Saturday, May 24, 2008

Meteor Man - How I Would Have Made It Better

When I first heard about the 1993 movie Meteor Man I was somewhat excited about it. On one level it was good to see an African American super hero concept that came from the mind of an African American. Yet, being that it was a Robert Townsend production I kind of expected the cheesy factor. It was wasn't a horrible movie, but it was so predictable and I think there are several ways it could have been improved.


The Movie's Original Premise

Jefferson Reed is a mild mannered school teacher in Washington D.C. His neighborhood is plagued by a local gang, The Golden Lords, drug dealers who terrorize the locals. One night, Jeff steps in to rescue a woman from the gang, only to end up running from them himself. Hiding in a garbage dumpster, he manages to escape, but as he climbs out of it, he is struck down by a gigantic glowing green meteorite which crashes down from the sky. He awakens several days later in the hospital, but when his bandages are taken off, he is miraculously healed from all his injuries.
Meteor Man Trailer


Jeff soon discovers the meteorite has left him with other abilities too, such as flight and superhuman strength. Confiding this to his parents, he is convinced by them to use his powers to try and help his community. His mother designs a costume for him, and as The Meteor Man, he takes on the Golden Lords and their leader Simon Caine. He puts down a crack house, stops a robbery, and unites the Crips and Bloods.

Shanice - It's For You (Meteor Man Sountrack)


The above was my favorite song off the soundtrack. I still play this song because it is has an interesting feel to it.



How I Would Have Improved It: Base Level

The first thing I would have done was remove the hood elements of the movie. That is to predictable as a supposed "black" issue, and is very played out. It also doesn't allow the hero to have much depth because of the predictability and the gang issue makes the villains one sided. It all predictably boils back to a corporate white man who really runs things. I also don’t like it when the Superman look is used as a baseline for such a hero. It is like saying there is a need for a black Superman instead of just creating an original hero.

Possibly I would have kept the school teacher premise. I also would have gone against conventional super hero wisdom and I would have done away with the idea of being costumed, at least initially. One way I could have done it would be to have made the story about a person receiving powers and trying to remain the same, with such massive changes. For example, the thought of why do I need a secret identity? I am powerful enough to fight off the bad guys. So what happens when a family member gets hurt in the process?


Another way this could have been played out is having the meteor split into several parts giving several different people powers. Each of them uses them for their own advantage, but a couple of them see a bigger purpose in receiving such powers. One of the two sees it as a chance to make up for some sort of past mistakes by helping people. The other sees it as a way to seek revenge for some wrong that he received. Maybe the meteor could amplify whatever motivation each person has in using their new found powers.

I would definitely do away with the idea of a villains who is pure evil. I think an interesting twist of the villain genre is when the villain doesn't see himself/herself as evil, but as completely true or pure and their actions 100% reasonable. Another angle is a villain who sees himself/herself as doing evil deeds, but for a greater good. A good example is in the sci-fi movie Serenity with the Operative played by Chiwetel Ejiofor. The Operative saw his actions as evil to fulfill a good purpose, a world without sin.

The Finer Points

I believe in sci-fi fights and action, along with a good story. Yet, I also don't like one sided fight scenes. For example, I don't like the good guy that is so powerful that he/she can't be touched. I like to have someone with an obvious weakness. I also don't like the villain be ultimately powerful without some sort of weakness also. The basic ideas I go with are people who have choices to make within the human realm of things, but now they have a superhuman element to how they can accomplish those goals.

So in this vein, I would have had the hero/heroes spend some time learning how to use their powers. The trail and error element always has to be there. I would make it a point of showing those characters who intentions were pure (not pure in the sense of good, but more in the sense of a strong sense of direction) would have the easiest time mastering the new powers.

I would also make it so that the villian maybe gets a stronger concentration of the meteor, and make him/her more conservative with his/her new found powers. The end fight would be one where the villains power begins to go critical and one of the heroes has to make to put everything on the line to stop him. My whole focus would be on the human elements of power and what changes in people when they obtain power. Also, how far are people willing to go to stand behind a belief.

