Saturday, October 30, 2010

Halloween: What does it really mean?

Check out this commentary I did a couple of years ago for a Michigan publication about Halloween. Just an informational piece to remind folks of what is really being celebrated on Oct 31st. Be blessed.

Each year, millions of people look forward to this time of year when they can dress up in costumes and celebrate all that is scary. Haunted houses, horror flick mania on TV, trick-or-treating and lavish parties are all indicative of the Halloween season that Americans have come to know and love. But what does it all really mean?

It seems that in today’s fast-paced society, the true ideology of many of the traditional holidays celebrated in America have become lost, thereby allowing their actual meanings to fall by the wayside. But it stands to reason that if people knew the true meaning and origin of some of the things we celebrate, views may be somewhat altered.

Halloween, which is now essentially viewed as a childish holiday, originated over 2000 years ago in Ireland and was known as the festival of Samhein (pronounced “sow-in”). During this festival the Celts celebrated their new year, which was Nov. 1. The Celtic New Year marked the end of the summer and the beginning of the dreaded cold months which were associated with death.

The Celts believed that on the night preceding the new year the boundaries between the world of the living and the dead became “blurred.” So on the night of Oct. 31 they would celebrate Samhein, which is the time they believed that the spirit world returned to the earth to claim the bodies of the living. And many of the rituals they practiced were in effort to protect themselves from these evil spirits.

“Trick or treat,” give me something good to eat

Every year, parents dress their children up as cute and cuddly little ghosts and goblins so they can parade around the neighborhood going door-to-door collecting sugary treats. But the tradition of trick-or-treat tradition stems from a Celtic practice of fear. The Celts would leave fruit, nuts and other fine foods on their doorstep on the eve of the Celtic New Year in effort to appease evil spirits. This was done out of fear that the returned spirits would wreak havoc on their crops and livestock if gifts were not offered.

Wearing of masks and costumes

During this celebration, the Celts believed that in addition to the spirits of loved ones, evil spirits could also cross over into the land of the living. So in order to protect themselves they would wear masks because they believed that by masquerading as part of the spirit world they would be able to confuse the demonic spirits and cause them to bypass their homes. This is where the tradition of dressing up for Halloween comes from.

The jack-o’-lantern

The jack-o’-lantern is the festival light for Halloween and an ancient symbol of a damned soul. Originally, the Celts would carve demonic faces into turnips or beets to frighten off the evil spirits. When the Irish immigrated to America, turnips were not in ready supply so they began to use pumpkins.


During this new year celebration the Druids, Celtic priests, would light large fires on sacred hilltops on the eve of Samhain to offer sacrifice to the spirit world to ward off sickness and bad fortune. Often during these sacrifice rituals, animals, and sometimes children, would be burned in these fires, which were called “bone fires” because of the bones that would remain when the fire was extinguished.

After the fire died, it was considered good luck to carry an ember from the bone fire to relight the home hearth fire. Today centuries later, “bone fire” has been condensed to bonfire and millions gather around them each Halloween to tell scary stories and roast marshmallows.

Black cats

The infamous black cats, which are often depicted in various Halloween scenarios, were thought to be incarnates of evil dead souls.

Bobbing for apples

Bobbing for apples was considered to be a ritual of fertility. For the Celts, the apple was symbolic for the fertility goddess Pomona and when an apple is sliced in half the seeds form a pentagram, which they believed to be a symbol of fertility. So during the festival, young unmarried people would try to bite into an apple floating in water or dangling from a string and the first person to successfully do so would be the next one to marry.

In addition to these, during the month of October horror and slasher films infiltrate television screens night after night, vicariously drumming violent and gory images into the minds of millions of young people. Haunted houses amass millions in revenue by putting carnage, gore and mutilation on display for eager viewers. Children have become desensitized to the violence and mayhem that is readily exhibited during Halloween.

This is insight to just a few of the practices that take place during the Halloween season. In addition to what has been embraced as a good old-fashioned American fun pastime, Halloween is one of the biggest holiday celebrations for those who partake in the occult.

