Monday, March 25, 2013

Culture 101 (part 8) - Snow White

Snow White

“Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.”

- C. S. Lewis (reference: goodreads)
When I was a child, my father took me to Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) at the local drive-in.  And he enjoyed it more than I did, though I liked it, too, even to this day. Disney knew how to reach the kid and kid within the grownups.

And in recent times, fairy tales have made a come-back on television as well as the movies;  Ever After: A Cinderella Story (1998).  Grimm (2011 - ).  Once Upon a Time (2011 - ).   Snow White and the Huntsman (2012).  Mirror Mirror (2012).  Only to name a few.

Fairy tales reflect a piece of our soul - the dreams, the fears, the hopes, the drama of being human.  And Snow White deals with death - from the jealous queen sending the huntsman to slay an innocent princess to the maid tasting death with a bite of the poisoned apple.

In 1933, the Betty Boop cartoons did a spoof of Snow-White, which magnified the dark side of this fairy tale.  In the clip below of this short, Cab Calloway sings St. James Infirmary Blues in the background of nightmarish images.

This short reflected the culture after the horrors of World War One and during the hopelessness of the Great Depression.  Death and futility were prevalent.  And these experiences are common to every member of the human family.

Solomon wrote about futility in this lament:

As no one has power over the wind to contain it,
so no one has power over the time of their death.
As no one is discharged in time of war,
so wickedness will not release those who practice it.
Ecclesiastes 8:8  (NIV)
Stuff fairy tales are made of.

Yet, there is another side in the Gospels.  Death is sleep.  It's only temporary.  As this week is Holy Week, culminating in Easter, many Christians celebrate this victory of life over death.

But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
1 Corinthians 15:20 (NIV)

The Disney version of Snow White reveals death as a sleep.  Someday, her Prince would come and wake her from her sleep.  And with the Prince, Snow White would live happily every after.

Fairy tale?  Not!  Death and resurrection are part of the Easter story.  Death no longer has its sting.  [reference:  1 Corinthians 15:55]

And the Prince - the Prince of Peace - will come and wake the dead, as He has promised:

Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.
Very truly I tell you, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live.
John 5:24, 25 (NIV)

When that happens, the bodies of those who sleep in Christ will wake up and live happily ever after in His everlasting kingdom.

And Fairy Tales - such as Snow White - are part of our culture as they reveal a greater truth about who we are and our destiny.


Previous posts on Easter:

Earth Shaking Easter - a wake up call (2010)

Easter - The Sign of the Prophet Jonah (2011)


Previous posts in the Culture 101 series:

Culture 101 (part 1) - Reagan's Challenge (2012)

Culture 101 (part 2) - Easter Eucatastrophe (2012)

Culture 101 (part 3) - Paul Revere's Ride (2012)

Culture 101 (part 4) - Gold Diggers and the Great Depression (2012)

Culture 101 (part 5) - Blue Bloods and 9/11 (2012)

Culture 101 (part 6) - Gilligan's Island and Breast Cancer Awareness (2012)

Culture 101 (part 7) - Band of Brothers  (2013)


Photo from wikipedia:  Snow White

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Science 101 (part 1) - Vernal Equinox

Ecliptic Path

When I was in kindergarten, my teacher sent instructions home to my parents so they could  illustrate to me what happens as the world turns.  This was my first introduction to Astronomy 101. We used the visual aids at hand - an orange, pencil, and candle. Crude, but effective.

My mother skewered an orange (the earth) with a sharp pencil (the axis of rotation)  as juice squirted out at its poles.  For a moment, things got a bit sticky.  She lit candle and its light bathed the skin of this speared fruit while she rolled the pencil in her fingers to spin the orb about its axis.

Not only did this show me why we had day and night, but also why we got the seasons with the tilt of the axis.  Little did I know that when I grew up, so many were ...

Not as smart as a kindergartner!

Not even teachers.  On the local news, I recall a journalist asked a woman about what caused winter.  She knew the answer to that as she proudly proclaimed she was school teacher.  The earth was closer to the sun in winter.  That's why.   


Maybe it was in the southern hemisphere.  Partial credit here?  Actually the earth is closer to sun when it's winter in the northern hemisphere.  (reference: Why Earth is Closest to Sun in Dead of Winter |   But that is not why we have the seasons.

I'm sure the woman was a good teacher, but she was not alone in here lack of knowledge of basic astronomy.  Many smart and educated people don't know this.

