Are we a Jonah?

There aren’t many people that like to be on the receiving end of a lecture. I know my students at school don’t; and Daniel definitely doesn’t like when his mother or myself have to lecture him about one thing or another. There are times that I don’t mind lecturing and other times the blank eyes staring back at me, is quite off-putting. After being asked to speak at my old church one night, I remembered a powerful image that I couldn’t help but see while reading Bible stories with Daniel one night. I knew something that I wouldn’t mind lecturing someone about. Daniel and myself had came across the story of the Jonah and the Whale. The story of Jonah, which is usually cartoonized as a quick Sunday School lesson, is far too deep to be left as just a children’s story. I didn’t realize that the Lord would allow me the opportunity to tell anyone about the thoughts that I had during that nightly reading, but I knew that I should talk about it then and I feel that I should share my thoughts now. With that being said, there are lots of life lessons in the Book of Jonah for children; but the theme is applicable to adults as well. Jonah’s story teaches us about obedience, willingness of spirit, gratitude, compassion and God’s patience and mercy. Some of those attributes go beyond the Christian relationship and should be applied to all walks of life.

Jonah 1

1Now the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying,   

2Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me.

The now infamous Jonah was a prophet from Galilee and his story takes place somewhere between 780 B.C and 760 B.C. During this period of history, Assyria was a powerful, evil nation and Israel’s most dreaded enemy. The Lord spoke to Jonah and told him to go to Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, and preach to the Ninevites. (Jonah 1:2) Jonah was supposed to warn the Ninevites to repent or suffer the consequences of their wickedness.

 3But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD.

As you can see, Jonah had other ideas.  Instead of heading for Nineveh, he took off for Tarshish, which is in modern day Spain. His motives could have been fear or revenge or quite possibly both. The Assyrians had committed terrible atrocities against the people of Israel: traveling into their midst would have been truly frightening. Jonah also despised the Assyrians and probably would have liked to see God punish them. Yet, Jonah knew God’s nature. He knew that if he preached repentance to the Ninevites, they would repent and God would spare them.

4But the LORD sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken.

5Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man unto his god, and cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea, to lighten it of them. But Jonah was gone down into the sides of the ship; and he lay, and was fast asleep.

6So the shipmaster came to him, and said unto him, what meanest thou, O sleeper? Arise, call upon thy God, if so be that God will think upon us, that we perish not.

7And they said everyone to his fellow, Come, and let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this evil is upon us. So they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonah.

What is casting lots?  The practice of casting lots is mentioned 70 times in the Old Testament and seven times in the New Testament. In spite of the many references to casting lots in the Old Testament, nothing is known about the actual lots themselves. Archeologists have uncovered evidence which could unravel the secret of what they could have been. Archeologists say that they could have been sticks of various lengths, flat stones (or coins), or some kind of dice; but their exact nature is just meant to be a selection method similar to our modern practice of flipping a coin or rock-paper-scissors.

In verses 8-15 Jonah explains to them that he is the one that is causing all of this because he is running from the will of God.  He tells them to throw him overboard if they want to be saved. The crew just isn’t willing to just chunk him overboard so they continue to row towards land.  BUT nothing that they can do is getting them closer to the land.  They finally decide that they have to do the inevitable and throw him in the water, and as soon as they do the water ceases its thrashing.  When the water ceased, verses 16 and 17 say that the men on the boat all prayed to the God of Jonah. They made vows while they prayed and made an offering to the Lord. So God used Jonah’s stubbornness to save the men: both their souls and their lives.    

Now comes the part that we all remember: the big fish. The original Hebrew words describing the creature are dag gadol which translates into modern English as ‘Great Fish’. Now we can argue all day what swallowed Jonah after he was thrown into the Image:Blue Whale and Hector Dolphine.pngocean. Did God create a giant fish for this exact moment? Was he was swallowed by the Balaenoptera musculus (aka the blue whale) which is the largest animal known to have ever existed and whose weight has been recorded at an excess of 173 tonnes (190 short tons) and was a lengthy 98 feet long? Was it all a lucid dream that took place as he almost died from drowning? What is important is that Jonah has a revelation while in the literal belly of the beast. The literal ‘low part’ of his life.

137.Jonah_Is_Spewed_Forth_by_the_Whale.jpgHere we see God’s great mercy. He could have let Jonah suffer the consequences of his actions and drown. Yet, God intervenes and spares Jonah’s life. Just like us, we live and we sin.  Romans 3:23 says: ‘For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God’.  Every single day we sin and God chooses to spare us.  God spares us but we complain to God about the consequences of our sins but do we ever wonder how often He has spared us from consequences?

