Friday, January 25, 2008

The Old Ways: Past Tense in a Present Sense

כה אמר יהוה עמדו על-דרכים וראו ושאלו לנתיבות עולם, אי-זה דרך הטוב ולכו-בה, ומצאו מרגוע, לנפשכם

"Thus says Hashem (The LORD), stand on the highways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk upon it and you shall find rest for your souls. "
(Jerimiah 6:16)

When I talk about the Old Ways and my connection to them, it must be understood within a certain context. For me it is not a matter of disregarding the present or the changes that come along with it the progression of human history. It is for me a matter of never forgetting, loosing site of, or downplaying the past. One thing that I for example do not advocate is what I call The Fly Guy Affect.

The Fly Guy Affect is something I coined after seeing a scene from the movie I'm Gonna Get You Sucka. In this movie there is a character named Fly Guy who has been in prison since the 1970's and was released in the late 1980's. During one of the scenes he remembers when he was at the top of game and was the biggest "player" out there.

In the below scene Fly Guy gets out of jail to reclaim his "empire" from before he was imprisoned. What he doesn't know is that fashion has changed since he was in prison. So he leaves wearing the cloths he wore when he first went into prison. He exits the prison thinking he is looking good, like he supposedly did in the 1970's.

Fly Guy Gets Out of Jail

The above, of course, it not what I am talking about. What I am talking about is more of a Middle Eastern Judaic concept separate from a western one. I call this Living Past Tense in a Present Sense. I define this as: living one's life according to an ancient tradition or code, while consciously dealing with the current and future realities.

Simple Judaism's online site contains a page called Science and Judaism, which explains similar concepts in the following manner.

Judaism has empirical roots in the Sinai experience. For a Jew, faith is a rational extension of what he knows to be true. Faith is what allows us to stretch our horizons into areas we cannot know for sure (which actually is most of our life). Without this faith, we would be very limited indeed. But that does not mean that you can believe what you want.

Reason is what ensures that what we believe in is the most rational and empirically supported of all the alternatives. For example, when we say that we believe in G-d, what we mean is that G-d is the best explanation for the facts of the world as we see them.
Judaism values reason so highly that it is at the center of our Oral Law. Something which is purely logical needs no further proof, and is considered as binding as if a verse had been written in the Torah. But Judaism also recognizes that faith based on reason alone would be a cold, philosophical faith, not a real relationship with G-d. We are multi-faceted and capable of complex relationships with things. A Jew is simultaneously critical and believing, skeptical and passionate, questioning and trusting. it is this marvelous little bag of rich responses, which makes commitment to Judaism so rewarding.

Further, the idea is that there is no need to really conceptualize the blend of the past with the present. Living as a past tense person in a present sense is a part of everyday life here in Israel, as well as most of the Middle East. We live in realities that are predicated upon the past as it still exists, yet dealing with the world at it evolves.

It is no problem for example for me to dress the way Jews did years ago, and still use a cell phone. It is no problem for me to sing songs that are hundreds of years old, while using modern instruments. It is no problem for me to live a religious lifestyle the way my ancestors did and at the same time go surfing on the internet. So the Fly Guy Affect is far from what I am talking about when I talk about the Old Ways. The below videos are more in line with what I am speaking on. I have posted these songs before, but I like them so much I will post them again with explanations.

Tziyon Golan - Ya Mehhji

Note: The above song is one of my favorite old school songs that Tziyon Golan sings. The song is more than likely over 300 years old. It used to be sung by woman at Jewish weddings in Yemen when the bride to be was carried through the city to the home of the groom to be. The song is sung in Yemenite Arabic (the subtitles are in both Judaic Arabic, with Hebrew script, and in modern Hebrew). This beautiful song talks about how we Jews marry in the way that Moses the prophet of God commanded us. It further details the marriage of the Biblical patriarchs Isaac and Rebbecca, after the death of Isaac's mother Sarah. Much of Jewish marriage ceremony, for the last several thousand years, revolves around the story of how Abraham sent his servant to find a wife for Isaac, Isaac and Rebecca's marriage, and how the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) says that Rebbecca brought Isaac comfort after his mother's passing. More information on this here and here.

