“What Bobby Fischer was to chess,what Bob Marley was to Reggae Music, thus was Bruce Lee to Martial Arts and Action Movies. This one not only packs a punch but becomes Immortal by virtue of it’s talented cast and coherent story, rare in the genre.” I said at 11:32pm on December 23rd, 2008.
I was posting a brief movie review to Flixster, (an application allowing you to rate various movies online), I was describing, one of my favorite shows, the movie “Enter the Dragon”.
A guy named Mad Bull commented at 4:34am on January 11th, 2009. He said, “You know what, Mark? I think you would make a good blogger. Check me if you are interested if you want info on how to get started.”
The rest,as they say,is history.
In just one year of Blogging I think I can safely say it has changed my life. I went on an amazing personal journey of self-expression just as my friend Dennis Hammond (creator of Hammondville.com) had predicted when I launched out with a shout of Geronimo !
Travels during which I soared to the moon and waxed philosophical in ramblings like “Shooting the Moon”. Although I confess that that post was not particularly interesting I think it helped me to learn a lot about my personal style of writing. I used a technique which has served me well since then called “Writing the Natural Way”.
From the start I was continually encouraged by my Mentor (the Blogfather) Mad Bull and he directly influenced me to learn of Charles Pick’s Advice which has guided all my best writing from early on.
Blogging is a perverse activity, kind of like internet webcams, I imagine, in that it is very personal and yet makes you feel connected to a wider community of like-minded individuals the world over.
This type of paradox and my gift for making ridiculous connections and synthesizing myriad experiences led to blog posts like “Marriage,Matchmaking and Masturbation” and my personal favorite “Doppelganger”.
“Doppelganger” was inspired by a post by Ruthibelle. I feel connected to bloggers like these who I began to read more and more regularly. My blog “Swamp Things cannot Read any Moore” inspired Ruthibelle to talk about comics in one of her later blogs also. Each one Teach one, One hand rubs the other, or insert other catchy cliche’ here.
The exceptional blogger and photographer Stunner also inspired me so I dedicated “Workman needs bigger Zoom”, about photography and critics thereof, to him.
These are not people I know personally, yet. Yet, I feel like I know them, like we’re a close-knit community. A family almost. Sometimes I even imagine heaven to be like a big Blog roll call in the sky. Annie Paul, Mad Bull, Stunner, Ruthibelle, Kingston state of mind, Pssst Browning !,the list goes on and on…yep that’s heaven to me. But we have no plans to check out just now and if we do, inadvertently, then I suspect the journey won’t be over but rather just moving on to greater heights.
During the year (2009) I realized a dream, after some hiccups and hurdles, by visiting Calabash Festival at Jakes. I described it as a Writer’s Hajj and was close enough to talk to one of my heroes, Colin Channer, (although I didn’t). Channer had nonetheless taught me “How to write a Rahtid book“. I wrote “Journey to Jakes” based on this pilgrimage also.
Pico Iyer, an author who was interviewed at the Festival, was supposed to be the main focus of one of my blogs. I never did get around to writing it.
For every blog idea I wrote the truth is I have ten others or so I didn’t get around to. They still swim around,these incomplete ideas,like malnourished fishes, in the Aquarium of my mind. They bounce into the glass occasionally asking me silently to feed them. When they ask loud enough I do feed them, with relish.I feed them to the hungry public.
Incomplete Ideas. Perpetually Incubating. Floating Skeletons. I was still being hounded by my greatest enemy…Procrastination. My greatest enemy, my only formidable opponent, was in fact…myself.This was clearly shown by the unfinished serial that I began about Theo Adams and Storm and Hezekiah Scythe. Interesting Characters, I thought, but they will only live again if I can conquer my most fearsome foe…procrastination…myself.
I was somewhat saddened that my readership remains largely uninterested in the wisdom of Marcus Garvey or Jefferson, but I will continue to post poetry and prose and anything else that I find powerful.
Learning was what this blog, and Life, is all about, and that I did.I learned but I also have questions that remain unresolved. In my blog “Heavy Sex will drop from the sky” I explored the question all true artists must face. I spoke of the temptation to sell out,just to eat a food, versus staying true to their art and possibly starving to death. Post humous success versus instant gratification.
I succumbed to temptation and wrote popular posts like “Dora the Sexplorer”, “Think before you ink” about tattoos and “Sean Paul”. These posts are my most popular ever.
No longer was I the only one reading my blog. It was a tremendous thrill when when my blog was featured on Sean Paul’s official site. For me it was a great accomplishment but then again I realized that five minutes of fame, even riding on the coat tails of a great Artist that I always respected and admire was not the Summit.
I realized that even when I do cover popular and current events it should be with some degree of insight, some new twist, beyond the obvious. It should have a unique “Heavy Logix” stamp, my imprimatur so-to-speak. Instead of merely a crass or commercial angle I must deliver some substance that will stand the test of time. My “Inter-View” post about Vybz Kartel fit the bill exactly. It took on a current topic but tried to make points that would be over looked by the local mainstream media.