During my work life in a technical field, my co-workers were diverse from all over the country as well as the world.  One young man that I had shared a cubicle with had no clue what caused the seasons.  Yet, he was eager to learn and I pointed to a website with some good graphics -  much like the one below.

He got it and was appreciative.  And I cut him some slack, as he was one of the Vietnamese boat people and had a challenging childhood.  While I was watching Star Trek in my youth, he had lived under a repressive regime, the aftermath of the Vietnam War.  But to his credit, he escaped to the United States and went on to college earning degree in engineering - and that took some gumption.

There is much we do not know.  Some may not be important to us or be our passion.  Yet with the ubiquitous internet, there is access to all kinds of information.

So I began another series dedicated to the basics of science -

*  Science 101  *

And for the advent spring this March 20, 2013, the Vernal Equinox, the clip above pretty much explains it.  (reference: March Equinox: March 20, 2013, 11:02 UTC)  And the video so much better than reading the multitude of words I could write about it.  I love YouTube!


Some of my articles on physics:

Black Holes - What does it look like inside them?

The Scotsman who beat Einstein 

Winter Driving - It's all about the friction


Photo from wikipediaEcliptic Path

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Signs of the Times (part 3) - Layoffs

layoffs and food lines

Has the recovery happened yet?

To many,
and for too many 

- no

Currently, unemployment in the United States is around 8% (latest 7.7%) and has stayed at that level for some time.  That does not even factor in those who have given up looking for work or are underemployed.  (reference:  Unemployment Rate Down As Americans Give Up On Work - Forbes)

For the trends, check out:  Unemployment in the U.S. - Google Public Data Explorer.  And there is even a web site dedicated to layoffs:   Daily Job Cuts - Layoff News 

Doesn't that lift your spirits? sarcasm-off

To his credit,  Michael Hyatt offers some positive steps to cope during this recession:  7 Ways to Keep Your Spirit Up in a Down Economy | Michael Hyatt  and 10 Benefits of a Recession | Michael Hyatt.

Since I have had my share of layoffs during my working life, I have felt the gambit of emotions that go with losing a job, losing part of my identity, as well as experiencing the frustration and rejection while looking for work during a weak economy. I sympathize with those who have been laid off.  I've been there.  You are not alone.

And on this "cheery" topic, while perusing the web, a revival of a play got my attention -
Quartermaine's Terms
 [reference: Quartermaine’s Terms, April 13th, Wyndham's - Telegraph]

What got my interest was that the main character, St. John Quatermaine, called Sinjin, had the same name of a fictional character I created in an eBook (see Anastasis).  A review of Quatermaine's Terms piqued my curiosity - teasing that the play ended with an act of cruelty leaving Sinjin's future looking very bleak.

The writer didn't say what that cruel act was - but I just had to know.  Since I was not about going to hop on a plane and fly "across the pond" to London to see the play before it closed in April, back to the internet I went.


I found the TV movie version from 1987 - "Screen Two" Quartermaine's Terms (TV episode 1987) - IMDb.

* Spoiler Alert *

The story was set in the 1960s at an English school to teach foreigners.  The final act, the teachers gathered before the holidays where they heard news of a death and an announcement of a new principal.  Then in the final minutes, with a veneer of politeness, Sinjin gets sacked - right before Christmas.  (Even Ebeneezer Scrooge was not so cruel to Bob Cratchit at Christmas.)

In the final scene below, I could feel the loneliness and hopelessness of Sinjin as he struggles to conceal his crushed spirit.  Undoubted, so many have been there (myself included) when losing a job and wondering about the future.

Layoffs are cruel as are many other kinds of loses in this life.  Yet, people do carry on and overcome them.  Perhaps that is why this song from the musical Carousel has endured.  The words speak to the spirit as all human beings, at times, struggle during dark days and have the hope that -

We Never Walk Alone

Layoffs are one of the signs of the times.

For all those who lost jobs, wonder what is next, my thoughts and prayers are with you.

May ...

You Never Walk Alone.  

As the good Lord promised -

When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; ...

Isaiah 43:2,3 (NIV)

Final thoughts:

Some wisdom from Max Lucado, when you feel like giving up:  God Never Gives Up | Max Lucado

And another moving song by Sissel:  Sissel - Bridge Over Troubled Water - YouTube


Previous posts in this series:

Signs of the Times (part 1) - Camping in the Parks (2012)

Signs of the Times (part 2) - Layaway (2012)


Photo from: - food lines