Jonah sat in the belly of the great fish for three days and three nights. But during that time Jonah prays a beautiful prayer and offers Thanksgiving and realizes that truly being saved means to be in the will of the Lord. When Jonah gets to that point, the great fish swims towards the land and spits up on the land.  In Jonah chapter 3, he gets a second chance.  God again gives him the word to go to the city of Ninevah and preach.  I can only imagine what he looked like.  What he smelled like.  His skin bleached from being inside the fish, his clothes stunk from being in the belly of the fish, but he traveled on to preach repentance to the evil city.  But you can imagine that Jonah was scared.  He was walking 138.Jonah_Preaches_to_the_Ninevites.jpginto a city of his enemies and was preaching a message that is going to be really unpopular.  But Jonah does as God instructed him and amazingly the people upon hearing his words, repented.  Even the mighty King ordered all the people in Ninevah to fast, put on sackcloth and beg for forgiveness (Jonah 2:1-10).  Now to let you know a sackcloth is not something nice.  The people of Ninevah truly repented.  In those days, in some religious traditions, a sackcloth or cilice as it is called (which was made of coarse cloth or animal hair) and it induced some degree of discomfort or pain as a sign of repentance and atonement.  They felt emotionally and physically hurt.  They felt fearful of God and turned away from their evil ways, and asked God to forgive them of what they had done.  God saw the change in them and spared them.

Many Christians are afraid to talk about their faith. Despite my saying that I am a Christian in this blog on many occasions, I had a moment where I didn’t know if I wanted to write this blog. To share such an intimate part of my Christian faith caused me to have a moment of the fear of the potential judgement of my peers. I am embarrassed by this but instead of just knowing that I need to proceed in sharing something that God had given me; I am moving forward with this info. So is it just fear that would drive someone like me to not want to talk about their relationship with God in certain audiences? Most of the time it is that we don’t want to look foolish or be unpopular. Sometimes going against the grain can give you splinters. Some of us are afraid of standing out and being different. I am embarrassed that I had a moment where I felt that way but I know that there are some people that don’t share the Good news because they are close minded and don’t want certain people to be saved. Some of us don’t want to tell people about their church because they don’t want that type of person coming there. So many people in this world are not saved or have never been told the Good News, simply because we Christians have been too fearful to tell it or because you might not like that particular type of person.  We have no way of knowing what someone will decide about Christ; we only have the obligation to tell be a witness for him. Miracles can happen in people’s lives when we share the Word of God with them. By withholding the Word, we are failing in our responsibility. Sorry…getting back to Jonah, there was no city in that time less likely to repent than Nineveh, but when Jonah was finally willing to do as he was shocked to find out that they repented! Nineveh was so huge that it took three days to cross it. Imagine all the lives spared by one willing voice. Think of all the people that would have perished if that one voice had not been there.  Jonah should have been ecstatic but you know….Jonah was mad.  

 2And he prayed unto the LORD, and said, I pray thee, O LORD, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil.

3Therefore now, O LORD, take, I beseech thee, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live.

What Jonah is really angry about is that God has given the gift of salvation to a nation that Jonah finds undeserving. Jonah felt that it was wrong for Jews to be sharing their God with people they considered heathens. It may seem foolish to us that Jonah got mad at God for saving the Ninevites; but think about this: are there people that you resent and would like to see fail? Are there those that have wronged you and you’d like to get revenge on them? This is just what Jonah wanted. He didn’t want the Ninevites getting God’s mercy; he wanted them to suffer.  But God’s mercy and salvation is for everyone, not just those we think deserve Him. If only those that deserved His love got it, we’d all be in big trouble. Jonah never does grasp this. He continues to whine about his own condition but feels no pity or mercy for the Ninevites.

God even asks him what good it is doing to be so angry? 

5So Jonah went out of the city, and sat on the east side of the city, and there made him a booth, and sat under it in the shadow, till he might see what would become of the city.

6And the LORD God prepared a gourd, and made it to come up over Jonah, that it might be a shadow over his head, to deliver him from his grief. So Jonah was exceeding glad of the gourd.

But that happiness was short lived because God had prepared a worm to come and kill the gourd.  

8And it came to pass, when the sun did arise, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah, that he fainted, and wished in himself to die, and said, It is better for me to die than to live.

9And God said to Jonah, Doest thou well to be angry for the gourd? And he said, I do well to be angry, even unto death.

10Then said the LORD, Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for the which thou hast not laboured, neither madest it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night:

11And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than six-score (which equals 120 and some people say that the population could have been as high as 600,000) thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?

Thankfully God does feel sorry for us and spares us in spite of ourselves. But what can we learn from this story of man chosen to do God’s will but cannot get over his own hatred to see the beauty in the situation?  Well we can look at ourselves.  We can compare ourselves to the Ninevites.  We are sinners, undeserving of God’s forgiveness…but he saves us anyway.  We, as humans, are suspiciously a comparison to Jonah.

