Current Event Friday #65

Take Me Out to the Ballgame!

Like Don Henley, I’m watching the boys of Summer and all that’s going on around America’s pastime. The other Big 4 seasons are over and so baseball has the spotlight, with that spotlight many teams are getting in the news and mentions for all kinds of reasons lately. All the attention about the unique things going on in baseball are today’s #CurrentEventFriday.

Leading off (pun intended) is the news that broke last week and still is being hammered out about the Tampa Bay Rays. The team has played to near empty stadium crowds since their inception in 1998 as the Devil Rays. Their sister expansion team, the Diamondbacks have won a World Series and draw respectable crowds in what is another non-traditional baseball city. The Rays and Marlins struggle in Florida where many snowbirds have East Coast allegiances to New York, Boston, or Beltway fandoms. Even if the fans from colder climates don’t root for the East Coast teams, they’re likely rooting for Midwest teams like the Cubs, Cardinals, or the Reds for example. Tampa Bay has been pushing for a new stadium in St. Petersburg where they currently play but with no approval from the city to build the stadium. The city of Tampa doesn’t seem willing to play ball either. So, now the Rays are trying an unconventional strategy, a split-home schedule. Play the Summer games in Montreal and the cooler temperature games in St. Petersburg at their current stadium. The argument goes, Montreal was never happy when the Expos left and rebranded as the Washington Nationals so the fans will flock back to a baseball team in the city again. Many commentators have joked that maybe the team could be named the Montrampa Bay Ex-Rays or Tampreal Raypos. While it’s true that Montreal would love to have a baseball team back in their city and St. Petersburg doesn’t seem to care about the rays, the back and forth would be ridiculous. If the team wants a stadium and a city that would actually want a team, just make the permanent move to Montreal and abandon the split season idea.

Also making news in baseball are the two biggest franchises in the league trying to win over international fans. MLB has already hosted Japan series, Mexico Series, and games in Puerto Rico but this weekend features baseball in London. These will be the first MLB games played in Europe. The home of the series is London Stadium, home of the Olympic Games and West Ham United Football Club. Artificial turf and dirt have been shipped in to prepare the stadium to host the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred no doubt is emulating the NFL’s approach with London games, but hoping to have a better draw than the NFL games. Next season will feature popular National League franchises the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs. This isn’t a bad approach by MLB, having recognizable and iconic franchises playing in the series will draw even the most casual fans in Europe. The NFL’s attempts fell flat at first for featuring less popular teams that Europeans barely recognized.

Here come the Mets, and there go the reporters. Making news in all the wrong ways are the New York Mets. After losing to the Cubs on Sunday, Manager Mickey Callaway was asked why he chose not to use closer Edwin Diaz to protect a two-run lead in the 8th inning. Diaz was well rested and never entered the game. In the clubhouse following the game, Callaway insulted a reporter for extending pleasantries, and demanded the same reporter leave the locker room. Compounding this flareup, Mets’ pitcher Jason Vargas then threatened to assault the reporter and attempted to make good on the threat but was restrained by teammates. For both of their actions, Callaway and Vargas were fined $10K each. None of this is surprising, the Mets are scrambling for a Wild Card berth. But thanks to several injuries to their position players and bad luck, the Mets will likely miss the playoffs and have conceded the season. So, the attitude in the locker room is already poor before any reporter enters it. When expected to apologize a few days later, Callaway struggled to admit fault and offer an apology, but eventually admitted his wrongdoing.

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Clark the Cub with Cookie Monster at Wrigley Field

On a more interesting and happier note, the Chicago Cubs are trying to win young fans more and partnered with Sesame Street to do so. While the Cubs had already introduced Clark the Cub as a mascot and children’s ambassador for the team, a popular Sesame Street Muppet joined Clark for yesterday’s game. Cookie Monster was on hand to greet young fans and sang “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during the 7th Inning Stretch as a guest conductor.

What out-of-leftfield stories about baseball have you seen recently?

All in the Family

It’s important to know your family and their stories

I posted several entries about Family Reunions and get-togethers on here before, but I’m reminded during the Summer about the importance of family as it means reunion and family get-togethers more than other seasons.

Family reunions were enjoyable to go to as a kid to be sure, because most of the other kids my age went to the same school as me, so it was interesting to think of them as not only classmates but as distant relatives. As I’ve gotten older, I learned to have further discussions with the adults.