Midawane by Mawalane

Note: The above song is an Amazigh (Berber) song performed by Mawalane. When I started drawing closer to my family roots I started getting into Berber music from Senegal, Mali, and Nijer areas. The above video is a good example of a group performing old school songs with the ways of the present such as electric guitars. Many of the modern Berber musicians have been able to blend old methods of music with the modern instruments effortlessly. This song also makes me think of how I am hoping in a few years to visit Mali and Senegal in order to trace the Ever family trek before they went to America.
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Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Old Ways: The Muppets Show

I used to love the Muppet Show when I was a kid. Jim Hensen for me was a genius with this show, and several of the movies that came out of it. Maybe it was the silly kind of comedy that can only come from puppets, but this show still makes me smile or chuckle. Here are some of my favorite moments from that show.

The Muppets Intro

Beaker sings Feelings

Swedish Chef makes Chicken in the Basket

The Swedish Chef, Animal, and Beaker sing Danny Boy

The Two Hecklers: Statler and Waldorf
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Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Old Ways: Part 1

I like the old way of things. Whether it be in my music or some of my choices in terms of the culture I accept or reject. I believe in being a man of the past who lives in the present with an eye on the future. Yet, it seems like so many things are watered down in the present, and those things from the past have what I would call that cool factor. So for the next few weeks I am going to explore the old ways that I love, I like in my life, or that I miss.

One area I feel this in the most is with popular entertainment. As a kid I loved cartoons, and as a man I still do. Yet, I only liked certain types of cartoons. Now a days I don't care for much of what is out there. Ever since I went to Japan when I was 10 I was hooked on many elements of Japanese cartoon style of drama. Below are the intros to my favorite old school cartoons.

#1 Thundercats

#2 Transformers Intro 2

#3 C.O.P.S.

#4 Robotech

#5 G.I. Joe

#6 Visionaries

#7 Bravestar

#8 Pole Position
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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Archeological Discovery Bears Name of Biblical Family

Israeli National News
January 17th, 2008

Archaeologists have discovered a stone seal that includes the name of a family who were servants during the First Temple, were exiled to Babylonia and then returned to Jerusalem. Dr. Eliot Mazar, who was involved in the recent discovery that may have revealed King David's palace, announced the discovery and said, "One cannot help being astonished by the credibility of the biblical source as seen by the archaeological find."

Habbani Jews with a Torah Scroll (Five Books of Moses)

The family name "Temech" is engraved on the stone seal, which was found near the Dung Gate walls of the Old City. The Book of Nehemiah, which refers to the Temech family by name in chaper 7, states, "These are the children of the province, that went up out of the captivity, of those that had been carried away, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away, and came again to Jerusalem and to Judah, every one unto his city."

Further information about the discovery can be found here.

Artist rendition of the First Israelite Temple in Jerusalem

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Sunday, January 13, 2008

Be A Man: Tell Her How You Feel Part 3

This is the finale of Tell Her How You Feel. If you haven't already read Part 1 and Part 2 before reading this segment, it is a must that you do.

Then an unthinkable thing happened. On the morning of September 11th, 2001 I went to work and a guy in the parking lot of my job ran up to me and asked me, "What are you listening to?" I answered, "I am listening to KRS-1's greatest hits. It is a really good CD." The man said, "No, no, no....did you hear something on the news about the World Trade Center having a hole in it?" I looked at the man like he was crazy and said I haven't heard anything about that. He ran inside the building and I causally walked into my office building. As I walked in there was a frantic pace about everyone I encountered and I heard talk of a plane crashing into the World Trade Center. At first of course everyone thought it was an accident until the second plane hit. It was on that day that everything changed.

When I got home all of New York, New Jersey, and the surrounding areas were in a frenzied state. Telephone service in the city was down, and you could hardly turn to a TV station that was not focused on the situation in downtown New York. Late that night I got a call from Mesha. I did not realize until she called that the flight that she took home is the same flight number of one of the planes from the terrorist’s attacks. If she had stayed an extra day or so she may have been on that plane. It was so emotional of a time that certain other things did not seem to matter, such as emotions and feelings. Even my flight to Ethiopia set for September 12th, 2001 was canceled along with all other flights.