Rev. 3:15 says: I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot, I would thou wert cold or hot.  16; So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

The Lord does not like lukewarm Christians.  Our ‘church’ as a worldwide entity is full of lukewarm Christians.  I regretfully have found myself yo-yoing with the complacency of being lukewarm because its comfortable. A lot of Christians, are just going through the motions.  They sit in a service and wait for final prayer so they can go home or go eat or watch their favorite TV show.  We become comfortable Christians.  Jesus calls us to not be lukewarm but be zealous about God.  We don’t need to be judgmental and have anger towards a specific person or type of people.  We need to yearn for the people of this world to know the forgiveness and love of our Lord and Savior.  We can’t be Jonahs.  We need to be Ninevites and despite our past or our sin, we must put on our sackcloth of mourning and ask God to forgive us of us of our sins.         


Images:

Largest and Smallest Whale image by T. Bjornstad (TBjornstad) – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1992293

Featured Image – Jonah is Spewed Forth by the Whale by and attributed to Gustave Doré – from Doré’s English Bible, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10703585

Jonah Preches to the Ninevites by and attributed to Gustave Doré – Doré’s English Bible, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10703612

 

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Rock – Paper – Scissors – Lizards – Spock

It was back in 2007 in season 2, episode 8 of MTV’s Rob and Big that I first heard Rock – Paper -Scissors called Rochambeau. I had enjoyed playing it many times as a child and it was so ingrained in popular culture that I had seen it everywhere from one of my favorite adolescent movies Bio Dome to aiding in a decision making process on my childhood playground. No matter how silly the game may be, it is  a nostalgic competition that has transcended time.

Kitsune-ken_(狐拳),_Japanese_rock-paper-scissors_variant,_from_the_Genyoku_sui_bento_(1774)Yes I just made Rock – Paper – Scissors sound a lot more serious than it actually is but the history is vast. Rock – Paper – Scissors arrived in the United States around the 20th century, but it is one of the oldest games in existence. The first recorded mention of the game was found in Chinese Ming-dynasty writer’s Xie Zhaozhi’s book: the Wuzazu. In his book (circa the 1600s) wrote that the game itself actually dated back all the way to China’s Han dynasty (which is from 206 -220 AD). The game, as he explains it, is called shoushiling. The game also exists in Japanese lore, and throughout history there have Mushi-ken_(虫拳),_Japanese_rock-paper-scissors_variant,_from_the_Kensarae_sumai_zue_(1809)been references to ‘fist games’. These fist games, known as sansukumi-ken (ken meaning fist). The earliest version of sansukumi-ken was known as mushi-ken. Mushi-ken (meaning frog-fist) was playing by one player showing his thumb who is displaced by a slug (represented by the user showing his pinky finger), which is then displaced by a snake (represented by the index finger), which is only displaced by the frog. So can you see the rules are similar to our modern day Rock – Paper – Scissors.

Over the years, the game spread beyond Asian borders and reached Britain in 1924 when the game was described in a letter to The Times newspaper (which has been a daily national newspaper based in London, England since 1785). The game was called ‘zhot’ and was described to be of ‘possible Mediterranean origin’. The British populous took interest and subsequent articles were written to describe the game to the readers. If it hit Britain, it was only a matter of time before it came to America. In a 1932 New York Times article describing the Tokyo rush hour, the rules of the game were laid out and the Rock_paper_scissors_author beckoned Americans to try it, so they could ‘benefit’ from its uses. In the 1933 edition of Compton’s Pictured Encyclopedia, the game was called John Kem Po and was described as a ‘common method of settling disputes between Japanese children’ and the author pointed out that it was a “good way of deciding an argument that American boys and girls might like to practice too”.

So is it ironic that a game with so much history is played by children making random choices or by adults who are more inclined to use some game to decide some minuscule decision? Absolutely not. The game is popping up all over pop culture; even finding itself in a modified version on the ever popular TV show The Big Bang Theory (who modified the game to be Rock – Paper – Scissors – Lizard – Spock) and some players have even turned it into a legitimate nostalgia-fueled competitive sport.

Rock,_Paper,_Scissors

From China’s street corners to America’s playgrounds, Rock – Paper – Scissors will continue to flourish; and its history will not sink like a rock or rust like a pair of scissors. No no…it will cover the landscape like a piece a paper. 😉

Rps2010_2



Images:

Mushi-Ken representation by and attributed to Linhart, Sepp. “Die Repräsentation Von Tieren Im Japanischen Ken-Spiel: Versuch Einer Interpretation.” Asiatische Studien: Zeitschrift Der Schweizerischen Asiengesellschaft 65.2 (2011): 541-61.Yoshinami and Gojaku. 1809. Kensarae sumai zue (拳會角力圖會). 2 vols. Edo: Murataya, Jirobe, Osaka: Kawachiya Taisuke, Bunka 6., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=37139430

Rock-Paper-Scissors image by and attributed to U3144362 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=63503453

Men playing Rock-Paper-Scissors by Jeff Eaton – https://www.flickr.com/photos/jeffeaton/10911307996/, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=54972934

4th UK Rock-Paper-Scissors Championship image by and attributed to James Bamber – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16532763

Top Cat’s Tuesday Top 10: Hollywood Dynasties

Ever found out that two actors or singers were related and it kind of blew your mind? I mean, it almost seems that Hollywood likes to keep it in the family? Or is it really true that it helps to know someone in Hollywood? I would imagine that its easier to get into the business when you have someone in your corner. Especially when that person is your mother, your brother or your great-uncle. So with that being said, I present to you my pick of the most influential Hollywood Dynasty families.

