Tisha B’Av

Tonight marks the beginning of what is considered the saddest day on the Jewish Calendar, the ninth of the hebrew month of Av, or Tisha B’Av.  The central idea is the rememberance of the destructions of both the First and Second Holy Temples in Jerusalem.  It symbolizes our greatest national calamity as a people.  This has always been a weird day for me, for one, how do we mourn for an event that happened nearly 2000 years ago?  Perhaps that is why we attach more recent events to this day, including expulsions, pogroms, the Holocaust, even (for some) the disengagement from Gush Katif in Gaza.

We had a whole discussion over this topic this past Shabbat at my shul in comparing them to the way we would mourn for a loved one.  For Tisha B’Av we ramp up the mourning and sadness, it doesn’t diminish, leading up to that solemn day.  

For me, and this is no new idea, Tisha B’Av is a time to remember how much we’ve lost, and how much farther we must yet go.  

Let me put it in stark terms.  I have heard…many times…about how we, the jews, won over Hitler, Nazis, and the Holocaust and to that I would say, no, we didn’t win.  Europe, especially eastern Europe, was once a great center of Torah learning.  The greatest yeshivas and houses of learning existed in places like Poland and Lithuania, jewish communities which dated back for centuries existed there.  How much of that remains now?  Now you have Jewish Quarters in Europe that are essentially museums and tourist attractions guarded by blonde haired, blue eyed goyim.  How many of them still have thriving jewish communities?  That’s not to say there aren’t communities alive and well in Europe, but compare the numbers to pre-1932 and see the drastic drifference.  Hitler had this idea of building a “Museum to the Extinct Race” where the oddities of jewish culture and faith would be on display for tourists to galk at…in some respects that is exactly what you have now.  To this day I don’t know that we have fully recovered from that event, both from a population stand point or a religious or psychological one.  There are jews, to this day, who will never buy Volkswagens because of their connection to those events.  

But then there’s Israel, many would say, as evidence of how we were victorious in the end.  Yes, I would agree that the birth of a Jewish State in Eretz Yisrael, the Land of Israel, is hugely significant, especially considering it comes 3 year after the war.  Yet…we are a year away from Israel’s 70th year of independence and how much more work is there left to be done?  Forget, for a moment, our conflict with the Arab world.  Internally there is disharmony.  What does it mean to be a Jewish and Democratic state?  What role does Torah and Judaism play in that nation?  Who defines who is a “Jew”?  To what extent do we function under western democratic rules of law?  Can a democratic state function at all when religious authority is intertwined with government?  How long does Israel look to aid from the US as American Jewery is vanishing as they face a threat to Jewish Identity that has been a rare problem in our history, acceptance and assimilation?

Which brings me back to the Temple Mount.  There is no greater visual reminder that we lack full sovereignty than the absence of the Temple.  Now, I’m not advocating we go up there with C-4 and take out the Dome of the Rock or the Al Aqsa Mosque (even though that almost happened in the Six Day War), but that Jews can’t even pray on the most holiest site in our faith…how can you not feel that we, yet, have work to do?  (And don’t give me this nonsense about the holiness of Har HaBayit and ritual cleanliness whatevers.  We have historical record that jews were up there praying, that we gave that authority to the Waqf was all politics, not Torah)

At the end of the day…the solution is the opposite of why we lost the Temples in the first place.  It’s common knowledge that the destruction of the Second Temple was due to hatred between jews, but (and I believe it was Rav Kook who said that but don’t quote me on this) the groundwork for the First Temple’s destruction came from divisions within Am Yisrael.  Namely that after Solomon the kingdom split into two and true unity was lost, which would lead to the downfall of each.

So what is needed is unity which can only come through understanding, acceptance, tolerance.  Which is easier said than done, of course, but we all serve a purpose in adding to the Creation, each Tribe had its own blessing.  We are all brothers and sisters and it is on all of us to do our part to repair the world, or Tikkun Olam…but that starts with repairing ourselves, Tikkun Alai.

Let us mourn, let us remember, and then let us move forward into days of joy in the month of Elul and the High Holidays…let us, again, do the hard work of repairing ourselves…that we may see the day Tisha B’Av will be a day of joy for all of Am Yisrael.

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If I had a TARDIS…or…how I would have made the DC cinematic universe better!