Mesha told me that she received my letter, yet the tone of the conversation turned more to the current events. Ethiopia had become more real to me and eventually a week later I left. Where some people due to the events of September 11th gained the courage to tell someone they loved them and a number of people were married because of it, I was somewhat in a state of the “end of the world” kind of fear. Instead of declaring my feelings for Mesha I feared the future and let my fears overcome me. I also felt that I was already committed to Rahel in Ethiopia, even though I had not made a commitment at that time. I also was consumed with finding a woman from a familiar or particular bloodline. Maybe it was also because I was not brave enough to believe that what I experienced that weekend with Mesha was real. Whatever the reason I went to Ethiopia and put my feelings for Mesha far away from me.

Mesha eventually decided to go to Japan to teach English. When I returned from Ethiopia a few months passed and I eventually received a post card from Japan and later Mesha called me. She questioned me on why I never emailed her but I didn’t have answer. She said that there was something that she needed to tell me. Her voice at this point became a bit hushed and sad. I asked her what it was. She told me that she met someone in Japan and that they were going to get married. My heart sunk a bit, but I kept enough composure to tell her that I also met someone in Ethiopia and that we were going to get married soon. We both I think faked our happiness for the other and how everything worked out for the best. Mesha made me promise not to throw away the bear that she had given me. I promised that I would not and for a time I did not.

Looking back I never should have let her get on that plane. I should have spoken up and told her that I loved her and that I wanted her to be a part of my life. I should have broken off my trip to Ethiopia to meet Rahel. I should have been man enough to let her know that the weekend she spent with me was the closest I have ever felt to being married. There were so many things that I should have done, but I did not. The good news is that Mesha and the man she married are happy and I heard from one of my cousins that they have a beautiful child. The situation with me marrying Rahel Abera from Ethiopia did not work out, and afterwards I felt the pain of someone who missed a great opportunity.

Before I moved to Israel I received a call from Mesha. She had recently moved back to America from Japan with her husband and her daughter. My cousin who she used to date always kept in contact with her and he gave her my number. When we spoke she mentioned how me and her husband were almost identical. This once again made my heart sink a bit. She again made me promise to not lose contact with her this time. I said I would, but this was a promise I could not keep. How could I be in contact with her knowing how I felt about not making the right move? Maybe it was better for me to become a ghost to her, not as much for her sake, but maybe for my own.

Coming To Terms With My Failure

Yet, I can at least say that in this case it is better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all. Mesha showed me that I could be loved and I could love, and that I was special. For this I am forever grateful to her and I wish her the best in life. In return for all that she gave me, I became a ghost because of fear. I ran from the best thing that could have happened to me towards something that eventually failed. All because I was not man enough to be a man. All because I didn't know where my life was going, and I really didn't know who I was. There are times when not being a man at the required time can cause a male to live in the world of memories. Memories filled with what if this or what if that.

In terms of Mesha, I don't think I have really ever forgiven myself for letting her slip away. Every once and a while a stray thought creeps in. Thoughts that I shouldn't have at this juncture. I wonder how different my life would be with her. I wonder how much more beautiful the Judean desert would have been to me with her as my desert princess. I relive that moment at the airport before she boarded her plane. Imagine myself yelling out, "Mesha don't go. I have been falling in love with you since the day we met. I love you, and I need you in my life." I sometimes feel like such and idiot for letting her go. It seemed as even God was pointing her out to me, but I refused the blessing. Yet, as Mesha once told me I can't live in the past. That moment is gone as the sun sets and rises, and the moon wanes and waxes I let my chance pass me by.

The Long Hard Walk

So I walk through the byways and highways of life knowing a few basic facts. She was everything that I ever wanted. She was that combination of beauty, intelligence, sex appeal, caring, and wisdom. Everything that I had ever prayed for in a woman could be found in her. Take every woman I have ever found beautiful and she was all of them in one. Yet, because I wasn't man enough to tell her how I felt, I lost her forever. So the question I now face is, "Was she the one, or was she simply an opportunity?" At this point I don't know.....I just don't know.