Top Cat’s Tuesday Top 10: Most Influential Hollywood Dynasties:


Honorable Mention: Bridges –

Before branching out on an extremely successful movie and TV career, actor Lloyd Bridges was finding success on Broadway; but by the 60s he had his own TV show on CBS. Lucky for Beau and Jeff; he often featured his two sons. Beau and Jeff both went on to star in critically acclaimed roles. I mean, Jeff is the Dude…man.

Jerry_Stiller_-_Anne_Meara

10. The Stillers –

Jerry Stiller and his wife Anne Meara were the cream of the comedy crop during the 1960s. They went on to star in movies and even legendary TV shows like Seinfeld, The King of Queens, and Alf. The couple went on to have kids and their son is an Emmy award winning actor. Their son, Ben Stiller, is one of comedies biggest names and this family is definitely a comedy and Hollywood dynasty.

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9. The Douglases –

The movie industry was booming in the 1950s and dramatic roles in war and Westerns went to Hollywood’s leading men. Kirk Douglas was one of those men. But by the time 1955 rolled around, he was bucking the system and formed his own production company to produce his own projects. He even famously collaborated with the infamous Stanley Kubrick. He defied Hollywood’s blacklist and then gave his son Michael the rights to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, which he produced back in 1975. Besides the 1975 movie becoming a best-picture winner, it continued to spring board Jack Nicholson into superstardom. Michael has had his fair share of accolades by winning everything from an Oscar and a SAG Award to receiving an A.F.I. Lifetime Achievement Award. And also Michael is married to Catherine Zeta-Jones…which is an accomplishment in itself. Michael’s oldest son has been a bit of a disappointment but the two children he shares with Zeta-Jones are set to slide right into their place in their Hollywood Dynasty.

Pharrell Williams & Absolut Ruby Red Pre-VMA Bash

8. The Wayans –

What would be considered to be Hollywood’s largest and most successful comedic dynasties; Keenan, Damon, Kim, Shawn, Marlon, Dwayne, Nadia, Elvira, Diedre, and Vonnie Wayans have found success in TV and film. The members of the Wayans family have starred in, written, directed, and produced more than a dozen TV shows and films. Together they boast a net worth of over $100 million. In the early 90s, brothers Damon and Keenan were shot to stardom in their groundbreaking sketch-comedy TV series In Living Color. In Living Color helped launch the careers of Hollywood elite: Jim Carrey, Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Lopez and many more. In the early 00s, Keenan also created the successful Scary Movie franchise. The children of the Wayans are now entering the business and are slated to be just as dynamic as their parents.

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7. The Baldwin brothers –

The eldest Baldwin brother, Alec, may be the most well known but the Baldwin’s boys (Alec, Daniel, William and Stephen) are all in the business. Alec has felt the most time in the limelight, earning himself an Oscar nomination for The Cooler, plus two Emmys, three Golden Globes, and seven SAG Awards for his pivotal role on NBC’s 30 Rock. Thanks to Oliver Stone, brothers: Daniel, William, and Stephen were cast in his 1989 Born on the Fourth of July. Together they have appeared in over 300 films and TV shows. They have produced a flock of famous daughters and many have famous wives and ex-wives.

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6. The Sheens –

Ramon Gerardo Antonio Estevez was born to an Irish mother and a Spanish father. Despite opposition from his hard working father, he borrowed money from a priest and moved to New York City in hopes of fulfilling his dreams of becoming an actor. He invented a new, more Hollywood friendly name “Martin Sheen” by combining the last name of two big TV stars: CBS casting director, Robert Dale Martin and televangelist archbishop, Fulton J. Sheen. He decided to change his name after receiving hesitation when he would try to call for an appointment with a casting director. He honed his acting skills and started a family. His son Carlos Estevez took on his father’s Americanized last name when he started acting while his other famous son did not. So…you get it now. Martin Sheen is the father of Charlie Sheen and Emilio Estevez (though Martin’s other children are also in the business they are not quite as successful). So the son of immigrants becomes a world famous actor and one of his son’s becomes the highest paid actor in the television series. Not only did he start a dynasty but I would say that that is an amazing success story.

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5. The Smiths –

“Meat is murder.” Wait…no. I am not referring to the English rock band formed in Manchester, England back in the 1982 led by vocalist Morrissey whose song “Asleep” has been listened to by me 452 times according to my iTunes account. I am of course referring to the Fresh Prince of Bel Air, his wife and their progeny. Will Smith became the only actor in history to have eight consecutive movies that grossed over $100 million in the domestic box office, while his wife Jada Pinkett Smith has starred in over 30 films and starred as Fish Mooney in the critically acclaimed crime drama Gotham. They have two children who started out with their parents in some of their movies; but Jaden (their  oldest son) starred in the remake of The Karate Kid and their daughter Willow became the youngest artist to be signed to rap mogul Jay-Z’s record label after her debut single went platinum. They are the definition of the new generation of what it means to be a Hollywood dynasty.

