Monthly Archives: May 2013

They’re Back! They’re Really Back!

I wasn’t going to write anything this week, but as it turns out, I don’t have anything to do but am super anxious for the weekend so here are some words on the Internet.

The above picture may mean nothing to you.  But the guys (and gal) behind this logo changed a lot for me.

That’s the Five Iron Frenzy logo.  Five Iron Frenzy is a ska band from Colorado, and they write really good songs.  They called it quits during my freshman year of college, and they got back together in 2012, and everything was awesome again.  If The Avett Brothers are my favorite band, FIF is my co-favorite band.  Their music meant a lot to me – it ranged from insane songs like “When I Go Out” and “Rhubarb Pie” to songs that made pretty serious statements like “Beautiful America,” “Vultures,” and “American Kryptonite” to songs that really expressed the beauty of God’s creation like “A Flowery Song” and “Dandelions” to the downright tearjerker “Every New Day.”

FIF played a major role in shaping my faith, because I saw a band who was goofy enough to not take themselves incredibly seriously but still desired to worship, even if their style didn’t exactly fit in with the mainstream Christian music of the day (or any day, for that matter).  They tackled pretty serious issues, and didn’t shy away from the questions that the Christian faith inevitably gives us all.

So after sitting around and watching FIF videos on YouTube for several hours, I was feeling all nostalgic and wanted to write about how awesome Five Iron Frenzy is.  I’ll leave you with “Every New Day.”

Dear Father, I need you.

Your strength my heart to mend.

I want to fly higher

Every new day again.

Advertisements

No Clue What To Do…

I’m getting married next weekend.  That’s pretty much all you get today.  And the next week.  And the week after.

Scranton, PA

There’s a lot of beauty in ordinary things.  Isn’t that kind of the point?

-Pam Halpert

For a long time, I didn’t know why I liked The Office.  It was funny, there were some great running jokes, and I had (have) a major celebrity crush on Jenna Fischer.  But last night, at the very end of the series finale, it hit me. This show, for all of its humor and over the top awkwardness, celebrated the ordinary in ways a lot of shows just don’t do.

As I think back over the run of the show, the best moments were the ones that dealt with ordinary things.  The Jim and Dwight practical jokes.  The awkwardness of the dinner party.  The crazy building tension between Jim and Pam.  Andy’s desire for approval from his father.  Michael’s genuineness.  I’ve seen every episode (besides season 9) multiple times, and though the show post-Michael clearly went downhill, it was a show that celebrated a bunch of ordinary people doing ordinary things.

Everybody knows a Dwight.  I feel like, at times, I’m related to about 15 Michaels.  Jim feels like that guy I’ve been friends with since college, but I can’t really remember why, when, or how we met.  Ryan, though over the top, is that annoying hipster kid that really is that big of a tool.  Not because he’s a hipster, but because he’s just a tool.

The only other show I can think of that made me feel this way is Boy Meets World.  That show hit me as I was growing up, and in a lot of ways, I felt like I grew up with Cory, Topanga, Shawn, and Mr. Feeny.  And if that show kind of walked me through adolescence, The Office took me in to my adult life.  That statement is a bit of hyperbole, because there are a lot of really important things (like…the Bible and the ministry of RUF), but the show did play a part in it.

There were times that it really, I mean really, felt like a reality show.  I remember watching as Andy punched a hole in the wall and thinking “…wow, I could see myself reacting that way.”  I hurt for Jim during season 2, and I hurt for Pam in season 3, because it really did feel so real.  Same for Michael when Holly came back.

As ridiculous as some of the show was, it never really felt like the characters weren’t real people.  I think of just about every other show I’ve ever watched and the people don’t feel real.  Jack Bauer is a guy I wish was real and was out there stopping terrorism.  The Bluths are a hilarious group of people, and there are definitely people out there that are so rich that they are that clueless.  Dr. House, maybe my favorite TV character of all time, is exactly who I’d want working on me if I collapsed with some inexplicable disease that brought me to the brink of death.  But none of those people feel real.  They were too awesome, too clueless, or too smart.

For whatever reason, I never felt that way about the characters of The Office.  Jim and Pam’s relationship is a great example – they were great together, and it was a great love story.  But it never seemed to go quite the way they wanted it to.  There was no grand gesture when they finally got together, Jim’s epic proposal got hijacked, Pam got knocked up and the wedding went wrong, and Jim didn’t get to just go off and chase his dreams how it felt like we all wanted him to.  It was a great love story because it was flawed.  I think you can say a lot more about it than just this, and I’m sure someone has.  Maybe I will later.