Lastly, my advice to any young man who reads this. If you find that woman who makes you happy, who supports you, who cares about you, and who desires your company. Don't make the mistake I made, be a man. Tell her how you feel, love her, choose only her, and don't let go. You may just find that she may help you become more of a man than you could have ever dreamed.

Coming Soon: Final Thoughts on the Be A Man series
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Be A Man: Tell Her How You Feel Part 2

If you haven't already, read Part 1 first.

It was then that Mesha and I lost contact for several years. So fast forward to the year 2001 when I moved to New Jersey. It was a summer day like any other and I all of a sudden received a call out of the blue. A call that I did not expect, but that changed my entire reality. It was a call from Mesha. She was still living in California and she was planning on coming to New York for the Labor Day weekend. She called to see if I could offer her a place to stay. I was shocked at the fact that fate had brought her back into my life. I of course said yes that if she came she could stay with me. I was so excited that she was coming; yet there was one problem.

In about a week I was going to travel to Ethiopia to meet a woman that I felt I had to eventually marry. At this time I felt that I had to marry a woman from Ethiopia for bloodline issues too difficult to discuss. I had not yet committed to the woman in Ethiopia, but part of me felt like I had. Yet, this was Mesha who was coming into town, and Mesha was the woman of my dreams. I decided not to tell Mesha of my exact reasons for traveling to Ethiopia; after all I hadn't seen Mesha in years. Yet, under the surface I was so excited that she was coming to visit. In fact I was so excited that I actually showed up to the airport a week earlier than she was to arrive, because I didn't hear the date correctly.

When Mesha did arrive it was like a dream all over again. She was so beautiful and I can still remember seeing her walk my way in the airport. Time stopped and she walked in slow motion towards me. It was as if all of my hopes and dreams were approaching me and when we hugged it was as if I was hugging my destiny.

Mesha stayed with me for about 4 days and all I can say is that those 4 days were some of the best days of my life. It was the closest I have ever felt to being married. I enjoyed having her near me so much and I enjoyed her wit, her charm, her elegance, and her caring attitude. I wanted so much for time to stand still and never move again. Because I lived in Northern New Jersey when she came to visit we spent a lot of time alone since there wasn't much else in the area. Mesha was not Jewish, but she was willing to keep the Sabbath with me. I obviously wasn't extremely religious at that time, but I wanted to be, and bit by bit I was making my way back to God. During this time I was not within walking distance to a synagogue so we spent the day reading through the Tanakh (Hebrew bible) and talking about faith and Jewish tradition.

We again rekindled our friendship and I believe more. The apartment was no longer a prison, but it felt more like a home, and Mesha was the jewel that lit up the night sky. She did not know a lot about Judaism at the time, but she was interested in learning more. I answered what I could, and mind you at the time I was not completely learned in the ways, but she seemed open to where I was and where I was going.

I remember how at the end of the Sabbath she mentioned that at first she was not taken to the idea of a day of "rest" so to speak. Yet, after experiencing the Sabbath it gave her a real peace and she could learn to love such a thing. If I had any sense in my head back then I would have asked her right then to marry me, and canceled my trip to Ethiopia. Yet, I was not the man I should have been at that time. Also, Mesha was considering going to Japan for a few years to teach English so how could such a thing work?

On one of the days we went to Manhattan to see the sights and go shopping. We went into one of the most expensive stores in Manhattan. Mesha delighted in the look of the items, and we both gasped at the prices. There was one thing that caught her; it was a white stuffed bear that the store had as a part of a promotion. She was so taken by it that I felt that I had to buy it for her. She did not want me to, but I saw how happy it made her and I bought it anyway. I noticed the store merchants looking at us as if they could tell we were in love.

When the time drew near for Mesha to go back to California the mood became more somber. Why didn't we just tell each other how we felt? The attraction was definitely there, and we could have been great for each other. I learned so much from her, such as that I had a tendency to hold onto emotions that I should let go of. There were times when Mesha confronted me about me not letting the past be the past. For her I would listen and submit and this was something I was not taken to do for other people.

So the morning came when it was time for Mesha to go back to California. I felt a deep sadness in my heart. I woke up before she did and I couldn't stop thinking that I didn't want her to leave, but I was so conflicted in my thoughts and feelings. Why had these feelings been so elusive for so many years? Why was this opportunity being dangled in front of me before my trip to Ethiopia? Where are my morals and responsibilities supposed to be? When I woke her up so she could get ready she said she did not want to wake up. Why didn't I beg her to cancel her flight and stay with me?

