Sunday, December 28, 2014

Nostalgia (part 3) - Something Old, Something New New Year!
New Years Eve ... New Years Day 

These are holidays in which we may look back and look ahead.   Something old ... something new.  For a sampling of each, here are a few musings from Bible verses and videos clips that emphasize the "holy" in the holidays.

The Old ... 

The Good Old Days can bring feelings of nostalgia.  Even Moses gave instructions to the children of Israel to remember the past and pass on their stories to the new generation:

Remember the days of old;
consider the generations long past.
Ask your father and he will tell you,
your elders, and they will explain to you.
Deuteronomy 32:7 (NIV)

Yet, some of this remembrance can also bring a sense of sadness, such as reflected in this song that often resurfaces at the end of the year:

The sentiment behind the lyrics of this song has been around for some time.  For its history, check out:  Story of Those Were the Days

Likewise several generations after Moses, when the children of Israel were captive in Babylon, they became sad when they thought of the good old days:

By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept
    when we remembered Zion.
Psalm 137:1 (NIV)

But the second chance, a fresh start, can give rise to optimism and happiness.  With the change of the calendar year, we may  look forward to

The New ...

The new is part of the vision of God's plan of the universe.  It's a time that people of faith may look forward when the old world of suffering will come to pass and all things will be new again:

See, I will create
    new heavens and a new earth.
The former things will not be remembered,
nor will they come to mind.
Isaiah 65:17 (NIV)

And in this life, the pursuit of happiness encompasses the "new" like the wonder of a child, who continues to explore, learning, seeking ... as seen below:

And that is a cause for joy, especially for those of faith:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:
The old has gone, the new is here!
2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV) 

And this traditional song connects

The Old and the New ...

As New Years Eve turns to New Years Day, after the stroke of midnight, many sing this old song that rings in the New Year:

And for a fresh start, a second chance, a new life, may we ...

Sing to the Lord a new song,
for he has done marvelous things
his right hand and his holy arm
    have worked salvation for him.
Psalm 98:1 (NIV)

Happy New Year!


Previous posts in this series:

Nostalgia (part 1) - A Father's Thanksgiving Prayer  (2014)

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


Photo from: New Year!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Nostalgia (part 2) - Christmas Past in War and Peace Festival
Old movies and television shows give us a peek into Christmas Past - not long past, but perhaps our past, our parents' past, and even our grandparents' past.

And some of our best loved classics have meant much to the Greatest Generation who lived through the Great Depression, fought in World War II, then settled down with a special loved one during the post-war period of the 1950s.

My pick from the pop culture of the past are two iconic holiday scenes from the 1950s, one from the movies, the other from television:

Christmas Past in Wartime

White Christmas (1954) opens with crooner Bing Crosby as Captain Bob Wallace singing the title song.  This classic captures the nostalgia of the soldiers, who were fighting overseas, yet yearning for home during the holidays.  That feeling is timeless.

And Bing Crosby was also a great patriot.  America had entered World War II when he was 37 and, with a family, he was deemed too old to put on the uniform and fight.  But much like his contemporary Bob Hope, Bing Crosby worked tirelessly to entertain the troops and boost their morale.  [reference:  As Veterans Day approaches, niece remembers Bing Crosby's service to soldiers]

The composer of White Christmas, Irving Berlin (1888 - 1989), like Bing Crosby and Bob Hope, was a patriot as well.  Born Israel Baline,  he was an immigrant to America, fleeing religious persecution of the Jewish community in his native Russia and settling in New York City.  For more on his biography - Irving Berlin - Biography - Songwriter -

From a misspelling of his name, I. Berlin, as lyricist, Israel Baline decided to keep the name and become known as Irving Berlin. And what followed were many ironies of a Jewish composer choosing the surname Berlin. Most obvious, his career spanned two World Wars, which the United States fought against Germany, whose capital was Berlin.  And Hitler's Germany was hell-bent to exterminate the Jews, like Irving Berlin.

During World War I, Irving Berlin had first written God Bless America, as a great peace song.  But with a glut of patriotic songs coming out at the time, he tabled it.  Two decades later, Kate Smith introduced his peace song in 1938 at the cusp of World War II.  Another irony.  For more on this story: The story behind Irving Berlin's "God Bless America"

Though Jewish, Irving Berlin composed one of his best loved songs, White Christmas, celebrating a Christian holiday.  Yet another irony.  And it was Bing Crosby who introduced White Christmas to the world - on Christmas: December 25, 1941 - just as America had entered into World War II a few weeks earlier.  [reference:  Bing Crosby introduces "White Christmas" to the world — This Day in History — 12/25/1941]

Christmas Past in Peacetime

And in the movie, White Christmas, the war came to an end.  And the plot focused on the characters making their way during peacetime and ending their adventures with a big Christmas production, such as shown here:  White Christmas ending

But during the postwar years, the early days of television produced another classic holiday scene from  the Honeymooners (1955-1956) .  Ralph Kramden, played by Jackie Gleason, a bus driver in New York City, struggled to strike it rich. Meanwhile, his wife Alice, played by Audrey Meadows, pulled him back to earth.  The couple would fight and argue, such as in these scenes:  Bang Zoom ...You're Going to the Moon!

