So Long, Sweet Summer

OK so this blogging once a week thing didn’t work out.  I think I was actually doing a pretty good job until that whole wedding thing.  Anyway, I think I’m back.  No promises, but I’m going to keep trying.

Yes, I used a Dashboard Confessional lyric as a blog post, and yes, I hate myself for it.  I just feel like it’s kind of appropriate.  I’m not listening to the song or anything, it came into my mind.  Gosh, I didn’t realize this was that big of a deal.  And nobody has even read this yet – I’m literally arguing with myself over this.  OK anyway…

I remember when I was in high school and college.  Summer was pretty awesome.  I think I tried to act like I hated it, but it really was great.  High school summers consisted of playing basketball all day, then going swimming or something, then playing video games all night, then doing the same thing the next day.  It was awesome.

College summers consisted of working at camp, or doing a summer program, and spending the off time in Oxford when it was quiet and not much going on so you could pretty easily get the feeling of running the town.  We didn’t have to wait in line at restaurants, the bars weren’t crowded, and there just wasn’t much going on.  Go to work, get a shower, go eat, go out, repeat.

That’s obviously changed.  This summer has been amazing – I mean, I got married and have spent a whole bunch of time with my best friend in the whole world.  I really can’t remember a summer that has been more fun than this one.

I also can’t remember one that’s been more challenging.  It’s my first summer that doesn’t involve a camp somewhere, Jackson (with all of my friends less than 5 minutes away), or Oxford.  It’s been my first summer that I owned a house and actually had to…you know…do work in (and on) it.

The wedding was an incredible high – so many amazing things happened that weekend.  It was amazing to have all of my friends in one place and to get to spend quality time with them, to hear their experiences in marriage, and to hear the things we have meant to each other over the years.  And that’s not even getting into all of the awesome stuff of standing in front of those same friends and family and making a covenant with one another before God.  There were just so many incredible things that I’m still unpacking about all of it.

There have also been some lows.  I had to say goodbye to a friend who I have gotten pretty close with over the last couple of years. He’s not dead or anything, but he moved to California.  So we’ll still Vox and play video games and stuff but it’s just different now. And taking kids to camp was a mixed bag – I had a great time with them, and I got to hear one of my good friends share the gospel with them night in and night out, but having been married for just over a month and spending two of those weeks away from your wife is rough.

My takeaway from all of this, though, is that the romantic idea of wistfully playing summers away is dead.  I think even last year I held on to that a little.  No, the idea of summer is different now.

But you know what?  I wouldn’t change it.

Yeah, it’s nice to have some time to rest and be lazy and collect yourself.  But to get to take the next step in this adventure of life is way better than short waits at restaurants and landing free drinks.  I feel like, and maybe for the first time, I’ve grown over the summer.  I’ve been pushed and challenged.  I’ve read books.  I’ve traveled a lot.  I am exhausted.

But it’s awesome.

Thoughts on Psalm 51…

I’m preparing a sermon to be preached this Sunday on Psalm 51.  As I’ve been studying it, one thing keeps sticking out to me.  In verse 5, David says:

Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,

and in sin did my mother conceive me.

I’ve thought about this passage for a while, but just recently it dawned on me (or rather, I heard someone really smart…Sinclair Ferguson…put it this way) that David isn’t just saying he was born as a sinner.  While that is part of his point, he’s saying something far more intense than that.  David is saying that his sin, his adultery with Bathsheba and murder of her husband Uriah, is part of his character.

Think about that.

David’s sin was not “a good man doing a bad thing” – it was not an aberration of character from a good man, it was a revelation of the twisted heart he truly has.

In his sin, David saw what he was truly capable of.  Adultery.  Murder.  Not to mention the callous heart he had towards all of it.  Not to mention the far reaching attempts he made to cover it up.

And this is David.  This is the greatest king of Israel, and perhaps the greatest hero (mentioned by name) in the Old Testament.

