Behind The Mind of Michael (About Me)

If you want to try to understand the Mind, you’ll need to know some key inputs into its personality – a “research aid”, if you will.

For your various breeds of enjoyment (nostalgia, pity, amazement, amusement, etc), a fun, extensive list – though not at all exhaustive and in no particular order – can be found below.

The kind of categories you’re likely to see might be: computer/video games, technology, TV & movies, books, comics, Judaica, space/astronomy, dinosaurs & paleontology, influential people, comedians, experiences and places.

Perhaps I’ll update it from time to time:

The 1980s (where the Mind all started – synapses, nerves, cerebral cortex, vestigial tail and all), Warner Bros Looney Toons cartoons, Read-a-long books (with tape or record/”vinyl”), the rear-facing back seat of Mum’s white Volvo stationwagon, used to make faces at and craft silent scripts for the general entertainment (and potential fender bender) of the cars behind us – arguably me and my brothers’ first stage, Rabbi Ken Spiro’s history courses, Rabbi Benjamin Blech’s classes at YU as well as mp3s videos and books (e.g. Understanding Judaism: The Basics of Deed Versus Creed), Garfield, Footrot Flats, Snoopy/Peanuts, Mandrake the Magician, Diablo 2 (particularly playing it as the Necromancer, go figure) Rabbi Akiva Tatz’s books as well as videos and mp3s, Road & Track’s The Need For Speed series of games, Slipstream 5000, Roald Dahl’s The BFG, The Far Side, Non-Sequiter, Spider-man, Animalia, Bat Man (especially the old TV series… can’t say it helped develop my sense of humour as did Bill Cosby -[see below]. At least I hope not), War of the Worlds theme on original vinyl (scared the heck out of me as a child). Cookie Monster – partly the eating (see Garfield), but also because he knows exactly what he wants and goes for it, Mr Squiggle – classic and always calm with whatever’s in front of him.


Bnei Akiva:

Deserves a special paragraph on its own. There are few inputs into my being that have so profoundly shaped my life’s path and my personality.
This movement showed me a vibrant youth that actually lived by, or at least honestly aspired to live by the ideas that teachers were trying to get into my head at school. It just means something totally different coming from your peers. When I first began to understand them at age 15, 16, I was drawn towards it. To the discipline required and to the Torah that was, for the first time in my life, alive
bnei semelBnei kids live in the real world, but they do not – in theory and ideally – let the real world live inside them. This way, they create their own reality, and consequently the world around them conforms to this. Especially since they do not evade the secular world, as mentioned. And this is something very special and powerful.
I learnt that maintaining your unique Jewish identity – from a young age – was valuable and the smart choice, and that it involves sacrifices, dedication and devotion – all ingredients for a healthy personality in general. It taught that sticking to your guns and not buckling – being unbending on things that really matter – will get you places and gain you respect. The kind of respect a child, who so often is told what to do and where to go, desires.
More importantly, there was a clear focus on having fun, and enjoying life, all within a suitable framework, rather than running essentially wild as others do. Play was the name of the game, and Ga-Ga Ball championship rounds were the best way to start each week as a madrich (youth leader). ‘Til today, the friendships and immediate connection I have with older leaders and my former chanichim (kids) exist strongly. Something I’m very proud about and thankful for.
Bnei opened the door to a Torah lifestyle, rather than a cold, dead Torah. And I started to sit up and pay respect and attention to, and to value anyone who can teach me something worthwhile (Jewish or not, Torah or general wisdom and knowledge). And I’ve been reaping the benefits ever since. 


golden-booksHard cover Little Golden Books like The Little Red Caboose, Scuffy the Tugboat, Saggy Baggy classic-golden-booksElephant, Tawny Scrawny Lion, and Scamp, Phantom comics, Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, Quake, Dune 2, The Lost Vikings.




 Star Wars (original Trilogy – the new ones have had very little impact on my cognitive patterns).Space simulator games – Star Wars, Freespace, Wing Commander, Solar Winds, etc. Captain Comic and all the other classic PC games from the 1980s. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – cartoons, movies and comics, Indiana Jones – movies and adventure games, Sam n Max Hit the Road, Day of the Tentacle and other Lucasarts classics like Loom and Monkey Island 1 and 2, Choose Your Own Adventure novels, Joan Peters – From Time Immemorial, Jason Mraz, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Collective Soul. X-Men cartoons, movies and characters – especially Wolverine.


