Chanukah, Night Two: "Stop! Hammer Time!" [Updated]

The best-known character in the story of Chanukah is Judah Maccabee,

the leader of the revolt against the Greeks and Syrians who had

outlawed the Jewish religion and defiled the temple. Maccabee was give

the nickname “The Hammer” for his Buffy the Vampire Slayer-like ability

to kick serious ass despite being heavily outnumbered. This leads me to

today’s theme, which is “Tough Guys named Hammer”.

Pictured to the left is baseball hall of famer “Hammerin'” Hank Aaron, the home run

king. In his career, he scored a whopping 755 home runs and as of this

writing holds the records for total bases, extra-base hits and RBIs.


Kirk Burrell was a kid who acted as an assistant to the owner of the

Oakland A’s. Burrell bore a resemblance to Hank Aaron, which led the

players to give him the nickname “Little Hammer”. Burrell loved

baseball and would’ve loved to have been a major league ballplayer, but

he ended up being famous — at least for a little while — as the

rapper MC Hammer. Although one might doubt his toughness, let me remind

you that it takes a tough, tough man to wear those stupid pants on

national television and not die of shame.

Another musical Hammer is Jan Hammer,

best known for making the soundtrack and theme to that quintessential

1980s show, Miami Vice. Unlike most TV shows, where the music writers

write “stock” theme music that gets used over and over again in the

show’s soundtrack, Hammer wrote a brand new score for every episode. That, along with his willingness to play keytar in public

(which by the way, I do too) makes him a badass in my book.

Those lame-o’s on any version of Law and Order and the science nerds

from any flavour of CSI have nothing on the greatest TV detective of

all time: Sledge Hammer! In this comedy that ran for a couple of years

in the late 1980s, Sledge was a cop didn’t care about those wussy

little details of police work like investigating, gathering evidence or

even yelling “Freeze!”. He cared about what really mattered: filling

perps with as many high-velocity slugs as his aim and magazine would

allow. He often talked to his gun and had an unintentionally ironic

catch phrase: “Trust me, I know what I’m doing.” This catch phrase

would later be sampled as used in the Jesus Jones song Trust Me, the opening track on their bestselling album, Doubt (you know, the one with Right Here, Right Now).

Speaking of law enforcement comedies, here’s one that’s perfect for

Chanukah: The Hebrew Hammer, a Jewish remix of “blaxploitation” movies

like Shaft and Superfly. Here’s the synopsis:

Mordechai Jefferson Carver, aka ‘The Hebrew Hammer’, is an Orthodox

stud, who goes on a mission to save Hanukkah. When Santa Claus’ evil

son Damien is pushed over the edge by his father’s liberal policies, he

does away with the Christian patriarch. Subsequently stepping into his

father’s role, Damien launches a campaign to eradicate the Jewish

Holiday. The Hammer joins forces with Esther, the gorgeous and

dangerous daughter of the world’s top Jewish leader, and his friend

Mohammed, head of the Kwanzaa Liberation Front, to topple the evil

Santa and save Hanukkah for future generations.


you’re looking for an entertaining Chanukah rental, steer clear of 

Eight Crazy Nights (it’s not one of Adam Sandler’s better ones, and I

have it on very good authority that it makes kids cry) and rent or buy The Hebrew Hammer on DVD.

For the second night of Chanukah, here are some hammer-themed gifts. First: U Can’t

Touch This by MC Hammer [4.0MB, MP3]. Feel free to put on some silly pants and do

Hammer’s trademark side-to-side shuffle as you light that menorah.

For those of you who are purists, here’s the song that U Can’t Touch This samples: Super Freak by Rick James [3.1MB, MP3].

And finally, here’s a link to the Theme from “The Hebrew Hammer” [2.4MB, MP3].

Update: I watched a fair bit of professional wrestling back when I was in high school, back when characters like Randy “Macho Man” Savage, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper and Andre the Giant ruled the ring. That’s why I felt some shame when MacDara Conroy pointed out in the comments that I neglected to mention a certain John Anthony Wisniski Jr., better known to wrestling fans everywhere as Greg “The Hammer” Valentine,

whose signature moves included the figure 4 leglock, a number of

awesome suplexes, “The Bionic Elbow” and his namesake, an elbow drop

called “The Hammer”.

