Holiday movie guide to get in the festive spirit Friday, Nov 29 2019 

By Blake Wedding —

It’s that time of year again–nights by the fireplace while sipping eggnog and hot cocoa. The time of year where we think of others more than ever and give gifts. It’s time for holiday parties and cold nights with friends and loved ones. This also means it’s time to snuggle up in the living room and watch holiday movies that remind us why this time of year is so special. The Cardinal has prepared a list of five of the most festive films to make it easier for students to get in the holiday spirit.

1. Planes, Trains and Automobiles – John Hughes (1987)

John Hughes is a legendary filmmaker often regarded for many things, but his greatest gift was in casting the spotlight on the lives of small-town middle Americans in a sympathetic and forward-thinking manner. He is an auteur of the classic “coming-of-age” story in film history, but his 1987 holiday film “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” might be his finest comedic work. Featuring the likes of comedic geniuses Steve Martin and John Candy at the height of their careers, the movie is a wholesome story about two irreverent characters heading home for the holidays. Inevitably, the two characters butt heads due to their incredibly different lifestyles and personalities. But what “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” teaches is to appreciate people who are different than us and to embrace the holiday sense of giving and charity. It is a film that sheds sympathy for the downtrodden, the forgotten and the eccentric people in this world, and it reminds us that helping others is one of the greatest gifts we can give.

2. A Charlie Brown Christmas – Bill Meléndez (1965)

There are few names as well known as “Charlie Brown” when it comes to naming classic holiday films. The Charlie Brown series has its name attached to a number of different holidays over the years, but without a doubt, “A Charlie Brown Christmas” is the best of them all. This is a film that captures the spirit and essence of the holidays, as well as the nostalgia and child-like wonder that accompany the holidays. It’s a film about friendship, togetherness, selflessness and caring about people. It also happens to have one of the most recognized and well-regarded soundtracks to any holiday movie.

3. Elf – Jon Favreau (2003)

Just when it seemed like Hollywood was running out of ideas for holiday films, “Elf” came along in 2003 and cemented itself as a modern holiday classic. Sure, the film is filled with clichés and some of Will Ferrell’s goofiest comedy to date, but it’s also an undeniably charming, funny and wholesome holiday film. It’s a film that reiterates already well-known themes of the holidays and why they’re important, but it’s the way “Elf” executes its ideas that makes it an endearing film. Ferrell is hilarious as Buddy the Elf, and as a character, is someone who forces others to reevaluate their selfishness during the holidays.

4. A Christmas Story – Bob Clark (1983)

“A Christmas Story” is a holiday classic in every sense of the word and a film as synonymously American as apple pie. It’s a film that nearly everyone mentions as the quintessential holiday film and one that tells a familiar story of the holidays in small-town America. It’s a funny, endearing and amusing story that shows how an entire family handles the holiday season. From Ralphie’s insatiable desire to have the newest and greatest gifts under the Christmas tree, to his father being overworked and jaded about the holidays, and his mother being overworked and stressed during this time of year, what “A Christmas Story” does best is show us that the holidays can be both full of wonder and worry depending on who you are. Furthermore, “A Christmas Story” manages to tell these stories through a lens that is relatable and undoubtedly hilarious, making it one of the best feel-good movies of the season.

5. It’s a Wonderful Life – Frank Capra (1946)

“It’s a Wonderful Life” is a film that has been called the greatest holiday movie of all time year after year, and there is a reason for that. Not only is “It’s a Wonderful Life” the best holiday film ever, it’s also one of the greatest films of any genre ever made. Yes, this is an old movie, and yes, some younger viewers may be thrown off by the original film’s black and white cinematography, but it’s also a rare film that can resonate with people of all ages. It’s a film about learning not to take what you have for granted during the most important time of year. A film that exclaims that no matter how stressful or hard your life may be, you should take time to understand the importance of being thankful for what you do have. “It’s a Wonderful Life” is a film about compassion, acceptance, togetherness and, as the title implies, life.

Festive Mentions: “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” (1967); “Home Alone” (1990); “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” (1989); “The Santa Claus” (1994); “Miracle on 34th Street” (1994); “The Nightmare Before Christmas” (1993); “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” (1964).

Graphic by Alexis Simon // The Louisville Cardinal 

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Winter Break Camps Friday, Nov 29 2019 

Looking for winter break camps for your kids? The kids are out of school for two weeks!  Why not send them to one of these amazing camps to bounce, run, and maybe even learn a little bit? Winter break is long! Winter break camps help the kids stay active and avoid cabin fever. There are camps for every interest!   [...]