The passing of great men like Michael Jackson and Jim Rohn led me to post also. Jackson also inspired the Reggae cover versions post as i searched to try and find some of those songs to make a tribute album.
In the coming year I hope to do more comparisons like I did in the article Pepsi or Coke ? Comparing things like Charisma and Character and explaining the difference between Rappers and MCs perhaps. You can also expect more movie reviews or impressions like Emperor’s Club and lots more exploration of the confounding cybernetic possibilities of our Minds like I did in the story “Banshees”.
Blowing my own trumpet like this is quite tiring so here’s wishing you all the best for the New Year and remember that in whatever you do Be Happy !
THE GIFT OF THE MAGI
by O. Henry
One dollar and eighty-seven cents. That was all. And sixty cents of it was in pennies. Pennies saved one and two at a time by bulldozing the grocer and the vegetable man and the butcher until one’s cheeks burned with the silent imputation of parsimony that such close dealing implied. Three times Della counted it. One dollar and eighty- seven cents. And the next day would be Christmas.
There was clearly nothing to do but flop down on the shabby little couch and howl. So Della did it. Which instigates the moral reflection that life is made up of sobs, sniffles, and smiles, with sniffles predominating.
While the mistress of the home is gradually subsiding from the first stage to the second, take a look at the home. A furnished flat at $8 per week. It did not exactly beggar description, but it certainly had that word on the lookout for the mendicancy squad.
In the vestibule below was a letter-box into which no letter would go, and an electric button from which no mortal finger could coax a ring. Also appertaining thereunto was a card bearing the name “Mr. James Dillingham Young.”
The “Dillingham” had been flung to the breeze during a former period of prosperity when its possessor was being paid $30 per week. Now, when the income was shrunk to $20, though, they were thinking seriously of contracting to a modest and unassuming D. But whenever Mr. James Dillingham Young came home and reached his flat above he was called “Jim” and greatly hugged by Mrs. James Dillingham Young, already introduced to you as Della. Which is all very good.
Della finished her cry and attended to her cheeks with the powder rag. She stood by the window and looked out dully at a gray cat walking a gray fence in a gray backyard. Tomorrow would be Christmas Day, and she had only $1.87 with which to buy Jim a present. She had been saving every penny she could for months, with this result. Twenty dollars a week doesn’t go far. Expenses had been greater than she had calculated. They always are. Only $1.87 to buy a present for Jim. Her Jim. Many a happy hour she had spent planning for something nice for him. Something fine and rare and sterling–something just a little bit near to being worthy of the honor of being owned by Jim.
There was a pier-glass between the windows of the room. Perhaps you have seen a pier-glass in an $8 flat. A very thin and very agile person may, by observing his reflection in a rapid sequence of longitudinal strips, obtain a fairly accurate conception of his looks. Della, being slender, had mastered the art.
Suddenly she whirled from the window and stood before the glass. her eyes were shining brilliantly, but her face had lost its color within twenty seconds. Rapidly she pulled down her hair and let it fall to its full length.
Now, there were two possessions of the James Dillingham Youngs in which they both took a mighty pride. One was Jim’s gold watch that had been his father’s and his grandfather’s. The other was Della’s hair. Had the queen of Sheba lived in the flat across the airshaft, Della would have let her hair hang out the window some day to dry just to depreciate Her Majesty’s jewels and gifts. Had King Solomon been the janitor, with all his treasures piled up in the basement, Jim would have pulled out his watch every time he passed, just to see him pluck at his beard from envy.
So now Della’s beautiful hair fell about her rippling and shining like a cascade of brown waters. It reached below her knee and made itself almost a garment for her. And then she did it up again nervously and quickly. Once she faltered for a minute and stood still while a tear or two splashed on the worn red carpet.
On went her old brown jacket; on went her old brown hat. With a whirl of skirts and with the brilliant sparkle still in her eyes, she fluttered out the door and down the stairs to the street.
Where she stopped the sign read: “Mne. Sofronie. Hair Goods of All Kinds.” One flight up Della ran, and collected herself, panting. Madame, large, too white, chilly, hardly looked the “Sofronie.”
“Will you buy my hair?” asked Della.
“I buy hair,” said Madame. “Take yer hat off and let’s have a sight at the looks of it.”
Down rippled the brown cascade.
“Twenty dollars,” said Madame, lifting the mass with a practised hand.
“Give it to me quick,” said Della.
Oh, and the next two hours tripped by on rosy wings. Forget the hashed metaphor. She was ransacking the stores for Jim’s present.
She found it at last. It surely had been made for Jim and no one else. There was no other like it in any of the stores, and she had turned all of them inside out. It was a platinum fob chain simple and chaste in design, properly proclaiming its value by substance alone and not by meretricious ornamentation–as all good things should do. It was even worthy of The Watch. As soon as she saw it she knew that it must be Jim’s. It was like him. Quietness and value–the description applied to both. Twenty-one dollars they took from her for it, and she hurried home with the 87 cents. With that chain on his watch Jim might be properly anxious about the time in any company. Grand as the watch was, he sometimes looked at it on the sly on account of the old leather strap that he used in place of a chain.