The conversations with the adults take on a more special meaning in recent years. As the older generations have passed away, the adults ahead of me generationally keep their memories alive. This helps me to connect to the ones that I still have some of the same memories, but it also helps me flesh out the family tree a bit more.

When we traveled to Texas a few years ago, we were able to reconnect with cousins we seldom see, and at least for me and my first cousin once removed, we got to connect with cousins that we had never met. Those new connections are now fostered on social media and are more priceless than any connection to the state of Texas.

Many cousins have also made a point to reciprocate and visit at Grandma’s in the last few years and stories and memories are shared which I treasure because again it helps flesh out the family tree. I know Dad has discussed plans to try and visit those cousins near their hometowns and I’m looking forward to being able to firm up those plans.

As I mentioned about social media helping to deepen connections with cousins across the country, even the more local ones are deepened on there too. Luckily on the paternal side of the family, one cousin administrates a Facebook group page for the extended members of the family to share photos and memories of our family. So, this creates more of a virtual gathering to understand the family tree as well.

While I learn well from simply listening, a book containing wisdom, memories, and traditions of the family would be helpful for future generations. My memory and learning by auditory means is fading as I age, and those treasured memories could fade if not written down. The Facebook group does allow for many of the memories to be written down and preserved.

The fascination with family connections extends beyond my family too. I like watching Finding Your Roots on PBS. This show features Yale Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. revealing interesting relatives to celebrities. The episodes also conclude with a DNA analysis that explains the celebrities’ ethnic makeup as well. It’s always interesting when Black celebrities find out they have some sort of Asian heritage or the WASPiest celebrity has Ashkenazi or other ethnic heritage.

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A Consanguinity Chart

I also like the idea of trying to navigate the family trees and the consanguinity charts that explain who is my 1st cousin once removed, or great uncle twice removed. I know many are confused with how they are related but looking at a consanguinity chart several times has helped me understand. E.g. your first cousin once removed is your first cousin’s child. Worth noting, their relation to you is first cousin once removed as well.

Do you try to learn the histories, traditions, and memories of your family?

Poetry Wednesday #59

Today’s entry is “Desire” for Poetry Wednesday.

“Desire”

Love has grown cold, but in my body there’s an inward burning

My mind races through the dark times, a lonely traveler passing time through a human jungle

All I want, best not to dare give in. Let me take a look at her now, but I’ll give in to the stumble

Hoping against hopelessness that I could quench my yearning,

Keep giving in to passion, in spite of all my Sunday learning

Seemingly unable to resist, feeling lower than just humble

Vison clouded and focused on that girl, my sights are narrowed to the dark tunnel

Knowing better, but in the dead of night the soul is churning

 

Run away from all the temptation set before me at the hand of the devil

Going too far, and way too deep—this desire that I could taste her sweet and cherry lips

Want the feeling of all of her, but she slips through my fingertips

Can’t stand myself, deep down I know again I’ve sunk to the lowest level

Soon she’ll be gone and I’m on my own again, and undue passion relinquishes my mind

Feeling like my hidden life, my love is a lady that I can only see, and desire pushes me to find

© Ryan Stroud 2019

I Love Your Accent

How’s your mom ‘n’ em?

We hear all the time, “I love your accent.” Maybe we’ve even said the same to someone else. Everyone has a trace of some accent with whatever language they’re speaking. American English has its own accents that are as separate from each other as British, Australian, or Canadian English.

While it’s true that BBC anchors employ Received Pronunciation (RP) English in the United Kingdom, it takes work to set aside their native accents. Most newscasters stateside employ a similar speech pattern to round off their native accents.

Being from Middle America, I don’t have that pronounced of an accent. Although, I do dip into a slight Southern accent since my location borders the state of Kentucky. So, the typical Midwestern accent is nuanced with a Southern accent as well.

Admittedly, I also slip into the Southern accent because I like the sound of the Southern accent. If I’m watching an Instagram story or other social media post and a cute girl has a Southern accent, I’m even more attracted to her beyond the looks for the accent alone. I also like the Southern accent when employed by anyone telling a story or giving a speech.

I know that there’s variations in the Southern accent, and comedian Tim Wilson observes how they are differentiated according to what he’s experienced.