But Ralph and Alice, bereft of material goods, living in a spartan apartment, deeply loved each other.  And during Christmas, Ralph waxed nostalgic about his feelings during this closing scene from 'Twas the Night Before Christmas (24 Dec. 1955).

The entire episode can be seen on youtube:  The Honeymooners S01E13 'Twas the Night Before Christmas

In spite of the everyday struggle of the middle class, those seemingly more innocent times as shown in popular entertainment reflected the post-war optimism during peace.

Christmas past ... Christmas present ...  

Let me wax nostalgic during Christmastime. During this dark time of the year of short days, long nights (at least for us living in the northern hemisphere) the goodwill spirit of the season has an effect on us.  Ralph Kramden  expressed it so beautifully in the clip above.  We may seem kinder, more generous, more compassionate toward one another than at any other time of the year.

And Christmas seems to reflect the optimism that during a dark season such as the dead of winter, we've turned the corner.  Spring will soon come and our days will get longer and nights shorter.   And my Christmas wish is for a kinder spirit to prevail throughout the New Year.

Merry Christmas!
And God bless us everyone!


Previous post in this series:

Nostalgia (part 1) - A Father's Thanksgiving Prayer  (2014)


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

CC (part 3) - Happy Bill of Rights Day

Wikipedia/We the People

The Bill of Rights, the first 10 Amendments to the US Constitution, were ratified on December 15, 1791.  [reference:  Bill of Rights Institute: Bill of Rights]

Our most cherished freedoms as Americans come from the Bill of Rights.  And they still are debated to this day.  For a good summary of them, check out the clip below:

In the Book, His Tribe of One, from The Commander and the Chief series, these Bill of Rights are mentioned, as shown in the scene here:

The "Chief," Dr. Nova Orlovic, is collecting the major players for her search and recovery expedition for her missing husband, Admiral Quinn, which the world believes is dead.  She is accompanied by a long time friend of the family, Kaya Stillwater.

Nova's agent Lord Frederick Wise has just introduced her to Colonel Jack Sheffield as they are waiting for the Commander, Dr. Barrett.  Meanwhile they are discussing Nova's career change from a scientist to a lawyer.  (If you wish to know why ... well, you have to read the book. )

“Admit it, Doctor.” Wise smiled at her. “Scientists do run in your family.”

Nova skewed her lips. “But I don’t do science, anymore. Remember? I’m a lawyer now.”

“Really?” The Colonel looked surprised again. “I’d like to see your business card for that.”

And Nova delivered, producing the Law Offices of Orlovic, Lee, and Kim. Their logo had a quill resting in an inkbottle and an antique firearm framing an outline of the state of California. Below were the words: The price of liberty is eternal vigilance. “Our motto is a quote allegedly made by Thomas Jefferson. He wrote the Declaration of Independence as well as being our third president.”

Jack examined the card. “What’s with the feather and old gun?”

“Symbols of the Bill of Rights. The quill is Freedom of Speech.” Then Nova grinned. “But it’s the Second Amendment—the Right to Bear Arms—that gives teeth to ensure we keep the rest of our rights.”

“Oh, bite me.” The Colonel leered.

“Don’t.” Kaya glared at Jack, then resumed her knitting.

Jack flinched. The last woman to make him jump like that was a lion tamer, who cracked whips as foreplay.

“It’s okay, Colonel. Kaya is quite protective.” Then Nova added fondly, “She’s watched over me since my mother died when I was twelve.”

“It was your grandfather’s wish.” Kaya twirled some yarn about her turquoise-ringed fingers.

from:  The Commander and the Chief 
Book 1: His Tribe of One 
Part 1 - Admiral Connor Quinn, MIA 
Chapter 5 - Is there a doctor in the house?

And as for Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence, here is a pithy tribute to this foundering father:

In summary, Thomas Jefferson left America three main legacies:

*  Political Freedom
*  Religious Freedom
*  Intellectual Freedom

And most of all this warning, which is quite relevant in our day:

The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.


His Tribe of One in an eBook form, and it can be sampled and purchased for:

NOOK devices at Barnes and Noble:  His Tribe of One


For the latest news, check out:  S. K. Smith - The Commander and the Chief

Your readership is most appreciated!


For other posts in this series:

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

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


Picture from:  Wikipedia/We the People

Monday, December 1, 2014

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

Richard Feynman once quoted a poet -

'The whole universe is in a glass of wine.'