Update: D’oh! Eldon emailed me, telling me that I’d missed the toughest of the fictional detectives called “Hammer”, and it was his real name, not a nickname — Mike Hammer, the creation of Mickey Spillane. Most of us remember the Stacy Keach version of the hardest of the hard-boiled private detectives (pictured here).


Chanukah, Night One: Is it the Jewish Christmas?

This is the first time that Wendy and I are

celebrating Christmas and Chanukah as a married couple. Since she’s

Jewish and I’ll celebrate any holiday as long as there’s food and

booze, I’ve extended the goodie giveaway started with the Accordion Guy

Advent Calendar to include the eight nights that make up Chanukah.

The “Jewish Christmas” description is a poor description of

Chanukah; whereas Christmas is considered to be one of the major

holidays of the Christian faith, Chanukah is a minor one in Judaism.

Calling Chanukah the Jewish analogue for Christmas is an exercise in

making poor analogies. It would be like calling a Playstation Portable

“the nerd’s prom date” (it’s overhyped, you want it in your pants, in

the end, it’s not as good as you expected it would be).

The traditional Jewish calendar, like the Chinese one, is based on

lunar, rather than solar cycles. This means that like Chinese New year,

the Gregorian Calendar (the calendar we use every day) date of Chanukah

changes every year. This year, for the first time in fifty-ish years,

Chanukah and Christmas fall on the same day.


the origins of Christmas are reasonably well known (at least here in

“The West”), many people don’t know what Chanukah is all about. Here’s

a little hint for my fellow Gentiles: most Jewish holidays have a theme

along the lines of “They tried to kill us; they failed; let’s eat!” For

a more specific explanation, I can point you to Judaism 101’s page on

the subject, but I thought it would be more fun to show you Steve

Greenberg’s comic, Is it the Jewish Christmas? [JPG file, 170K]


Merry Christmas!

Have a great one, everybody!

Here’s a quick preview of photos to come: it’s our Christmas tree

during the first round of decorating. Note the dreidel ornaments —

they’re a gift from Eldon Brown. He bought some multicoloured plastic

dreidels, drilled holes in their spindles and attached Christmas

ornament hooks to them. Thanks, Eldon!


Accordion Guy Advent Calendar, Day Twenty-Two: Christmas Carols, Hawaiian-Style

While Christmas card imagery features often snow, most people here in Canada would consider the forecasted  temperature for Bethlehem rather springlike (10 degrees C / 50 degrees F) and call the forecast for my hometown of Manila almost summery (26 degrees C / 78 degrees F). The Christmas day temperature in Honolulu is expected to be roughly the same, which means that David Hasselhoff, pictured above, could go boogie-boarding to work up an appetite for Christmas dinner if he wanted to. Click the photo [204KB animated GIF] to see a rather mesmerizing animation of Mr. Hasselhoff zipping through the surf.

While you’re zenning out to Mr. Hasselhoff’s antics in the water, may I suggest this as the soundtrack: Bing Crosby singing Meli Kalikimaka [4.1MB, MP3], which means “Merry Christmas” in Hawaiian. Aloha!


Accordion Guy Advent Calendar, Day Twenty-One: Dar Williams’ "The Christians and the Pagans"

Photo: Figurine of Santa playing the accordion. 

Cut my metaphorical heart open, and you’ll find many things: Wendy,

chocolate, computers, bacchanalia, bare-bum spankings on the fire

esca…okay, scratch that one. But among those things near and dear to

me are the wayward children of the wayward African child known as the

blues scale: jazz, pop and rock. It’s quite fitting that one of the

numbers that I played with the band at my wedding was Old Time Rock and Roll.