The question I’ve been wrestling with is this – if David is capable of such a thing, what am I capable of?  The weight of that question is crushing.  The realization that my sin is not an aberration of my character but instead my natural tendency is crushing.

But here’s the thing – God was merciful to David.  God showed David, the king, mercy, because one day, a thousand years (or however long it was) later, he would not show another King mercy, though that King had done nothing wrong.

And because of that, God can be (and is) merciful to me every day.

Hallelujah.

Running Out the Clock

One of my dreams (and by “dream” I mean a passing thought I had like 8 years ago) has always been to be a “sports guy.”  I tried to be a journalism major in college so I could go into sports broadcasting, but I realized it was a lot of work (and I would have to cover NASCAR), so I changed majors.

Well, 20 year old me, your time has come.  My good friend Joseph Craven and I are in the process of making a sports podcast called “Running Out the Clock.”  Craven has a blog post over at the GBOAT, so you can check it out there, or you can just click on one of these to listen to the previews here:

Preview #1

Preview #2 

I’m really excited to get to do this.  Recording the previews was a blast, so hopefully we’ll be able to provide entertaining and (somewhat…) informative content.

I’ll keep you posted on new episodes.

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.

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.

How to be a Sports Fan: Lesson 3

This is a post I wrote for a friend’s blog that is also running today.  Check it out at The Greatest Blog of All Time.

I have been around sports for years.  I’m 28 now, and I remember waaaaaaay back when as a little kid playing T-Ball.  I don’t know when that was, but it was a long time ago.  I was never good at sports, but I have played, and probably more importantly, watched them for years.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned from all of these years, it’s this:

In order to be a sports fan, you must overreact to everything.

This manifests itself in many different ways.  Fans do it, announcers do it, and talking heads do it.  And then after you overreact to everything, you have to get mad at ESPN for creating a culture in which we overreact to everything, essentially absolving yourself of any and all blame.

Make sense?  No?  Good.  Let’s look at it more specifically.

Fans Do It

This may be the easiest one to grasp.  Lose a game?  Fire the coach.  Win a game?  Sign him to a lifetime extension.  It’s really easy to do, and it honestly is a lot of fun.  It’s especially magnified in rivalry games.  A few years ago, my alma mater beat its in-state rival 45-0.  After the game, tons of fans (and I may or may not have been one of them) declared our rival program dead and poised to move up a tier in our conference and begin competing for conference championships.  Know what happened the next year?  We lost to our in-state rival, and the year after that (and the year following that) we lost to them again (making it 3 in a row) and went 3-9 and 2-10.  But you know what happened during that time period?  Our in-state rival won 3 rivalry games in a row and took over almost the exact same position we were in.  After a 31-3 beatdown last season, they had left us in the dust and weren’t ever looking back.  They were poised to compete for a conference championship.  Then…we beat them.

Another great example is recruiting.  I am admitting this as a full-blown recruiting addict.*  At times, recruiting overreaction borders on the creepy.  I read a message board post from a guy who had hired a sitter and was taking his wife out on a date to the bar that the recruits were visiting.  Maybe overreaction isn’t the right word for that, but it does deserve to be mentioned here.  On the flip side, when your rival school recruits well, overreaction gives you a great coping mechanism – they recruited well?  Well, they obviously bought the recruits cars or prostitutes or gave them hundreds of thousands of dollars.**

A third, and final, example, is Twitter.  Twitter is both the best thing in the world and the worst thing in the world.   There are many different ways you can go with this.  A recent example would be the Miami Heat’s win streak.  Miami won 27 games in a row, falling just short of the NBA’s all time record of 33 games in a row.  When the Chicago Bulls beat them, Twitter exploded.  The reality of the situation was that the Miami Heat, the best team in the NBA, won 27 games in a row and then lost to a really scrappy Bulls team who, despite some injuries, is a pretty good team.  If you read Twitter that night, though, Lebron James is the worst player in the world, the Heat suck, and the Bulls are great.  It’s really easy.