When Della reached home her intoxication gave way a little to prudence and reason. She got out her curling irons and lighted the gas and went to work repairing the ravages made by generosity added to love. Which is always a tremendous task, dear friends–a mammoth task.
Within forty minutes her head was covered with tiny, close-lying curls that made her look wonderfully like a truant schoolboy. She looked at her reflection in the mirror long, carefully, and critically.
“If Jim doesn’t kill me,” she said to herself, “before he takes a second look at me, he’ll say I look like a Coney Island chorus girl. But what could I do–oh! what could I do with a dollar and eighty- seven cents?”
At 7 o’clock the coffee was made and the frying-pan was on the back of the stove hot and ready to cook the chops.
Jim was never late. Della doubled the fob chain in her hand and sat on the corner of the table near the door that he always entered. Then she heard his step on the stair away down on the first flight, and she turned white for just a moment. She had a habit for saying little silent prayer about the simplest everyday things, and now she whispered: “Please God, make him think I am still pretty.”
The door opened and Jim stepped in and closed it. He looked thin and very serious. Poor fellow, he was only twenty-two–and to be burdened with a family! He needed a new overcoat and he was without gloves.
Jim stopped inside the door, as immovable as a setter at the scent of quail. His eyes were fixed upon Della, and there was an expression in them that she could not read, and it terrified her. It was not anger, nor surprise, nor disapproval, nor horror, nor any of the sentiments that she had been prepared for. He simply stared at her fixedly with that peculiar expression on his face.
Della wriggled off the table and went for him.
“Jim, darling,” she cried, “don’t look at me that way. I had my hair cut off and sold because I couldn’t have lived through Christmas without giving you a present. It’ll grow out again–you won’t mind, will you? I just had to do it. My hair grows awfully fast. Say `Merry Christmas!’ Jim, and let’s be happy. You don’t know what a nice– what a beautiful, nice gift I’ve got for you.”
“You’ve cut off your hair?” asked Jim, laboriously, as if he had not arrived at that patent fact yet even after the hardest mental labor.
“Cut it off and sold it,” said Della. “Don’t you like me just as well, anyhow? I’m me without my hair, ain’t I?”
Jim looked about the room curiously.
“You say your hair is gone?” he said, with an air almost of idiocy.
“You needn’t look for it,” said Della. “It’s sold, I tell you–sold and gone, too. It’s Christmas Eve, boy. Be good to me, for it went for you. Maybe the hairs of my head were numbered,” she went on with sudden serious sweetness, “but nobody could ever count my love for you. Shall I put the chops on, Jim?”
Out of his trance Jim seemed quickly to wake. He enfolded his Della. For ten seconds let us regard with discreet scrutiny some inconsequential object in the other direction. Eight dollars a week or a million a year–what is the difference? A mathematician or a wit would give you the wrong answer. The magi brought valuable gifts, but that was not among them. This dark assertion will be illuminated later on.
Jim drew a package from his overcoat pocket and threw it upon the table.
“Don’t make any mistake, Dell,” he said, “about me. I don’t think there’s anything in the way of a haircut or a shave or a shampoo that could make me like my girl any less. But if you’ll unwrap that package you may see why you had me going a while at first.”
White fingers and nimble tore at the string and paper. And then an ecstatic scream of joy; and then, alas! a quick feminine change to hysterical tears and wails, necessitating the immediate employment of all the comforting powers of the lord of the flat.
For there lay The Combs–the set of combs, side and back, that Della had worshipped long in a Broadway window. Beautiful combs, pure tortoise shell, with jewelled rims–just the shade to wear in the beautiful vanished hair. They were expensive combs, she knew, and her heart had simply craved and yearned over them without the least hope of possession. And now, they were hers, but the tresses that should have adorned the coveted adornments were gone.
But she hugged them to her bosom, and at length she was able to look up with dim eyes and a smile and say: “My hair grows so fast, Jim!”
And them Della leaped up like a little singed cat and cried, “Oh, oh!”
Jim had not yet seen his beautiful present. She held it out to him eagerly upon her open palm. The dull precious metal seemed to flash with a reflection of her bright and ardent spirit.
“Isn’t it a dandy, Jim? I hunted all over town to find it. You’ll have to look at the time a hundred times a day now. Give me your watch. I want to see how it looks on it.”
Instead of obeying, Jim tumbled down on the couch and put his hands under the back of his head and smiled.
“Dell,” said he, “let’s put our Christmas presents away and keep ’em a while. They’re too nice to use just at present. I sold the watch to get the money to buy your combs. And now suppose you put the chops on.”
The magi, as you know, were wise men–wonderfully wise men–who brought gifts to the Babe in the manger. They invented the art of giving Christmas presents. Being wise, their gifts were no doubt wise ones, possibly bearing the privilege of exchange in case of duplication. And here I have lamely related to you the uneventful chronicle of two foolish children in a flat who most unwisely sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of their house. But in a last word to the wise of these days let it be said that of all who give gifts these two were the wisest. O all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest. They are the magi.