For those of Christian faith, it is a huge compromise of the basic foundation of the Christian belief to partake in a holiday with such an openly occult background. In fact, this country’s Pilgrim forefathers originally banned the celebration of Halloween because they were well aware of its roots in the occult. Halloween was not celebrated in this country until 1845, when Irish immigrants migrated to New York during the Irish Potato Famine.

So in essence, it is imperative that we examine and understand the things that we take part in and expose ourselves to because everything that appears to be innocent and fun is not.

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Big Stage Talent Challenge

If you aspire to be Detroit's next big singer or rapper, here's your chance! The Big Stage Talent Challenge will take place on December 11th at the Paul Roberson Theater located inside the Northwest Activities Center.

Ten contestants will perform before an audience of their peers, and industry judges, at the Northwest Activities Center in Detroit for a chance to win $500 in cash, a professional photo shoot, an artist development package from Star Factory, an internet promotion package (courtesy of Black/Smith Consulting) and a chance to perform on the NEXT Bash school tour.

The Big Stage Talent Challenge is open to Michigan singers and rappers, ages fourteen and up. Auditions will be held at Star Factory, located at 13305 Capital in Oak Park, on November 20 at 4 p.m. Applicants must be Michigan residents and should be prepared to perform a two minute selection with no profanity or explicit lyrics. The registration fee per group is $20.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Movie Review: RED

I went to see Bruce Willis' new movie RED this past weekend and I have two words for it: LOVE IT!

First off I have to say, I am a huge action movie fan and I love Bruce Willis in action movies. With that said, here we go...

RED centers on the life of Frank Moses, a retired CIA agent, who has settled into a life of "normalcy" with his nice cushy pension and a phone crush on his hopelessly romantic case worker Sara, until one day the powers-that-be decide that he's too dangerous to be allowed to live.

So what ensues is a mad dash for Moses to get out of dodge, make a connection with his phone crush to save her life and find out why the government wants him dead, which ultimately leads to him rounding up an old (literally) group of friends/ex-agents for help. And needless to say that as they search for answers, all hell breaks loose.

While the premise of the film was far from being original, I found the storyline to be very entertaining and comical all at the same time. Willis and the mature all-star cast, which consisted of Morgan Freeman, Mary-Louise Parker, John Malkovich and  Helen Mirren, had a great chemistry which made this movie work.  Ever since his Die Hard days,  Bruce Willis, and his signature dry sense of humor, has always been able to carry off his "kick-anus-now-and-ask-questions-later" persona off with the utmost believability.

If you love high tech espionage, laced with plenty of fight sequences and explosions, then you too will be pleased with this flick. And I have to say that it was really cool to see the older action heroes get to kick butt for change.

So overall, I give RED a solid A. For the first time in a good while, I wasn't disappointed that I had to actually pay to go to see a film at the movies.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

There Are No Words...

I have come to realize that there is not enough breath in my body to thank God enough for all the things that He has done for me.

Over the past few months, He has revealed Himself to me in ways that can only be referred to as miracles.  And within these amazing experiences that I have had, I have had to learn how to trust Him through the good and bad.  I have also had to learn that once I give something to Him that I cannot take it back, I have to trust Him to see it through to the end.  Because after all...He is God and He doesn't need my help.

Through my recent experiences I have also learned that possessing the ability to bridle one's tongue is of paramount importance. (Thanks mom!) All too often I find myself getting too comfortable with speaking about things pertaining to other people and their situations that I don't always realize that the words that I am speaking may be adversely affecting them in ways that I could never imagine, thereby blocking my own blessings.

Case and point: My mom and I were having a conversation about Bishop Eddie Long and I began to talk about my thoughts on the situation and why I felt the way I did in a very negative way. My mother immediately stopped me and reminded me that no one knows for sure yet what went on in the situation. We can only speculate. She also reminded me that everyone is innocent until proven guilty, and that it was not for me or anyone else to judge that situation because only God can do that. But by all means the man should get his day in court.

