Saturday, September 3, 2016

Faith (part 1) - Star Trek and Christianity

star trek/wikipedia.com

Star Trek.

 The original series, premiered September 9, 1966, 50 years ago.
[reference: Star Trek, imdb.com]


So ....

Happy 50th 

Many celebrations were/are planned this year to mark this anniversary of such an iconic SciFi series. Not to mention its many spin offs. And movies.  As well as how it's left its mark on culture and our vision of the future.

Yet through this SciFi series, we find

Faith - in unexpected places

So on that note, begins another thread.

Fifty years ago, American culture had reflected some traditional Judeo-Christian values. And one of Star Trek's 1968 episodes, season 2, episode 25, so boldly echoed that, entitled...

Bread and Circuses

Historically, the term Bread and Circuses was coined to refer to a mob control tactic used in the 1st century Roman Empire. To keep the poor working class from rioting, Emperor Augustus instituted a program of state bribery, which kept the plebeians fed and entertained - mostly for free. [reference: The Roman Empire - in the First Century: Plebeians]

In this episode, the crew of the Enterprise investigates the disappearance of a merchant ship on a planet, which is the 20th century version of the Roman Empire. There, Kirk, Spock, and McCoy find the missing ship's Captain Merik as a government pawn.

In the scene below, Spock and McCoy are forced to fight in Roman-like game - which is a small reminder of the original gladiator games and how brutal life was back then, especially for slaves:

But there are rebels, who love peace, and resist the tyranny. They are sun worshipers, who worshiped a different deity than their overlords.

After making their escape, the team discovers the identity of the sun worshipers as Son worshipers. As in they worship not the sun up in the sky, but the Son of God.


And the late Chuck Colson makes a great commentary in his Two-Minute Warning about this classic Star Trek episode and its lesson on history and our society:


Truly this SciFi testifies to the power of Christianity, which 1st Century Romans made this complaint concerning the ministry of St. Paul:

These that have turned the world upside down
are come hither also ...
Act 17:6 (KJV)


 Whether in the belly of the beast of the Roman Empire or a SciFi series set in outer space, Faith can be found in unexpected places.

Bonus:

For another Judeo-Christian reference in the Original series, check out...
   Live Long and Prosper: The Jewish Story Behind Spock, Leonard Nimoy's Star Trek Character 



----------------------------------
----------------------------------

Related post:

Proverbs (part 2) - Live Long and Prosper  (2013)

----------------------------------
----------------------------------

photo: star trek/wikipedia.com

Sunday, August 28, 2016

poetry (part 3) - Success

North Ridge/everystockphoto.com

Success

We want it. Especially its fruits. But it costs us. And it's not guaranteed.

Recently, we had a international exhibition of that. The Olympics  in Rio earlier this month.

Hard work. Not giving up. Going for the gold.

As ABC sports used to hype:  The thrill of victory. And the agony of defeat. The human drama of athletic competition. [reference: ABC Wide World of Sports Intro 1981 ]

Also striving for success applies to other challenges in life. And Steve Jobs (1955 - 2011) is still an inspiration in following your dreams and doing what you love. In spite of rejection, setbacks, failures:



Forty years ago, as a youngster, I wrote a poem about this theme when I was just starting out in life.


Success

Don't be afraid to fail
Or your dreams you'll cease to strive
Heed not the mockings of those
Who really are not alive 

Look not to the side for direction
To the lamb-skinned wolves nearby
Who say that they do speak the truth
But devour with a lie 

Look above for your direction
To the star in the sky
And don't be afraid to fail
And be not afraid to try!

© S. K. Smith, winter of 1976

40 years later?

Still trying. Still striving. And still working on being not so afraid.


-----------------------------
-----------------------------

Previous Posts in this series: 

Poetry (part 1) - Snow (2016) 

Poetry (part 2) - The Fool's Prayer (2016)  


-----------------------------
-----------------------------



Monday, August 8, 2016

Science 101 (part 5) - August Meteor Showers

2010 Perseids/wikipedia


Space can be a dangerous place. Especially when you are by things going really, really fast. Like debris. Even those those of us on earth.

One of the effects of such a collision is meteors. And below is a "crash course" on that space junk crashing into our atmosphere:






This coming August 13-14, 2016 will be a peak of the Perseid Meteor Showers.  And they can be quite awesome if you live in the neck of the woods with a dark sky.