There’s nothing funny about Domestic Violence but I do think that the comedians, like those on Saturday Night Live and Wanda Sykes, got the recent Tiger Woods story more accurately than the News channels did.
It seems more plausible to me that Tiger was being whopped by his wife and running for his life than the news reports that said that he just crashed and was rescued by his wife who smashed his rear window with a golf club to take him out of the car.
We’ll probably never know the full story but someone was discussing the whole incident with me and she made an interesting comment.
She said that the amount of women Tiger has shows that he has some kind of mental problem and that it would have been better if he had had one serious woman on the side. Her comment totally surprised me but I couldn’t quite put my finger on why at the time. It sounded logical enough, less affairs means less betrayal right ?
Later that week on Facebook another lady I know wrote an interesting blog about Emotional Betrayal and how much it hurts yadda, yadda, yadda. I remember thinking to myself that no man would ever have wrote about Emotional Betrayal without mentioning Sexual Betrayal first. Suddenly I realized what I found jarring about my other good friend’s comments.
I realized that the average man is more affected by Sexual Betrayal than Emotional Betrayal. Women are exactly the opposite usually.
Basically it’s another one of the many areas in which men and women differ.
Should the toilet seat be left up or down ?
We all agree that you should not cheat.
However I think men are more worried about the Sexual aspect of cheating than the Emotional.
If you are in a marraige or long term relationship would you prefer that your partner is suddenly discovered to be cheating on you with several people, none of whom have a deep emotional attachment with them, or would you prefer to discover that they are having a long-term deeply emotional affair with one person ?
The interesting thing is I believe most Women will answer this question differently from most Men.
Most men would prefer to hear that there’s only one other man, or “Joe Grind”, since that means less sexual betrayal. Most women would
prefer to face less emotional betrayal, as many “floozy” type affairs would suggest, than to hear that there’s another woman who their guy might actually love.
We all agree that cheating is bad and of course the Emotional and Sexual Betrayals can overlap or transform from one to the other but where there is a distinction I definitely think that men and women are going to react differently.
So in conclusion I’d like to make a startling and original announcement ;
Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus.
Bet y’all didn’t know that !
Someone recently asked me how I got my amazing sense of humor. I’d actually been asked the question several times before, because my sense of humor is legendary, matched only by my extreme humility. I thought about it carefully, for a whole second, and then told them that it’s really just a self-defense mechanism.
My sense of humor has saved my Life.
It’s just a way of looking at things. I developed it over time from a variety of experiences, most of them quite bitter. Instead of being angry and sad, I choose to Be Happy and laugh. This laughter is usually internal though, I try to keep a deadpan, clown-like, look on my face. It’s useful when playing Poker too. I see the absurd in situations even when it’s happening to me. The issues underlying my best jokes are usually very serious.
Shakespeare himself realized how closely tragedy and comedy were related that’s why he was able to master both forms. His play Comedy of Errors, for example, tells of a man’s tragic life experiences.
The most serious or tragic experiences can be uplifting if we choose to remain positive. If we continue to search for the Silver Lining in every Dark Cloud. Even heavy topics like Racism and World Wars have been made into the backdrops for comedy. The Jerk, starring Steve Martin, was about a white man who thought he was black and “Allo, Allo” remains a cult favorite worldwide.
I was watching the Jeffersons one night and suddenly realized that maybe 98% of the comedy on TV is just about insulting someone. Seeing someone in a terrible situation or being insulted (and realizing that it’s not us) automatically makes us laugh or feel better.
Even religious leaders and Spiritual Gurus have noticed this aspect of the human condition. In the Book “The Art of Happiness”, the Dalai Lama suggests that comparing yourself to others, worse off than you, will make you feel better. My mom would always notice when I was having a rough time and say “It could be Worse”.
You just fell off your bicycle and broke your arm ? Well smile because it could have been worse.
Some of the greatest comedians in the world are really just magnets for the worst that can happen in any given situation. Rodney Dangerfield, Woody Allen, Chevy Chase …they all live by Murphy’s Law.
Rowan Atkinson, best known in Jamaica as Mr. Bean, is that rare type of comedic genius who doesn’t even need words to elicit a laugh. Like Charlie Chaplin he gets into ridiculous situations and then his physical exploits and his facial expressions while he tries to get out of the sticky jam invariably leaves us crying with laughter or rolling on the ground.
Peter Sellers, in shows like The Party, adds the aspect of imitation to his Mr. Bean type roles. After Sellers played the role of an Indian man accidentally invited to the Party, his Indian friend Satyajit Ray took offence and never spoke to him again.
That’s the danger of this type of comedy, those who feel the joke is “on them” won’t find it funny at all. They may even plot some form of revenge, remembering the adage, “he who laughs last laughs best”.
A higher form of comedy is that of Larry David. His show “Curb your Enthusiasm” and his work with the Seinfeld series is classic. It is a brand of humour not based solely on insults or feelings of superiority over others. He uses a shrewd insight into human nature and the absurdity of common place experiences that we can all relate to.