She then pointed out that in the not to far future that I would be going before a judge for my own personal situation and asked me how I would feel if my whole case was played out and judged in the media by people who knew nothing about my circumstances and had no evidence.

There was nothing I could say, because I knew that in my personal situation I was being lied on and unfairly accused of things that I know I didn't do. So right then and there, we prayed together and I asked for forgiveness. But the kicker is that before she explained her point of view, I felt totally justified in my opinion because Bishop Long is a "celebrity" and it's common practice for society to talk about them just because.

Proverbs 18:21 says, "Death and life [are] in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof."

Death and life are in your words! Do you know how powerful that statement is?

And James 3:6 goes on to say, "And the tongue [is] a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.
So when we speak negativity in our lives, that's what manifests. The same thing goes with positivity. When you are going through trials and tribulations, stop and take a moment to think about the things you've been saying about yourself and others.  It really does matter.

For the sons and daughters of God, what is bound and loosed on Earth is bound and loosed in Heaven. And when you think about it in those terms it's a pretty heavy thing, so think about that the next time you are tempted to speak in anger toward or about someone.

I personally know that taming the tongue is a very hard thing to practice, but if you pray for me...I'll pray for you.

Just some food for thought...until next time!

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Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Real Tank

After a long hiatus, sexy R&B crooner Tank is back to making sex music.

Known and loved for his velvety voice and suave lyrical word play, "Mr. Please Don't Go" is back with a new single and a new vibe.

The latest release, Sex Music, from his upcoming album Now or Never, is a more up tempo vibe than what we're used to from Tank, but from the looks of things, it seems to be working out pretty well for him.

Fresh on the heels of a successful movie debut, Tank is now focused on doing what he does best: making bedroom bangers.

I got a chance to sit down with him to find out what he's been up to, what it's like playing the villain, what he likes in a lady and what we can expect from his latest project.

JB: What do you have going on right now?

Tank: I have a new single out right now called Sex Music and it's taking off. It's taking sexy and throwing a little bit of groove on it and making your bedroom move a little bit. You know what I mean? Like, just kind of shaking up the atmosphere a little bit. Not just the slow [jam], which everybody kind of expects from me, but we put some tempo on it and it's working pretty good for us.

JB: When can we expect the album to come out?

Tank: For the album, we're looking at around September, maybe a little later. We want to set it up and make sure we come out and that our first week is good and let everybody know that Tank is really back with new energy and everything.

JB: How much control did you have over this project?

Tank: Me and my company, we made the whole album the way we wanted to make it. We did pretty much most of it, but we went to some good friends of ours; Jim Jones, Rico Love, Danja, Stereo Types, Harvey Nixon, Jr. and we collaborated and got some good material from them. So, it wasn't like it was a selfish project, but it was just a project that we wanted to make and we used it and we put all the pieces together to make it work.

JB: How do you feel about it? What's the excitement level and what should fans expect?

Tank: Well, it's progress from my last album Sex, Love and Pain, which was nominated for two Grammys. And then being nominated with Pleasure P, Keri and Jamie and winning one with Jennifer Hudson, I've learned a lot over those years of producing and writing and in the things that I do for myself and the things I do for other people. Now I kind of get it. I kind of see the magic that works for me and the way that I can progress into a more powerful artist, a more powerful singer/songwriter, producer...the whole nine yards. So, I'm super excited about it because I feel like everything has met together at this point in time for a reason and that's why I titled the album Now or Never, because it's the pressure I put on myself. Number one, based on what we've been able to accomplish and where I feel like we are right now and based on what R&B is. And I feel like I'll join the war in taking a stance to make sure that R&B has a platform and not just place in somebody's small club, but in somebody's arena. That's what R&B deserves; that's where it was and that's where it should always be. So that's the fight. That's the gear I'm taking; now or never.

JB: So you don't feel pressure to keep up with the "Joneses"? You still feel like you're able to do what you do and stay true to yourself?

Tank: There's no pressure for me because the great part about what I do is that I help the Joneses keep up with the Joneses. I do the writing and producing for your Chris Brown's and for all these other people who are still very relevant, so it keeps me relevant and it keeps me current to do my own project. It just falls in line.