It’s a weird thing to feel like TV characters are your friends, but that’s exactly how I came to view Jim, Pam, Michael, Dwight, and the rest of the crew.  And I’m aware that I’m probably over-romanticizing the show.  Full disclosure, the whole time the cast was sitting around in the office at the end of the finale, I was an emotional wreck.  As weird as the finale felt at times (although it was a great episode), I can’t imagine a more perfect ending to the episode.

9 years.  They weren’t all great, but what is great every single time?  Even the not-so-good times felt like bad pizza – it wasn’t very good pizza, but it was still pizza, and I’m always OK with pizza.  Since 2005, (I was a year late to the party), my Thursday nights have been consumed by the show.  Everybody had some great lines, but Pam’s I quoted above and the following by Andy nailed it for me:

I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.

So thanks, NBC, for 9 great years.  Thanks for giving me one of my 5 favorite shows.

And thanks for reminding me of the beauty of the ordinary.

.

The NBA Playoffs: Round 1

I am not a sportswriter.  In another life, I wouldn’t have quit my journalism classes and would have gone on to become the most famous sportswriter in the world, but I was scared to read news out loud on the radio so I changed majors.  So this probably isn’t going to be in depth or accurate or funny or anything…I just like to write about basketball.

I am looking forward to the year, probably 2015, when I can sit down and watch the NBA postseason in its entirety, free of worrying about finals.  Of course, this is the last NBA postseason I will be able to enjoy as a single guy, but…well that’s another discussion for another time.

But this week was the first week I got to sit down and really watch the NBA playoffs, and it has not disappointed at all.  During the first round, it looked like we were due for one of the more boring playoff rounds.  The matchups weren’t exactly marquee, but that doesn’t always happen in the first round of anything.  But you had:

Clippers vs. Grizzlies

Thunder vs. Rockets

Nuggets vs. Warriors

Lakers vs. Spurs

Heat vs. Bucks

Knicks vs. Celtics

Pacers vs. Hawks

Bulls vs. Nets

The Spurs swept the Lakers (which was awesome, because I knew adding Dwight Howard was going to be a train wreck because he is a 7 foot tall 3 year old who destroys teams) and the Heat swept the Bucks (also which was expected) but other than that we got some great series.  I will attempt to break them down in a few sentences (yes I’m fully aware I should have done this a week ago, but…I didn’t.  Sorry.)  Also, I’m ranking them by entertainment value, from least entertaining to most entertaining.

The West

Spurs vs. Lakers

As I said – Dwight Howard is a child and any team trying to build their franchise around him is making a huge mistake.  Pretty much everything about the Lakers is a train wreck right now, and I love that.  But the Spurs rolled on as the model of consistency.  Every time I look at the Spurs, I think “wow, I can’t wait for the year 2000!” And then I realize it’s 2013 and they’ve (seemingly) had the same players since then.

Thunder* vs. Rockets

I don’t know if Patrick Beverley’s play was “dirty” or not.  I don’t think it was, but since Beverley played at Arkansas, I don’t give him the benefit of the doubt and, while I wish no personal harm on the guy, I hope every University of Arkansas player ever has a terrible pro career.**  But that play totally changed the series, and in my opinion, the outcome of the NBA playoffs themselves.  OKC was pretty clearly the second best team in the NBA all year (although a case could be made for the Spurs) with Russ, and without him, they limped (see what I did there?) to a 4-2 series victory over the Rockets, who were fun to watch but really weren’t that good.  They were bad defensively and pretty much all year felt like “Hey, James Harden, go score 50 points and let’s see what happens.”  It sells tickets and generates buzz, but it wasn’t all that great.

Clippers vs. Grizzlies

I don’t like the Grizzlies, and I’m not crazy about the city of Memphis.***  I don’t really care that much about the Clippers either, although I do like Chris Paul and Blake Griffin.  They’re fun to watch.  But they whine a lot, and it was fun to see the more smash mouth style of basketball go up against the more high-flying style the Clippers play.  This series really seemed to be in LA’s favor, but the Grizzlies reeled off 4 straight in impressive fashion.  And I’m glad that Blake Griffin and Chris Paul have more time to make commercials, because the commercials they make are pretty funny.  So good job, LA.

Nuggets vs. Warriors

Steph Curry is the only thing that needs to be said.  Watching him shoot a basketball is simply perfection.  Gallinari being healthy makes this a different series, but since he’s not, we get to keep watching Steph Curry do his thing.

Prediction:

I’m calling Memphis over Golden State in the Western Conference Finals.  With a healthy Westbrook, it’d be OKC, but without Russ, I just don’t see it.  Also, a healthy David Lee might be enough to put Golden State over the top, but alas, it is not to be.  This is not to discredit Memphis in any way – you beat the teams you have to beat.  This is the playoffs in the greatest basketball league on earth.  Nothing is easy.