So the great nerd Hajj took place this past weekend in San Diego and there were panels, cosplayers, booths, and…of course…trailers.  For more than a decade the annual San Diego Comic Con has been big money and drawn ever bigger stars.  And, once again, all eyes were fixed on Hall H and the panels for the big dogs, Marvel and DC.  Trailers were shown, some made their way to the interwebs from the studios…others from dudes with cellphones.  This is how many of us have gotten to see the trailer for Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War.  Nearly 10 years and 22 movies have led up to this moment, bringing together characters we have grown with, seen their triumphs and their failures.  For someone who grew up reading the comics and watching cartoons about these characters it still amazes me that anyone is taking this material that seriously.

Which is why DC/Warner Bros. has been such a let down to me.  Anyone who grew up during the mid to late 90s remembers Batman The Animated series.  I recently went back and watched some of it (it’s on Amazon if you have Prime) and it STILL holds up.  Batman meets film noir, it dealt with many mature themes I feel like were lost on those of us too young to comprehend, all we knew was that it was dark and awesome!  This was followed by a Superman show and then 2 incarnations of the Justice League.  There are so many rich stories to be told with these iconic characters.  Yet DC/WB have dropped the ball SO hard it’s painful.

Aside from Wonder Woman, the recent and BEST film of the DC cinematic universe, they’ve been OK at best.  So, if I had a TARDIS and some psychic paper to impersonate a Warner Bros. exec this is how I would change the DCEU for the better!

#1 Tweak some things about MOS

Look, I actually enjoy Man of Steel, but it has some flaws that need to be addressed, the biggest being that Superman has NO CHARACTER ARC.  He’s still the same brooding hottie douchebag  throughout the whole film, unable to decide which of his Robin Hood dads to listen to.  Now I might be able to excuse this to some degree if we put the issue to bed in the sequel, which by the way…

#2 GIVE SUPERMAN HIS OWN SEQUEL!

THIS.IS.NOT.A.SUPERMAN.SEQUEL.  This is a new Batman movie with a cameo by Superman.  With the first film being called “Man of Steel”, continue in that vein and call the sequel “Man from Tomorrow” one of Superman’s other nicknames.  Introduce Lex Luthor.  For the record I was fine with Jessie Eisenberg’s portrayal of the character because it put me in mind of Lex’s origins as a mad scientist.  And yes I realize I’m in the minority on this. So basically, dealing with fallout from the battle of Metropolis, Lex discovers an AI and thinks he can use it against Superman only, surprise, it’s Brainiac.  Maybe we rehash a bit of the Zod story or we go with Braniac absorbing all the knowledge on earth before trying to destroy it.  In any case, this should be the point at which Superman embraces Jor-El’s dream of him being a beacon of hope to humanity. Also I would do a post credit scene for both Batman and Wonder Woman.

#3 Do a fight movie but pick a hero to focus on.

I for one would have rather seen a Dark Knight Returns and then have a confrontation between the two in that film, in a way that ACTUALLY reflects their differing world views.  Also…

#4 No Kryptonite 

At least not out the gate.  To me it’s lazy.  I mean, I get that it’s iconic but can we hold off on it?  And if you’re wondering how would someone like Batman or Lex level the playing field without it just look at MOS.  Zod’s ship had kryptonian atmosphere on board which weakend Superman, this could be used in the same way Batman used red solar lamps in the else-world story “Red Son”.  Just saying.

#5 Wonder Woman & World’s Finest

Considering the success of the Wonder Woman film I doubt I would touch that, I think the idea of a period piece is great.  But now we get Batman and Superman together dealing with a common foe, say Lex and Joker or Riddler, and now we lay the ground for Darkseid in here.  

#6 If you are not going to give each character their own stand alone, write them so we will care about them by the end of the film.  Since Justice League isn’t out yet I can’t say for certain how botched this movie is going to be, but if their previous team up works are any indication, it won’t be good.  Look, you don’t HAVE to follow the Marvel formula, but you do need good characters with compelling stories and arcs.  Marvel did this beautifully with Gaurdians of the Galaxy so don’t tell me it can’t be done.

#7 Make the threat make sense.

I’m looking at you Suicide Squad.  Honestly I was pumped for this film, and there are parts I still like about it.  I loved Joker and Harley Quinn and, frankly, I like Diablo more than I thought I would.  But why are THEY being tasked with fighting Enchantress?  That’s a fight for Justice League Dark, not Suicide Squad.  The protagonist needs to make sense otherwise I don’t find the reasonings believable.