In an episode of “Curb your Enthusiasm” Larry David dealt with the most serious eternal problem all couples face. No, not problems in communication, finances or sex, he dealt with the real tough one. Men leave the toilet seat up and Women want it down. David’s character actually is a man so lazy that he sits even when he pees and his wife is a drunkard who lifts the seat up because she throws up in the toilet after over drinking. This type of reversal of roles is a key to most great comedy. Of course, the couple now argue because the wife left the seat up.
Jamaica is blessed with great comedians too. Ity and Fancy Cat, Glen Campbell, Oliver Samuels and Simon Crosskill, to name a few.
Simon Crosskill how did he get on that list ? Yes, he may not be slapstick or crude, but he has the insight of a Larry David, the genius of a Dr. Bill Cosby. I think he should do his own Late Night show like David Letterman or Jay Leno. Although Simon’s uncanny chemistry with Neville Bell makes them a great team to watch sadly I usually miss the morning show because of work. He’d do well in his own show. He’s versatile enough to intelligently argue with political guests and sports heroes too.
Simon Crosskill can be very serious at times, during the celebrations of our athletic victories he said;
” As we celebrate the performances of our athletes it would serve us well to remember from whence they came. Remember that next time you are tempted to think you are better than someone, because of how they look, or speak, or which ghetto they come from. Remember that every Jamaican, no matter rich or poor, black brown or white, has the ability to be a world beater, if given a chance to develop his or her talent. Why do so many Jamaicans exist without social and economic benefits ? Some would say most of our people are lazy. It’s a lie perpetuated by those who are unwilling to create policies that would help spread the enormous wealth of this country. Who would dare label Shelly from Waterhouse and Melanie from Maxfield, lazy.But how many of us who have the wherewithal to make a difference even know where Waterhouse is ?”
Serious if and when required, but usually though, Simon Crosskill delivers his insights in a humorous way, sometimes even just as a question. Like on his Facebook page he once asked, (not in these exact words), “Why is it that you can get everything and anything at a gas station convenience store yet you cannot get air for your tires there ?”. He was highlighting a strange paradox that occurs frequently in Jamaica because our crime rate is so high that people even steal the air hoses from the gas stations.
In Jamaica we realize sense of humor is a means of self preservation that’s why we “tek serious ting mek joke “. Seeing the problems and still being able to laugh while solving them is a very serious business. The Court Jester must force the King to realize his nakedness. The Motley Fool, comedian, political satirist or clown has the serious task of making us ask why things are the way they are and urge us to seek better. They carry truth into closed minds and enter freely into power circles others would fear to tread.
Without these brave geniuses around we’d probably all just curl up and die after freezing with fear.
Instead, with a sense of humor, we can see the tragic and the painful, perhaps even more acutely than others. We are sensitive to the problems but we are also aware of the power of “reversal”. We know things can change completely and in a flash, one banana peel, one misstep and Goliath will fall. One pie, thrown in the face, of a haughty business man or politician, will show them who is really the don, and even as we seem to lose, or when we’re even forced to cry, we know that we will get the last laugh.
We live by a simple credo, a simple code, one that is difficult to explain, or even understand, at times, given the enormous challenges of life.
Be Happy !!
This strange, hump-backed, looking fellow is Harvey Pekar and he’s actually one of my heroes.
Harvey Pekar really loved collecting stuff. At one point he collected comic books and then later on he began to collect rare Jazz records.
This somewhat obscure hobby led him to meet Robert Crumb. Crumb had a love of rare Jazz music also. Crumb was also beginning to become well known as an underground comic book artist. Crumb’s adult-themed art work impressed the normally cynical Pekar.
Through reading his friend’s material Pekar began to realize the immense untapped potential of the whole comic book medium. Sure the medium had it’s full range of masked superheroes but Pekar felt there was a huge range of stories still waiting to be told.
“Comics could do anything that film could do,” Pekar realized. “And I wanted in on it.” he said. However it took Pekar some time to decide just what he wanted to do. “I theorized for maybe ten years about doing comics,” he says.
Pekar laid out some stories with crude stick figures and showed them to Crumb. Crumb became the first artist to illustrate American Splendor.
American Splendor was a groundbreaking series of Comic Books. The comic documents daily life in the aging neighborhoods of Pekar’s native Cleveland, where Pekar worked throughout his life (even after gaining fame) as a file clerk in a large Veterans Administration hospital.
American Splendor basically chronicles all the everyday events of Harvey who is a kind of everyman character. Ordinary life is pretty complex stuff seems to be the basic theme.
It’s laced with a realism and subtle humor that reminds me of Woody Allen or Seinfeld at their best.
Pekar gets material from anything at all. For this reason I think bloggers (especially those that write about anything like my Blogfather Madbull) will really enjoy learning more about him and his work.
For example Pekar would write about things like “How do you pick the best line to join while waiting at the Supermarket ?” or he might ponder his own name and write about what happened when he looks up his own name in the directory (and who hasn’t done that ?).