If you are one to look at the night sky, there's plenty of advise out there, such as:

Perseid Meteor Shower 2016: When, Where & How to See It

As the late great Jack Horkheimer (the original Star Hustler and advocate for naked eye astronomy) would say:

Keep looking up!


------------------------------------------
------------------------------------------

Previous posts in this series:

Science 101 (part 1) - Vernal Equinox  (2013)

Science 101 (part 2) - The Sound of Music? (2013)

Science 101 (part 3) - From Galileo to Apollo (2013)

Science 101 (part 4) - Cosmos Continued ... (2014) 

------------------------------------------
------------------------------------------

Photo:  2010 Perseids/wikipedia

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Nostalgia (part 6) - Dear Eleanor

Eleanor Roosevelt/wikipedia.com

The 1960s were tumultuous.

Cold War. Vietnam. Counter culture. Hippies. US vs USSR Space race. Iron Curtain. Civil Rights. Assassinations. Not to mention: Drugs. Sex. Rock N Roll.

But the early 1960s were almost an extension of the perceived calmer, more innocent 1950s. Leave it to Beaver. Happy Days. Kennedy and Camelot.

And the year 1962 is the setting for Dear Eleanor (2016). The recently released movie, on DVD and internet, captures the spirit of those times.

It begins in California as the Ellie Potter's mother leaves the house that day to give an introduction to former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt. Only Ellie's mother is killed in a car accident along the way. The same day Marilyn Monroe died.

While Ellie's dad shrugs off his parental responsibilities and sinks into depression,  Ellie takes on the roll as Little Mom as the oldest girl. But Ellie's best friend Max the Wax has ideas. And convinces Ellie to ditch school for a road trip cross country. From California to New York.  To deliver her mom's speech to Eleanor Roosevelt in person.

During this "Thelma and Louise" type road trip, the Cuban Missile Crisis grips the nation, the girls unwittingly find company with an escaped convict from Alcatraz, and they pick up Max's Aunt Daisy, a dancer in Las Vegas. That is, Las Vegas, New Mexico. Not Nevada. Meanwhile, Ellie's father and the boy next door discover the girls' plans and are on their tail to bring them back home.

The extended movie trailer below sums it up pretty well.



It's a shame the movie didn't get a wider release. Based on what I've seen in the theaters these days, this would make it in the top ten percent or higher. And much of the songs, pop culture, news of the times, are interwoven in the story. At bit of nostalgia. Like Forrest Gump (1994). Only far more realistic of a story.

It was an uplifting movie with a good message. During difficult days, the heroines dream big and they go for it. Though it didn't turn out as they had hoped, they all were enriched by the journey.

And this movie has a special meaning for me. One of its writers  is Amy Garcia. Before I retired, I had the privilege of working with Amy's father. And I learned from him that his daughter had worked very hard over the  years, overcame many obstacles and setbacks, to see this project through.

To all creatives out there, this is encouraging. Take the risk! Go for it!

And never give up!


--------------------------------------
--------------------------------------

Previous Posts in the series:
 Nostalgia (part 1) - A Father's Thanksgiving Prayer  (2014)

Nostalgia (part 2) - Christmas Past in War and Peace (2014)

Nostalgia (part 3) - Something Old, Something New  (2014)

Nostalgia (part 4) - VJ Day Kiss - 70 years ago (2015)

Nostalgia (part 5) - Big Band and World War II  (2015)

--------------------------------------
--------------------------------------

Photo: Eleanor Roosevelt/wikipedia.com

Friday, July 15, 2016

CC2 (part 1) - Counting Coup

cover art by Davis Creative

Counting Coup?  

What the heck is that?

As you see from the cover above, it is a Native American Indian kind of thing. Here is a definition, according to the Encyclopedia of the Great Plains: Counting Coup

And below is an excellent explanation in this Montana History Minute as the prerequisite of a Chief and ranking within a tribe:




And that gives an insight to the theme of Book 2 of The Commander and Chief series called ...

Counting Coup

Here is a teaser as to what it's all about.
Art by Davis Creative

Dr. Nova Orlovic, known as "the Chief" - she's half-Cheyenne - is on the warpath again. After her team uncovered the inconvenient truth as to how her second husband had died, President Lincoln Todd circles his wagons in major damage control. And it's payback, big time, for the Chief when she's indicted for the murder of her first husband eleven years ago.