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Black Friday advice: Strategy is key when going into battle Thursday, Nov 28 2019 

By Zoe Watkins — 

Thanksgiving will soon be here, and it’s time to gather with family and enjoy the annual festivities. Whether it’s making a hefty dinner, watching TV with the family, or tuning in for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, everything is joyful and peaceful. That is until the clock strikes twelve.

It’s time for the bloodiest battle to begin–Black Friday.

The whole day is utter chaos as crowds of customers squeeze through tiny automatic doors for the last set of cookware. So many people get hurt over everyday items, and in the worst cases, people have been killed getting trampled by crowds. However, if you think the price is right to go against the horde, here are some quick tips to survive Black Friday.

Planning and Precision is Key

Going into the store with no clue whatsoever is like going into battle without any strategy. Before it’s time for the deals to start, make a list of what you want to buy and look where the items are located in the stores. This will save you time that would have been spent searching around the store for what you need. If possible, arrive early to avoid parking wars and maybe get in some early Black Friday sales. Also, if you’re going to shop at more than one store, plan your travel by whose sales start the earliest and find the fastest ways to get there.

Look High, Stake Low

Another key detail is location. A lot of people will be heading to major superstores to get their items which leaves a lot of other places a bit less packed. So while everyone is off at Walmart, find an obscure shopping mall or a small plaza. Besides, maybe your favorite local store is having a better sale than other retailers and might have more items in stock with the smaller crowd.

Travel in Packs

What’s a war without an army? Bring friends with you so snagging deals can be even easier, but also for protection. If you have an item in your cart that someone desperately wants, they will not hesitate to snatch it from you and are willing to fight for it.

Have Some Tricks Up Your Sleeve

No one plays fair when valuable items are being sold at a very cheap cost, so use some of those tactics against them.  Put unappealing things over the items you don’t want someone to see. Some stores will even work with you to get your items safely.

Just Don’t Go at All

At this point, there really is no reason to go to Black Friday and have to deal with all of that chaos unless you really enjoy it. Just wait a couple days for Cyber Monday which sometimes has better deals and some things you couldn’t buy at the store. Also, you get to just sit your pajamas and shop around while eating the leftovers from Thanksgiving dinner.

Graphic by Alexis Simon // The Louisville Cardinal

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Reflections On An Interfaith Thanksgiving Thursday, Nov 28 2019 

Sitting in the cavernous Crescent Hill Baptist Church, listening to faith leaders pray, it occurred to me that I could have used something like this when I was 10. 

The Interfaith Thanksgiving service and dinner on Monday night started with a short sermon from Reverend Jason Crosby, giving readings and recitations that were familiar to me. 

I didn’t grow up in Louisville, but outside Charlotte, North Carolina in the 1990s. North Carolina was and is very much part of the Bible Belt, and back then — maybe even now — the question wasn’t, ‘where’d you go to high school?’ but, ‘where do you go to church?’

Because I’d moved down south with my parents at age 8, without them having taught me much about Jesus or the Bible, Christianity was totally foreign. I was teased for not going to church; I felt like an outsider.

But there’s a specific effort in Louisville, called the Interfaith Paths to Peace, that aims to make us all feel like insiders, no matter our religion, and to bring faiths together. On Monday, a half-full church heard from Temple Shalom Rabbi Beth Jacowitz Chottiner, Johnny Alse from the Hindu Temple of Kentucky, and many other faith leaders. They stood at the front of Crescent Hill Baptist Church, where a pastor usually stands, and recited their own prayers. 

Thanksgiving isn’t necessarily about religion. Today, it’s a quintessential American holiday, despite the history. It’s about friends and family, or whatever else you’ve got, and for being grateful for all that.

But religion provides a landing spot for so many Americans to rest their beliefs. In my reporting on health care, the thing that doesn’t often make it into the story of people’s health and financial struggles are their comments about their faith as the source of strength during it all. It might be a faith in God, or a faith in suffering as a human condition, or faith that their relationships with loved ones will counteract the suffering. 

Imam Mohammad Wasif Iqbal from the Louisville Islamic Center of Compassion reiterated that gratitude is part of almost every religion or belief.

“Gratitude is a perspective we can choose to adopt or reject on a daily basis,” he said. “Even in the midst of difficult times, when we continue to give thanks, that can shape our outer lives.” 

Lisa Gillespie | wfpl.org

Imam Mohammad Wasif Iqbal leads an Islamic prayer.

Anne Walter from the Buddhist Drepung Gomang Center for Engaging Compassion talked to me before the service started about what this event can do.