[reference:  Goodreads | Quote by Richard P. Feynman: “A poet once said, 'The whole universe is in a g...”

And the clip below illustrates Dr. Feynman's comments as to how our universe is connected with a glass of wine:

For a great graphic of this conversation:  ZEN PENCILS » 67. RICHARD FEYNMAN: The universe in a glass


This Dr. Feynman quote becomes the slogan of one of Dr. Nova Orlovic's businesses in the thriller series:  The Commander and the Chief.  Here are some excerpts from the first book, His Tribe of One, concerning that quote:

In this scene, Nova Orlovic's agent, Lord Frederick Wise, recruits British Colonel Jack Sheffield for the search and recovery expedition to find her husband, US Admiral Connor Quinn.  The excerpt begins with Colonel Jack Sheffield asking Lord Wise about this mystery.

“Remind me, again, why have you come to me with this mystery and not the Americans?”

“I come at the request of Dr. Orlovic.”


“Admiral Quinn’s widow, my client, Dr. Nova Orlovic.” Then Wise presented her business card for Chief Rainmaker Winery. A silhouette of an Indian maiden in a war bonnet held a goblet with stars and galaxies bubbling out and surrounding the quote: The whole universe is in a glass of wine.

from:  The Commander and the Chief 
Book 1: His Tribe of One 
Part 1 - Admiral Connor Quinn, MIA 
Chapter 3 - Soldier of Fortune


His Tribe of One reveals that the "Chief," Dr. Nova Orlovic, had a career in physics, as in the Stephen Hawking kind of physics.  Why did Nova give up her career?  Read the book and find out.

Meanwhile, here is a tribute to some of Dr. Stephen Hawking's insights:

Below is an other except from the story where Stephen Hawking is mentioned along with Richard Feynman's quote:

In this scene, Lord Frederick Wise has just introduced Colonel Jack Sheffield to his client, Dr. Nova Orlovic.  Meanwhile they are waiting in her luxury suite for the Commander, Dr. Reginald Barrett, the doctor they hope to hire for their expedition. 

“Pleased to finally meet you, Doctor.” The Colonel kissed the hand of the beauty in a black pantsuit, which he noticed she wore so well.

“Likewise, Colonel.” Nova returned a sidelong smile.

Jack raised a blond eyebrow. “You can give me a physical anytime, Doctor.”

Looking over this Viking in tweed, Nova tossed back her long dark hair and laughed. “But I’m not an R-D. I don’t do physicals.”


“Real Doctor. I’m not a medical doctor. But Fred…he likes to call me Doctor…that’s because I have a Ph.D.”

“In what, may I ask?”


“As in Stephen Hawking kind of physics?” The Colonel pulled out her card.

“Yep.” Nova’s brown eyes sparkled from the flames of the fireplace. “And I see Fred gave you one of my business cards.”

The Colonel read it. “The whole universe is in a glass of wine.

“Our motto for Chief Rainmaker Winery. It’s one of Richard Feynman’s favorite quotes.”
“So this fine man is a poet?”

“Actually, Colonel, Dr. Richard Feynman was a famous American physicist. He passed away in the late twentieth century.”

from:  The Commander and the Chief 
Book 1: His Tribe of One 
Part 1 - Admiral Connor Quinn, MIA 
Chapter 5 - Is there a doctor in the house?


Eventually, Nova's expedition takes the Colonel and the Commander into the Forbidden Area in the Middle East.  Nova likens to the Badlands in the Dakotas in America.  Away from light pollution, the three see the glories of the heavens such as seen in this clip below:

In this scene, Nova and her team set up camp for the night in the desert.  They are struck by the view.

As Reggie and Jack stepped next to her, she said, “Looks magnificent out here. And to think all those stars are giant thermonuclear reactors hung in the fabric of space-time.”

“And all the elements in our bodies are made of star dust,” Reggie added.

Jack said fondly to Reggie, “Sounds so romantic, darling.”

Reggie punched Jack in the arm.

“Take it easy, boys.” Then Nova lifted her hands. “The whole universe is in a glass of wine.

Reggie looked back at Nova. “Then let’s drink in the night, Chief.”

“Cheers!” Jack stepped between them, then took a swig from his flask.

from:  The Commander and the Chief 
Book 1: His Tribe of One 
Part 5 -  The Badlands 
Chapter 2  - The Cleft of the Rock the Milky Way
Let Heaven and nature sing!



His Tribe of One in an eBook form, and it can be sampled and purchased for:

NOOK devices at Barnes and Noble:  His Tribe of One


For the latest news, check out:  S. K. Smith - The Commander and the Chief

Your readership is most appreciated!


For another post in this series:

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


photo credit:! ; the Milky Way