At the airport we sat waiting for her plane barely talking and hardly looking at each other in the eyes. She decided that she needed to buy some postcards to send to her family from New York. She went to a store and I waited near her bags. As I sat there I felt as if my life was slipping through my fingers, but I was too scared to do something. As I looked to the right of me I saw the stuffed bear I bought for Mesha and it was almost as if the bear was looking at me to say, "Ehav what you are doing? She is the woman of your dreams......SAY SOMETHING?"

Yet, my emotions and logic were not in sinc and I couldn't figure out what to do. “The woman of my dreams is right here and I am about to let her slip away,” I said to myself. When Mesha returned I pulled myself together and it was time for her to go through the security area to board the plane. I helped her with her bags, and the security guards even let me go through to help her get her bags to the terminal. As she walked through the terminal to go to her plane we said our goodbyes. I said in my mind that if she turns and looks at me before so goes then it means something. Before she went through the door she turned and looked at me and whispered goodbye.

Needless to say I was now a man of stone. For a moment I felt nothing I thought nothing. It wasn't until I got to my car that I felt like I had made the mistake of a lifetime. As I drove home I played some of the songs that we had listened to while she was with me. Each song hit me like a brick and I noticed that that there was wet stuff coming down my face. I wiped my face and said, "What are these tears? Why am I crying?" I am a man!" As I arrived home the apartment felt so empty again. I was also very emotional, so much so I called my mother to figure out what was going on. My mother of course did not quite understand what I was talking about because I was not making any sense.

The entire apartment felt cold without her. The entire neighborhood was quiet without her. Yet, I could still remember every place where she sat, and every glance. Though she was not there in the physical she left her imprint on my then lonely life. Something was different, and lacking, even more than it was before she came. I was not the same person without her. Yet, why did I not tell her how I felt? Why did I choose to sit in darkness, instead of basking in her light?

When I walked into my living room I noticed that there was a brown teddy bear and a card on my bookshelf that had not been there before. I opened the card and it was from Mesha thanking me for such a wonderful weekend. When did she find this bear and when did she hide it on the bookshelf? It felt so good to have something from her and I sat and looked at the card and the bear for a while. As the day went by I knew I had to do something. I began to use my best asset, my writing skills, and I wrote Mesha a letter about the whole weekend and how she made me feel. I ended the letter with the words, "I say all this because I really think I am falling for you."

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Saturday, January 12, 2008

Be A Man: Tell Her How You Feel Part 1

She was everything that I ever wanted. She was that combination of beauty, intelligence, sex appeal, caring, and wisdom. Everything that I had ever prayed for in a woman could be found in her. Take every woman I have ever found beautiful and she was all of them in one. Yet, because I wasn't man enough to tell her how I felt I lost her forever. This is the last in my stories about manhood. It is broken up into several parts that I will post over the next two weeks. This is the story of what happens when we males aren't brave enough to be happy, to be content, and to love.

Her name was Mesha Smith and she represents the ultimate failure for me in my life. I met Mesha during the summer of 1995 when one of my cousins was attending college in Louisiana. During that summer I was staying in Dallas with my aunt and uncle while I was interning at MCI. In the beginning of the summer my Aunt and Uncle asked me to ride with them to Louisiana Tech University in order to pick up my cousin. I went with them to provide a strong back to help my cousin move out of the dorm he was staying in.

That is when I first met Mesha. I remember when I first saw her I thought to myself, "This woman is beautiful." She was like a dream; brown skin like cinnamon, curly hair, and well built. She had eyes that reminded me of a desert oasis and she was a delight be around. She had a real fun air about her, and she was strong willed. Yet, I had to keep control of my senses because at that time when we met she had been dating my cousin. I believed in a strong moral code especially when it came to dating. As beautiful as she was I had a to keep a distance for the sake of honor and family dignity. Yet, some part of me wanted so much to get her attention. Being a man and also because of the fact that I was helping during a moving operation this meant that I had to show off my brawn and muscle by lifting heavy loads carrying them for long distances, while assuring everyone, “No, no. I am okay. I can take this one by myself.”

