Thursday, November 20, 2014

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

design by S. K. Smith

I'm pleased to announce the launch of a new thriller series:

The Command and the Chief

Book 1
His Tribe of One

Admiral Quinn’s widow,Nova Orlovic, has many doubts about US President Lincoln Todd’s version of her husband’s death.  Suspecting a cover-up, the “Chief” as Nova is known goes on the warpath against the Todd Administration.  She forms her own search and recovery expedition with help from Lord Frederick Wise, a man of many talents.

With Wise’s long reaching connections, Nova assembles a team of Brits to get to the bottom of it, among them Commander Reginald Barrett.  During their expedition, the Commander and the Chief annoy each other until mutual respect bonds them.  But when they stumble upon evidence that could take down the powerful, will they manage to make it out alive?


For now its in an eBook form and can be sampled and purchased for:

NOOK devices at Barnes & Noble:  His Tribe of One


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

I will let you know when it comes available in print.

Your readership is most appreciated!


Photo:  The Commander and Chief designed by S. K. Smith

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Pray4America (part 16) - God Bless America, 1938

Irving Berlin (1888-1989) originally wrote God Bless America for the military revue Yip! Yip! Yaphank! in 1918 during World War I.  Twenty years later, the composer changed a few words, and it was reintroduced on Armistice Day (today, known as, Veterans Day) in 1938 on The Kate Smith Show.  The song - a solemn prayer for peace - tapped into the national psyche as World War II was about to break out.

Below is a dramatization of that reintroduction from the 1943 movie, This is the Army.  One of the stars, Ronald Reagan, is shown at 4:20 in this clip:

As World War One (1914-1918) began 100 years ago and World War Two (1939-1945) 75 years ago, this Veterans Day, let us be grateful for our heroes who sacrificed for freedom and protected us.  Also, may we offer our solemn prayers and ...

Pray for America

May God be gracious to us and bless us

    and make his face shine on us—
that your ways may be known on earth,
    your salvation among all nations.
Psalm 67:1,2 (NIV) 



Saturday, October 25, 2014

H/S (part 3) - Halloween Fright, Flight, Fight

Halloween is the popular season for telling scary stories.  And one of these stories comes to mind from my youth.  It was from a cartoon show.

I have great respect for comedian and educator  Bill Cosby and had watched his series - Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids (1972 - 1985).  This was a great show, in my humble opinion, as it promoted good values to kids of all ages as well as being entertaining.

One of the classic scenes was the scary story, The Chicken Heart That Ate Up New York City, from The Fat Albert Halloween Special (1977), as shown in this clip below:

It scared the kids about the campfire.  And in their fright they took flight, nearly getting "scared to death."  Is that possible?

 Fright = Flight and Fight - a deadly combo?

And as this D-News segment shows below, the answer is - Yes, we can be scared to death.

A Fright causes the following ....

* Flight or Fight reaction

* Brain that kicks body into action

* An adrenalin rush 

* Stress on the heart 

And all the above is more likely during Halloween.

Therefore, for people of all ages, in season or out of season, being alert to danger and taking safety precautions is a good thing.

The clip below offers some simple tips for Trick or Treaters:

Some Simple Tips:

1.  Take a light, wear reflective clothing
      2.  Go with a group, use team work, stay together 
 3.  Don't take candy that isn't wrapped and check it out

The following site has some more good tips: Halloween Safety Tips | Safe Kids Worldwide

Above all:

Be safe and have fun!


Previous posts in this series:


Photo from: Wikipedia/Jack-o-Lantern

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Proverbs (part 3) - Strangers with eye candy?

Wikipedia/The Procuress

The Book of Proverbs spends many chapters warning young men about the strange woman ...  the adulterous woman.  And those warnings certainly apply to the young woman about the strange man.  Here is a sample of such life tips:

1  My son, pay attention to my wisdom,
turn your ear to my words of insight,

2  that you may maintain discretion
and your lips may preserve knowledge.