 Bill Cosby, Billy Connolly, Tom Clancy, Various joke books, riddles and conundrums especially with Mr North at high school, Weingreen book on Hebrew Grammar, Torah in general, Rabbi Ya’aqob Menashe, Rabbi Smukler, word puzzles and games involving vocab, astronomy, dinosaurs, Macbeth, Midsummer Night’s Dream,

 New York and everything about it including (warning – explicit), Yeshiva University.

faith-and-doubt2Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm books, Inspector Gadget, Paddington Bear, Henry the Cat, Banana Man, Roger Ramjet, Super Ted, Yes Minister, Blackadder, Fawlty Towers, Puddle Lane, Mr Bean, Simpsons, Family Guy, Scrubs, Play Doh (also home made – thanks to my mother), Lego, Meccano, Clay, The Hobbit, both my grandmothers’ stories, Nintendo Famicom, Super Nintendo, N64, Wii, Sonic the Hedgehog, Mario, and their spinoff TV shows, the beach, Gold Coast, Timezone video game arcade, nursery rhymes, the children’s book made especially for me by parents with my name, brother, cousins and friends’ names in it, Sierra adventure games (Space Quest, Kings Quest, Police Quest – and a non-Sierra one: Eco Quest), Disney movies – Dumbo, Aladdin, etc, Duckula, Rocky and Bullwinkle, I Love Lucy, Maccabi Tennis club, Flintstones, Jetsons, Defenders of the Earth, Monkey Magic, East Chinese restaurant, Bambusia, Fast food places as a child.  Discovery channel-type shows – especially on marine creatures such as dolphins and whales, future shows such as Beyond 2000 which became redundant a decade or so ago (they renamed it Beyond Tomorrow, I think, which is lame – make it ‘Beyond 3000’ for G-d’s sake. Be daring) – I’ve always loved technology advances and knowledge and robots, tesla coils, all of that.


The iPhone experience – after disasters with Nokia not-so-smart-phones, I gave in and have never looked back. Apps and the way the features of the iPhone integrated quickly with my life is incredible and ongoing.



tikki tikki tembo



Conrad Jupiters Casino, Fairmont resort, Hyatt Regency Coolum, Sheraton Mirage, Voltron, Tranzor Z, Wombat Stew (“ooey gooey crunchy munchy wombat stew”), The Kinderhat, Possum Magic, Bottersnikes & Gumbles, Snail Mail (children’s books), Dune (the book), Soul Calibur at UNSW (usually the only non-oriental student playing there) and on X-Box, Diablo2, Jedi Knight games, Need For Speed 1 and 2, Elton John, Billy Joel, Paul Simon – especially Graceland, Simon & Garfunkel, folk guitar, being hugged by a 40-yr old man with a mental age of 4 at TIS sports camp in year 10, Tikki Tikki Tembo No Sa Rembo Chari Bari Ruchi Pip Peri Pembo (children’s book about an unfortunate prized first son who was given a name so long it delayed rescue efforts when he fell down a well). wakefield_bottersnikes_thumb22

Gym camps with brother and friends – making talking robots out of empty toilet rolls and aluminium foil and microphone kits – watching movies such as Annie, The Witches, The Adventures of Pippy Longstocking (against my will) etc – arts and craft. Good times, generally.

Sean Micallef, Kim Gyngell, Eric Bana, and the rest of the Comedy Company/Fast Forward/Full Frontal ensembles. The Crucible, Harp in the South, To Kill A Mockingbird, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, The Man that Came to Dinner, Stalag 17 (“at ease”), Judgement at Nuremberg, The Man in the Glass Booth. Peter Pan (…more the movie Hook than any other version)


Command and Conquer series (especially Red Alert), Halo series and Tom Clancy Rainbow Six series on X-box, Playstation 3 – Uncharted, Wolverine, Little Big Planet, etc.


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