Mesha was also packing up for the semester and going back to Dallas. Mesha was only about a year or two older than me and a few years older than my cousin. As we completed packing everything up it was time to decide who was going to be riding in whose car. My aunt and uncle were going to ride together in my uncle’s truck. My cousin's car was a stick so there was no way I could drive it alone, since I hadn't driven a stick in years. So that only left one car, Mesha's. It was decided that I would ride with her for a reason I can't quite remember. I gladly jumped at this option.

I can't quite remember how the conversations between us started, but I do remember that we spent most of the 3 or 4 hour talking about spiritual matters and life. I remember how much I delighted at her insights and opinions on life, and think the same was said about her. As the trip continued into the evening we began to talk about dreams and their meanings. One of the topics was a dream she had that was similar to a dream I had and it was then that we both noticed the beauty of the setting sun in the horizon. Mesha mentioned that it is important to keep such memories in tact. There was a camera in the back seat so I decided to take a picture of the sunset in order for us to remember the trip. She promised to send me a copy of the photo when she settled down.

We made it into Dallas late at night, and I did not want the time to end. I can't remember if I asked her for her number or if she gave it. I do remember that she was going to only be stay in Dallas for a month or so and then she would be moving on. When we arrived at my aunt and uncles house I said goodbye to Mesha and I went inside the house. I remember looking out of the window of the room I was staying in before she left. Mesha was outside talking to my cousin before she left. I remember feeling a bit jealous.

So time went on and I interned in Dallas and over the course of my time I heard from Mesha and I called her a few times. More time passed and I came into contact and lost with Mesha several times. During this time I was still in college, and Mesha had moved to California. Needless to say Mesha and my cousin were no longer involved and I felt that it was okay to maybe see what Mesha was about. The problem then was I was still in college at the time and she was in California.

Whenever I received a call from Mesha it would brighten my day so much. At that time my life was so problematic for a number of reasons, and receiving a call from Mesha was like coming out of darkness into the light. Even if it was for a moment, hearing her voice was like a beautiful melody. Having a chance to hear from someone who generally was concerned about my welfare was like a cool breeze on a warm summer's day. Talking to her would always bring me back to that car ride from Louisiana to Texas.

Then one day I received a letter from her. You would not believe how excited I was when I saw whom it was from. I immediately opened the envelope to find a two-page letter from her along with two pictures. One picture was a recent photo of her and the second was the photo of the sunset. I read the letter numerous times delighting in how she wrote it and I would find myself often looking at her picture longing to see her again. I wanted so much to go to California to visit her, but I never could make such a thing work. Also because we would keep losing contact this proved so difficult.

The day that I received her letter I went into the lab where I worked on Prairie View A&M University beaming and smiling. My mentor Dr. Freddie Frazier and another elderly gentlemen were in the office talking and they noticed my happiness and of course wanted to know what was going on. I showed them the pictures and the letter from Mesha. I told them the whole story about how we met and how I felt about her as well as the difficulties of the situation. Both Dr. Frazier and the elderly gentleman commented on how beautiful Mesha was. It was then that the elderly gentleman mentioned to me that he believed that I was going to marry Mesha. I was initially reluctant to buy into his prophecy so to speak, but he was insistent that he felt this was going to take place. In my heart I wanted so much for him to be right because she was everything I had ever wanted in a woman. Yet, she was just so far away and my life was so unstable.

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Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Memories: Songs I Still Love

In my last post on manhood I talked about the issue I had with music. Now here are a few songs that I love to listen to with the passing of time.

Ofra Haza - Im Nin'Alu

Patrice Rushen - Remind Me
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Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Be A Man: Can't Listen To That Anymore

I stopped listening to most rap music a number of years back. It all began during my freshman years of college. I had a friend in college who once asked me about my beliefs in life. He then looked at my music collection, at the time, and then asked me, If you believe all the things you say you do why do you listen to this type of music?

I didn't immediately have an answer to his question, but it got me thinking. Why was I listening to all the trash that I had collected? 90% spoke about things that I could not relate to, and I could never listen to it around my family.