More poignantly though he wrote about his personal battles with Cancer. Later on as he got famous and appeared extensively on popular shows like Letterman’s Late Night Show he wrote about that new found fame also.
A recent movie about his life presents an easy way to learn about him. In the movie entitled “American Splendor”, Pekar finds love, family and a creative voice through the underground comic books he creates. Along the bumpy journey, he meets, marries and falls for Joyce, an admiring comic book seller.
The movie also shows the real life Harvey and his friends in some revealing snippets that enrich the heart-warming film. Be warned this film may even make you cry at a few points and will certainly make you laugh at many points.
It gets my highest recommendation, when you see the story of my hero Harvey you will be inspired too and you’ll realize it’s really a Splenderously Crumby World, full of Unexpected Possibilities.
My wife finally got the movie she’d been talking about all week and was gleefully bragging about it. I was less than excited though because invariably her taste seemed diametrically opposed to mine.
Where I liked mythical and unrealistic, fantasy type shows, ( like Matrix or Star Wars ), she loved realistic people in realistic settings. Where I loved action and perhaps a dry comedy, she would go more for drama and the occasional slapstick.
The only consistent common ground was perhaps movies with Denzel Washington, but while I watched those for the interesting plots and great stories, I couldn’t help thinking, she was watching them because of Denzel’s smile.
We were beginning to at least understand each other’s tastes though and respectfully agreed to disagree while respecting each other’s choices.
“What’s the name of that movie you got again ?” I asked just to make conversation, not with any real interest in the answer.
“It’s called The Emperor’s Club. Have you heard of it ?” she asked, all smiles and bubbly.
Emperor’s Club. I immediately began to be more interested, Emperor’s Club, wasn’t that the name of some high class international prostitution ring that had caused a recent political scandal ? I wondered to myself.
“Nope never heard of it what’s it about ?”, I asked while trying to look bored. Maybe this was a test to see if I was interested in Prostitutes, or something, I didn’t want to seem too keen.
“It’s about a teacher at a boys school. I researched it on the net, just like you do. Based on the shows I like, the IMDB website recommended this one.”, she beamed, trying to show me she could beat me at my own game.
You see, I always use sites like Flixster, the same way avid book buyers use Amazon, to tell me movies I’d probably enjoy, based on the movies I already like. It generally works out very, very well and obviously my wife thought it was a great idea too.
There are hardly any women in this story, a marked departure from the usual Hollywood fare. It’s about a male teacher at an all boys school, there’s not a prostitute in sight. Yet I must confess I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. It has something that is rare yet always welcome. It has a thought provoking premise and a well scripted story that is excellently acted even by minor characters.
The basic theme of the story seems to be that to truly be considered great you must not just achieve for your own selfish aims but should contribute something to the greater good.
The movie conveys it’s theme by focusing on a troubled youth who doesn’t seem to care about fitting in although he is also obviously very brilliant. This youth, new to the strict school, causes immediate conflicts with his classmates and also the teacher (excellently portrayed by Kevin Kline) Mr. Hunterd.
I think one of the strengths of this type of movie is that we can all relate to the school environment and through such stories we get to reflect more on our own learning experiences and favourite teachers and subjects of our past. We easily compare those we know to those of the movie even when they pale in comparison or excel those in the story.
Basically the teacher begins to realize that the troubled youth is similar to himself, in many ways, and Hunterd goes the extra mile trying to make the boy get motivated and improve in his school work.
The teacher even visits the boy’s father who lives many miles away in the city. The father is a powerful man, a politician, who tries to negotiate and bargain with everyone but absolutely resists the thought of anyone else molding his son’s ideas.
The boy eventually, like many of his classmates, achieves much in life. He flies Hunterd in to his mansion by helicopter to remember the past and in fact relive it somewhat. A school reunion including a contest.
It seems the men have not been able to shake off the past and their boyhood foibles remain.
Without dwelling on the dramatic points of the film (don’t want to spoil your viewing experience) I’ll simply say that the events at the close of the film leave an older wiser Hunterd, and the viewer, asking whether the students really learned the most important lesson of all.
As for me I was quick to realise that this film, based on a short story (entitled “The Palace Thief”, by Ethan Canin, was a true classic, worthy of deeper study.
I praised my wife for her excellent choice and she smiled proudly and offered to make me a little sandwhich and a drink.
As I sat watching the closing credits and sipping on the cold drink which her loving hands had made for me I smiled, feeling like a King, in my Palace.
I was now a member of “The Real Emperor’s Club”. It feels so much better than “The Dead Poets Society”.
(Thanks to Dr. Wayne Dyer for bringing my attention to this poem in one of his speeches.)