Then a tyrant, eager to rebuild his weapons of mass destruction, gives Nova an offer she can't refuse. In exchange for her expertise in nuclear physics, he tempts her with new revelations about both her husbands' deaths, perhaps clearing her name. But by "counting coup" with her enemies on both sides of the ocean, will the Chief lose the Commander, her latest love, as well as unwittingly unleash the dogs of war? 

---------------------------------

The coup stick, Star of David, British and American flags in the image above have meaning in this latest story.

If this has piqued your interest, please feel free to read the book.

Counting Coup, now available:

* Paperback:  CreateSpace

* eBook:   Kindle
                  Nook


And please check out the First Book of the series,

His Tribe of One, now available:

Paperback:  CreateSpace

eBook:   Kindle
                  Nook


Latest news at: smithsk.com/cc.htm

Your readership is much appreciated. 

S. K. Smith


---------------------------------
---------------------------------

For other posts in His Tribe of One, Book One of the series:

CC (part 1) - The Commander and the Chief: His Tribe of One (2014)

CC (part 2) - Universe in a Glass of Wine  (2014)


CC (part 3) - Happy Bill of Rights Day  (2014)


CC (part 4) - Stories and the Brain (2015)


CC (part 5) - Audie Murphy  (2014)


CC (part 6) - Pavle Orlovic (2015)


CC (part 7) - Buzz Aldrin  (2015) 


 CC (part 8) - Little America (2016)    


CC (part 9) - Buffalo Bill's Wild West (2016)


CC (part 10) - Little Big Man (2016) 


---------------------------------
---------------------------------

Photos: art work by Davis Creative

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Patriots (part 3) - Signers of the Declaration

Declaration Independence/wikipedia.com

Soon we are approaching the 240th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, attributed on July 4, 1776.

Much is written about these times. History.com does a great job, such as this: Declaration of Independence

But here is a summary of what happened to the signers, most of them wealthy men, who lost it all for the greater gift, liberty.


Today, many politicians will give away our freedoms for their position of power.

But in 1776, these men and their families risked it all, with nothing material to gain for themselves, as they penned these words in the last sentence:


And for the support of this Declaration, 
with a firm reliance
on the protection of divine Providence, 
we mutually pledge to each other 
our Lives,
our Fortunes
and our sacred Honor.


reference: Declaration of Independence transcript

These 56 signers were patriots.

---------------------------
---------------------------

Previous posts in series:

Patriots (part 1) - Taps (2016)

Patriots (part 2) - D-Day Courage  (2016)


---------------------------
---------------------------

Photo from: Declaration Independence/wikipedia.com




Monday, June 13, 2016

CC (part 10) - Little Big Man

Little Big Man/wikipedia.com

Little Big Man, also known as Charging Bear, really existed.

He was a fearless Oglala Lakota warrior, who fought under, then rivaled Crazy Horse. When Crazy Horse was murdered, Little Big Man was a suspect.  But one of the notable battles Little Big Man fought was the Battle of Little Big Horn in the Montana Territory. 

* for more info: Little Big Man at american-tribes.com

And....

 June 25, 1876 marked the Battle of the Little Big Horn, also know as Custer's Last Stand. And we've coming up on its 140th anniversary. 


Many stories and movies (fact, fiction, legends, lies) were made about this battle as well as General Custer and many of the key players.

One of my favorites is this oldie from the 1970s...

Little Big Man - the movie

The Little Big Man  movie (1970), starred Dustin Hoffman and Chief Dan George. It's not a story about Charging Bear. But it's the story of a 121 year old Jack Crabb, in hospice, telling his recollections of the Old West to a reporter. His tale included being adopted by the Cheyenne, adventures in the Wild West, culminating in the Battle of the Little Big Horn. (reference: synopsis with spoilers)

And I make some references to the movie as well as the battle in The Commander and the Chief series, such as a quoted line from the scene below:


At time 1:40 in the clip, the frustrated preacher's wife offers to give Jack Crabb, who was rescued from Indians, a bath.  Asking him to take off his clothes, she assures him:

But I shall avert my eyes at the necessary moment.

At time 3:35, she reassures him when the bath is done:

I shall avert my eyes, of course.

And here's how I work that all in....

----------------------------

From Book 1, His Tribe of One in The Commander and the Chief series. 

In this scene, the Commander wakes up in guest room of the Chief, as she's assembling her team:

Reggie rolled his good eye to Colonel Jack Sheffield. “Where am I, Jacko?”