“I think it gives you something meaningful to put your heart into; we all have challenges, and we all often have challenges between faith traditions,” Walter said. “But whenever you can build something like this, it gives you hope. And I think that’s what we need more than anything right now.”

In addition to faith, hope also keeps a lot of people I interview going: hope that they’ll get better, that the cost of a drug will be lowered and they’ll be able to afford it, that there’s a scientist working on a cure for their ailment. There’s also hope from health researchers, advocates and policy makers, a belief that whatever they’re doing might improve lives.

And perhaps every faith has some belief in gratitude and giving thanks. Most faiths recognize suffering and the turmoil humans have faced throughout whatever century we’re living. There’s scientific research on what this mindfulness and gratitude does to our brains; it rewires it and changes our perspective to become more resilient. Resilience has been shown to be an indicator in life expectancy and in surviving sickness. 

During the service Iman Iqbal remarked that this was the first time in years that there hadn’t been a mass shooting or vandalism of a religious facility that could be tied to this event. This Thanksgiving service started back in 2015, after the River Road Mosque was defaced with graffiti. Last year, Thanksgiving fell shortly after a shooting at a Jewish temple in Pittsburgh.

“Usually that is the case. So this is a reminder of regardless of what is to come, we have each others back,” Iqbal said. “Louisville is unique in what we have with the grassroots efforts and the relationship that’s been built.”

Reverend Crosby later told me that the service and dinner is one of his favorite Thanksgiving events: it reminds him that both people and religions have more similarities than differences. 

“I don’t see how an event like this cannot then inform other Thanksgiving events that folks participate in,” Crosby said. “One reason I enjoy this event is that it happens on a Monday night, and as I move through other Thanksgiving events through the course of the week, most of which won’t be as racially, ethnically or religiously diverse as this one, it does shape conversations I’ll have later in the week.”

Lisa Gillespie | wfpl.org

Reverend Jason Crosby at the Interfaith Paths to Peace Thanksgiving Dinner

Sitting in front of me during the service were three pre-teen boys, and I wondered, “what are they thinking?” Perhaps they’d learned in school about the many wars throughout history that were sparked by the belief that people of certain religions were intrinsically better than others. Or maybe they’ve watched the news of late about religious extremists who cause havoc on other lives. 

The messages local faith leaders were sharing Monday night could have been considered radical and dangerous at various times in the past, and remain that way in parts of the U.S. and around the world. 

I hope those boys got what I could have gotten from the service — had I been in their exact spot when I needed to hear it.  Without my own faith, and surrounded by others who clung to it, I felt lost, never understood why people believed, never understood why it was so important that I believed. 

In my adult years, I have learned that religion played and still plays a big role in society. It’s imbued people’s lives with meaning, given hope to people in distress and offered a reason for all of the struggles. Now, I’ve finally figured out why it was important to some that I believe in something. 

Religion is, in the worst of circumstances, a weapon. But in the best of circumstances, it brings people together. The Louisville Thanksgiving service would have been good for my ten-year-old self. It was at the very least, a surface look at the faith community in Louisville: together in a house of worship, sharing green bean casserole and falafel. 

How-to turn a bland dorm into a festive getaway Monday, Nov 25 2019 

By Haley Snyder —

It’s hard being away from home around the holidays. If you’re living on campus, celebrating the season can feel lonely without the comforts of home. Here are a few ways to get your dorm or apartment ready for the holiday season.

Cook a Cozy Meal

Tis’ the season to eat ALL of the food you want. Being home means the aroma of fresh-baked treats and meals wafting through the halls. Take a page from your momma’s book and cook yourself a meal. Turkey, pumpkin pancakes or a pot of chili. Any of these classics can make you feel much more at home.

Add throw blankets

“I have too many blankets,” said no one ever. Add a few throw blankets to your couch, bed and chair because wrapping up in a blanket is almost as good as a bear hug from your loved ones. Not to mention a fall colored or textured throw can act as a decoration for your space.

Candles. Everywhere.

If you can’t bake, fake it until you make it. Adding candles not only adds a pretty, dim light to the room but a delicious smell to come home too. Not to mention, candles can add decoration to any size space. Maybe burn a candle that you brought from home. Burn responsibly!

Holiday Treats

Take some time to bake cookies, a pie, or brownies–whatever your heart desires. If you’re not the baking type, grab a few treats from your local store to keep at home. When you’re feeling down, remember there is nothing that a slice of pie can’t fix.

Host a ‘Friendsgiving’

If you miss being close to family, consider planning a Thanksgiving dinner for your group of friends. The holiday season is all about spending time and giving thanks to those closest to you, and what better way to fill your heart than by spending time with your best friends over a cozy holiday meal? Make it a tradition.