A woman was waiting at an airport one night
With several long hours before her flight
She hunted for a book in the airport shop
Bought a bag of cookies and found a place to drop
She was engrossed in her book but happened to see
That the man beside her as bold as could be
Grabbed a cookie or two from the bag between
Which she tried to ignore to avoid a scene
She munched cookies and watched the clock
As this gutsy cookie thief diminished her stock
She was getting more irritated as the minutes ticked by
Thinking “If I wasn’t so nice I’d blacken his eye”
With each cookie she took he took one too
And when only one was left she wondered what he’d do
With a smile on his face and a nervous laugh
He took the last cookie and broke it in half
He offered her half as he ate the other
She snatched it from him and thought “Oh brother
This guy has some nerve and he’s also rude
Why he didn’t even show any gratitude”
She had never known when she had been so galled
And sighed with relief when her flight was called
She gathered her belongings and headed for the gate
Refusing to look back at the thieving ingrate
She boarded the plane and sank in her seat
Then sought her book which was almost complete
As she reached in her baggage she gasped with surprise
There was her bag of cookies in front of her eyes
“If mine are here” she moaned with despair
“Then the others were his and he tried to share”
“Too late to apologize she realized with grief”
That she was the rude one, the ingrate, the thief
I want to show people that I’m unique, different, talented and creative.
I know what I’ll do, I’ll get a tattoo just like everyone else.
Ridiculous isn’t it ? But this type of “Heavy Logix” and reasoning seems to be getting more and more popular.
Once tattoos were a fringe art or fad, a rarity seen mostly at Carnival sideshows or worn by the Yakuza but now they are definitely mainstream with every superstar, and athlete in the NBA, carrying at least one and all their fans following suit.
Jamaica as usual is catching on quickly to the trend and just about everyone seems to have a tat and want two or three more.
I’m not likely to ever get drunk or brave enough to have one done myself. These things are both painful and permanent. If I was getting one though I’d choose an Adinkra symbol.
The symbol I really love is Nyame something-or-other. I like it’s symetry and it’s meaning and the fact that it’s from Africa rather than European. I’m surprised more people aren’t using these symbols from Ghana as they’re very interesting and beautiful with a lot of meaning too.
Other tattoos I tend to like are the so called “tribals”, abstract designs with a bold forceful appeal.
I also like the Yin Yang symbol and variations of it. Another interesting tattoo idea is to have so called Ambigrams as a tattoo. These interesting Word-Art designs were made popular in the Novel ,Angels and Demons, written by, Davinci Code, author Dan Brown. He even named his famous hero after Ambigram artist John Langdon. Rapper Method Man for instance has an Ambigram tattoo that reads Death from one side and Life from the other.
Whatever you pick to be your tattoo please choose wisely. Laser surgery is a painful and expensive process and never looks as good as no tattoo at all.
Nowadays Every Body has a story. Literally.
Tattoos have been one of the most consistently popular searches on the net and the industry spawns books, magazines and laser surgery (to remove tattoos) as well.
While some feel it’s against their religion others make their tattoos carry a religious significance.
Before you Ink please Think.
Jamaica has a lot of Public holidays and on August 1 we celebrated Emancipation Day. This is our most recently added public holiday and while the vast majority, like myself, welcome any chance to stay home from work, some feel the day was granted just as a politically expedient move by our first “really black” Prime Minister to make people remember him, (and his Emancipation Park), in a good light throughout all generations.
Others have more interesting reasons for not being ecstatic about the extra day from work. Author Marlon James for instance doesn’t get the concept of
celebrating Emancipation day. He recently said, (on his Facebook page), “Had we kicked butt, shed blood and dropped like genocide on a couple hundred planters then yeah, I can celebrate that. But why am I celebrating “You were handed Freedom because of the already declining West India interest day?” ”
His comments were certainly thought provoking and immediately led to some interesting replies such as this one from Damon Mills, “You know, if there’s a pack of wolves chewing on your leg and suddenly and of their own accord they wander off because they suddenly remember they prefer elk meat and they heard there was a joint nearby where the elk hang out, you’re still allowed to be pretty happy about it, even if you don’t have the macho satisfaction of having fought them off using just a can of Lysol and the ignition key to a 1977 Buick Skylark.”
That one really cracked me up but Fragano Ledgister took a stern and
historical approach by saying “Marlon, ( remember all this banter was on
Marlon James’ Facebook page) that some of my ancestors were *property*
down to 1834, and that at midnight on the first of August they ceased to be,
matters a hell of a lot. The mechanics of the process, including the Baptist War, was complicated and included the decline of the old West India interest (part of the overall decline of the old landed interest that accompanied the rise of industrial capitalism), but it also involved active resistance by the slaves themselves. Please don’t come with that “house negro” thing either. Household slaves were a small subset of non-field slaves, and much more under the thumb of the owners than the true agents of the maintenance of slavery, the drivers (who were slaves).”
Mr. Ledgister’s comments seemed a bit stiff and verbose to me, perhaps too
politically correct, and I was actually glad when Marlon James replied in his typically highly irreverent manner, “That’s another thing. It’s the one day everybody tries to be deep by saying “but are we really emancipated?” The answer is yes, you jackass. If you have the time to ponder quasi-existential questions without a whip coming straight for your backside it means you is free. Do we know what to do with freedom? That’s another story.”