JB: You mentioned Chris Brown, how do you feel about the rap he's getting with not being able to get his just due as being an artist because of the past stuff that he's been through?

Tank: Well, you know it's some of everything, especially the things that end up being great. I think that he's just going through some things as a result of some things that he's been through and time heals all wounds. So in time he'll serve his debt to society and prayerfully the people will feel served and they'll get back to seeing him for what he is: a very talented young man and just appreciating him in that light.

JB: Ok, so let's talk about your acting career. You were recently in a movie, what was that like for you?

Tank: Yeah, I had the movie The Preacher's Kid with me and LeToya Luckett and a host of others, which was very awesome for me. We were like the only artists on set as far as singers and we were the lead so it was tough for me.

JB: You were playing a bad guy, right?

Tank: Yeah! We were around all of these good actors so we had to pull it together. So we had some great help on set to help us do all of that and it was a stretch for me because I'm like the villain. I'm used to being the guy that's consoling the ladies and helping them through everything, and now I'm actually putting them through it. So, it was neat because I never really et to express those feeling so that gave me a chance to say things I wouldn't normally say and probably thinking. Like stuff I'd mumble under my breath, I actually got to say out loud and it was real fun doing that.

JB: What was it like watching yourself play a role like that?

Tank: It was weird. It was just weird watching myself on film period because I'm my worst critic. So everything I'm watching like, "I could have did this. Oh, I wish I would have did that." So it was tough, but I think for the time I did everything I could to prayerfully be great in that movie. So hopefully everybody will check it out and like it.

JB: What's going on with the movie now?

Tank: It's on DVD. You can get it on iTunes, Blockbuster and all that stuff. Go check it out, it's a really good movie, really good message, the whole nine, so people should go check that out.

JB: Do you plan to do more movies?

Tank: Yeah, I'm doing more movies. I want to do some action movies and stuff like that, so we're working on all of that. My management team is helping me progress in that area to make sure that when we pop there, I want to be the best in that too. So, I've got a lot of work to do; there're a lot of people ahead of me in that game.

JB: What is the craziest thing that's ever happened to you on tour?

Tank: (laughing) I can' t say the craziest thing, but I've had fans almost tip over a limo.

JB: Wow.

Tank: I mean like literally rocking it to a point where it's off the ground. At first it's funny because you're like, "My fans love me!" Then it goes to, "Ahhh, we're gonna die!" (laughing) That was my craziest thing.

JB: For the ladies, what does Tank look for in a lady and are you single, looking or what?

Tank: I'm single. I don't know if time allows me to look, but what I do like in a woman...I guess the first thing is physical attraction; for me anyway. And I like a smile. I like a woman that takes care of herself, and you can tell that when you look at a woman from her hair to her fingernails, to her feet. You know, you can tell a lot from those things.

And then in getting to know a person, of course spirituality, a sense of God being present somewhere in her life, and a sense of humor. I like to laugh and have fun. I'm a big kid. So...yeah. An you can cook a little bit at least! Some bacon and eggs or something! (laughing) Get the stomach together!

JB: For all the women who think they know you based on what they see of you on TV, what is the biggest no-no for you?

Tank: I can't say that they would get this from me from watching me, but I guess the biggest no-no just to answer the question is: I don't like easy. I've always been attracted to the woman that really isn't rushing to get into VIP. Then it's like who is that? She's secure in her own things. You know what I mean? And she doesn't need me to validate that and that's the thing that's attractive to me.

JB: Wasn't there a point where you were doing a collabo with Tyrese and Ginuwine?

Tank: Yes.

JB: What happened with that?

Tank: We tried it and we had a little bit of success with it and at the end of the day when it came to actual business time it just didn't work out.

JB: Any collabos on the album you want to mention?

Tank: We're still keeping it a secret because we're still putting the finishing touches on the album. We've got some people that are coming to the table, thank God, and they are making this project colossal. I'm going to keep a lid on that for now. Nothing's ever done until it's until it's mixed I'm not saying anything.

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