Sole Focus

News, Views, Rantings & Ramblings by Carey Parrish

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Location: Georgia, United States

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Issue of Marriage Equality

Hello, friends! I know, I know...I haven't blogged in a LONG time. To be perfectly honest, so much has gone on in the past couple years for my family and myself that I honestly lost the desire to write anything. Anything. It's been a hard road but it's one that has been a learning experience. Now, and for the past few months, with things settling down and me feeling more like myself, I have been getting that urge to write again. To express myself in the written word is something I've always treasured and have had some success in doing as well. So I'm back, for now, and hopefully to stay.
 
Marriage equality is a topic of which I've had some very strong opinions for the last few years. As of today, same sex couples can now wed in twenty-eight states and the District of Columbia. It's been a long time coming but the Supreme Court has finally begun settling the matter once and for all. The freedom to marry whomever one chooses is indeed a right. It is not a privilege for the religious. If it were, atheists wouldn't have been capable of getting married. This is, and has ultimately been deemed, a moot point.
 
I am quite perplexed by the arguments that religious groups and conservative Republicans keep giving about how allowing same sex marriage will enable some people, namely pedophiles, to claim their way of life as a right as well. It is mindboggling to me that there are people out there who can confuse the right of consenting adults who love each other to get married with the issue of children, who cannot under the American judicial system consent to sexual encounters, being victimized by adults who have questionable desires. I just can't quite make sense of that. The difference is too far apart between the two subjects to even consider. Consequently, I can only conclude that this argument is yet another tool being used by the Right to confuse the matter and hold up progress for those who are demanding equality.
 
Back in 2008, when California offered up Proposition 8 on its ballots, I remember having a discussion with my friend Danny on the matter. As a conservative Christian, he was understandably opposed to same sex marriage and felt that it was indeed a topic which could be settled by voters. I quite vividly recall telling him: "Wait until just one of these cases comes before the Supreme Court and there are going to be a lot of very disappointed opponents to this issue."
 
And I was right. The Supreme Court has a pretty good track record when it comes to fairly applying the law to all parties it represents. When circuit courts across the country began striking down same sex marriage bans as unconstitutional, as such bans prevent all Americans from rights such as their freedom of expression and the pursuit of happiness, the Supreme Court declined to hear arguments from states wishing to keep their bans in place. Effectively, SCOTUS said that the lower courts got it right and they had nothing to add on the matter. In the three weeks since their declination to hear these cases, the justices have cleared the way one time after another for same sex couples to marry as they choose. SCOTUS sent a powerful message with their initial decision.
 
What it boils down to is very simple. The religious or moral views of certain groups of Americans cannot infringe on the rights of others to exercise their own religious or moral views. You can't vote away the civil rights of those you don't agree with. If some people can marry at will then all people should have this same preference. You might not like it but you cannot stop it. I predict that within the next year same sex marriage will be legal in all fifty states and every US territory in the world.
 
I was very amused by the response of certain state governors and attorneys general after the SCOTUS ruling. Their defiant statements that they would "ignore" the Supreme Court's decision was ludicrous. I suppose they do have the right to go to jail for obstruction of justice, just as every American citizen has the right to marry the person of his or her choosing. North Carolina has already made its position clear on this matter. When a magistrate there refused to marry two men on religious principles, the state said that magistrates will enforce the law or be removed from office. One magistrate resigned, as was his right to do, just as the two men who were refused their civil rights have the freedom to marry.
 
Because it really is a matter of civil rights. It reminds me of the National Guard being mobilized to desegregate schools when states tried to defy the law in the sixties. Bigotry and prejudice are not tolerated in the eyes of the law. This matter is no different. People are what they are, no matter their color, nationality, creed, or sexual orientation, and they cannot be denied the same rights that others enjoy.
 
And for those who are still trying to argue that homosexuality is a choice, I always reply to them with one simple question. "When did you choose to be straight?" Shuts 'em up every time.
 
Marriage equality is here. And not just in the US. In countries all around the world, people are either already allowed or are being allowed to marry the partner of their choice and society doesn't mind. It is only those who feel that their religious or their moral views entitle them to decide how the rest of the world should behave who are up in arms over this. And they'll just have to learn to live with it. Society is not going to allow an injustice of this nature to continue any longer.

The absolute foolishness of the human condition never fails to surprise me.
 
And, as Walter Cronkite used to say every evening, that's the way it is.
 