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Friday, May 23, 2008

Israeli Music - Idan Rachel

The Idan Raichel Project - NBC LA Profile


Idan Rachel - Im Telech video version


Idan Rachel - Im Telech live
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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Understanding Judaism: Milk and Meat

Shavonne’s Question

“Now about meat and cheese, why can't you mix chicken and cheese? I mean, chickens aren't the children of cows.”

Hey Shavonne,

The following should answer your questions.

Jewish Law and Tradition

The Torah commands Jews three times (Exodus 23:19, Exodus 34:26 and Deuteronomy 14:21) not to cook a kid in its mother's milk. The Talmud widens this to the complete separation of milk and meat, including bird meat. Why do we do this?
  • Rambam attributes it as a prevention of an idolatrous and superstitious practice.
  • Some attribute as a discouragement from a cruel practice.
There are many possible reasons, but we should not, in general, try to find reason in Torah prohibitions. It is not for us to fathom G-d's reasons in telling us to do something; it simply should suffice that G-d asked us to do it. And, by doing it, we are reminded of G-d's commandments and the fact that we are Jewish.

Everything in the Torah is considered to have meaning; thus, the rabbis have determined that the triple repetition of the warning in the Torah means three different types of prohibition:
  • You may not cook such a mixture
  • You may not eat such a mixture
  • You may not benefit (in any way) from such a mixture
This was interpreted very strictly. Meat products were not permitted to come into contact with milk products in any way. Food, and the utensils used to cook and serve food, were divided into three categories:
  1. Milchig (or chalav): Food containing milk, or utensils used with such food.
  2. Fleishig (or basar): Food containing meat, or utensils used with such food.
  3. Pareve (or stam): Food that is not derived from milk or meat and is not cooked with a milchig or fleishig utensil. This food can be eaten with either milk or meat (although in certain circumstances use of a milk or meat utensil will render the food milchig or fleishig). Pareve foods include all vegetables, grains, fruits, eggs and fish. Originally birds were considered pareve (when was the last time you saw a chicken give milk?), but the Rabbis ruled that bird meat should be considered fleishig to avoid confusion.

What Do The Rabbis Say?


Rabbi Moshe Ben-Chaim

We don't mix meat and milk, be it the food, or the dishes - having separate dishes is simply a protective law against actually mixing the two foods.

The foods have no inherent problem if they are mixed, but not mixing meat and milk is based on one of the most basic principles in Judaism, that is, the abolition of anything idolatrous. Since Judaism has at its core the concept of monotheism, the concept of stone idols is ridiculous, and patently against any reason. All matter was created, so matter itself cannot have power over other things, as Something external to itself brought it into existence. Its very existence was willed by God, as well as all its properties. God therefore is the only being Who can alter natural laws.

There were many idolatrous nations from times beginning until now, and Judaism has many laws opposing such false notions. One of their practices was to cook a calf in its mother milk, as they felt there was some mystical synergy achieved thereby. Similarly, they would sit around pots of blood - believing that the slain animal's spirit would somehow enter them or benefit them. To counter these practices, the Jewish law includes prohibition from mixing milk and meat, and eating anything with blood in it, unless it was salted properly to extract the blood.

Prohibitions as these therefore serve to raise our awareness of corrupt ideas. As all laws aim at the education and benefit of man - a thinking being - and increasing his perception of what truth is, we therefore must know what is fallacy, and steer clear.

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Sunday, May 18, 2008

Blog Personality

I recently read an article on Light Skinned-ed Girl's blog concerning her blog personality. Her short article got me thinking about my "Blog Personality" if you will. This is the second time I have come across the question of a blog personality, and it has me wondering how my blog personality would be defined. Anyone who has read my blog knows how my blog is described and also the type of posts I do. I personally don't know of an exact way to describe my blog. There are several constants that I would say fit with appropriate titles.

The Religious, National, and Ethnic Identity

First and foremost I identify based on my religious, national, and ethnic background. All other methods of identification are meaningless to me.
  1. My blog is an Israeli blog. I live in Israel, speak Hebrew most of the time (although I write most of my blog in English), and blog about my experiences and views as a result of the preparation of living here, as well as the reality of my life here.
  2. My blog is a Jewish blog because I am Jewish and I blog about what I believe as a Jew and general topics in Judaism.
  3. My blog is about my experiences around the world as a Jew with Sephardic, Senegalese, French, and Indian ancestry.
Idan Rachel - Memamaqim


The three above points are constants are evident, at least to me, in every post no matter the subject. This is especially true in the sense that some would say that I don't have the "typical" Jewish experience, but I consider myself to have a "typical" Jewish experience. The idea being that anyone who is Jewish and has an experience can consider those experiences to be typical of Jews in those same circumstances. There are Jews in this world who have experiences that vary from Jews who live in different circumstances.

