Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Music (part 10) - Silent Night during Troubled Times

 



Silent Night

Known in German as Stille Nacht Heilige Nacht

It was first performed Christmas Eve, 1818, in St. Nicholas Church in Oberndorf, as shown in the above picture.

The lyrics were written in 1816 by a young priest in Austria, Joseph Mohr and the melody by Franz Xaver Gruber. Because the church organ was being repaired, the carol was first played on the guitar.

Since then, Silent Night has gone viral and has been translated into over 300 languages with many renditions.


Fast forward to the next century:

Christmas Eve, 1914

During a temporary truce on the battlefield of the First World War, soldiers sang carols from home, including "Silent Night," which was simultaneously sung in French, German and English.

The video of a chocolate ad harkens to this event of peace during war.




Fast forward to 50 years later, during troubling times....

1966

Simon and Garfunkel did their rendition of Silent Night with the reading of the 7 O'Clock News.


In a world of bad news--wars, conflicts, violence, unrest--there is a yearning for Good News.

And Christmas celebrates the coming of the Savior--the Prince of Peace.

Peace this Christmas 2021
 and blessings for the New Year of 2022.


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Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Great Speeches (part 1) - Gettysburg Address

 


1863

The not so United States was engaged in a great Civil War.

The Battle of Gettysburg (July 1-3, 1863) , one the bloodiest battles--over 50,000 casualties--marked a turning point for the Union. But victory came at a heavy cost of blood and treasure.

November 19, 1863President Lincoln was asked to deliver a message at the dedication of Gettysburg Civil War Cemetery

Following Edward Everett's two hour speech, Lincoln spoke for about two minutes.  And the rest is history.



(reference: https://youtu.be/qhMsQm0dufU )

America was conceived in liberty and the proposition that all men are created equal. 

Those words brought America back to her roots- beyond the Constitution to The Declaration of Independence.

Lincoln's address is considered one of the most powerful speeches in the English language, as well as any language expressing freedom and liberty. 

In these divided times, it bears to be remembered who we are.

And with this new thread, Great Speeches

The Pen is Mightier than the Sword

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Other resources on this topic:

American Rhetoric

The 35 Greatest Speeches in History

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Photo: LincolnGettysburg/wikipedia.com


Friday, October 29, 2021

Pop Culture (part 5) - There's a Light...

 


Many traditions have evolved around Halloween.

And about this time of year--late fall--many movies of horror and science fiction genre debut to catch the spirit of the scary holiday.

One was an offbeat musical comedy horror that has become a cult classic,  

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)

When it premiered in the US, the movie was a flop; and hence, it pulled from many theaters. 

But when it played at midnight showings, the musical caught on fire, garnering an international cult following.

Reference: The Rocky Horror Picture Show

This offbeat musical presents rock 'n roll style, precursor to punk rock, and even spiritual-like songs throughout its parody of the horror and 1930s-1960s SciFi B movie plots. And its music became popular--part of Pop Culture (the title of this thread.)

Richard O'Brien composed, in my opinion, this beautiful spiritual-like song:

There's a Light (Over at the Frankenstein Place)



(reference: https://youtu.be/i4G-hjfMR4U )

I love this song as it speaks to my soul and spirit.

In times of trouble and dark and scary times, like Brad and Janet getting lost and stranded with a flat tire on a cold and rainy night, there is hope... 

There's a light,
light in the darkness
of everybody's life.


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Previous Post in the series:

Pop Culture (part 1) - Only Time and 9/11 (2015)

Pop Culture (part 2) - Halloween Martian Invasion (2015)

   
Pop Culture (part 3) - It's Gonna Be All Right  (2016)

Pop Culture (part 4) - Brrrr! ... California Dreamin' (2018)

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Photo:  Oakly Court/wikipedia.com


Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Americana (part 3) - Appeal to Heaven

 


An Appeal to Heaven?

Sound like a call to prayer. It is. And it was almost 250 years ago as well as one of the motto on one of the earliest American flags.

In 1968, the US post office issued its series of historic American flags (then 6 cents). Among them, Washington's cruisers flag 1775 - AN APPEAL TO HEAVEN.

Close up below:


(reference: https://youtu.be/rRHEAT-1ItI )


For the history of the Pine Tree Flag, the description in the video explains it best:

The Tree Flag  was one of the flags used during the American Revolution.  The flag, featuring a pine tree with the motto "An Appeal to God" or, more usually, "An Appeal to Heaven", was used originally by a squadron of six cruisers commissioned under George Washington's authority as commander in chief of the Continental Army in October 1775. 


(reference: https://youtu.be/DP5n9u-Lvog )


And General Washington (with his cruisers and this flag) has been considered the Father of our country, as so aptly described in this description and video below: 

There would have never been a United States of America without George Washington. John Rhodehamel, author of "George Washington: The Wonder of the Age," details how Washington successfully guided the budding nation through war and nurtured her in peace.



(reference: https://youtu.be/D7FFtMlm4V0 )


Now, 250 years later, in the chaos and turmoil of our times, the Appeal to Heaven is the ongoing prayer for our republic.

 And as Ben Franklin allegedly said,

“A republic . . . if you can keep it.”