The East

I’ll be honest – I’m really not interested in any of these series, because the conclusion is already set.  I don’t think anyone can beat the Heat in 7 games.  But anyway:

Heat vs. Bucks

Didn’t watch a single second of this series.

Pacers vs. Hawks

Two evenly matched teams, pretty boring basketball honestly.  I haven’t watched a lot of either team lately, but it seems like the Hawks are pretty stale.  I like the Pacers’ future though.

Celtics vs. Knicks

Not really interesting to me either.  Clearly it’s the end of the current makeup of the Celtics (I can’t see them keeping things the same), but I just don’t care about the Knicks.  In the Round 2 Game 1 loss to the Pacers, Anthony missed as many shots as Lebron did in the entire first round.  So there’s that.

Bulls vs. Nets

I didn’t watch any of this series either.  The Bulls would be a heck of a lot more interesting if they had Derrick Rose, but right now, they’re playing with house money.  Good team, but really…they’re not going much father.  Also, the Nets suck.

Prediction:

Heat over Pacers, probably in 4 games.  That’s really all there is to say.

I’ll recap Round 2 when it’s over!

*I am a fan of the Oklahoma City Thunder.  The thing about my professional loyalties, though, is that they are mostly based around players.  I would love to live in a pro sports city, or even a pro sports state, but I don’t.  So several years ago, one of my college roommates was a huge Texas fan, and he kept talking about this Durant guy.  So I started following him.  I watched him as much as I could in Seattle (I was also on the verge of moving to Seattle at the time), and knew Russell Westbrook from watching him at UCLA, so I just kept following them when they moved to OKC.

**My Ole Miss loyalties run deeper than any professional loyalties.  Go figure.

***I made derogatory remarks about the city of Memphis the other night on Twitter.  It was partially to get a rise out of some Memphis people, which it did, but I really don’t like the city.  It’s okay, and the FedEx Forum is a GREAT venue, but unless there’s a great show there, I don’t see much of a reason to go.  That may change after I get around to a few of the more off the beaten path BBQ joints, but…yeah.  Not crazy about Memphis.

Thank you, Chris Broussard

This week, an NBA player, Jason Collins, came out as a homosexual.

The response was predictable.  The majority of the media fawned all over him and took opportunities to blast those who didn’t, and Christians everywhere (read: liberal and conservative Christians) felt like martyrs.  And if there’s one thing that Christians in America seem to love, it’s feeling like martyrs over stuff that really isn’t persecution.

But that’s another post for another day.

Through all the noise, one voice truly stood out to me – Chris Broussard.  Honestly it was one of the last voices I expected to hear on it, not for any negative reasons towards him, but because I didn’t know anything about him other than that he was a sportswriter.

On Outside the Lines, an ESPN show that focuses on sports figures on and off the field, Broussard and LZ Granderson were brought in to discuss Jason Collins’ announcement.  Granderson is openly homosexual, and Broussard is a Christian (I think it speaks volumes about both men that, despite their disagreement over this issue, they can maintain a professional working relationship and apparently a solid friendship).  I didn’t know that until Monday.  But Broussard was asked point blank what he thought about Collins’ decision in light of Christianity, and he responded with this:

It should be noted that all of the clips involving Broussard’s answer start with “I’m a Christian, I don’t agree with homosexuality,” making it seem as if he just started offering up his opinion.  He did not.  He was specifically asked about it, and then gave an honest answer.  If he had just volunteered that answer without being asked, it probably would have bothered me.  A sports station or sports broadcast is not the place to take up political/social/religious issues (I’m looking at you, Bob Costas).  But he was asked his opinion, and he gave it.

Then yesterday, he went on a radio show to clarify his statements, and not only did he not back down, he strongly stood for what he believed.  He explained the Old Covenant/New Covenant difference well.  And he didn’t single anyone else or let himself off the hook.  Listen to it here.

Through all of this, I want to say thank you, Chris Broussard.

Thank you for having the courage to speak your mind, even though it wasn’t popular.

Thank you for having the restraint to not speak your mind until you were directly asked about it.

Thank you for showing grace in the initial interview.

Thank you for not pointing the blame on “them, them, them” and recognizing that we are all sinners.

Thank you for reminding us that Christians aren’t perfect.

Thank you for not being a martyr.

Thank you for giving well reasoned, well thought out answers.

Thank you for showing grace not just through your answers, but through how you live.

I hope more Christians can learn to handle disagreement this way.

Thanks, Chris.