Announcers Do It

This one is more awesome.  All you have to do is watch any game Gus Johnson has ever called and you know this to be true.  And we LOVE Gus for it.

Craven and I spend a lot of time playing the NBA 2K series.  We’ll be playing, going back and forth, and one of us (usually Craven) will get a fast break and throw an alley-oop.  The announcers, though, will have a series something like this:

Announcer 1:  You know, last season, this team 16-10 at home.  They really need to…

*alley-oop thrown*

All the announces:  SOIEHGOWIEHFPIUWHEIUNWEOIWEOHEOIUFHWEOFHPWJEBV JDOIWEHFUIWBE IJBWDIUNWIUEB WUIEBF UWEBIUFBWE IUHG WOEIFOIWENCIUWEN CUIBWE UGWE IVE NEVER SEEN AN ALLEY OOP BEFORE

One of my favorite real-life examples of an announcer overreacting (an an example of clueless announcers) is in this video:

Now, overreacting is not always a bad thing.  Take this example, from this NBA season as well, of the Houston Rockets announcer:

This is a regular season NBA game in December, so it’s essentially meaningless.  BUT this announcer’s overreaction gave me one of my favorite sports phrases of all time.

Talking Heads Do It

So fans and announcers get a pass.  Fans often*** have invested much into their teams.  They attended school there, grew up going to games, whatever.  It runs deep.  Announcers are selling an experience, and they typically have the best seat in the house for the greatest moments.

But the talking heads (I’m looking at you, ESPN) are the worst, and they get no pass.  Every little thing is picked apart and analyzed and rash statements are made all the time.  I really don’t have to go back that far to find proof.  A couple of weeks ago, something bad happened to both Tiger Woods and Kobe Bryant.  ESPN exploded.  And all of that happened before we got to the First Take cycle.****

Another example is how the analysts have talked about college basketball (and I’m guilty of this one too).  College basketball is being ruined, it’s losing viewership, and everything bad is happening.  Wait…what’s that?  This year’s NCAA tournament was the highest rated in years, and the national championship game was the most attended of all time, and it was a phenomenal game to boot?  You mean that maybe the sport isn’t ruined but these things just have a natural ebb and flow to them?

NO THE GAME SUCKS NOW COLLEGE BASKETBALL IS RUINED NO WAIT NOW IT’S SAVED FOREVER!!!!!!!!!

The problem is, and I’m cutting it short because it’s getting wordy at this point, ESPN does these things because we, the fans, watch it.  We vote in all the stupid polls they run, we contribute to the madness.  So, in theory, if we want it to stop, we should just stop.

But we don’t, because we love sports too much.

Which isn’t a bad thing.  But I have to end this – today’s round of NBA games just ended and I have to go Tweet about how this is the [insert best/worst here] playoffs in history and how the game is being destroyed.

*My recruiting addiction goes like this – I start to get the urge to read everything written about it around August.  I largely ignore it, just taking a look here or there once or twice a week.  By October, I am all in.  Come February, I am eating, drinking, and breathing recruiting (and college basketball), and the day after signing day, I collapse into a post-recruiting haze, swearing it off forever until August rolls back around, then the cycle repeats.  It’s vicious.  

**These are ridiculous assumptions unless you’re talking about Miami or Cam Newton.

***I say often because Alabama fans exist.  If you know any Alabama fans, they probably aren’t from Alabama, didn’t go to school there, and can’t name you a single Alabama football coach besides Bear Bryant and Nick Saban.  And if you told them “hey, Alabama has a pretty good softball team, too!” (which they do) they would look at you and say “ROLL TIDE what’s softball again? ROLL TIDE”

****First Take is the worst thing to ever happen to television.

I Will Survive

For the second Saturday in a row, I did it.

I survived.

I made it through a Saturday without either of the college sports I care so deeply about.

Summers tend to get long and boring (but really who can get bored 6 weeks from their wedding?), and I’ll hit withdrawal at some point when the weather gets really hot, but for now, I’ve made it two weeks.

I deserve a medal.