3  For the lips of the adulterous woman drip honey,
and her speech is smoother than oil;

4  but in the end she is bitter as gall,
sharp as a double-edged sword.

5  Her feet go down to death;
her steps lead straight to the grave.

6  She gives no thought to the way of life;
her paths wander aimlessly, but she does not know it.

Proverbs 5 (NIV)

And the Book of Proverbs is filled with many, many more warnings on this same theme.  Take a gander at these verses:  Proverbs 2:16-19 ; Proverbs 5Proverbs 6:20-35 ; Proverbs 7 ;  Proverbs 9:13-18

Simple put:
Beware of Strangers with Eye Candy

The tabloids and their ilk devour a regular diet of the indiscretions of prominent political figures (from both parties), high profile religious leaders, captains of industry, entertainers, sports heroes, and other celebrities.  (Just google "mistresses" with your chosen powerful positions and/or celebrity.)  And many of these dalliances have had tragic consequences - damaged reputations, ruined marriages, ended careers, and hurt the innocent.

Many songs bemoan such ruin.  And one such hit the top of the charts on this theme - 50 years ago - September 5, 1964.

The House of the Rising Sun
by the Animals

[reference:  House of the Rising Sun" by the Animals tops the U.S. pop charts — This Day in History — 9/5/1964]

But in the Book of Proverbs there is another mistress who is the counter to the strange woman.  She is called Wisdom and she is personified as a woman:

20  Out in the open wisdom calls aloud,
she raises her voice in the public square;
21  on top of the wall she cries out,
at the city gate she makes her speech:

22  “How long will you who are simple love your simple ways?
How long will mockers delight in mockery
and fools hate knowledge?
23  Repent at my rebuke!
Then I will pour out my thoughts to you,
I will make known to you my teachings.

Proverbs 1 (NIV)

And the Book of Proverbs is filled with many pictures of Wisdom calling out to the simple and the foolish.  Here are some of  her instructions: Proverbs 1:20-33 ; Proverbs 2 ; Proverbs 3 ; Proverbs 4 ; Proverbs 8Proverbs 9:1-12

As the strange man/woman ruins, Wisdom redeems.  

King David was a strange man, an adulterer, and he found forgiveness and redemption as he wrote:

1 Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.

Psalm 51 (NIV)

That Wisdom is found in the Son of David, Jesus, in which all can find forgiveness, even the strange man or woman, adulterers. As to the woman caught in adultery (curious note is the man was not brought forth, too), Jesus said this of her accusers -

"Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her."

The story is found in the Gospel of John - John 8:1-1 and is illustrated in the short clip below.

The Wisdom of Proverbs speaks of the Wisdom of Christ - the incarnation of Wisdom. 

It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, 
who has become for us wisdom from God—
that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.

His Words can save us from the seduction of adultery ... and save those who have committed adultery and make us whole again.  As one forgiven adulterer, David, once said -

Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
    so that sinners will turn back to you.

And that is sweeter than candy!


Previous post in the series:

Proverbs (part 1) - Information vs. Wisdom (2013)

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


Sunday, September 7, 2014

America's Story (part 16) - Our First 9/11

Wikipedia/Star Spangled Banner Flag

June 1812 - February 1815:

More than 200 years ago, the War of 1812 began.  It has been called the Second War of American Independence.  And it started for many reasons, among them:  the British restriction of American trade, the desire of American expansion, the impressment of American sailors into the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars.

But a turning point came in late summer of 1814.

[reference: War of 1812 - Facts & Summary - and timeline - Timeline | War of 1812 | PBS ]

August 24 - 25, 1814:

In retaliation for American attacks in Canada, the British took the US capital and torched it.   An interesting side note is that on the next day, the weather - a tornado - inflicted more causalities on the British than the fight. So the British cut their occupation short and limped back to their ships. 

[reference: British troops set fire to the White House — This Day in History — 8/24/1814  and A Tornado Saves Washington during the War of 1812 | Historical Digression ]

Many prisoners were taken in this attack on Washington D. C.  Among them was Dr. William Beanes, a colleague of Georgetown lawyer, Francis Scott Key.