It all got me thinking what really is Emancipation ? How should we use our
Freedom ? Is bantering on Facebook really the best use of our time ? If that
brings us happiness could anything really be better ?
The Emancipation Park has engraved, in one of the walls near the
controversial statues, the following words, “Emancipate yourselves from
Mental Slavery “. The line is taken from a Bob Marley song and Bob took it
from a Marcus Garvey speech. Marcus Garvey more than anyone else thought about the question of how Freedom should be used. He knew what
Emancipation was all about.
Lesson 1 from Garvey’s writings for his School of African Philosophy says
simply “You must never stop learning.” Garvey believed in the need to uplift
ourselves and to do this we would have to think powerfully. “Anything you are going to challenge you must first know about it so as to be able to defeat it.”, he said. In this same lesson he urged that we read widely and keep knowledge up to date. He also encouraged the appreciation of Good Music and Good Poetry, for the same reason, they can elevate your thoughts. Read a Chapter from the Bible everyday and quote from it he advised.
Garvey advises us ” Always have a thought. Make it a beautiful thought. The
world is attracted by beauty either in art or in expression. Therefore try to read, think and speak beautiful things.”
Garvey then ends this first lesson with the following poem
by William Ernest Henley
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeoning of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
Many modern readers are familiar with the last lines of the poem because the classic “Think and Grow Rich”, a self-help book by Napoleon Hill, uses “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul” as a motivational tool to encourage the reader to take charge of his or her life.
Garvey was aware of many New Thought ideas and showed his forward thinking by choosing a poem that still has influence on modern business. Just recently I listened to Brian Tracy, a leading motivational speaker, talking about Goal Setting, and he used this very poem in his presentation.
The author of “Invictus” knew what he was talking about from personal experience. At the age of 12, Henley became a victim of tuberculosis of the bone. In spite of this, in 1867 he successfully passed the Oxford local examination as a senior student. His diseased foot had to be amputated directly below the knee; physicians had announced that the only way to save his life was to amputate.
Henley persevered and survived with one foot intact. He was discharged in
1875, and was able to lead an active life for nearly 30 years despite his
disability. With an artificial foot, he lived until the age of 53. “Invictus” was
written from a hospital bed despite Henley’s condition.
Maybe Damon Mill’s comments were way more than I first suspected as they came back to mind as I read this on Wikipedia.
For me Emancipation Day provides a chance to reflect on the advice of the powerful prophet Marcus Garvey and for that I’m very grateful.
Are you Man Enough ?
Can you Resist ?
The quest for high perfomance enhancers seems to be never ending and widespread. While athletes have long been accused of taking steroids and testosterone and even “horse tonic” to run faster and longer, now the general public is following suit and digesting record amounts of so- called Energy Drinks.
The Great Coca Cola perhaps started the trend with their famous secret formula. Now every drink is boasting some secret and potent additive that will boost the drinkers performance. Coca Cola’s name actually comes from the Cocaine and the Kola Nut (containing Caffiene), the key ingredients, in it’s original formulation. It was sold at pharmacies back then and it’s creator Pemberton claimed that Coca-Cola cured many diseases, including morphine addiction, dyspepsia, neurasthenia, headache, and yes even impotence.
The local energy drinks are also focusing on the sexual shortcomings in the market place and have names like Taboo, Mandingo and Jagra which one blogger assumes means “JamaicanViagra”. They should do well in a culture that already traditionally has Roots drinks with exotic names like “Front End Lifter”. Red Bull, the German drink, with the English name, and Monster also have a strong local following.
Personally I’m inclined to think these products are all a bunch of Mumbo Jumbo though. However I guess if you think they’ll help you then they will. Placebos have been known to effect great cures. Who am I to knock someone trying to uplift their spirits before taking an All Night Exam Study Session ?
Interestingly the words Mumbo Jumbo and Jagra and Mandingo are related. See for example this quote taken from a blog on the net;
You will be the hit of the cocktail party when you hold forth on the origins of the word “Mumbo Jumbo,” which is a botched transliteration of the name of a Mandingo secret society. The account originated with the 18th century explorer of Africa Francis Moore, who wrote that the all-male society, bound by terrible oaths, existed primarily to adjudicate disputes between men and women… in favor of men. So how did Moore find out about this “secret” group?
About the year 1727, the king of Jagra having a very inquisitive woman to his wife, was so weak as to disclose to her this secret; and she being a gossip, revealed it to some other women of her acquaintance. This at last coming to the ears of some who were no friends to the king, they, dreading lest if the affair took vent, it should put a period to the subjection of their wives, took the coat, put a man into it, and going to the king’s town, sent for him out, and taxed him with it: when he not denying it, they sent for his wife, and killed them both on the spot. Thus the poor king died for his complaisance to his wife, and she for her curiosity.
The first rule of Mumbo Jumbo is DON’T TALK ABOUT MUMBO JUMBO!
As someone who is addicted to Pepsi I hope you will avoid my weakness. I hope you’ll be Mandingo enough to avoid these Energy Drinks and stay healthy with some less addictive natural Juices.
Are you Man Enough ?
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