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Other articles on the Appeal to Heaven flag:

An Appeal To Heaven Flag – 1775 

* For more on the historic flag stamp collection, check out: Jim's Stamp Album

Previous posts in the series:



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Photo:  wikipedia/appeal to heaven flag

Monday, August 23, 2021

STC (part 1) - S*T*C

 


cover by DAVIS Creative

It's 1984. 

The space shuttle Challenger is up in orbit. The Reagan administration is beefing up defense to fight the Evil Empire of Communism. And the Satellite Tracking Center, known as the S*T*C, is staffing up to meet those challenges. 

...

This was the spirit of the times in my latest book---S*T*C

And what was going on during the era of the Cold War during the Reagan administration?

Go back another 20 years and hear the rhetoric...

Below is a recording of then-Governor Reagan's speech given at the 1964 Republican Convention that nominated Barry Goldwater.  The visuals are updated to reflect the continuing struggle since then.



(reference: https://youtu.be/EuQ-3wxPCtM )

Yet in 1984, the Cold War was at an inflection point as the former USSR would soon fall apart and the Iron Curtain would be coming down. 

Likewise more paradigm shifts rocked society, especially the S*T*C as...

The old boy network finds itself turned upside down when young professional women, such as Samantha Clark and Rosalind Hart, breach the male-dominated mission control teams inside the S*T*C. In the secrecy demanded in the classified world, how do Sam and Roz cope with men behaving badly? Will the women or the old boys break first? 

This fictional historical novel gives a personal feel of the struggles many women faced with a touch of humor in the mix.  It's not all black and white. Not all women were angels. Neither all men Neanderthals.

S*T*C is available as a paperback, kindle, kindle unlimited. (Links below)

Your readership is appreciated.

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More information on S*T*C:

smithsk.com

amazon.com

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Photo: Cover by DAVIS Creative

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Politics (part 1) - Chicken Little, The Music Man, and Fear

 


Welcome to the start of a new thread...

Politics 

We may have a sense of what politics is as we see it everyday, so it seems. But for grins, here's a definition:  merriam-webster

Our elected government servants are politicians, hence they politick. Politics prevails in business, in the office, in commerce, in various organization, in personal relationships,....everywhere.

Often politics has a negative connotation. What comes with the territory is in the struggle for power. One way to get power and and stay in power is to manipulate the masses.

A proven tactic for that...

Fear

That's obvious to the casual observer watching the political ads during election season. The opponent and their cohorts are likened to the antichrist and their policies will surely usher in the Apocalypse. 

Fables contain that ugly truth of human nature wrapped in a children's story for easy digestion.  One such as

Chicken Little 

Who hasn't heard the end of the world cry--

The sky is falling!

Here's a darker version of Chicken Little (1943), as shown below in this animation, as told by Disney, during World War II.


(reference: https://youtu.be/p_GaYdae4j0 )

Foxy Loxy, through fear, discredits the wise with character assassinations and manipulates Chicken Little, certainly not the brightest bulb in the box. This useful idiot leads his barnyard denizens into the jaws of Foxy Loxy, who not only got Chicken Little, but all the fowls in the barnyard as well.

Yet, the fear tactic is timeless.

Other examples abound, such as in advertising -- hygiene, health, safety, etc... Bad things will happen as we obliviously go about our business. But we'll sell you the product to solve all your problems and assuage all your fears. 

A more innocent version of this type of manipulation is found in the musical, The Music Man (1962), about a con man during the early 20th century.

Ya Got Trouble

After scoping our the sleepy town of River City, Iowa, Professor Harold Hill searches for an angle to exploit the denizens...using fear. Finding none, he creates one and demonizes the coming pool table.

Thus is born the following catchy tune:


(reference: https://youtu.be/W2ySBtVLCYA )

That's Trouble in River City, with a capital T that rhymes with P and that stands for Pool.

Inciting the fear of moral degradation creeping into the town and its youth, the Professor offers the solution: A boy's band to channel the youth's energies and keep them from the immoral influence of the pool hall.

Then he sells the instruments and uniforms for this band. Yet he has plans all along to bilk these suckers of their money and skip town before delivering on his promises. (But the love of Marian the Librarian complicates his latest con. The Professor lingers, gets caught, and faces the music.)

Creating a problem, inciting fear, profiting from it. Nothing new for foxes to get their dinner or con artists to separate the naïve from their money.

Fear?

In the words of a politician's inaugural address in the dark days of the Great Depression:

The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1933)

Very wise words.

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Related articles:

The Politics of Fear (2019)

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Photo: Chicken Little/wikipedia.com 

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Music (part 9) - June

 




June - It's busting out all over!

It's the month where spring meets summer.  It's a popular month for weddings.

Flowers are in full bloom. Many young ones are born.

And June is bustin' out all over is the title of the lively Rodgers & Hammerstein’s song in the musical Carousel (1956), as shown below.:



Spring and summer can bring optimism, new birth, new relationships. It's much celebrated.

Flowers appear on the earth
 the season of singing has come,
the cooing of doves
    is heard in our land.
Song of Songs 2:12 (NIV)

Yet, any season there are the storms of  life. And one of Carousel's poignant songs, You'll Never Walk Alone is most remembered for the end of the Jerry Lewis telethons.

Singer Sissel does a lovely version of this number:



Weather, stormy or sunny--for those who trust in God, we have this promise:

Never will I leave you; 
never will I forsake you.
Hebrews 13:5 (NIV)

You Will Never Walk Alone!

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