Like ANY other people on the planet, there are Jews who:
  • Are good people, just as there are those who are bad.
  • Stand for something, and there are Jews who fall for anything.
  • Are every day heroes, and there are Jews who fall short consistently.
  • Are religious, just as there are those who believe in nothing.
  • Are modest, just as there are those who are immodest.
  • Are moral, just as there are Jews who are immoral.
  • Are of Middle Eastern and African descent, just as there Jews of Asian and European descent.
There are only two ways that a person is Jewish and that is having a Jewish mother or some type of conversion to Judaism. Thus, the idea of a typical Jewish experience varies from Jew to Jew, and place to place. So we Jews can be who we choose, or choose not to be.

Race

Where the waters get muddy is in the "American" sense of race. If you read enough posts you may note that I never refer to myself as "black" and that I rarely talk about race. I only thought about this recently after my interview on the Mixed Chicks Chat. There was a point where I mentioned that in high school I went through a "Black Revolutionary Phase" and how people who knew me could see right through this phase. When I asked about it in more detail, in terms of where did it go, I didn't answer the question to the best of my ability. Mainly, because I haven't thought about race in that way in a long time. Looking back at the question got me to thinking about race and what it means to me.

I may do another post about this, but in short I think race, as it is defined in the US is BS, excuse the language. In short the pro-black phase I went through can be summed up in the following way.

"I thought black meant Africa.. Not just part of it, but all of it. I thought black was Kente cloth. I thought black was always talking about a revolution. I thought black was wearing an Africa medallion and arguing with white people about race. I thought black meant everyone had to think the exact same way I did."

Now you can see why I called it a phase, and why people saw me as a fake. At the time I was living in Kansas City, MO (not the most cultural diverse city in America), and there was no strong Jewish presence there. I also was not close to my family since my father and mother had moved there separately, before they met and most of our family was in other areas. Several problems existed with the mindset.

"My African family (Ahwlyahud) came from Senegal and were Maghrebim amongst the Wolof, and a few from Ghana (through marriage). There is no such thing as a national African identity. My direct family has never worn Kente cloth. Not all African ethnic groups wear Kente cloth. I talked about a revolution, but I was just talk. I didn't even know what revolution I was even advocating. It is one thing to talk about a revolution, but it is another to actually live through one. I wore Africa medallions as a fashion choice, and I really knew very little about any part of it. Africa is a continent not a country, and there are thousands of ethnic groups with different languages, and cultures. Arguing with white people about race ends up being a dead end when you yourself aren't really standing for anything. I was just as clueless about race as some of the white people I would argue with. At the time I didn't even know much about my family history, and I didn't even take the time to ask my family."

Etran Finatawa - Surbajo


So after a year I dropped the act and I began to search for my real identity. What I found was that entire time, most of my life, I had been running away from who I really was, and chasing after things that were not really me. I also found that I didn't have a lot of answers to my questions of identity because I wasn't asking the right people the right questions. The more I separated myself from the American system of race, the more free I felt to go back to the roots of who I really am. So if you ask me who I am and what is my blog personality, my answer would be something like this.
"My blog is called Hochmah and Musar. I am Ehav Eliyahu Ever and I am an Israeli, living in Maale Adummim, Israel. Part of my family was Sephardic Jews from Spain. Another part of my family was from Senegal from Ahwlyahud ethnic group who were Maghrebim. Part of my family was French. Part of my family is from Ghana and part of my family is from parts unknown in West Africa. My father's family lived in a Turkish and Latino neighborhood until he was about 10 years old. Most of the family was multilingual until the last generation (Spanish, French, Hebrew). I grew up speaking English and French. Now I only speak Hebrew and English. I have traveled throughout the US, Japan, Ethiopia, and Israel. My blog is made up of my experiences, due to the above cultural experiences, as well as how these experiences have formed my view of the world."
Shoshana Damari z"l - Miryam bat Nisim


If you want all of that in short, "I am Ehav Eliyahu Ever, and I am a typical Israeli."