I saw last month that a travel blog polled their followers about the sexiest accents and the results were surprising if not a little controversial when they were released. Topping the list was Texan, which again as a fan of the Southern accent I can understand, but the runner up was Bostonian. Two totally different accents with particular qualities that seems surprising that both would be at the top. If I had to guess, several women liked the Boston accent for Mark Wahlberg’s Boston accent, but I can’t imagine too many men finding the same accent attractive coming from a woman. The Texan accent at the top would appeal to both sexes. Women would like the Matthew McConaughey Texan accent or Kelly Clarkson for the guys.

For reference, here’s the full list of the top 50 U.S. accents as compiled by www.bigseventravel.com:

Top 50 Sexiest US Accents

Honestly, some of these accents I didn’t realize were so specific. I would usually clump many of those same accents together. But like I mentioned earlier, even my favorite accent, Southern has more variations than you’d typically think. Sometimes depending on the particular pitch or the attitude of the speaker, that same Southern accent could be one that is scary or at least unappealing. Looking in the direction of the whole cast of Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo.

Of course, regional accents overshadow the ESL speaker accents that we run into as well. Whether it’s an Asian, French, Latino, or otherwise those are sometimes appealing to native English ears. It also causes me to wonder if those same ESL speakers have favorite English accents or does it bother them when they are trying to learn the language.

This post is probably not surprising for many to read, given that my Bachelor’s degree is in Languages & Linguistics. Given that, I had to learn not only the Spanish for my concentration, but also the pattern of language formation, including International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) pronunciation to understand other foreign languages. I also had to learn sentence diagramming and other linguistic exercises. So, language is always something that has fascinated me, and mimicking various accents of everyday persons as well as celebrities is a personal hobby of mine.

What accent do you find appealing?

History Monday #60

Television cowboyed up to make history on this date

Here comes #HistoryMonday, blare the trumpets, bang the drums, here it comes. Quite a bit of fanfare for today’s entry, but this fanfare is borrowed from the lines of pioneering television show for today’s entry.

Many recognize the lyrics to the Western show, Hopalong Cassidy included in today’s introduction. The television show began airing on NBC on this day in 1949. This marked the first Western television series to be aired in the United States.

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While B-movie Westerns aired on television, Hopalong Cassidy paved the way for television series in the genre. Originally a B-movie and Western novel, Hopalong Cassidy became a television entry in its own right.

Hopalong Cassidy used the straight-man and comic relief partnership of William Boyd as the titular character, along with Edgar Buchanan as his sidekick Red Connors to add humor to the Western genre. The original film and radio versions of the show had included two companions for Hoppy, a typical funny man and a younger traveler. The television version phased out the younger traveling companion. Hoppy’s horse that was in all versions a white stallion named Topper.

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Thanks to the success of Hopalong Cassidy, other radio Western contemporaries of the show began to move to the small screen. Among these shows were: The Roy Rogers Show, The Gene Autry Show, and The Lone Ranger. Additionally, shows like Bonanza, Gunsmoke, The Wild, Wild West, High Valley, The Rifleman, and Maverick would dominate the next two decades.   

Westerns experienced a second life during the 1990s with shows including: Lonesome Dove, Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, Deadwood, and Walker, Texas Ranger. More recently, Justified, Longmire, and Yellowstone have appeared in the last decade.

The West has been romanticized and celebrated since the turn of the 20th Century with dime novels detailing heroes like Kit Carson, Bat Masterson, and Wyatt Earp. Once radio was able to dramatize these larger-than-life characters, kids were able to have a connection to the West of a century earlier. It was only natural as Film studios were able to expand the influence from radio series on the West. Television found with Hopalong Cassidy that re-editing the films into broadcast television episodes it made it easier to expand the influence of the Westerns.

Many television Westerns gave early television and film stars their start in the business. James Best and Slim Pickens rose to fame as they began their careers on television Westerns as well as the B-movie Western film productions before expanding to other film and television offerings.

While much of the Westerns on television featured usage of gunfights, the depiction of bloodiness and the actual violence they would naturally have produced were ignored in the production of the shows. This allowed children watching the shows of course to emulate their favorite Western hero during their outdoor play at home or during recess. Television companies realized early that the whole family could and would watch their offerings. Men enjoyed the masculinity embodied by the cowboys, children enjoyed the face-paced action, and the women could admire the ruggedly handsome men cast as the gunslingers and cowhands.