“A very posh suite in the Gladstone Hotel.” The Colonel put a hand on Reggie’s shoulder. “At least you woke up in a high class place this time.”

cover by Davis Creative, Becki Davis
“How’d I end up here?”

“We collected you off the street and had one bugger of time getting you up here. Wise got a baggage cart, and we took you up the lift.”

Wise pressed a plastic bag of ice to the left side of Reggie’s face. “You know, Commander, this reminds me when I was in Her Majesty’s service, and one of the lads fell in love with one of the local women, and he got into quite a row with one of her male relatives who took offense…”

Reggie peeked under his blanket. “Where are my clothes?”

“If you pardon me, you were rather soaked to the bone, old boy, so we took the liberty of stripping your wet garments while you were…indisposed.”

“So you left me bloody naked?”

“Your clothes are being laundered.” Wise picked up a plush white robe from the end of the couch. “Meanwhile, the hotel has provided this.” Then Wise signaled the women to look away.

I shall avert my eyes,” Nova said in a put-on southern accent as she gave a sidelong smile to Wise.

Avert your eyes?” Reggie wrinkled his nose.

“It’s a joke between us. My client, she’s part Cheyenne.” Lord Wise grinned at Commander Barrett. “The line comes from the old American movie, Little Big Man.

“The one that ends with General Custer meeting his Waterloo, Reg,” Jack explained.

From His Tribe of One, Part 1, Chapter 9: Wake Up Call

----------------------------

Back to the movie...

And later, Jack Crabb becomes a scout for General Custer during the Battle of the Little Big Horn. And Jack issued this report to the General:


Custer's response?

Still trying to outsmart me, aren't you, mule-skinner. 
You want me to think that you don't want me to go down there, 
but the subtle truth is you really don't want me to go down there!

And General Custer goes down there and goes down in history, but not in the blaze of glory he had hoped for.


And so Custer met his Waterloo. Only he did not survive. Napoleon did.

----------------------------

Back to the book....

Later in His Tribe of One, Lord Wise, the Chief's confident, finds out she's been betrayed by their guide. And Kaya Stillwater, the Chief's loyal friend of the family quietly knits as Wise interrogates Omar:

Wise pushed Omar inside a tent where Kaya sat on a campstool, knitting. She no longer had her burka on, but was dressed in khakis. And as her needles clicked, she was stealing glances at their guide. Omar whined, “Why you take me to woman’s tent—it’s unclean.”

“That’s the least of your worries, old boy.” Wise pointed Omar’s face toward Kaya. “Surely you remember my client’s companion? She’s been suspicious of you since the day we hired you back in Adam.”

“She’s a woman.”

“Not just any woman. She’s Cheyenne, one of the Native American Indians. Ever hear of General Custer?”

“Don’t know no American generals.”

“Then let me tell you. This general lived 150 years ago. Fought in the American Civil War. And he was a big hero back then, until he came across the Cheyenne, her people. The ancestors of this woman killed all the American soldiers that had attacked them at the Battle of the Little Big Horn.”

Kaya gave Omar an icy stare, then coolly resumed knitting.

Wise held Omar’s face in Kaya’s direction and continued, “And when her people slaughtered all the soldiers, they left the mutilation of their bodies to the women, women such as this woman you see in front of you.”

“What do you mean?” Omar was sweating.

“See those knitting needles?” Wise eyed Kaya. “She can do things with those that would make the most hardened man break down and weep like a whipped puppy.”

Kaya gave Omar another icy stare as her needles clinked together.

Wise continued, “Oh, yes. I was with MI6, so I know how to interrogate. And Kaya, she knows how to loosen a man’s tongue. So Omar, I ask you this: Do you want it said that a woman broke you and made you squeal like a pig? Or do you wish to talk to me and keep your manhood intact?”

“Wh-what do you want?” Omar quavered.

Wise flashed a grin. “Information.”

And Omar talked as Kaya knitted.

From His Tribe of One, Part 8, Chapter 2, Little Big Horn, Revisited.

----------------------------

If this has piqued your intererst, please feel free to read the book.

His Tribe of One, now available:

* Paperback:  CreateSpace

* eBook:   Kindle
                  Nook

Your readership is much appreciated. 

Sequel is coming soon and I'll keep you posted.

S. K. Smith


----------------------------
----------------------------


-----------------------
-----------------------

and                Davis Creative, Becki Davis