Soon it was ...

* September 11, 1814 *

This was our first 9/11 and the turning point of the war at the Battle of Plattsburgh.  The decisive victory over the British naval forces on Lake Champlain lead the British retreat into Canada.  Also it lead to the conclusion of U.S.-British peace negotiations in Belgium, which would formally end the war in 1815.

[reference:  The Battle of Plattsburgh- September 11, 1814 Victory on Lake Champlain  and Battle of Plattsburgh - Facts & Summary - ]

Meanwhile, Francis Scott Key traveled to the British fleet in the Chesapeake to negotiate a release of American prisoners of war, among them Dr. William Beanes.

September 13 and 14, 1814

But after the British victory in Washington D.C. in August, their troops advanced to the vital port city of Baltimore.  They believed it to be the base of the privateers, who preyed on their shipping.   At Fort McHenry was the garrison that was key to the city's harbor defense.

[reference: War of 1812: Battle of Fort McHenry ]

In the Battle of Fort McHenry, the British gave it all that they got as they fired on the fort to get the Americans to surrender.  There ultimatum to the Americans was if the fort lowered the flag, the shelling would stop.

The rest of the story is told here in the clip below - through the eyes of Francis Scott Key:

(for a transcrpt, check out:  The Star Spangled Banner)

And at dawn's early light, Francis Scott Key saw that  - the flag was still there!   

This Georgetown lawyer penned the lyrics of the song from this experience.  They can be found here:  Star Spangled Banner Lyrics - USA Flag Site

For the rest of the story:  The Story Behind the Star Spangled Banner | History | Smithsonian

The Star Spangled Banner was born in the crucible of the American Revolution and the War of 1812, in which we fought the British. Since then, the United States and the United Kingdom have become strong allies.

* September 11, 2001 *

Almost 200 years after the War of 1812, the US was attacked on native soil in New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington D.C.

[reference:  9/11 Attacks - Facts & Summary - ]

And the British gave this tribute to us, playing the Star Spangled Banner at Buckingham Palace:

It's been 200 years since the lyrics were written.  As we move into the 21st century, the last line of our National Anthem still ends with this question:

Oh, say, does that Star-Spangled Banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

And it's a question each coming generation needs to answer.


Other posts in this series:


Photo from:  Wikipedia/Star Spangled Banner Flag

Monday, September 1, 2014

Culture 101 (part 15) - Persevering and Prevailing during Dark Days Mail 31 December 1940

September 3, 1939 - 75 years ago - Britain and France declared war on Germany.  It was in response to Hitler's invasion of Poland two days earlier on September 1st.

So World War II began.  

And some historians say it was an extension of War World I.  [reference:  Britain and France declare war on Germany — This Day in History — 9/3/1939, HowStuffWorks "World War I" ]

Six years later, World War II would prove to be the most devastating war of the 20th century.  One estimate gives close to 50 million killed.  Some go as high as over 70 million.  But no doubt about it, all corners of the planet were affected by perhaps the greatest conflict in history ... so far.

Many stories have been spun about this war, particularly those of persevering and prevailing during dark times.  And art imitates life in the ...

* Movies *
The King's Speech (2010), is the true story of King George VI facing a crisis in both his personal life and as a reluctant wartime monarch.  First, he persevered and prevailed in public speaking in spite of a speech problem; likewise leading his people through the most trying time in the 20th century.

"The stammering that defined him, and the courage with which he tried to beat it, came to symbolise the vulnerability of the British people as they stood alone against the Nazi tyranny that had the rest of Europe in its grip."   [reference: The King's Speech: the real story - Telegraph

And as World War II began 75 years ago, this speech, dramatized below, was given at the start of the six year marathon of persevering and prevailing over great evil.

Below are the last lines of the King's speech:

"There may be dark days ahead, and war can no longer be confined to the battlefield. But we can only do the right as we see the right, and reverently commit our cause to God.