Modern television networks have capitalized on the nostalgia of Western television shows and feature them on their airwaves. TBN & TV Land feature Westerns during their late morning and early afternoon programming. Specialty networks like GRIT feature Western television shows and movies as their primary programming, save for select late-night infomercials.

Did you watch Hopalong Cassidy? What’s your favorite Western? 

Current Event Friday #64

A celebrity learns photos are forever

Teens and Tweens have been warned for a decade that what is posted to the Internet is forever, even if you delete it. A celebrity scandal this week should remind even the most skeptical teenagers and preteens to be wise about the photos they take and distribute. The scandal and the response by other celebrities is today’s #CurrentEventFriday.

In case you haven’t heard, Bella Thorne a former child star and now triple threat learned that a hacker was planning to release nude and other revealing personal photos of her. In order to control the story, Thorne released the photos herself.

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Bella Thorne, 2018

Many celebrities applauded Thorne’s decision, agreeing that by releasing the photos she took away the power from the hacker and the potential for blackmail or extortion. Not everyone was supportive of Thorne though. The View decided to discuss the scandal and Whoopi Goldberg scolded Thorne, indicating that even a teenager should know better that if you take nude photos, there’s a risk that the wrong person may find and release them.

Thorne responded to Goldberg’s criticism in a tearful Instagram post, adding that Goldberg’s admonition added more hurt to the threat from the hacker to leak the photos. Thorne reiterated that her decision to release the photos herself was not one she had wanted to make but felt was necessary to remove the power from the hacker.

I’ve learned by observation and by others’ own personal media struggles that it’s preferable to control the flow of information. This policy is standard operating procedure for corporate entities and public institutions. It’s essentially Public Relations 101, control the story or else it will control you. Many public companies or institutions have a dedicated person for communications that gives only the necessary information and ensures that there is a single message communicated to the public.

For what it’s worth, I think both Bella Thorne and Whoopi Goldberg both have legitimate arguments to be made. Goldberg is right that it’s common sense nowadays that risqué photographs are risky, as any novice Francophone could easily tell. Thorne is also right that releasing the photos herself removes the potential for blackmail and illicit profit from the hacker.

Also, worth pointing out, I had to look up who Bella Thorne is. I don’t know most celebrities under the age of 25. I also usually don’t pay attention to The View except when they pounce on politicians and it makes news on political websites I follow. I didn’t recognize Bella Thorne from any of her work, nor did I recognize her former significant other from her failed polyamorous relationship, Mod Sun.

Bella Thorne isn’t the first celebrity to have nude photographs or videos that they leak in response to threat by hackers. Others who have had public and messy breakups have fallen victim for years. Some have even had scandals even if the relationship hadn’t ended. Some like Erin Andrews have had illegal photos and videos from illegal surveillance threatened to be leaked. Those illegally produced photos and videos leaked are different than Thorne and others who sexted significant others and someone intercepted the media. Most of the other celebrities that reach a settlement with the hackers or release the photos and videos themselves have not been criticized so far as I know that Thorne was. Whoopi Goldberg’s criticism seemed to be directed at Thorne for youthful naivete. Public criticism on the small screen is probably not the best way to inform and assist youth in making better decisions.

Should Whoopi Goldberg have criticized Bella Thorne for leaking photos herself?  

Poetry Wednesday #58

Today’s entry is “Extra” for Poetry Wednesday

“Extra”

Taking one step closer back to the table from the all you can eat buffet

Who cares if it’s your first or second helping? Being well-fed means success

Healthy eating, isn’t being fatted like the calf, and full of sass

Menu board reads: Meatloaf, Fried Chicken, Ham, and our famous Catfish Fillet

Save room for cakes, cobblers, and pies, slice them anyway

Our nation’s empty stomachs are soon filled, but now to excess

The problem is that we can at all times and places have food to access

A herd of angels below sing a song of despair, “Come feast away.”

 

The roast we’re going to feast! We’re going to have a wonderful time!

O! What a banquet for all to taste, the appetite will be sated

Beware the monster still growling, it’s an enemy self-created

I’ll buy everybody drinks all round—Beer, Whiskey, whatever your poison, how about a glass of wine

Food gives strength, but I’m weak; feel like I’m going to die from it

You only live once, so enjoy it; but have a responsible diet.

© Ryan Stroud 2019