Judy_Garland_in_The_Wizard_of_Oz_trailer_2

4. Garland/Minnelli –

Hollywood is full of power couples. Whether they are still together or sadly broken apart like Brad and Angelina, the power couple sometimes produces an offspring who has that automatic ‘in’. This was definitely the case for infamous actress Judy Garland (yes I’m talking about Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz) and director Vincent Minnelli. That last name ring a bell? Well if your first thought was to Oscar, Grammy, Emmy, and Tony Award-winning singer and actress; then you would be correct. Judy Garland and Vincent Minnelli birthed a star: Liza Minnelli. Despite being married four times, the actress and singer has never had any children. While the dynasty ends with Liza; you can’t deny the Pop Culture power in this family.

Drew_Barrymore_2_by_David_Shankbone_cropped_2

3. The Barrymores –

Drew Barrymore may be known for being the little girl in ET and that girl who starred in most of Adam Sandler’s Rom-Com movies…but her lineage is nothing short of impressive. She could possibly be more than a dynasty…they could almost be Hollywood Royalty. Drew’s great-grandfather Maurice Barrymore (birth name Herbert Blythe) was an Indian born stage actor. His second wife (Georgie Drew Barrymore was an American stage actress and comedian. Their youngest son Lionel was a film director as well as a famous actor of stage, screen and radio. Lionel starred in over 200 films; including and the 1946 classic It’s a Wonderful Life. His brother John also became an actor and in the 1920s was known as the ‘greatest Shakespearian actor of his generation’. He and second wife, poet Blanche Oelrichs had a daughter who became an actress in the 40s and 50s. His third wife, Dolores Costello, was known as the “Goddess of the Silent Screen” and was one of the most successful silent film stars in history. Their son John also became an actor and received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his contribution to television. Despite all of John Jr’s marriages ending in divorce; we come full circle to his daughter Drew.  Screen Actors Guild Award and Golden Globe Award winning actress, producer and director. Though Drew had a strained relationship with her family due to her father’s “problems”; hailing from Hollywood royalty had to help her get more than just her foot in the door.

Debbie_Reynolds_in_I_Love_Melvin_trailer

2. Fisher/Reynolds –

In the 1950s, musician and actor Eddie Fisher married actress Debbie Reynolds. Fisher was burning up the pop charts at the height of his crooning career; Reynolds had just had her big break in the classic Singin’ in the Rain. The marriage ended almost as quickly as it began because Fisher struck up a relationship with Debbie’s best friend: the scandalous Elizabeth Taylor. Well, the broken marriage didn’t keep her down and she went on to become an Academy Award winning actress. She was also a mother. A mother to a beautiful daughter: Carrie. Yes! Carrie Fisher, the iconic Princess Leia from the Star Wars movie franchise, was their daughter. Carrie’s brother Todd is a producer and cinematographer while her half-sisters are actresses as well. Carrie went on to have a daughter of her own who is already poised and pouncing upon her Hollywood career.

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1.The Coppolas –

If you are a movie buff then you probably recognize the last name Coppola. What you probably don’t realize is just how large the outstretched arm of this family’s Pop Culture influence is. The patriarch of the Coppola family is Carmine Coppola, who studied music at Juilliard and the Manhattan School of Music before working with Arturo Toscanini with the NBC Symphony Orchestra in the 1940s. When he left the Orchestra in 1951 to pursue his dream of composing music. He worked as an orchestra conductor on Broadway and then became truly famous for contributing music to his son (Francis Ford Coppola)’s movies: The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, The Godfather Part III, and Apocalypse Now. He went on to compose music for nine other movies while his son has went on to become a pivotal figure in the New Hollywood wave of filmmaking. His ability to convey a beautiful story on screen is celebrated around the world. His movies Patton, The Godfather, The Godfather Part II and Apocalypse Now are featured in the Writers Guild of America’s list of 101 greatest screenplays of all time; while The Godfather, Apocalypse Now and The Godfather Part II are listed in AFI’s greats movies of the last 100 years.

That would be enough to qualify the Coppola’s to be a Hollywood Dynasty but the story does not stop there. Carmine’s daughter is none other than Talia Shire (birth name Talia Rose Coppola). That name still not ringing a bell? Connie Corleone from The Godfather films? Or maybe you would recognize her if I were to scream, “YO Adrian!!!” She played a truly iconic role in one of the greatest movie series of all time: Rocky. For her roles, she was nominated for two Academy Awards. She and her first husband, composer David Shire had one child but her other sons Jason and Robert (birthed while married to film producer Jack Schwartzman) are actors.