File Graphic // The Louisville Cardinal 

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Porter Scholars accept donations for homeless at Thanksgiving dinner Monday, Nov 25 2019 

By Jordan Geisler —

The University of Louisville’s Porter Scholars group gathered Nov. 21 to throw their seventh annual Thanksgiving dinner. The group collected winter accessories for the homeless community in Louisville as part of the event.

The Engage Lead Serve Board (ELSB) partnered with the Porter Scholars to serve dinner for a multitude of students both within and outside of the Porter Scholars organization. Leondra Gully, the advisor for the Porter Scholars, has been a part of their annual Thanksgiving dinner since its fruition in 2013, and she’s seen it serve a wide array of people in the community while also having an impact on students.

Gully said, “We can still come together, have fun, and have a social piece, but also incorporate some sort of service in giving back to the community. You don’t have to be rich, you don’t have to be of a certain status, and you don’t have to look a certain way; anybody can benefit from giving back.”

Gully said a big part of starting the Thanksgiving dinner was not only so that people could get together before leaving campus for the holidays, but also so people who weren’t able to travel home for Thanksgiving would have a place to go for a good dinner.

“Some people don’t get to go home for Thanksgiving,” said Jalena Slaton, the vice president of the Porter Scholars. “So this is as close to family as they get, whether it be with the Porter community or just the campus community as a whole.”

Taris Smith, the president of the Porter Scholars and board member of ELSB, worked to get the sock company Bombas to donate 2,000 pairs of socks to help give out to the homeless community. They also received donations from U of L’s School of Dentistry such as toothbrushes and toothpastes to put in care boxes. “Our goal is at least 100 care packages. Every year we try to accommodate more people and do a bigger service aspect,” Smith said.

As far as the dinner itself goes, local restaurants like Boss Hog’s BBQ and Lucretia’s Kitchen served food that included turkey, chicken, dressing, green beans and stuffing.

Donations for the winter accessories drive will continue through December. Goods such as scarves and mittens can be dropped off in bins dispersed around campus.

Photo by Jordan Geisler // The Louisville Cardinal 

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New Music Festival allows audience to experience music in new ways Friday, Nov 22 2019 

By Zoe Watkins —

Last week, the University of Louisville’s School of Music held their fall New Music Festival with a plethora of concerts highlighting unique forms of music.

The festival began in 1998 to show how music can be made in creative and innovative ways. Students would take classic pieces and interpret them in a way that was unique and modern for the current time.

This year’s New Music Festival included all different types of concerts with performances from the University Percussion Ensemble, the Faculty Chamber concert, the New Music Ensemble, the Longleash trio and the Elysian Trombone Quarter.

Krysztof Wołek, director for the Electronic Music Concert, said the pieces chosen were classics of the electronic medium. “They were the first pieces that really did take the medium to larger forms,” he said. “They used technology of the times to the full extent.”

The final event of the week was the Electronic Music Concert.

Most of the pieces played during the performance were from when electronic music was just being introduced to the music world. During the performance, the pieces “Bicycle Built for Two” by Harry Dacre, “Gesang der Jünglinge im Feuerofen” by Karlheinz Stockhausen, “Symphonie pour un homme seul” by Pierre Schaeffer and Pierre Henry, “Bye Bye Butterfly” by Pauline Oliveros and “Silver Apples of the Moon” by Morton Subotnick were played.

Derek Carter, third year graduate student and event organizer, said they chose these pieces was because they act as a staple to the electronic music world.

“Pretty much everyone on this program made a large contribution to tape music. They’re kind of like the grandfathers and grandmothers of this genre so we’re paying homage to them,” Carter mentioned.

In an interesting twist all five pieces are a live spatialization of themselves.

“So essentially, we are going to be playing these pieces through all of these speakers in the hall and we’re going to be sending the audio to different speakers, so you can hear the sound move around,” Carter explained.

First year graduate student Gunner Basinger included a lot of the spatialization element in his interpretation of “Bye Bye Butterfly”.

“There was a moment where there was a recording where a full orchestra comes in and I tried to reserve that moment for fading all of the faders in and so that moment would hit louder for example,” Basinger said.

Though there was a lot of memorizing and trying to find focal points, he found it to be a great lesson in acoustics and how sound diffracts in a space. “I love the event, it was fantastic. I think it is great that U of L is doing an electronic music concerts,” Basinger exclaimed.

If you didn’t have time to make it to this semester’s New Music Festival, there will be another one held in the spring for people to see how many other ways music can be adapted.