Unfortunately, there hasn’t been a good Christmas rock song in a long

time. Most Christmas rock is terrible, the worst being Paul McCartney’s

Wonderful Christmastime,

a number he practically “phoned in” — most of the musicianship in the

song is courtesy of the synth and an overused digital delay effect (the

echo). It’s further proof that Lennon and McCartney are rather like two

chemicals that potent when mixed together, but rather harmless on their

own. If Purgatory exists, there’s a special room for Sir Paul where The

Unicorns (whom I wrote about in this entry), high on crystal meth, play the song non-stop for seven


Good Christmas rock songs do exist — I’m rather fond of SR-71’s cover of Billy Squier’s Christmas is a Time to Say I Love You (it’s on this album), and despite my general avoidance of granola-folk, I enjoy Dar Williams’ The Christians and the Pagans, and it’s one of Wendy’s favourites (when a Jewish girl likes a Christmas song, it’s got to be good). Here’s an MP3 of Dar perfoming this number live in October 2005 at Santa Cruz, California’s hippie Mecca [2.1MB, MP3]. I got this courtesy of the blog Lookit, so thanks, Lookit! (Here’s the blog entry from which it comes.)

Here are the lyrics, for your enjoyment:

Amber called her uncle, said “We’re up here for the holiday,

Jane and I were having Solstice, now we need a place to stay.”

And her Christ-loving uncle watched his wife hang Mary on a tree,

He watched his son hang candy canes all made with Red Dye Number 3.

He told his niece, “It’s Christmas Eve, I know our life is not your style,”

She said, “Christmas is like Solstice, and we miss you, and its been awhile,”

So the Christians and the Pagans sat together at the table,

Finding faith and common ground the best that they were able,

And just before the meal was served, hands were held and prayers were said,

Sending hope for peace on earth to all their gods and goddesses.

The food was great, the tree plugged in, the meal had gone without a hitch,

‘Til Timmy turned to Amber and said, “Is it true that you’re a witch?”

His mom jumped up and said, “The pies are burning,” and she hit the kitchen,

And it was Jane who spoke, she said, “It’s true, your cousin’s not a Christian,”

“But we love trees, we love the snow, the friends we have, the world we share,

And you find magic from your God, and we find magic everywhere.”

So the Christians and the Pagans sat together at the table,

Finding faith and common ground the best that they were able,

And where does magic come from? I think magic’s in the learning,

‘Cause now when Christians sit with Pagans only pumpkin pies are burning.

When Amber tried to do the dishes, her aunt said, “Really, no, don’t bother.”

Amber’s uncle saw how Amber looked like Tim and like her father.

He thought about his brother, how they hadn’t spoken in a year,

He thought he’d call him up and say, “It’s Christmas and your daughter’s here.”

He thought of fathers, sons and brothers, saw his own son tug his sleeve, saying,

“Can I be a Pagan?” Dad said, “We’ll discuss it when they leave.”

So the Christians and the Pagans sat together at the table,

Finding faith and common ground the best that they were able,

Lighting trees in darkness, learning new ways from the old, and

Making sense of history and drawing warmth out of the cold.

It Happened to Me

Seen at the Pacific Mall

Up in the northeast outskirts of Accordion City is the Pacific Mall, which proudly declares itself “North America’s Largest Indoor Asian Mall”. If you’re looking for good food, anime and Hong Kong cinema DVDs, cell phone accessories, a hair salon that can spike your hair properly, every known flavour of Pocky and some decent competition for Dance Dance Revolution, Pacific Mall is the place to be!

Wendy and I went to the Pacific Mall with Deenster, Chris, Deenster’s sister Lisa (who’s visiting from Tel Aviv), Rich and Elana last Saturday. We enjoyed some dim sum at the upstairs restaurant Golden Regency and also did some window shopping, where we saw these:

The “Five Life Principles” Cup, which advises you: “Don’t get angry. Don’t rush. Don’t be bossy. Don’t be grumpy. Don’t give up.”

WAR ABSOLUTE BEING BATTLEPLAN. I think they mean “battle plane”. It also sounds like the sort of cheer that they’d make up for Japanese baseball teams.


Accordion Guy Advent Calendar, Day Twenty: My Two Favourite Comics on the Subject

Click the comics to see them at full size.