Love,
C

Sunday, May 4, 2014

An Early Morning Walk

I went for a walk.
An early morning walk.
In the crisp cool air.
The beautiful sunshine.
The smell of freshly cut grass
And the singing of the birds
Kept me company.
To commune with myself.
To clear my mind.
To feel ready for the new day.
I could feel the beating of my heart.
The worries of life momentarily abated.
As I concentrated only on my stride
I knew that in these solitary sojourns
One can find himself
And feel at peace with himself
To the tune of each breath.
Inhale.
Exhale.
Just be.
I went for a walk.
An early morning walk.
And I felt...
Alive.

Carey Parrish
4 May 2014

Sunday, March 2, 2014

The 2014 Academy Awards - Final Predictions

It is Oscar night! After all the waiting and wondering, the questions will be answered in a few short hours and we will see who takes home a golden statue. Having seen the nominated films, followed the buzz around the nominees, and taken into account who walked away with a Golden Globe, etcetera, I have made my own predictions as to who will win and my final round of choices isn't that far off from my first ideas.

Best Picture: 12 Years A Slave
The story this film tells and the moral implications it imparts are just as profound and just as important in 2014 as they were when the book was originally published in the late 19th Century. The performances are strong and the whole enchilada sparkles with Best Picture potential. I think this one will upset American Hustle, which was my first pick for the award this year.
 
Best Director: Alfonso Cuarón for Gravity
It isn't often that the Best Picture and Best Director awards don't go hand in hand but with Gravity, Alfonso Cuarón skillfully combined the film's special effects with a cast that delivered fine performances amid a story that was both powerful and exciting. Cuarón's deft hand wove the whole thing together with a finesse that kept it from becoming a special effects jamboree.
 
Best Actor: Matthew McConaughey in Dallas Buyer's Club
My original pick in this category was Bruce Dern for his performance in Nebraska even though McConaughey had the best performance of the lot. And this is why I've changed my prediction. The buzz around Mr. McConaughey is enviable and, again, his was the best job well done this year. He is the Best Actor and as such rightfully deserves the Oscar.
 
Best Actress: Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine
My mind didn't change on this one. Cate Blanchett is at the head of the class in her category. Her performance in Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine was superb. The buzz surrounding her has not waned either. She is well deserving of the award.
 
Best Supporting Actor: Jared Leto in Dallas Buyer's Club
After a few years away from the film industry, Jared Leto returned with a sizzling performance in an important movie and the results are top of the line. I originally felt that Leto was the best in this category but I found myself leaning more toward Michael Fassbender for his work in 12 Years A Slave because he is "owed" so to speak. But I've changed my tune on this one. Jared Leto should win and I believe he will.
 
Best Supporting Actress: Lupita Nyong'o in 12 Years A Slave
No change on this prediction either. Ms. Nyong'o was my original choice and she remains such. Her performance was splendid and she has been the odds on favorite, not to mention taking other honors along the way, and I do not foresee her walking away without the Oscar tonight.
 
Possible upsets include American Hustle (it did win the Golden Globe for Best Picture) and Gravity (if Cuarón prevails for Best Director and the typical formula holds true) in the Best Picture race. Steve McQueen could take the Best Director award for his work on 12 Years A Slave using the same rationale as Gravity and Cuarón. Bruce Dern might still be given the Best Actor Oscar as a "career award" win. Judi Dench just might upset Blanchett for Best Actress for her performance in Philomena, as could Amy Adams in American Hustle. Fassbender is still a real threat to Jared Leto in the Best Supporting Actor nod. Both Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle) and Julia Roberts (August: Osage County) could spell an upset for Nyong'o if the "second statue in a different category" rule comes into play this year.
 
It is impossible to be one hundred percent sure of anything where The Academy is concerned, because with them anything goes. They have been both predictable and surprising over the years and this time will likely be no different. I am never one to believe I will be right on every pick I make but for what it's worth this is my last round of predictions for this year's Oscars. We shall see, we shall see.
 
The 86th Academy Awards will be telecast on ABC beginning at 8:30 p.m. this evening. One thing I do feel safe in predicting is that a lot of switching back and forth between the Oscars and The Walking Dead will take place. LOL.
 