The following sketch illustrates the kind of difficulty I would have when playing my old music collection around family.

In a scene from Adam Buxton's new BBC3 sketch show Rush Hour, "Rock Dad" tries to share his musical tastes with his son, but has, clean it up a bit.

So after much thought I got rid of the rap I was listening to back then. Back then it was all tapes so of course I was not missing them when I finally move on to CD's. It was funny how I used to justify listening to that kind of music by saying that I only liked the beats, not the lyrics. Yet, I could not deny that I had mixed feelings about the music itself. Questions like, why couldn't they just have made this song with no curse words? Does this person really live this lifestyle? By buying their music am I supporting their behavior?

I still like some rap, and in recent months I have been going back to the rap I loved in the 80's and early 90's. I don't miss the music that I walked away. I decided that I wanted to be a man and listen to manly music. Music about spiritual matters, standing for something, taking actions, and loving those close to you. Sometimes on the road to manhood you have to let go of things. Yet, sometimes you gain so much more in the process.
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Friday, January 4, 2008

Be A Man: Anger

Some of the most difficult aspects of manhood deals with our inner drives, our passions, and emotions. In much of the Western World there has been an attempt to make manhood something distant from the emotional realities that many men live. That is a man’s strength being his ability to distance himself from all his emotions, save one, and that is anger.

The Bright Side

Anger is a force that can be found in both males and females, but for some reason as males we are taught to feed off of our anger in order to gain some level of success in the world. There is no intrinsic problem with anger. It is a natural element of not only the human experience, but also that of the animal world. It is through anger that change comes as well as the urge to survive.

Even when one looks at anger in a Jewish religious sense, one finds that anger is an understandable element of the Judaic biblical perspective. Though some of our sages tell us that The Creator does not have emotions in the same way as humans, we do learn that the only way to describe The Creator is through human emotional terminology. The Hebrew Bible is clear that there are times when The Creator has displeasure with human immoral actions or lack of moral fiber is with the word heat or wrath a euphemism for anger.

Thus anger is justifiable in many situations, without need of second considerations. If a child is murdered society should be angry. If a woman is abused, society should be angry. If a man’s life is taken without rhyme or reason society should be angry. Thus there are justified situations for anger, as long as action follows.

Batman Begins - Training, The Will To Act

The Dark Side

Yet, with every emotion there is always a need for control and proper moral judgment. Anger, though a positive force can destroy a man when it is not coupled with control. Men who have not learned to be the master of their emotions, in some situations, can pose a threat to the society they live in as well as to themselves. They can become bitter with time to the point that no one wants to be in their presence, or people from whom they seek love fear them.

How many men fall by the wayside due to anger that becomes blind rage? How many men end up alone and destitute because they choose to act out with their anger? How many men miss out on extraordinary opportunities for advancement in their personal lives because they have a problem with managing their anger?

Effective Anger Management

Effective anger management can then be defined as the ability to monitor this emotion with balance and understanding. Understanding one’s personal motives and understanding the consequences of one’s emotional state is key in proper anger management. This does not mean that a person simply controls their anger to the point of never displaying it. As mentioned before anger is an important tool in human development. Yet, a person with proper anger management considers the following.

  1. What things make me angry?
  2. Am I am angry at a person or a situation?
  3. Am I really angry at an outside situation or is my anger because of my own inadequacies?
  4. What affects does my anger have upon society and myself?
  5. In this situation should I control my anger or unleash it?

Having the proper perspective can help a man understand if he is entering into a conflict for the right reasons or not. When you see injustice, become angry and act on that anger. When you see despair be angry and act on that emotion. When you see apathy, become angry, and position yourself as a role model for society. In some cases it can also mean life or death. So now we have to ask ourselves are we men or are we illogical beasts of the earth?

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Thursday, January 3, 2008

Hidden Camera Shows

I have to admit. I like hidden camera shows with pranks. That is to say CERTAIN hidden camera shows. I don't like extreme pranks, but there are some that really make me laugh. These clips are from the Jamie Kennedy Experiment. I can't stop laughing when I watch these.

Jamie Kennedy Experiment - The Ring

Cell Phone in a Restaurant Prank

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