for a two-day winter camping trip for 8 boys.
$500 will allow 10 kids to go to a Knicks game or see a holiday show.

You can also help by putting the power of social networking behind this effort by sharing, emailing, Tweeting, Facebooking this post as many times as possible to get the word out.

As always, thanks so much for reading and please, lend some financial assistance to the Children's Village. You can visit the Children's Village website to learn more about this amazing non-profit organization.

*Excerpted from the Chidlren's Village website.

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Testing The Ice: Book Review & Giveaway

In the early 1950s, legendary baseball hero Jackie Robinson literally “tested the ice” for his kids who so eagerly wanted to skate on the frozen lake near their home. Testing the Ice is a stunning metaphor for Robinson’s remarkable racial breakthrough.

This book review is based on a promotional copy provided to me thanks to Scholastic. I was immediately drawn in by Kadir Nelson's compelling illustrations and found myself imagining the rural descriptions contained in the book. Through this storybook I was able to relive moments of Jackie Robinson's life and piece together tidbits and anecdotes I've been told over the years by people who personally crossed paths with this sports pioneer. As my sports-enthusiast son is in high school I had the less than enviable task of testing the book out of my princess, fairy, Dora and Diego loving daughter. Although at the age of three, she wasn't able to grasp the full content of the story but she sat attentive as I read to her and waiting eagerly for me to turn each page to see what picture was coming next. By story's end she understood the overarching theme of not being afraid to do things that need to be done.

The Giveaway:

In conjunction with Big Honcho Media, Makes Me Wanna Holler will be giving away four (4) beautiful hardcover copies of Testing The Ice. This is just in time for the holidays and will make a great gift for a young one who loves to read.

Entries can be one or all of the following:

  1. Leave a comment about why you would like a copy of Testing The Ice for your child(ren). (This doesn't have to be long and drawn out. The simpler, the better.)
  2. Leave a comment about your love of baseball or Jackie Robinson or a Jackie Robinson anecdote.
  3. Tweet about this contest and include my handle, @MakesMeHoller, in your tweet (please leave a comment here to let me know you've tweeted).

You can do any or all of the above as many times as you like. And of course I'm always open to you, my loyal readers, spreading the word about Makes Me Wanna Holler (but this isn't a requirement for this giveaway).

Winners will be chosen by Random.org.

This contest will begins today Friday, November 13, 2009 at the time of this posting, 12:15 p.m. (EST) and ends at 12:15 a.m. on Friday, November 20, 2009. You must be either: a US citizen or have a US mailing address to enter. No purchase necessary to enter.

This contest is now CLOSED. The winners will be mentioned in a blog post on Monday, November 23, 2009.

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Father In Focus: Lamar Tyler

This is a Dad I've been itching to feature. Because he's a particularly busy man I had to be patient as I waited for him to have the time to be interviewed. His name is Lamar Tyler he is the co-creator of Black And Married With Kids and Happily Ever After: A Positive Image of Black Marriage. He and his wife, Ronnie, have been instrumental in utilizing the Internet and social media to promote the very obvious fact that there are good African American men out there who are wonderful fathers and husbands. The Facebook fan site for his recently released documentary, Happily Ever After: A Positive Image of Black Marriage, currently has 22,700 fans and is expanding at an exponential rate. If that isn't a testament to fact that better manhood, fatherhood and husbandry isn't (and always has been) alive and well in communities of color, I don't know what is.

Where do you live?
LT: DC Area

What's your occupation?
LT: IT Manager for a Broadcast Television Station

How many children do you have, how long have you been married?
LT: 4 Kids 4 Years

When did you start blogging and what inspires you to blog?
LT: December 2007. The desire to challenge stereotypes about marriage and parenting in the black community.

What does being a dad mean to you? How does being a man of color impact this?
LT: Being a dad means being the one the entire family leans on. Being the backbone of the family and setting the vision for my wife, my children and myself to share. Being a dad of color means I have to ensure that my children understand that anything is possible regardless of how they see their culture portrayed around them.

What has been one of your most memorable moments as a father? As a husband?
LT: Definitely the birth of my children on the larger scale and that was memorable from both the standpoints of a husband and a father. On a smaller more regular basis coming home to a loving family that bum rushes you at the door is memorable even though it happens every night.

What advice/recommendation would you give to someone about to become a father and/or husband?
LT: Be responsible, take the approach that if not you then who? You are the final stop gap for your family and that responsibility weighs on your shoulders. Also the relationship that you have with your wife and directly with your children will directly shape how your little boys or little girls relate to their spouses and children years from now.

If you could accomplish anything through your blogging, what would that be?
LT: Generating more awareness of the balance that exists within the black community instead of just the negative that's always portrayed. Also making it known that marriage is a possibility to those who live in communities where they may not see successful marriages on a daily basis. That is the total goal of Blackandmarriedwithkids.com and the Happily Ever After documentary.