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Friday, May 16, 2008

Getting Back In Shape: Part 2

Several months ago I wrote a post about how I wanted to get back in shape. Well it is has been about 7 months since that post and here is my progress report.


Martial Arts Training

I have been training in martial arts twice a week for about 4 hours in Tel Aviv, and I have also been training at home in bits and pieces and so far I have lost about 10 lbs. Many parts of Israel are at a higher elevation than NYC, so I initially had a hard time breathing when I would walk around. When I first moved I was often winded just walking two blocks away from my apartment. Maale Adummim is on top of a mountain/hill so the elevation sometimes was an issue.


My weight loss can be attributed to not only working out, but a change in diet since I moved to Israel. When I lived in NYC, I got into a habit, between about 2006 to 2007 of eating more fast food. I lived in a place where I did not have access to a kosher kitchen and I ended up eating at kosher fast food places in Manhattan. I put on some pounds doing this, especially in the winter when I would do less walking.

View of the Judean Desert in Maale Adummim

When I moved here to Israel I once again had a kitchen of course, but also there are not that many fast food kind of places. Even the places that could be considered this normally serve a more healthy staple of food as compared to the US. You can go to a shawarma place and get all kinds of salads and such, but even with this I more than naught eat at home. I cooked a lot of meals with vegetables, which I make sure to not over cook because foods preserve their nutrients better when they are not heavily cooked. The one major issue I have no that some of my cloths are now to big, but I guess that is less of a problem.



With all of these things I have lost the amount of weight I needed in order to drop the pounds. The next step will come when I move in a few months. I bought a bowflex before I left America, but I haven't put it together yet. I was going to do it months ago, but I went through the instructions and got really confused. Talk about a complex set of instructions. Once I move I am going to pay to have it done. The other part of the plan is to buy some punching and kicking dummies so I can work on my hitting power. I am pretty good at grappling techniques, but I feel like I need to work on punching and kicking accuracy. I will keep you all posted until then, watch this.

The following is a video of one my favorites from the body building world, Lee Haney. Here we have a few minutes of interview with Lee Haney, eight times Mr. Olympia. Lee is talking about himself in terms of being a bodybuilder, and even about his greatest rivals. I always respected Lee Haney's personal and business outlook, as well as his stress on the importance of his wife and family in his career.

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Sunday, May 11, 2008

קצת זמן לפני עבודה

קבלתי חפשה ליום הזיכרון וגם יום העצמות אבל אני מרגיש כמו זה לא מספיק
איפה היה את הזמן רץ

אמנם אחרי החפשה כשחוזר לעבודה זה קשה
בכלל אני משנה כשאני מגיע במשרד אבל עכשיו אני רוצה להשאר בבית
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שיר עממי תימני

עפרה חזה - שיר עממי תימני
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Friday, May 9, 2008

Dreams: The Labyrinth

It was then that I saw the way out, and the sun shone brightly on my skin. I knew then what it meant to be free from my fears and my struggles. I looked back into the hole and the darkness from which I left. I remembered the pain, the agony, and despair. How did I come to make this journey?

It was then that I woke up, right where I had fallen asleep. How did it all come to this? I couldn't remember the whole story until 2 days time had passed.

The Prologue


I don't remember when exactly it was that I fell asleep, but it must have happened quickly. In this dream I was in a place, which I did not recognize. I was alone, and I was without good bearings on my direction.


I started my journey into the darkness and for a moment I felt weak and faint of heart. It was a looming darkness, an overpowering darkness, and a humbling darkness. You see, as a child I feared that dark room in the basement, in our house on 73rd and Norton. I would leave that room with one foot on the upper most stair and the other in the direction upward. I would calmly place my hand on the light and begin to move it to the off position and run once the lights were out. So to be in this place again was a bit frightening to me.


I moved myself against the walls; slowly trying my best to adjust to what seemed to be light. Maybe it was wasn't light, but instead my minds interpretation of the darkness. Maybe all kinds of horrors were passing before, but I did not know it.