The last branch on this much larger and ever growing tree that I will explore is the third child of Carmine Coppola: August Floyd Coppola. August is an American academic (earning his doctorate degree at Occidental College), author, film executive and advocate for the arts. Despite his numerous achievements, we are perhaps more familiar with his son: Nicholas Kim Coppola. You may not recognize that name because he changed his name when he entered the entertainment business to forge his own path and not utilize his family name to break into show business. What did he change it to you ask? He kept the first part but change his last name to Cage. That’s right. Nicholas Cage is actually Francis Ford Coppola and Talia Shire’s nephew. And there is no telling as to what the future holds for the latter generations of the Coppola Hollywood dynasty.



Images:

Featured imageHollywood Sign by and accredited to Sten Rüdrich – Own work, CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=752108
Publicity Photo of Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara with autograph by Unstated – eBay, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20513110
Cropped screenshot of Kirk Douglas from the trailer for the film A Letter to Three Wives, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4205586
Wayans Brothers image attributed to Coachella Valley Weekly, Public Domain, coachellavalleyweekly.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/FP_Wayansbros.jpg
Alec Baldwin speaking at the 2016 San Diego Comic Con International, for “The Boss Baby”, at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego, California. Image by and attributed to Gage Skidmore, from Peoria, AZ, United States of America – Alec Baldwin, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=56229448
Martin Sheen image by and accredited to Brian McGuirk from Providence, RI – Me and President Barlet, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5114657
Cropped screenshot of Judy Garland from the trailor for The Wizard of Oz, Licensing information: https://web.archive.org/web/20080321033709/http://www.sabucat.com/?pg=copyright and http://www.creativeclearance.com/guidelines.html#D2 – The Wizard of Oz trailer, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2438854
Will Smith at Time 100 Gala photo by and attributed to Amanda Cogdon – Rocketboom vodcast, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=869516
Drew Barrymore image by and attributed to David Shankbone, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5938890
Screenshot from Debbie Reynolds in I Love Melvin movie trailer – I Love Melvin trailer, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3484726
Francis Ford Coppola in 2007 image by flickr user squidish; cropped on 02/02/2009 by Before My Ken – flickr, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5852010

 

‘It’s so quiet out here’

Living in eastern North Carolina doesn’t usually allow us to have a lot of snow during the winter; but thankfully a beautiful blanket of snow fell early this month. The snow reluctantly fell after a layer of wintery mix and ice so that made the roads somewhat impassable. This caused my wife to not be able to go to her antique/thrift store but the schools being shut down due to the dangerous road conditions allowed Daniel and myself to be home with her. Since we live on a small creek that leads to the Northeast Cape Fear; Daniel and myself set out on our trek the morning after it stopped snowing.

We walked our way through the inches of snow and relished in the site of the sun rising above the snow carpeted horizon. We meandered our way through the woods; walking on the grass that was smothered by the inches of snow. We walked down the snow kissed creek and appreciating God’s beautiful creations. We saw rabbits huddling in their underbrush dens and the melted spots of ground where deer had bedded themselves the night before. Daniel climbed fallen trees and laughed as he caused snow to cascade from the leaves on me as I stood below.

Daniel and myself finally found our way to a small tributary that leads to the creek. I used to sneak off to this spot when I was a child to draw, write or just to relax. Who am I kidding…most of the time when I was a kid, the dominant thought that shouted its way to the forefront of my thoughts was bouncing around the woods with a sword and pretending to be He-Man or Rambo; (I’m a child of the 80s…don’t hate. ;P)  but most of the time I used that place to just relax. It brought a sense of calm to me to share that moment with my son. Daniel and myself found ourselves enjoying the solitude of the silence. The lack of traffic out on the road that runs about a mile from our house or maybe it was the fact that we weren’t being distracted by uselessness on our smart phones or wasting our time watching TV. We were just enjoying something that we don’t get to experience that often…and times like those are worth their weight in gold.

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Eeny Meenie Miny Moe

Portrait_of_Terence_from_Vaticana,_Vat._latTerence the Roman playwright (born in 195 AD), in his work Phormio, coined a new phrase: “auribus teneo lupum”. The phrase is translated as “holding a wolf by the ears” and is much like the more commonly known phrase ‘holding a tiger by the tail’. The two phrases evoke the image of man or beast managing or coping with something that is normally too difficult to accomplish. Like…holding a wolf by the ears or holding a tiger by the tail. The image presented by this extended metaphor is so ridiculous of an idea that you can not imagine something like that in reality; but the phrase is so common that someone must have done it at one time or another.

The phrase is so common that a very similar wording is used in a child’s nursery rhyme. Remember the cute little counting rhyme that has existed since the 1800s where one kid goes around the room and other kids are ‘counted out’ or ‘chosen’ by a random process of elimination? That’s right I’m referring to “Eeny, meeny, miny, moe”. This children’s rhyme can be spelled in many different ways and has existed in various forms in many different languages. Though the origin is not exactly known and has even been quite controversial due to racist slurs found in the rhyme (I won’t be getting into that). The most common version that most Americans are familiar with is:

Eeny, meeny, miny, moe
Catch a tiger by the toe.
If he hollers, let him go,
Eeny, meeny, miny, moe.

Though there have been many variations throughout the last 200 years such as replacing tiger with similar nouns like ‘piggy’ or ‘tigger’ (I’m hoping that you can see where the racial slur would have been inserted without me having to discuss it); while the action verb hollers has been replaced with variations like ‘wiggles’ or ‘screams’. Along with the many variations, the phrase or references to it has popped up in many places throughout Pop Culture. My favorite author Salman Rushdie named his leading character and his three sisters Ina, Minnie, Mynah, and Moor; while one of my favorite albums by one of my favorite bands Radiohead released their 1997 album OK Computer on vinyl, the band eeny meeny miny moechose to use ‘eeny meeny miny moe’ instead of letters and numbers (Side A, B, C, D or any numerical variation) to designate the sides of the 2 record LP.  There have even also been many instances in cartoons, comic books, video games, books and movies in which the ‘Eeny meeny’ song was sang by a character making a choice. Sometimes the song was sang for comic effect or sometimes added a creepy effect to someone making the decision of whom they should kill. I don’t think that anyone could forget Negan’s now infamous execution scene in the season six finale of The Walking Dead. Or even even how the rhyme was used in movies like Natural Born Killers and Pulp Fiction.

Whether found in a movie, sang by a child on a playground with her friends, or even used as the name of a building that houses mostly high end stores in Japan’s Fukuoka Hakata ward; there is no loophole to escape the influence that the children’s rhyme has had on Pop Culture anymore than we can deny the comparison between a phrase found in this classic children’s rhyme ‘catch a tiger by the toe’ and the similarly worded phrases of ‘holding a tiger by the tail’ and Terence’s ‘holding a wolf by the ears’. It makes you wonder if we as a human race yearn to control these violent animals; but realize the audaciousness of what would be a truly deathly desire.

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Images:

Alleged portrait of Terence, from Codex Vaticanus Latnus 3868 by Unknown – File: Vaticana, Vat. lat. 3868 (2r).jpg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18960421

The Walking Dead Series 7 premiere poster owned and accredited to AMC, Fair Use, http://www.amc.com/shows/the-walking-dead

Pulp Fiction Eenie Meenie gif accredited to Giphy, http:/giphy.com/gifs/chris-christie-w0y3J0QY3ZEU8

Featured Image – Department store Eeny Meeny Miny Mo in Fukuoka City, Japan image By Pontafon – Photo created by Pontafon, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7510118

Best Movies of 2017

I love being entertained. With that being said, I thoroughly enjoy a good movie. As you half sing the champagne laced lines of what portions that you actually know from Auld Lang Syne (you know the New Years Eve song) and lean to kiss your selected sweetie; I was poached on my couch watching movies while everyone was either asleep or playing in video games (you can figure out who was who in that scenario). After a conversation with a friend of mine on Facebook the next day while reading his favorite movies of 2017, I realized just how great this year was in regards to movies. So as I always do, my first thought was to write a blog and do my favorite thing: make my own top ten list. I know that I usually do my top 10 lists on Tuesday but here is a Wednesday Top 10 list. 🙂 So here is my “Best Movies of 2017” list. Not only are they my favorite of 2017; but I’m suggesting that you watch them if you have not.


Honorable Mention. Justice League – The super hero movie is here to stay. They are becoming more and more of a spectacle; and there are no larger names than Batman and Superman. So in the aftermath of the successful Wonder Woman and Batman/Supermanmovies, the most logical thing would be for them to push a Justice League movie. I’m sure that the extremely successful Avengers movies didn’t have a thing to do with the idea. Despite a lot of hate from critics, the Justice League movie allows you to see the powerful group on screen.

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10. Spider-man: Homecoming – Michael Keaton, my Batman, was starring as the villainous Vulture in this stand alone Spider-Man movie. We had seen Tom Holland and his version of Spider-Man a couple of times already and I was impressed. I liked him and I had hopes for this movie. Now don’t get me wrong but Disney, I mean Marvel likes the muddle with characters. I won’t go into detail but sometimes they just need to leave well enough alone.

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9. Ghost in the Shell– My wife would say that I wanted to watch Scarlett Johansson’s Ghost in the Shell because of my affinity and celebrity crush status of well…Scarlett Johansson; and there is only slight truth in that. The truth is, 13 year old me who was completely obsessed with Anime and would wake up early to watch shows like Bleach and over-watched movies like Ghost in the Shell and Akira was going into full geek mode. The fact that the movie version of Ghost in the Shell just happened to star my celebrity crush…was just as they say ‘icing on the cake’.

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8. The Lost City of Z – I admit that I initially wanted to watch this movie because Charlie Hunnam (who was on one of my favorite TV shows Sons of Anarchy). The movie ended up being a spectacular showcase of a true-life drama that centered around the British explorer Colonel Percival Fawcett. Col. Fawcett disappeared in the Amazon during the 1920s looking for the mysterious city of Z. I know I probably gave away the whole entire movie with that spoiler but the trials and tribulations that they go through are worth the watch.

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7. Thor: Ragnarok– I felt…cheated. Like there could have been so much more to the storyline behind Thor’s Ragnarok. The blending of the Planet Hulk and Ragnorok story lines did produce a believable and definitely entertaining movie but…like many Marvel movies, their stirring away from the original comic book story lines hurts the feelings of some of us actual comic book fans. Despite me catching feels, the story was great and Chris Helmsworth would have made a spectacular He-Man. I mean he made a great Thor. 😉

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6. Wonder Woman – I have to admit that in the beginning I was not sold on Gal Gadot being cast as Wonder Woman but after watching her in the self titled Wonder Woman movie…I admit that I was wrong. She was spectacular as the Amazonian Goddess. Watching her discover her powers and unearth her destiny…all while palling around with Captain Kirk, I mean Chris Pine…was great for me.

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5. Star Wars: The Last Jedi – I won’t talk too much about this movie because it might include spoilers to the movie that my wife was not able to see with me and Daniel in the theater. So…I’ll just say that even though Disney upsets me with how they treat some characters in the Marvel brand; they absolutely do amazing things with the Star Wars brand. Not only have they made the CGI and production of these movies amazingly great, the story itself is spectacular. That is. It is worth the watch. Yes you are free to make some more Disney.

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4.  Baby Driver – Baby Driver was one of those movies that my best friend and I decided to watch in his man cave. The movie surpassed all expectations and the overall flow of the movie makes you want to watch it multiple times to catch the nuances that you might have missed the first time or second time. The cast was amazing and the soundtrack….oh I don’t want to ruin it for you if you haven’t seen it but turn up the surround sound, sit back and wait for an amazing movie. By the way, prepare to hate Jamie Foxx while you watch this movie. Trust me, you’ll need to prepare yourself.

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3. John Wick: Chapter 2 – I’ve always been a fan of Keanu Reeves. Whether it was the Matrix trilogy or even Bill and Ted; Keanu was one of my favorite actors. His John Wick movies are what Steven Seagal wishes his movies were. The John Wick character is an ex-hitman who is literally drug out of retirement to seek revenge. And the second chapter in what I hope is a long, long line of movies continues right where the other one stopped. Keanu’s ability to become a character and bring his own personality into a role is definitely visible and I suggest watching this movie. If you don’t like blood and violence…you uh…might want to watch something else though.

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2. Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol 2 – Oh how I love the Guardians of the Galaxy movies and Vol 2 may have just risen above the original on my favorites list. But this specific Guardians of the Galaxy movie gives you exactly what you would want in a movie: great acting (yes even from Batista), comedy, suspense, action, great CGI, love, and a plot twist. The movie fits amazingly well in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and you can even see how it will tie into the current Infinity Wars storyline.

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  1. Logan – Oh the speculation that surrounded Logan when word got out that they were going to do a Logan movie. What comic book story line would they use? Was Clint Eastwood play Old Man Logan? Would it show him finally interacting with the other Marvel characters, like in the Old Man Logan comic series? I was excited to say the least, because ever since the 1990’s X-Men cartoon, Wolverine was my second favorite character of all time of any genre (second to He-Man of course). When I finally watched Logan I brought my dad and Daniel along with me because the Western-esque vibe to Logan would entertain my dad and well…its a comic/action movie, so Daniel would be entertained. Little did I know, that by the end of the movie all three of us would be blubbering and crying like babies who had had just steal our candy. The movie is amazing. The movie that shows the vulnerability of everyone’s favorite X-Men doing his best to take care of Professor X in a Mexican border town before their lives being shaken by the discovery of a new mutant. This mutant is the laboratory created daughter of Wolverine and allows Logan/Wolverine to find something that he had lost long ago: love. It is by far one of my favorite movies of all time, my favorite super hero movie of all time and definitely would earn the top slot in the best movie of 2017.

All movie poster images and likenesses used as Fair Use.

Hotel Windows

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The passenger elevator ascended to the 18th story of the Harrah’s New Orleans Casino & Hotel. The doors opened and we shuffled out of the open doors. We walked to the end of the hallway; hearing the metal doors of the elevator shut behind us. We were all exhausted from the non-stop drive from my mother-in-law’s house in South Carolina; but we were ready to explore the historic city. We were mere footsteps away from the historic French Quarter, within view of the mighty Mississippi River, and in the heart of one of the nation’s oldest cities.

When you stare out of a window onto the world that lies below, you can only speculate at the things that are to come. Over the years we have related old stories to new friends and narrated our lives like autobiographies; but every journey starts with a glance. But there is a certain level of separation that you feel when you observe the world below you through panes of glass. Despite being able to see what lies beyond the glass; those realities look very different when you’re face to face with them. Sometimes you just have to pull back that curtain and take a deep breath before venturing out into the world and  showing up as just another speck from the view of someone else’s 18th story window.