Lamar Tyler



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Married Life

No one was injured or taken seriously during the taking of this photograph...

If you haven't already, let the veteran(s) in your life know you're thinking about them today.

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Good (Girls') Hair

Good-Girls-Hair Last week I was interviewed by Kimberly Allers, the dynamic, Mommy Lifestyler behind the Mocha Manual bestselling book series and its companion website. She wanted to know if and how I did my daughter's (pictured left) hair. They also got the thoughts of my good buddy, MochaDad, on the subject. Just in case you didn't catch it over there, I brought the full interview over here to Makes Me Wanna Holler for your reading pleasure...

Daddy Talk: Doing My Daughter’s Hair

My wasband can't seem to get it right. We wondered how other dads were faring in doing their daughter's hair. The answers were tangled and knotted!

Every Monday when I wait at the bus stop, I face my Dad-does-Kayla’s-hair fears. After a weekend with her father, how my daughter’s hair looks when she goes to school on Monday is anybody’s guess. How she looks when she steps off the bus after school, is my greatest fear. (Read my blog today on my Monday Fright Fest)

So I started wondering if my childrens’ father is the only father who can’t master two simple ponytails. The man speaks fluent French and does freakishly complex math permutations in his head—but a almost straight part and two barrettes—not so much.

So we set about asking some of our favorite Dads about their hair experiences. In this age we were thinking Dads are doing it all. Or are they?

Eric who writes the blog, MakesMeWannaHoller resides in New York and has been married for 2 years, has two children one of which is a 3 year old daughter. Eric has this to say:

Mocha Manual: How often do you do your daughters hair?

Me: Typically once or twice a week when my wife isn't traveling on business. When she's out of town I have to do it every day.

Mocha Manual: Do you find it difficult? If so what do you find difficult about it?

Me: My daughter has enough hair for me, my wife and my son, so if there is any difficulty in doing her hair it's the sheer amount of it that is required to be detangled, then combed, then braided, unless I leave it loose. But because of the amount of hair she has it's more manageable if it's braided and my braids don't stay tight the way they do when her mother does her hair.

Mocha Manual: Do you find it to be fun/ a good bonding experience ?

Me: I wouldn't call it fun, it is time consuming for sure. I definitely feel that we were able to bond in a different format. There are even times when she prefers me to Mom, but those times are rare.

Mocha Manual: How did you learn to do hair? Did you learn by trial and error?

Me: The experience will always be trial and error for me, since hair isn't something I have any skill in (other than barbering in college) and personally don't concern myself with since I shave my head. I'm pretty good at learning through watching. My wife does our daughter's hair in the evenings before her bedtime and from the very beginning I was fascinated by the process and watched intently. Eventually it began to click for me, but in the beginning I had my daughter looking like she had been in a cat fight.

Mocha Manual: What advice would you give other fathers who have to do their daughters hair?

Me: Be patient! Find distractions for her that will require her to sit still and shift her focus to something besides her hair and remember pulling on hair hurts, especially when a man is doing it.

Mocha Manual: Do you get your props?

Me: People are always surprised when they see my daughter's hair looking decent and I announce that I did it. No one has ever not believed me, but more times these people are women who are surprised that I would do my daughter's hair. But she's my daughter. If there's anything I'm not going to allow it's for my daughter to go outside looking like "Who did it and ran?" My pride in my daughter's appearance far outweighs any pride I might have had at some point in my life about being a man doing a girl's hair. She's not just a girl, she's my daughter and that overrides everything. Every daughter should hold the same level of importance in their father's lives.

Fred, an African American father who blogs as MochaDad.

Mocha Manual: How often do you do your daughters hair?
MochaDad: I rarely do my daughter's hair because she doesn't think I'm competent enough to touch her hair.
Mocha Manual: Do you find it difficult? If so what do you find difficult about it?

MochaDad: The actual hair styling is not all that difficult. The most difficult part is having to listening to my daughter berate me because of my subpar styling skills,
Mocha Manual: Do you find it to be fun or a good bonding experience ?

MochaDad: Fun is definitely not the word I would use to describe my experiences. If you've ever bathed a cat, you can understand how my hair styling sessions go.

Mocha Manual:
How did you learn to do hair? Did you learn by trial and error?

It was definitely by trial and error. I can't say that I've completely learned how to do hair. Definitely not in my daughter's opinion.

Mocha Manual: What advice would you give other fathers who have to do their daughters hair?

One ponytail is the key to success.

So how about you? Do you (if you're a dad) do your daughter's hair? Have you had any success; is it a horror story of epic proportions or are you somewhere in the middle? Moms, what say you about Daddy's hairstyling skills?