"If one and all we keep resolutely faithful to it, ready for whatever service or sacrifice it may demand, then, with God's help, we shall prevail."

George VI - September 3, 1939

[reference:  Online Speech Bank: King George VI -- First Radio Address (transcript-audio-video)]

George VI backed up his words with actions. He stood by his people as they experienced enemy raids from the sky on native soil.  The most intense were from September 1940 to May 1941, the first attacks lasting for 57 consecutive days, known as the London Blitz.

Instead of fleeing to Canada or to the countryside, the King stayed in London, which was the target of the most intense Nazi bombings.  Buckingham Palace even took a hit from the raids.  Shown here  ( is a picture of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth walking through London during the Blitz, 1940 or 1941.

The King gave the people courage to stand up to Hitler and his "supermen."  And ultimately, Great Britain and her allies did prevail.  For a transcript of some of the King's Speeches, check out:  HISTORIC ROYAL SPEECHES AND WRITINGS

The trying times of World War II not only influenced the stories shown on the big screen like The King's Speech, but also such genres on the smaller screens like ...

* Science Fiction * 

On such is the longest running Science Fiction television series in history - Dr. Who.  In this following scene from "The Empty Child," the Doctor commends Nancy for the tenacity of her people during a time which Sir Winston Churchill had described as "their finest hour."

Below are some of Dr. Who's comments during the London Blitz:

"1941 ... the German war machine is rolling up the map of Europe ... country after country falling like dominoes .... nothing can stop it ... nothing.

"Until one tiny, damp little island says, No! No, not here.

"A mouse in front of lion  ..."

Another genre is ....

* Fantasy *

Many stories are set during great conflict of good and evil as epic as World War II.  As shown in the clip below from The Lord the Rings,  The Two Towers (2002), Sam's speech reflects perhaps the theme of the trilogy:

Great stories give hope for the future during the many dark days in our history. Heroes and heroines had lots of chances to turn back, but they did not.  As Sam put it -

"Because they were holding on to something ...

"That there's some good in this world ... and it's worth fighting for."

[reference:  The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) - Quotes - IMDb]

The King's Speech and Sam's Speech ... a little of Dr. Who - this is a sample of those stories that speak to our soul during dark days.  And during such times, there are heroes and their stories of persevering and prevailing over great evil.  And many of these stories become part of the culture and we pass them on ....

As they give us hope for the good worth fighting for!


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)

Culture 101 (part 8) - Snow White (2013)

Culture 101 (part 9) - Father Knows Best (2013)

Culture 101 (part 10) - Summertime! x 3 (2013)

Culture 101 (part 11) - Native American Osmosis (2013)

Culture 101 (part 12) - Thanksgivukkah (Thanksgiving and Hanukkah) (2013)

Culture 101 (part 13) - Coventry Carol (2013)

Culture 101 (part 14) - World War I - that Golden Summer of 1914 (2014)


Photo from: Mail 31 December 1940

Friday, August 22, 2014

H/S (part 2) - Travel Mercies RAGE FIST

Labor Day will upon us, marking the end of summer.  But that will not be the end of travel as the school year begins in late summer, Thanksgiving comes in late fall, and Christmas-New Years in early winter.

Whatever the season, there are many dangers while traveling.  One of these is man-made.

 Road Rage!  

Below is a great clip on how to deescalate and prevent a regretful confrontation:

The Disney's movie Frozen (2013), had it right

Let it go ...

[for video clip:  Disney's Frozen "Let It Go" Sequence Performed by Idina Menzel]

Driving is more than just reading signs.  It's about good manners and caring. For the rest of the story, check out:  The 10 Unwritten Road Commandments

Travel mercies ...

Likewise, when traveling, wearing a seat beat saves lives during those unfortunate times when there is an accident.  The public service ad reminds us of this.

Holidays ... everyday  ... keep cool 
as well as the Golden Rule

Do to others as you would have them do to you.

And as always ....

Be Safe!

Previous post in this series: