Current Event Friday #43

What are you watching? Today’s #CurrentEventFriday gives you a look at what I’m watching at Christmas

We’re only a weekend away from Christmas Eve and four days from Christmas. So as my Poetry Wednesday was titled, it’s that time of year. Much of the season is hanging lights inside and outside, decorating Christmas trees, sending Christmas cards, and of course watching Christmas movies.

It’s that last activity that I’m dedicating today’s #CurrentEventFriday topic to. While Freeform (formerly ABC Family) dedicates much of their December lineup to Christmas films, only a few are standards for many families. The Hallmark channel is also geared for Christmas movies all this month. Much of their offerings include a busy executive who somehow ends up in a small town at Christmas and falls in love with a local and they live happily ever after. Sadly, I’ve yet to see life imitate art in my own life like the Hallmark films. Even Netflix and other streaming networks have loaded up on Christmas offerings as well.

Admittedly, I only watch a few films and I’ll be talking about them on today’s post. So, this will give some insight into my tastes in Christmas films as well as my family’s choices too.

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Yes, Christmas Vacation is at the top of my list. Clark Griswold and his family star in the holiday-themed installment in National Lampoon’s vacation franchise. Ironically, this is the only film in the series where the family doesn’t travel to anywhere in particular save for the trip to the Christmas tree farm. Clark’s over-zealous plans for Christmas including his parents and in-laws provide plenty of laughs whether it’s the attempts to make the house visible from space thanks to Christmas lights or including a Christmas tree that’s nearly as big as the entire living room. Of course, Clark’s cousin-in-law Eddie also provides multiple unintended non-sequiturs. Clark’s Aunt Bethany & Uncle Lewis also provide comedic opportunities in their frugality and senility including gifting their cat.

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Yes, I’m a nineties baby, which means I was born in the eighties but much of childhood and adolescence was tied to the nineties. So, of course Home Alone makes the list. When Kevin McAllister is accidentally left at home while his family travels to Paris, he has to find a way to cope with the responsibility of taking care of the house. As part of caring for the house, Kevin plans to protect his house from a crew of burglars known as the Wet Bandits. Much of the attempts to thwart the burglars rely on creative violence. Joe Pesci & Daniel Stern are able to convey the physical comedy of the defensive pranks like early vaudeville performers.

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I know this one will generate controversy, but I maintain that Die Hard is a Christmas movie. Officer John McClane comes to visit his wife during Christmas—check, he has to find a way to maintain sanity during the holiday—check, his fast-paced life has to be set aside to rekindle his romance with his wife—check, and he encounters a German bearded man with helpers carrying packages—check. All of these elements sound like elements in a Christmas movie to me. Admittedly, the bearded German man and his helpers are international terrorists and John McClane ends up dispatching them. I know Bruce Willis who plays McClane has said it’s not a Christmas movie, but I think it belongs on the list regardless.

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The most recent addition to the list is a Netflix original titled Christmas Chronicles. The film stars a rebellious teenager and his younger sister who struggle to get along with each other after their firefighter father’s death. Both Teddy & Katie Pierce end up working together to reunite Santa Claus with his repaired sleigh and reindeer. Santa is played by Kurt Russel, who at first seems like an unlikely choice, but has a mischievous and wise-cracking demeanor that counters the usual jolly obese man saying Ho! Ho! Ho! Eventually Santa, his human helpers, and several elves are able to save Christmas and deliver all the presents with only milliseconds to spare.

What movies do you watch around Christmas time? Add your list below.


P.S. I’ll be somewhat hit or miss on the blog the next few weeks with Christmas, New Year’s, and a much needed vacation. So plan on seeing less frequent posts. Follow me on other social media to keep up with what I’m sharing and doing. 

Poetry Wednesday #33

Poetry Wednesday is entitled “That Time of Year”

“That Time of the Year”

Seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression that comes and goes

I should know, I am deeply in its throes

Worst of all, my heart made me trust again

We tried to take it to the limit, and yet we found love’s end

Nothing is as sad and lonely as being alone in a crowd of people

Treat it with light therapy, like walking, but not up a steep hill.

Though none wants to be on my arm

Voices from within and without, tell me there’s no harm.

All my friends and family tell me, “take it easy.”

How? I’ve got women on my mind. One says she’s only a friend of mine, one wants to own me.

Yet, none of the other women on mind wants my lover to be.

How do you get your love life out of the doldrums

Seems as romance my way never comes.

This time it feels like I’m always chewed up and spit out like everyone’s gum.

© Ryan Stroud 2018

Current Event Friday #42

Donald Trump isn’t the only one who should be careful about his Tweets

Anything you post on social media can and will be used against you in a court of public opinion. Yes, I know I am taking liberties with the Miranda Rights, but as we saw last weekend this is a word to the wise for two popular men based on their tweets from almost more than a decade. The debacle for both is today’s topic of #CurrentEventFriday.

The two men in question had a series of older but unconnected tweets mocking homosexual men. What’s shocking is that both men are African-American, a usual protected class of people who have seen oppression in their lives as much as or even more than homosexuals. The first man to face the outraged left-leaning media for his tweets is comedian Kevin Hart. Hart is famous for mocking his friends for their stupidity and the extremes to which he and his friends have dealt with women. His act includes all the common profanities and the vernacular version of the n-word that African-Americans use towards each other. Up to this point, no one has objected to Hart’s routine and his use of colorful language. It came to light as Hart was scheduled to host the Oscars next month that he had tweeted a set of now deleted tweets using slurs about homosexuals. Again, Hart is well established in Hollywood and is featured in several films with other top celebrities. Most of Hollywood leans left and supports anyone who is not white, male, cisgender, straight, Christian, or conservative. Hart has never been accused of not being ‘woke’ and has supported many left-leaning efforts. When the tweets from 2009 surfaced, Hart initially defended them as being part of his standup routine at the time and was unlikely to apologize for the tweets. Members of the Oscars committee and celebrities demanded apologies from Hart lest he should no longer be allowed to host the awards ceremony. Hart was removed as the host and ultimately was made to apologize before the weekend had ended.

Kevin Hart
Kevin Hart

The second man guilty of supposed homophobia is this year’s Heisman winner, Kyler Murray. Murray is currently the quarterback for the University of Oklahoma and a prospect in the Oakland Athletics minor league system. Murray’s tweets like Hart’s were from at least seven years ago. The tweets in question were directed by Murray at his high school friends and classmates in a playful argument when all parties involved were minors. These tweets only came to light after the Heisman Award ceremony on Saturday night and were published by an investigative newspaper journalist. Although since Murray’s account is public and can easily be scrolled to 2011-2012 with minimal effort, it’s debatable how much investigation was necessary. In Hart’s situation, he has benefited over the last decade from his standup fame and film career; but Murray has not begun a professional career with any sustained success in either football or baseball. Since Murray is still young and unestablished as a celebrity, the outrage may be more damaging to his career and livelihood than Hart.

Kyler Murray

While the tweets by Murray and Hart aren’t the most positive things to broadcast, they still have freedom of speech to say them. Yes, they are verified speech that doesn’t earn them points with GLAAD and other LGBTQ+ groups, but they can still say them. What’s remarkable is that Robert “Beto” O’Rourke has a verifiable legal record that includes public intoxication and a hit-and-run charge resulting in injury from two decades ago that was mostly ignored by Hollywood celebrities and the mainstream media. While actions can be far more damaging and in O’Rourke’s case they were, it was forgotten about. While on the other side of the coin, Brett Kavanaugh was merely accused of sexual assault by a less-than-credible witness with no evidence and had his life nearly ruined in totality. Much of the outrage seems to be for naught, as Kavanaugh chose not to hear a case brought before the Supreme Court that would challenge the ability of Planned Parenthood to receive Medicaid funding.

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Mika Brzezinski

Additionally, the outrage over Hart and Murray’s tweets that the mainstream media seem to imply is evidence of homophobia pales in comparison to Mika Brzezinski’s commentary on current Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. During a segment on Morning Joe with her husband, Brzezinski used a homophobic slur about Pompeo’s allegiance to Pres. Trump in order to imply that Pompeo might as well be a homosexual partner of Pres. Trump. As a regular opponent of Morning Joe and their criticisms of his administration, Pres. Trump took to Twitter and insinuated that Brzezinski will likely get a pass thanks to her progressive tendencies. He went on to add that if a conservative commentator had demeaned Brzezinski in a like manner, that the conservative commentator would be banned from television appearances.

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Roy Hibbert during a press conference where he used a homophobic slur

Brzezinski will also get a pass because being anti-Trump and a woman apparently makes you more woke than African-Americans and homosexuals in terms of intersectionality. Also, Brzezinski’s offensive statement was captured live on a mainstream and liberal outlet and not discovered from several years ago. Live capture of offensive statements don’t always prove the degree of intersectionality though, Roy Hibbert of the NBA was fined in 2013 when during a press conference he used a homophobic phrase. This again proved even then, gay is higher on the intersectionality ladder compared to African-Americans. Much of any attempt to understand the degrees of intersectionality or wokeness is arbitrary and as fluid as gender is for the same intersectional leftists.

What do you think, should someone be shamed and disciplined for something they said more than five years ago or even longer? Should anyone be answerable for speech or action at a younger age?

Happy Indiana Day!

A day of celebration of all things Hoosier

That’s right, today is Indiana Day. It was on this day in 1816 that the Indiana Territory was officially recognized as a state. The granting of statehood to Indiana made it the 19th state admitted to the Union. Each year since 1925, the Indiana General Assembly proclaims this date as an anniversary to celebrate all things of the Hoosier State. Of course, two years ago during the state’s bicentennial anniversary the festivities and acknowledgements were much more impressive and manifold than the usual offerings. Interesting note, the state flag was only adopted more than a century after statehood. By waiting until 1917, Indiana was at that point the only state without a flag. The state did adopt a seal in 1801 and affirmed it again in 1816 during the push for statehood.

State Seal of Indiana

The initial efforts to achieve statehood for Indiana were begun on April 19, 1816 when President James Madison signed an Enabling Act that provided for the election of delegates to a convention at Corydon to consider statehood for Indiana. Forty-three delegates convened June 10–29, 1816, to draft Indiana’s first state constitution.  The location for the convention has been memorialized in Corydon as the Constitution Elm. The memorial is a preserved portion of an elm tree the delegates gathered under for shade during the scorching summer hours of the convention. Corydon would remain the state capital for nearly a decade and was moved to the more central location of Indianapolis in 1825.

Indiana was able to grow even after statehood thanks to the National Road through the center of the state and by its advertised abolitionist leanings. The framers of the first Indiana Constitution included provisions that slavery was illegal in the state and an early session of the Indiana Supreme Court declared that any person purchased for enslavement in the Indiana Territory even before statehood would be considered free. Indiana’s opposition to slavery led to an overwhelming volunteer effort for the Civil War that several prospective men hoping to enlist were turned away.

Indiana’s growth as a state after statehood was also felt in government efforts from the mid-19th Century to the early 20th Century reflected the Hoosier state’s importance in American politics which saw an Indiana resident included in every presidential election from 1880 to 1924, in all but one race. Indiana has seen only one President from their state—Benjamin Harrison, but has seen five Vice Presidents: Thomas Hendricks (Cleveland), Charles Fairbanks (T. Roosevelt), Thomas Marshall (Wilson) , Dan Quayle(George H.W. Bush), and current Vice President Mike Pence.

Indiana was only the second of the several states comprising the Northwest Territory to gain statehood. Ohio earned its statehood 13 years earlier. Illinois would receive statehood just two years after its neighboring state of Indiana had earned theirs. Michigan would take another two decades, and Wisconsin and Minnesota would be admitted in the decade just preceding the Civil War.

Happy Anniversary to the Crossroads of America and every Hoosier by birth or choice (Yes, this includes you Purdue alumni too)!

“Indiana” by Arthur Franklin Mapes

God crowned her hills with beauty,
Gave her lakes and winding streams,
Then He edged them all with woodlands
As the setting for our dreams.
Lovely are her moonlit rivers,
Shadowed by the sycamores,
Where the fragrant winds of Summer
Play along the willowed shores.
I must roam those wooded hillsides,
I must heed the native call,
For a pagan voice within me
Seems to answer to it all.
I must walk where squirrels scamper
Down a rustic old rail fence,
Where a choir of birds is singing
In the woodland . . . green and dense.
I must learn more of my homeland
For it’s paradise to me,
There’s no haven quite as peaceful,
There’s no place I’d rather be.
Indiana . . . is a garden
Where the seeds of peace have grown,
Where each tree, and vine, and flower
Has a beauty . . . all its own.
Lovely are the fields and meadows,
That reach out to hills that rise
Where the dreamy Wabash River
Wanders on . . . through paradise.

Be sure to eat some Sugar Cream Pie and sing “On the Banks of the Wabash, Far Away” to commemorate the event. It’s honest to goodness Indiana if you do.




History Monday #38

Today Samuel Clemens’s first successful novel is published about a mischievous protagonist

“All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and then Success is sure.”

This quote is among several uttered or penned by celebrated American satirist and novelist Mark Twain, the author of today’s #HistoryMonday topic—Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. For what it’s worth, the quote above is from one of Twain’s notebooks and not the book in question.

On this day in 1884, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was published in the United Kingdom and Canada. It would be published a couple months later in the United States. The book is known for its usage of vernacular English from the American South. The usage of ‘improper’ English was uncommon at the time of publication.

The novel was Twain’s first successful novel. While it’s predecessor The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is famous and has become part of American culture, it was initially a commercial failure for Twain. It was only after Twain became regarded for his short stories in various magazines that The Adventures of Tom Sawyer would become profitable.

Both novels The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn while being read by generations of Americans for pleasure or as part of academic requirements are not without controversy. While Twain included the dialect of American Southern English in the books, this also included the use of the infamous African-American slur ‘n****r’ as part of the dialogue. While the usage of the slur in Southern society at the time of its publishing, critics have made attempts to prohibit the books from being read or eliminating the word in more appropriate versions.

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The novel made Twain famous as an American novelist and still paints a picture of the antebellum South. Twain’s goal of the novel was to satirize the attitudes and actions of moral Christians in the South who owned slaves and treated them harshly. This hypocrisy is lampooned by Twain by including a runaway slave named Jim who is kindhearted, intelligent, and moral. Twain hope to contrast the attitudes of polite Southern Christian Whites who believed African slaves to be savage, immoral, and lacking intellect. Many of the other White characters embody the supposed personality trains that are put upon the African slaves.

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has also spawned multiple film and television adaptations, a Broadway musical, and homage novels that act as sequels to the original.

How many of Twain’s works have you read?

Current Event Friday #41

Problems in the National Football League are the subject of #CurrentEventFriday

Today is a date which will live in infamy according to Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt. Recent infamous actions by NFL players are today’s #CurrentEventFriday topic of discussion.

The last few weeks have seen two NFL players being punished based on evidence of physical abuse of their wives and girlfriends. The first player that has drawn attention is linebacker Reuben Foster. Foster is currently in his second season in the league but has already drawn attention for multiple charges of domestic violence, gun possession, and drug possession. Many of the charges of domestic violence earlier in the year were dismissed after the complaining parties admitted to perjury and recanted their statements. A new arrest for domestic violence on November 24 inclined the San Francisco 49ers to release Foster. Shortly after the release the Washington Redskins signed him admitting that they will comply with any discipline imposed by the league on Foster. Worth noting, Foster had already missed two games earlier this season for violating league policy of personal conduct based on the earlier arrests this year.

A second player of importance in this topic is running back Kareem Hunt. Hunt had previously been questioned by authorities and front office staff for the Kansas City Chiefs for alleged violence against a woman. The incident was filed in February and the Chiefs understood that Hunt had defended himself from the woman and the incident was not as serious as alleged. Unfortunately for Hunt, video was released of Hunt kicking the woman in question. The release of the video led to Hunt being placed on the commissioner’s exemption list resulting in an indefinite suspension. Realizing that these punishments would prevent Hunt from being involved in any manner with the team, the Chiefs released him. While the Chiefs cut Hunt, many critics have argued that the team should cut receiver/kick returner Tyreek Hill who has admitted to a prior domestic violence charge.

Foster’s most recent arrest has not been acted upon in criminal court, so it’s possible that the Redskins are not improper for signing him. If the charges prove to be true or Foster pleads guilty to them, then it may hurt the Redskins’ image, an already controversial image given the supposed racist name of the franchise. Hunt’s incident and the handling of it has brought comparisons to an incident involving Ray Rice almost five years ago. Rice was suspended at the start of the 2014 season after being arrested for assaulting his then fiancée in March of that year. While on suspension, Rice was released by the Baltimore Ravens after a video was released showing rice striking his fiancée and dragging her while unconscious into their vehicle. Rice was also suspended indefinitely by the league when the video was released, he appealed the suspension citing a violation of NFL rules that prevent double jeopardy when NFL policy is breached. Despite winning the appeal, Rice has not been signed by a team or played in the NFL since 2013.

While I am in favor of awaiting proper procedure for criminal charges, I disagree with delayed release of video evidence of a crime being committed. Additionally, the release of these videos to the public instead of to the prosecution in these cases is improper at best. I know that the league is not a court of law and could decide whether to punish players for even allegations and that’s certainly their prerogative. It just seems odd that the league waits to punish more strictly once video evidence is produced. If the league doesn’t want negative attention for its players violent indiscretions, just suspend the players indefinitely when a charge is filed and reinstate them when the charges have been dismissed or proven in a court of law. Arbitrary enforcement calls into question the entire process.

I’d also argue that if the league wants to improve its image, mandating anger management and therapeutic sessions for those players found guilty of assault or domestic violence would aid their arguments. Admittedly, the domestic violence and assault charges of NFL players are much more of a problem in my mind than the refusal to stand for the National Anthem. But that’s just my 2₵ on the matter.

Is the NFL acting accordingly regarding domestic violence?   

History Monday #37

Take today’s #HistoryMonday to heart thanks to an event happening just over five decades ago.

“I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.”

Ezekiel 36:26

These prophetic words spoken by YHWH through Ezekiel are a promise to the Jewish people in anticipation that they might love in a manner pleasing to YHWH. Even a cursory glance would indicate that this promise of a new heart is meant symbolically, but for one man in today’s #HistoryMonday these words were a literal promise.

On this day in 1967, medical experts at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town, South Africa were able to perform the first successful human heart transplant. A previous attempt using a chimpanzee’s heart in a human three years earlier had proven unsuccessful. The proof of concept of heart transplant had been proven with dogs a decade earlier, but the 1967 transplant is the first human-human heart transplant.

The recipient of the heart was Louis Washkansky, a Jewish immigrant and grocer in Cape Town. Washkansky’s health had declined substantially as he approached middle age. Among his medically known issues were diabetes and heart disease. Complications from these health issues had caused him to suffer three heart attacks, which eventually led to congestive heart failure.

A 25-year old named Denise Darvall was seriously injured in a car accident by a drunk driver the day prior along with her mother. Her mother was pronounced deceased at the scene. Doctors had attempted to resuscitate Denise but realized she was brain dead and was only being kept alive by artificial means. Upon realizing that there would be no hope of Denise surviving without life support, the doctors convinced the girl’s father to give permission to end the life support and allow her heart to be transplanted to Washkansky. The elder Darvall took only a few minutes to make his decision and agreeing that his daughter was generous and would likely have made the decision herself if able.

None of this procedure would be possible without the head of Experimental Surgery at the hospital— Dr. Christiaan Barnard. Barnard, a native South African had come to prominence as a doctor for his efforts with gastrointestinal medicine. He would learn more about cardiothoracic medicine during a tenure in the United States in 1955 and returned to South Africa and Groote Schuur Hospital in 1958 when he was tasked with leading the Department of Experimental Surgery.

Sadly, Washkansky would only live eighteen days after the transplant. This is attributable to the numerous immunosuppressants to prevent rejection of the heart by his immune system. During the eighteen days, he was able to regain consciousness and converse with his wife. The drugs given to him to prevent rejection had compromised his immune system which led to him contracting pneumonia which would be ruled as the cause of death

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Although Washkansky would not survive long after the transplant, it is considered successful due to the fact machines were not responsible for his survival. A second transplant recipient the next year would survive for nineteen months and be sent home. By the end of 1968, nearly 100 successful heart transplants would be performed.

Going forward, anti-rejection drugs were developed in the decades following and made transplantation more viable. Dr. Barnard continued to perform heart transplants. Just a decade later, many patients were living up to five years post-operation.

  • Dr. Barnard was also integral in assisting or directing surgeries for heart patients that also include diagnosing and correcting Tetralogy of Fallot. For what it’s worth, I mention that particular heart defect as it is essentially the same congenital heart defect that I was born with. Much of the treatment for this defect are reparative surgeries to the patient’s heart and are not usually remedied by transplant (a solution others often inquire about and I have to dismiss).

Successful heart transplant surgery continues to be performed today, but finding appropriate donors is extremely difficult. The decision to end life-saving efforts for Denise Darvall was not without controversy since the standard of determining vitality did not allow for patients who were brain dead but had other healthy organs. Generous people are encouraged to declare their future intentions on their driver’s licenses and communicate the same to their families and attorneys in order to expedite their wishes post mortem.