I have other ideas but these are just a few to start with.  Frankly I would just walk down the hall to DC animation and pick their brains over this stuff.  They’ve had pretty good success both in movies and shows with these characters that it would worth the meeting.

You’d think I would be more rested 

So I just got done with a week out of town doing some training for my new job and you would think that a week without my kids, just being on my own, it would be like a small vacation.  But honestly it really wasn’t.  I didn’t sleep well the whole week and I didn’t do a ton of going out like I thought I would.  After putting in time at my training store I just ended up back in my room, exhausted.  I did hit up the hotel bar a few times, so that was nice, but I didn’t know what to do with all this free time.

The one high point was Rachel coming out my last night, a mini-vaca/anniversary night.  Hit up the hotel bar for happy hour then down to the Virginia Beach Boardwalk where we went to a bar/restaurant that had a prohibition era theme to it with cocktails from that time period which were fantastic.  Then a walk down the boardwalk brought us to some stargazers who were set up to teach a little astronomy to passersby.  The guy was like, “You guys want to see Jupiter?”  Um, yes please!  What can I say, I know how to show a girl a good time.

Monday I start live at the new job.  It’s a major challenge for me, they’ve got some serious opportunities in that building and specifically with my team.  I won’t get in to too much more, but having had a brief opportunity to see what is going on there…yeah…it’s going to be…fun.

Where is the next “Dazed and Confused”?

dazed-and-confused

“Dazed and Confused” Starring…literally everyone

I was going to add this to my list of films to make you more awesome, and I still think it is one of those films and if you came of age in the late 90’s, early 00’s and you HAVEN’T seen this film I feel very very sorry for you.  This movie is iconic.

I have always compared it to “American Graffiti” because the two movies have so much going on in common.  They are each movies starring then young, up-and-coming actors and actresses.  “American Graffiti” had Ron Howard, Mackinzie Phillips, Richard Dreyfus, Susan Sommers, and HARRISON “I SHOT FIRST” FORD.  “Dazed and Confused”?  Ben Affleck, Mila Jovovich, Adam Goldberg, Anthony Rapp, Renee Zellwegar, Parker Posey, MATTHEW “ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT” MCCONAUGHEY!  They are both set in the era of the previous generation, Graffiti released in 1973 was set in 1962…Dazed, released in 1994 was set in 1976.  They both tell the story of a bunch of high school seniors and the story takes place over the course of one single day.  And the soundtracks.  I can go on and on about these soundtracks.  The best hits of those eras:

American Graffiti –

  • Rock Around the Clock
  • 16 Candles
  • Why Do Fools Fall In Love
  • Surfin’ Safari
  • Barbara Ann
  • Johnny B. Goode
  • Love Potion No. 9

Dazed and Confused –

  • Sweet Emotion
  • School’s Out
  • Why Can’t We Be Friends
  • Do You Feel Like I Do
  • Low Rider
  • Hurricane

These are just a few samples, the actual list of each sound track is so much longer.  That opening seen in Dazed as the car rolls into the school parking lot and Aerosmith’s “Sweet Emotion” kicks in…phenomenal!

This movie is great from beginning to end.  Period.  It is always in my top 5 list of all time favorite movies.  There is just so much going on and it all takes place over the course of a single day.  And you are left wondering what the next day is going to bring for each of the characters.  What weed induced revelation, what unnecessarily tangled romance, what coming of age story will occur next for these kids.  And the lines!  The writing is superb and there are so many quotable lines from this film it’s ridiculous.

Which makes me kind of sad that there hasn’t been another movie, that I know of, that would be THIS generation’s Dazed or Graffiti.  What I mean by that is, a coming of age story, set in the past, that follows a group of kids over the course of a single day.  If there is one that fits this bill please put it in the comments and let me know so I can check it out.  And I don’t mean a movie set in current times.  It has to be set 10-20 years in the past to fit my arbitrary criteria.  Either mid 90s or mid 80s.  The movie “Dope” seems to be the closest I can think of off the top of my head, and I haven’t seen it yet so I can’t really make the comparison, so when I do my opinion on this may change.

In any case.  If you have NEVER seen Dazed and Confused…stop what you are doing right now.  Stop it!  NOW!!

Stop-it

Go and watch this movie.  RIGHT.  NOW.  And if you have seen this film…go watch it again!  Do you own it?  No?

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Thankfully streaming is a thing, so go and find it and watch it!

Also if you ever wanted to know what I was like in college, this pretty much says it all….

4-Dazed-and-Confused-quotes

You’ll get it when you see the movie…

More movies to make your life a little more awesome

Are ya’ll ready for some more?  No?

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Here’s some movies you need to watch that will make you a little more awesome…

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“The Rundown” with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson

This movie came on the heels of his ill-fated “Scorpion King” stand alone based on his character from “The Mummy 2”.  That film was a poor example of how you use The Rock.  THIS FILM however was a great use of him, his acting abilities, his comedic timing and his physical abilities…all brewed together to make a fun, hilarious and action packed movie.  That he has the likes of Seann William Scott, Christopher Walkins and Rosario Dawson to play off of doesn’t heart either.  Walkins is amazing in only the way he can be and the banter between him, The Rock and Seann William Scott is gold!

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“The Big Hit” with Mark Wahlberg and Lou Diamond Phillips

Ever see a movie SOOOOOOO bad it’s good?  This is that movie for me.  Mark Wahlberg and Lou Diamond Phillips play hit men who go a bit rouge and try kidnapping for a change.  Only thing is they kidnap a girl who’s billionaire dad just lost everything and can’t pay the ransom.  Oh, and that girl is the goddaughter of Wahlberg and Phillips’ employer.  Hi-jinks ensue.  There is just too much ridiculous with this movie that it can’t help but be AMAZING!  Wahlberg’s character is a super nice guy who has an ulcer from his anxiety.  And their boss is played by Avery Brooks, who plays Capt. Sisco on Star Trek: Deep Space 9, and he is GLORIOUS in this film.  Again, it’s not a good movie…by any stretch…but it’s so bad it becomes a hilarious watch.

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“It’s All Gone Pete Tong” starring Paul Kaye

This movie is phenomenal.  About legendary DJ Frankie Wilde, a the top of his game living the rock star lifestyle when a disease costs him his hearing.  Now deaf it’s about his fall, his seeming disappearance from the world and his eventual return to the DJ booth.  It’s a wild, funny, and heart warming story and the way he regains his place at the top of the DJ seen is absolutely amazing.

 

I’m going to stop here because there is one movie I want to add to this list but I feel like my love of it requires it’s own blog post.

Go find these films and give them a watch.  DO IT NOW!!!

Don’t blink…(not meant to be a Doctor Who reference)

It’s been a while since I’ve posted about my health journey, mostly because I haven’t been too happy with myself.  I’m still struggling with old eating habits, trying to keep my diet to a…mostly…compliant one.  But i’m at about 185, which is where I wanted to be, but now that I know I can be less I sort of want to be.  I’m curious what I would look like if I actually lost all of my pudge…but then I like pizza and beer too much.

I’ve considered doing a 3rd round, although my wife insists that I don’t really need it, just that I should be careful about what I eat, how much I eat, and when I eat.  Still, it’s cool to hear people trying out Whole 30 even now.  People are like, “you started a revolution”.  No I didn’t, it’s been around and plenty of other people have done it before me.  I would just encourage everyone to just be honest with yourself about why you are doing it and stay focused on the goal of understanding your body and your relationship with food better.

So my daughter has finally requested to have her own room and since we plan on being in the house for the foreseeable future we have to do some rearranging in the coming months.  It’s a 2 bedroom cape cod but the upstairs is totally finished so we think the best solution is for me and my wife to move upstairs and move the 2 boys into our room, giving our daughter the room they all share now all to herself.  It will probably happen in the fall right around school starting.  We need to get a few things to make this happen but we knew this day was coming sooner rather than later.  She’s growing up, going through changes emotionally (and probably already hormonal) and we are doing our best to help her as she goes from being a little girl into a young woman.

Where does the time go?  It’s super cliche for a reason I suppose but it wasn’t all that long ago she was just a big pile of chunk…and now…she’s all legs and knees…and soon, L-rd help me, other…things.  Boys already adore her.

*groan*

I need to invest in a gun.  (also for other reasons, not just boys)

Oh, also, I got a new job!  My last day at my current one is this Friday and then Monday morning I start at my new one.  It was time to move on.  I’d been with this company nearly 7 years, done plenty, but clearly there was no where else for me to go.  As I told many on my personal Facebook page, it will be the people I miss the most but now is the time.  I’m being offered more money with better hours and I will practically work in my back yard.  Seriously, I can walk out my front door and walk 5 minutes and be at my new job. They are sending me out of town for a week to train, down by Virginia Beach, so that will be a bit of a mini-vacation for me.  I’m looking forward to the challenge.  Apparently it’s a store with a bad culture and some broken processes, which no one in house has been able to overcome.  I have had the opportunity to work with my current company in two stores that were similar and joined with a group of leaders who wanted to change things, and we did, so I know what it takes to turn something like this around.  The big question won’t be my team, I can get rid of dead weight no problem, the real question is the leadership there.  Are they ready to make a difference?  Are they ready to be the best?  To set the world on fire?  If they are awesome, lets make history.  If not…well you can bring a horse to water…and I’ll do my part…but I may find myself doing more up-ward challenging than anything else.

But it will be the challenge I’ve been needing, honestly, and I’m excited for the change.

Happy 4th of July, aka the reason my last name isn’t spelled with a “G”

The 4th July in the US.  BBQs all around.  American Independence Day always reminds me of family history.  Now, I haven’t had much to do with my father’s side of my family for reasons too extensive for me to get in to now, and maybe because of that I did some digging into his family past, and uncovered a family history I had not expected would reach to the birth of the United States.  I was always told that our family had come more recently, say in the last 100-150 years and we changed our names to a more Anglecized version during World War 1.  But as I dug back the name remained the same, COON.  Never a K or U anywhere to be found, as I had been told.  I would go all the way back to the 1730’s before a variation would be seen.

This is an image depicting the “Thistle”, a ship which traveled from Europe to America, specifically Pennsylvania, bringing German families to the New World.  One of those families would be from the Rhineland in an area close to the modern border of Germany and France.  

(Why are the lions carrying golf clubs?)

Phillip Göhn with his two sons from his first and never identified wife, Johann and Hans Adam with their wives, as well as his new wife, Maria.  They would sail for America in 1738, arriving in Philadelphia (explains my love of the Eagles #flyeaglesfly) and ultimately settle in Chanceford Township in York County, Pennsylvania.

There, both brothers would have a number of children but I get the sense that, as the colonies moved closer to war with the crown, Johann and Hans Adam’s families found themselves on opposite ends of the fight.  

Johann’s children, so the family legend goes, were so incensed by the Prussians coming to fight, brutally in some cases, for the British against the colonies, they would anglecize their surnames to COON.  In fact Johann’s 5 eldest sons, Andrew, John, Adam, Jacob, and Michael would all join the Pennsylvania militia in 1778, 8th company, 6th Battalion, under Col. William Ross.  Jacob, by the way, is the son of Johann my family is descended from, he was 33 when he signed up with his brother.  The ledger has his last name as COON.  He and his brother John would be assigned later as guards at a prison camp for german soldiers who had come to work for the British.

But, to my knowledge,  there is no record of the sons of Hans Adam Göhn serving in the war, nor did ANY of his children or grandchildren change the spelling of their surnames.  In fact, two of Hans Adam’s grandchildren, who were born in the closing years of the American Revolution, would leave the US for Canada and one of them would serve in the British military during the War of 1812.  To this day there are still members of that branch of my family living in Canada  maintaining the surname as it was.  

So one has to wonder, what is the story here?  Clearly the children of Johann were sympathetic to the colonial cause but what of Hans Adam.  If all 5 of Johann’s sons signed up to fight the British together, where were their three male cousins of comparable age?  Did they not want to get involved or was that family not as passionate about the cause of independence?  If the family legend is true about the name change, why wouldn’t Hans Adam change his?  Or why not his children?  Were they Loyalists?  Is that why his grandchildren would leave this new country all together?  We think we have heated debates now over politics, imagine what that family gathering was like if you read between the lines.

I may never know for sure what happened back then, unless of course a family journal is uncovered to shed light on the situation.  All I can do is look at the historical record that remains and fill in the human story in between the cracks.  Philip Göhn brought his family to the New World to, presumably, build a new and better life.  He died 5 years after arriving.  He would never live to see that his decision may very well have sown the seeds for a divided house.

Someone should make a movie about this…

P.S.  I have to admit not all of this information came from my own research.  I started with the genealogy but in my research I came across a man who had done a mountain’s worth before me, Thomas Oatney.  I had the opportunity to contact him some time ago and he sent me his genealogical work on the line of Philip Göhn which spans some 800 pages.  His work on the Gohn/Coon/Goan family can be found here:

http://www.oatney.org/Family_Coon.htm