Graphic by Shayla Kerr // The Louisville Cardinal

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CAMT’s production of “Next to Normal” captivates U of L Friday, Nov 22 2019 

By Blake Wedding —

If you happened to miss the Cardinals for the Appreciation of Musical Theatre’s (CAMT) production of “Next to Normal,” there’s only one thing I can say: I’m sorry for your loss.

CAMT brought to life a transfixing, mesmerizing experience that leaves the viewer feeling equally affected and connected by its brilliant writing, its nuanced, multi-faceted acting and its masterful direction.

“Next to Normal” is a story that has already achieved critical acclaim, but it’s the way in which CAMT reimagined this modern classic that makes it such a remarkable triumph.

This is a story about an abundance of heavy, complex themes like family dysfunction, mental illness, trauma and drug abuse.

These are themes explored with understanding and a steadfast conviction. Yet one of the key concepts many people seem to have missed is how meticulously “Next to Normal” dissects and analyzes the human condition, the essence of what makes so much of our lives so very absurd.

CAMT succeeded in bringing all of these themes to the light, and given the choice, it would be difficult for me to distinguish the CAMT’s version of “Next to Normal” from a Broadway production of the musical.

The performances of the central cast cannot be understated. The actors commanded the stage for three or more hours while acutely understanding their characters and what their stories have to say.

Jess Harris Stiller played the troubled and deeply depressed Diana. She elevated an already sympathetic character. Trent Everett Byers played her husband Dan. His performance provided a subtle and understated evaluation of the complex emotions of a conflicted man.

Clara Wilson and Geoffrey Barnes also delivered dense and complex performances as the couple’s children and helped further demonstrate the ramifications of deep family dysfunction and generational neuroses. Benjamin Horman provided necessary comic relief with the character of “Dr. Fine,” while Nicholas Long brought an endearing and charming touch to the age-old story of teenage romance.

It goes without saying that the music in CAMT’s “Next to Normal” was also excellent. Each of the actors in this production helped elevate the word “musical.” Sarah Thomas’ direction of this production cannot be understated. Her use of lighting strengthened and enriched the writing and performances. She helped orchestrate what can only be described as one of the greatest student productions to ever grace the University of Louisville.

Witnessing “Next to Normal” firsthand is one of those experiences that only comes around every so often, but once it does, it stays with you. Its an affecting, impactful story that has the potential to resonate with every person who sees it. If you get the chance to see it, you simply need to hear what this story has to say.

Graphic by Shayla Kerr // The Louisville Cardinal 

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Students and staff find time to holiday shop at Holiday Bazaar Thursday, Nov 21 2019 

By Zoe Watkins —

Even though it’s November, it is never too early to start Christmas shopping. University of Louisville students and faculty had a chance Nov. 13 to purchase gifts for themselves or others at the annual Farmers’ Market Holiday Bazaar hosted by U of L Dining and the Sustainability Council.

The bazaar featured unique booths, selling goods which ranged from local artisan crafts to farm fresh produce. Vendors sold hand-made soaps, jewelry, holiday decorations, honey, baked goods and ice cream.

One vendor present was Noonday Collections and Simple Gifts. Noonday sells handmade jewelry created by female artisans living in third-world countries. The sales, said independent ambassador Chesson Hazelwood, lead to a good cause.

“Every time I sell a piece of jewelry, it empowers a woman in another country to be able to provide for their family and I love to get the name of Noonday out there,” Hazelwood said.

Simple Gifts employee and U of L alumni Amber Schlegel and her partner sold hand-made arm knit scarfs, handcrafted earrings and heating therapy bags which have aroma therapy inside at their booth.

She enjoyed being able to come back to campus for the Holiday Bazaar. “I just really appreciate the opportunity to get to be here today and to get to return to campus where I had a lot of great memories. It’s always fun to come down here and see all the kids who are currently in college experiencing things that helped change and form their lives,” Schlegel said.

Students enjoyed the break from classes and busy schedules to fit in some holiday shopping.

Mariah Tinnell bought dark chocolate covered cherries and a leather journal while at the event. “I’m buying a bunko gift for some girlfriends and I’m getting something for one of my boys,” Tinnell said.

“I think it is a great idea to bring something like this onto campus because it’s something I would love to visit but don’t usually have the time to do,” said Anna Vanderboon, a second year masters student.

Graphic by Shayla Kerr // The Louisville Cardinal

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Black Friday Camps Monday, Nov 18 2019 

Are you looking for a camp option for the day after Thanksgiving? Many places offer day camp fun for kids on black Friday. School is out, maybe you want to do some shopping? The kids can have fun too! Do you have to work on Black Friday? Are you looking to go on a shopping excursion for the day and [...]

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