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Empire City, My City

In New York,
Concrete jungle where dreams are made of,
There's nothing you can’t do,
Now you’re in New York,
These streets will make you feel brand new,
The lights will inspire you,
Lets here it for New York, New York, New York...

It's the city that made me Man, Dad and Husband...

Congrats to the New York Yankees! Enjoy your parade. Be safe out there New York.

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Tuesday Night Lights

Tuesday Night Lights 1

Last week, after being handed their first defeat all season, my son claimed a W for his last football game of the season. Because the team had been previously undefeated, his coaches lobbied the school for a night game and got it...on a Tuesday. Last night the team won a decisive 28-14 victory and finished the year with a 6-1 record. I shot 115 photos. Half of them were a complete and utter disaster. I'm not even going to bore you how many stupid mistakes I was making with the Canon Rebel XT I was shooting with. I was fussing with it when my son snatched a Hail Mary pass out of the sky and crashed back to Earth in the endzone for his first touchdown of the season. I won't let that happen again.

Finally, I figured out my settings and the other half came out nice. So nice, that I now know I need a better camera. Here are my favorites from my son's Tuesday Night Lights experience.

Tuesday Night Lights 2
In the huddle. My boy (#15) and crew figuring out what to do.

Tuesday Night Lights 3

Tuesday Night Lights 4
The blur is #13, the scoringest running back on the team. I spent the entire season trying to catch him with my camera. Clearly it's not happening.

Tuesday Night Lights 6
Going in for the kill...

Tuesday Night Lights 5
I love this photo. It's so rugged.

Tuesday Night Lights 7
My son's newest and growing fan.

Tuesday Night Lights 8
Standing by while Coach observes.

Tuesday Night Lights 9
The game is coming to a close.

Tuesday Night Lights 10
Good sportsmanship...always necessary.

Back In The Day
My little boy is no little boy...anymore.

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For The Love Of...Halloween

Last Thursday the wife went to New Orleans on a business trip that would keep her out of town until Sunday. She was pretty busted up about missing our daughter's first, definitively self-aware Halloween. I was too.

It meant I was going to have to do everything by myself.

As the Dad in this operation I take the pictures, I drive, I do the lifting (literally), I pick up the rear. I typically don't initiate activities and from what I understand many fathers don't. On the docket was a Halloween Party in my building, Trick-Or-Treating in my neighborhood and somehow figuring out how to keep my son reigned in.


It's not that I didn't want to experience this with my daughter but I don't initiate conversations. I don't attend children's events to make connections. My focus is solely on my family and their enjoyment. Of course I make nice with other kids because as a father I've now learned how to talk the talk and kids can smell the father on me the same way pets smell animals on humans that own pets, but I'd be lying if I said I eagerly anticipated these events. I honestly think it hails back to my days of being a shy young man from Chi-Town. Beyond that, I have a 14 year-old I had to keep out of trouble and entertained. And attending a kiddie party wasn't going to work for him.

I'm happy to report that I was saved from the apartment building Halloween party thanks to the kindness of a fellow-father-acquaintance who invited me to the Halloween Celebration at the American Museum of Natural History. I rounded up the kids, snagged a teenage niece (by friendship on my wife's side) from Yonkers to come along for the ride and headed to the City.

The streets were teeming with little ones and their parents in costumes. I was most impressed by a mom and pop duo who were dressed as Han Solo and Princess Leia and had their son covered in faux fur as Chewbacca.  And then there was my fairy princess...


She and I spent our time in the City as an inseparable pair. She was the star of the show and I was her handler/PR person. I was on hand to repair one wardrobe malfunction after another, to hold her hand when she got scared by the darker rooms at the museum and to just realize that besides being the most challenging and rambunctious 3 year old I know, she is the very breath I breathe. And where was my son during all this love? After taking all my money to buy a bunch of food he didn't even finish at the food court, he and his cousin took off running and I didn't see them again until the museum closed.


By evening's end I was still tending to my baby, trick or treating back in my rain-soaked neighborhood. I walked behind her with my umbrella over her head while I kept pace one step behind her, stinking of wet wool thanks to the sweater and pageboy cap I wore. And where was my son and my niece? Running the streets of my new suburb with about 30 other teens having the most boring Halloween ever in the pouring rain.

That night my lil' bit and I baked Halloween cookies, carved a pumpkin to look like Dora the Explorer (something I proudly did by freehand), and I went on to single-handedly toast some of the nastiest pumpkin seeds ever in the history of pumpkin seeds. Oh well. It was my first time.


As the weekend came to a close, I realized once more how much I love my job as Dad. But it's not my job. It's who I am and what I do. No matter the challenges nor what I don't want to face nor what I might actually fear, I do it because I love them. Not because I'm supposed to (I mean I am actually supposed to) but because I love them and I need them just as much as they need me.

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