I tried to keep my thoughts positive. Maybe around the next corner I would find the way out of this maze and I would be free to rejoin the world that I had left behind. Or had it been that the world had left me behind? How did I come to be in this dark and dank place? A place where even those things that go bump in the night would not dare travel. Sometimes it is not the fear of the unexpected that shakes a man like me to his core. Sometimes it is looking into the nothingness and finding more nothingness.

Despair

What if I never find my way out? What if this path that I am currently on only leads deeper and deeper? What if I continue on for the rest of my life in a place where there is no sun or moon? No stars even, to give me direction in the night. Regardless of the situation I have to pull it together. Continuing on without hope.

I am not afraid, I told myself. I am not afraid of what lyes around the next corner. It was with these words that I was plunged deeper into the darkness that lye ahead. My only hope of finding my way out was by embracing what I did not know, could not see, and rely solely on what I could feel and hear.


The Way Out

Maybe this was the key. My sense of touch and hearing had never failed me before. In this world where my eyes were no longer reliable, maybe all I needed to do was trust and act upon those senses that were still available. It was then that I closed my eyes and began to feel my way through the tunnels.

As I moved in one direction or another, my mind began to take me back to a familiar place. It took me back to her. The voice of a certain woman of beauty I had known in the past. It took me back to her gentle voice and her elegant ways. This way Ehav, she said. Follow me, she motioned. I was not sure at first, but she had always proven trustworthy before, right? Yet, how would she know the way out? She said to me:

Ehav! I know that trust has always been a problem for you. There have been many who have let you down, and left you stranded. I am not asking you to trust me, but follow you heart. You must find your way out of this place so you can truly wake up. I am waiting for you on the other side. All you have to do is find it, and you will find me. I am the other half of you that was split from your soul. I am waiting for you on the other side, but you have to find your way out. Follow my voice and follow you heart.
It is with that I undertook the journey following my heart, her voice, and my remaining senses. Maybe, it was her words that gave me strength or maybe it was the idea of seeing her again. In any case I pushed forward.

As I proceeded forward I felt warmth on my face, and moisture under my fingertips. With my closed eyes I saw light peeking between my eyelids and I opened my eyes. Suddenly, I saw the way out, and the sun shone brightly on my skin. I knew then what it meant to be free from my fears and my struggles. The sun shone so brightly on the ocean, and I looked back into the hole and the darkness from which I left.


I remembered the pain, the agony, and despair. When I turned that is when I saw her waiting for me with open arms. She said come to me my love, you have done well. I hesitated and I asked her. How did I come to make this journey? She said I will answer your questions my love and give you rest, but first you must wake up and find me. Where will I find you? How will I find you I asked.

It was then that I woke up, right where I had fallen asleep. How did it all come to this?

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Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Secrets to Success - Part 1

Sometimes when life has its difficulties it is important for a person to reevaluate their choices. Life is sometimes complex and not be able to adjust can mean that one will remain stagnant. It is my belief that people, no matter their intelligence, education, or religious beliefs, have been given the ability to excel.

Sometimes people don't excel because of external situations, from which they have no control. Even under those circumstances there are people who don't accept that reality as a permanent reality, and they do whatever they can to change the paradigm. There are also those who have all of the physical and intellectual tools to succeed, but they do not due to fault or lack of correct choice making on their part.

Jack Canfield: The Success Principles


I am firm believer that most human beings were created with the ability to be successful, given the right external and internal circumstances. I also believe that a smaller number of people have the ability to be successful no matter what the external or internal circumstances. I remember once listening to a KRS-1 song Hip-Hop Knowledge where he mentioned the following statement. You know life is funny. In order to be successful you have to recreate the elements of you pas success. You have to have your own ingredient, your own formula. You have to know what made you, you.

This video from Seinfeild, though an extreme case, presents an interesting view of how sometimes the paradigm we create for ourselves may lock us into a cycle of lackluster living.

George Does the Opposite


Willie The Salesman

All of this brings me to a story of a friend I had in high school. His name was Willie, I can't remember his last name. We all called him Willie the Salesman. The reason was because from about age 16 to the time he graduated he was always trying to start some kind of business scheme to make money.