C

Monday, February 24, 2014

Book Review: Gifts Not Yet Given (And Other Tales of the Holidays) by Kergan Edwards-Stout

 
Following the success of his stunning debut novel, Songs For The New Depression, author Kergan Edwards-Stout returns with an anthology of short stories called Gifts Not Yet Given. And it is another page-turner from this talented scribe.
Each story is centered around a holiday but this is not a book for holiday reading only. The stories and settings run the gamut in terms of seasonal and personal meaning. The book is brimming with characters you’ll love not only because they’re so well written but also you’ll know someone in your own life who could be almost every one of these folks. While “A Doris Day Christmas” and “The Stepping Stone” are personal favorites contained herein, each entry is a masterpiece unto itself. The stories are written with a deft hand by an author who knows how to entertain his audience.
Very few writers can touch a reader’s heart but Kergan Edwards-Stout knows how to do just that. Gifts Not Yet Given easily jumped onto my top ten books read in the past year and it will remain a favored selection in my library. With so many writers competing in the literary world today, it takes a true author to rise above the pack, and Mr. Edwards-Stout is one of those few gifted storytellers.
5 Stars.
Buy the Print or Kindle Edition Here.
 
Visit Kergan Online Here.

C

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The 2014 Oscar Nominations


The 2014 Oscar nominations are out! Every year, I see the noms and I make at least three predictions of who the winners will be. My changing mind depends on different variables: the Oscar “rules” that always apply to the awards, the best performances in each category, and the voracity of the campaigns which precede the final round of voting for the winners. It would be nice if one could base his predictions on the best performances but with the Academy this is not possible. So, based on the facts at hand right now, these are my current anticipations for this year’s Oscar winners.
Best Supporting Actress: Lupita Nyong’o in 12 Years A Slave
Best Supporting Actor: Michael Fassbender in 12 Years A Slave
Best Actress: Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine
Best Actor: Bruce Dern in Nebraska
Best Director: Steve McQueen for 12 Years A Slave
Best Picture: American Hustle


Current ideas on why these predictions will win:
Lupita Nyong’o: This is her first film and she was superb in it.
Michael Fassbender: He’s owed after the Academy refused him a nomination for showing his privates in Shameless and because he’s the oldest nominee in his category.
Cate Blanchett: She’s generating the most buzz in this category and she was nominated twice before, without winning, for portraying Queen Elizabeth I.
Bruce Dern: The “Career” award given out every year.
Steve McQueen: His film told a very important story and he told it with a deft hand.
American Hustle: It won Best Picture at The Golden Globes and the temerity of the ingredients which have made it so successful is enviable.


Current ideas on possible upsets:
Best Supporting Actress: Either Julia Roberts in August: Osage County or Jennifer Lawrence in American Hustle. Both fall under the “Second Statue in a Different Category Rule.”
Best Supporting Actor: Jared Leto in Dallas Buyer’s Club. His was The Best performance in this category.
Best Actress: Either Amy Adams in American Hustle or Judi Dench in Philomena. Adams benefits from her position in the lineup while Dench had The Best performance in this category.
Best Actor: Matthew McConaughey in Dallas Buyer’s Club. Another Best performance case.
Best Director: David O. Russell for American Hustle. His picture won Best Film at The Golden Globes.
Best Picture: 12 Years A Slave. It didn’t win Best Picture at The Golden Globes and it was really The Best film of the year.


I’ll update you all when I’ve changed my mind. LOL!
C

Monday, December 23, 2013

A New Christmas Carol


Twas the night before Christmas
I was alone in my house
My computer was my company
It was not quiet as a mouse

Greetings poured forth
From friends from afar
Loving and uplifting
They kept me on par

As I sat at my desk
Above on the rooves
I heard the unmistakable sound
Of reindeer's hooves

I have no chimney
So I peered out the window
And saw Santa bungee jumping
To the ground below

I rushed down the stairs
I threw open the back door
He staggered into my kitchen
And fell flat on the floor

I helped him to a chair
And asked what he meant
For a man his age
Had no business trying such a stent

With a glimmer in his eye
He took a glass of brandy
And smiled as he sipped it
Saying: "Now that's just dandy!"

Santa got tipsy
After his daredevil jump
And the reindeer tapped their hooves
Giving the roof a thump

He finally rose to go
Assuring me he was well
He told me he was fine
This wasn't the first time he'd fell

He thanked me for the care
His face all alight
As he fished in his bag
Drawing out something bright

It was a star for the tree
The brightest I'd ever seen
It shined with wonder
Like Santa's brandy induced sheen

Then he went out
And took up his bungee cord
He called: "On Dancer! On Prancer!
Pull me back on board!"