Willie did not grow up in the lapse of luxury nor was he in poverty. I never met Willie’s parents, but I knew that his mother was a police officer and I didn't know anything about his father. Willie was also the first person I ever met with a cell phone. That's right, he had a working cell phone in high school at about 16 or 17 and this was about 1994. The cell was those big clunky Grey cell phones with those huge suitcase charging kits.

I remember him as a very charismatic person, but mainly because he seemed to have dreams bigger than what I believed his grasp was able to hold onto. I was not the only one for there were a number of people who used to laugh at Willie and his dreams of success. It was not because success was considered impossible or because the environment was full of hopelessness. It was primarily because Willie’s approach was non conventional that he became known to us as “The Salesman” because it seemed like every week or every month he had a different business venture he was trying to engage himself with. Being that this was high school one doesn’t normally equate manageable business ventures from kids who are only 16 or 17 years old. This was I believe the crux of Willie’s delima back then. Often his business schemes seemed to be outlandish in terms of their scale and reliability.

Some of Willie’s business ventures I remember at various points in high school were:
  • Alcohol delivery person for parties (mind you he was 17 at the time, and even had business cards)
  • Music label and producer
  • Gun dealer
  • Specialty car parts (stereo, wheels, rims, etc.)
Willie once approached me with a proposition to buy a gun from him. He explained to me that he acquired 100 9-Millimeter caliber pistols. My first question to him, since he was only 16 years old, was “Willie how did you get your hands on 100 guns that are still in the boxes? What did you do knock over a military convoy?” For the most part I did not believe that Willie had the weapons or that he was actually going to sell them for the prices he claimed. Yet, he seemed totally convinced that he actually had the guns, and his response to me was, “A friend of mine got them for me. I don't know where he got them.” So for all of us Willie was a good laugh amongst us even though we were his friends.

In our young minds Willie should have just simply settled for a job at a fast food restaurant or any other teen driven market. Yet, for Willie this was never enough and even he though he did it for a time he always had his sights set higher.

Years later I was talking an old friend of mine Brandon and I asked him about all of the people we knew from high school. When Willie’s name came up Brandon said, “You know how we used to laugh at Willie when he was always trying to start different business? Well it looks like he got the last laugh.” Brandon went on to explain that Willie did not go to college, but instead he got into the insurance business and eventually began buying real-estate.

The last I heard, Willie was making good money and happily married with children. I related this story to my mother who said, “Maybe Willie played around with the idea of selling and business so much that he finally figured out how to make it work for himself. He though initially most of his ideas were not of any worth or long lasting the experience was like training for him.” I think she was 100% right about this since Willie always believed in whatever schemes he had, no matter who laughed at it and no matter whether it succeeded or not. This was the key to his success.

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Friday, May 2, 2008

How Do I Define Beauty

This video I made pretty much speaks for itself.

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Thursday, May 1, 2008

העבודה שלי

כך, השאלה, מה אני מתעסק מיום ליום? זה תלוי על המצב ומה צרך. לפני שבוע סיירתי את המעבדות לציודים שאכיל במשך חול המועד. חפשתי בלוד וגם בכפר בן נון ליומיים. עם היו בעיות היה עלי להסיר ולתקן את הציד מַמעבדה.

השבוע שעבר, שמעתי יהיו הרבה דברים לעשות בגלל החופש של הכותב הדו"חות. הפקדתי לכתוב דו"חות וגם בדיקות. ואז הייתי בחופש לפני שבועים אעבוד בחל המועד. סיקרתי כל העבודה ואמרתי לעצמי, "האנשים פה צריכים להקל את העבודה."

השבוע הזה התעסקתי עם דו"חות וגם בדיקות לשמים. היו מנהלים שבקרו החברה מאנגליה. להתכוון אותם הזזנו שולחנות מחדר אחד לחדר אחר. הרגשתי כמו גמל או חומר אבל לא איכפת לי כי אני אוהב להתאמן ולא עשיתי אז מרץ. כי אני גדול שימשתי לסדר את התנועה ואני נקרא שמשון או איש גדול.

ביום ראשון ויום רביעי אחרי אני עובד אני מאומן באמנות לחימה קורא אביר. השיעור בתל אביב שתי וחצי שעות וזה קשה לרכב ממעלה אדומים מוקדם בבוקר, לעבוד לשמונה שעות, ואחרי-כן להתאמן, אבל אני אוהב מה אני עושה.

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