Up, up he went
And then the sleigh flew
Over my head
Into the dark velvet blue

Santa had come
From the North Pole far
And fallen to the ground
Rattling his teeth ajar

Now he was off again
On his appointed rounds
Away from my kitchen
And these humble grounds

I held the star
And watched it twinkle
And then I thought, after the brandy,
Santa should have stayed to tinkle

He waved as he left
Smiling back in my direction
As if to thank me
For assisting with his correction

And I heard him say
As he drove out of sight
Merry Christmas, young man
You made this old elf feel all right!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

A Personal Request

I have a personal request to make in this writing. It concerns a very dear friend of mine who is in need at the present.
 
I first met Eric Arvin through the miracle of the internet when we were both dreaming of becoming professional writers. Eric was just finishing up his debut novel, The Rest Is Illusion, at that time and I was planning to start a web magazine to help out some of my writer friends who needed an outlet for their work. Eric's novel became very popular, beginning his now massive fan base, and my web magazine came to fruition as Web Digest Weekly, a venture that achieved my original hopes for it... and then some!
 
I finally got the chance to meet Eric in person in the fall of 2009. He and I took a trip together to Michigan to see a mutual friend, writer Salvatore Sapienza, who at the time owned a B&B with his partner Gregg Smith in Saugatuck. I drove from my home in Georgia to Eric's hometown in Indiana and the two of us then went on to Michigan together. We spent a wonderful weekend there, getting to know Sal and Gregg, and exploring the town. I got to see one of the Great Lakes for the first time during that trip. It was a great experience, cementing us in a life long friendship that has grown stronger with time.
 
Eric is sadly now dealing with some very difficult and frightening health issues and will need extremely risky surgery to have a chance at overcoming this crisis. Eric suffers from a condition known as "cavernous hemangioma." This is, quite simply, a benign growth in the brain in which a calcified mass displaces brain tissue as it grows. Eric has already had surgery for this condition once, back in 2005, and it left him with severe disabilities which he has dealt with through sheer determination and the will to lead a normal life.
 
Recently, Eric began experiencing difficulty breathing and was taken to the hospital where he had to be placed on a ventilator. Diagnostic evaluations have confirmed that a hemangioma around his brain stem, which was treated surgically eight years ago, has grown back and is now causing him the problems he is currently dealing with. His options are to have this very risky surgery in the hopes of again relieving his symptoms, to try and preserve Eric in his present state (with a tracheostomy and on a ventilator,) or to do nothing and allow the hemangioma to continue growing until he becomes quadriplegic and eventually succumbs to the disease.
 
Eric is a fighter. He has already overcome this condition once and has decided to have the surgery again. Eric is a very determined person and he doesn't shy away from challenges. Not even one as potentially lethal as this. Before his initial diagnosis and surgery a few years ago, he had moved to Australia and was planning a life there. The diagnosis forced him to return home to Indiana and his family to seek treatment. In the years since, he has not only regained much of his independence, but he has also become a successful, award winning novelist. Nothing stops him from attaining his goals. Eric confronts each and every obstacle he encounters with a firm resolve to come out on top of whatever it is he is facing. And so far, he has triumphed over everything.
 
A few months ago, Eric met the love of his life. He and author TJ Klune have not only fallen in love but they are planning to get married. They want to have a life together which will make them both very happy. They spent the summer together and made some plans for the future which they only recently put in motion, including moving to a new state, just prior to the return of Eric's health problems.
 
Many of our mutual friends have donated to a relief fund that has been established for Eric so that he and TJ will be able to handle the financial aspects of this tragedy. A lot of money has been raised but more will undoubtedly be needed, not only to cover the immediate costs of medical care but also for future rehabilitation treatment that Eric will almost certainly require once he is well enough to leave the hospital. 
 
All of you who know me are aware that rarely ever do I ask for things like this, but if you can, please help Eric and TJ. A donation of even $5 or $10 is greatly appreciated. And keep Eric in your thoughts as he faces surgery in the coming week. He is a brave and courageous individual, a fantastic writer, and a good friend. In plainer terms, he is someone I love very much.

Here is the link to the crowd-funding site for Eric:
http://www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/help-eric-arvin/116877
 
Thank you,
Carey