Tuesday, February 26, 2013

My Top Ten Favorite Television Shows of All-Time

I wanted to do a little something different today...a top 10 list! I don’t watch a lot of live TV but I do love watching shows on DVD and DVR when I can. I have decided to compile a list of the top 10 shows that I have ever seen.

LOST, a show about 48 marooned survivors of a plane crash, may be the most multi-layered show that I’ve ever seen. After watching the first episode (by far the best pilot episode that I’ve ever seen), I was simply transfixed. The survivors, stranded on a remote south pacific island, have to band together in order to survive. LOST is a show about unexpected connections and the human search for meaning. Through personal stories of life, death, rebirth, and redemption, LOST takes us on an amazing journey.

Quite simply, the most cerebral comedy that has ever graced the airwaves. The story of the disgraced Bluth family, and the son who tries (and tries and tries…) to hold them all together, is wonderfully written and well-crafted. It only lasted 3 seasons, but it was the best 3 seasons in the history of comedy.

I finally began watching this series on DVD two years ago and it quickly became addictive. The show takes a completely new approach to the serial killer genre…by actually making the serial killer the star (and narrator) of the show. The fact that Dexter adheres to a strict moral code, only preying on murderers, makes the show uniquely fascinating. Through his narration we get a glimpse into his mind and find that he’s one of the most complex characters in television history. What complicates the story even more is that Dexter actually works for the Miami Metro Police Department as a Blood-Spatter Analyst – which often results in him investigating his own crimes…awkward.

I enjoy television shows with complex plots, and Damages definitely does not disappoint in that regard. This fantastic legal thriller is rather unique in that the actual ending is offered in little “flash forwards” throughout each season. Therefore the real mystery is not the ending, but the events that led there. The acting in this show is also top-notch, as Glen Close’s portrayal of ruthless litigator Patty Hewes is one of the finest acting jobs in the history of television.

One of my coworkers bugged me for months about this series so I finally gave it a try. All I can say is WOW. It’s the grandest and most epic television series I’ve ever seen. It’s so Multi-layered and ambitious. It follows the battle between three royal families – the Starks, the Lannisters, and the Targaryens. The casting is flawless and the writing is absolutely beautiful. You must watch this show…like now.

I finally began watching this show on DVD last summer and I immediately fell in love with it. It’s the best comedy on TV at the moment, by far. The ensemble cast works perfectly together, and the character of Leslie Knope is among the most lovable on television.

I love espionage. It’s my favorite genre. Sadly, television has never really been successful in tapping into this genre (with the possible exception of ‘24’ and ‘Alias). Homeland nails it. What an amazing show. Homeland is sophisticated, intelligent, complex, and rewarding. It centers on a troubled CIA operative (Played expertly by Claire Danes) and her suspicions that recently-freed marine POW is actually a terrorist. Perfectly paced and finely acted, Homeland is the best espionage show ever to grace the airwaves.

Since the setting for this show is the small town where my father and his family was born and raised, I admit to being a bit biased. That being said, Justified quickly rendered my initial biases obsolete, as it quickly became one of the more entertaining shows I’ve ever seen. The story of Rayland Givens, a Miami-based U.S. Marshall banished to his hometown of Harlan, KY as punishment for killing a suspect, is the latest in a long line of great shows from the FX network.

The most realistic crime drama ever made. Set in inner-city Baltimore, The Wire is in many ways a story of moral relativity in which conventional “good guys and bad guys” do not exist. Everyone is conflicted and compromised and everyone has an agenda. Unlike other police procedurals (ahem, Law and Order), The Wire sheds light on the urban drug problem from every conceivable angle - including political undercurrents that contribute in ways that are seldom publicized. The Wire, with each storyline stretched over the course of an entire season, unfolds like a great novel .

I decided to save this for last because it was, without question, the best television show that I’ve ever seen in my life. No show has ever packed the “emotional punch” or made the viewer truly care about the characters in the way that this show did. Television, for the most part, is merely entertainment. Its purpose is to amuse us or to take our mind off of other things. Seldom does a show change the way you view life altogether, but that’s exactly what this show will do. Six Feet Under is about the Fishers, a family that runs a funeral home in California. It explores life, death, and everything in between. It was mainly a show about everyday life and the joys, pains, tears, laughter, loves, and bonds that make us human. What an amazing show it was.

What is your favorite television show/shows?

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Some People are so Poor, all They Have is Money...

I came across this quote a few months ago and it resonated with me in such a powerful way.
We all know people in our lives who place an unhealthy emphasis on money and material things. Part of this is the culture we live in, for we are a society that measures achievement monetarily.  I often wonder if people who are driven by monetary success ever find true happiness. I have never cared about monetary success...it’s just not in my DNA.

I certainly don’t mean to frown upon those who are wealthy, for that’s unfair and not the point of this post at all. There are several extraordinarily wealthy people who do amazing and charitable things (Warren Buffet and Bill Gates come to mind). But I sometimes wish we as a nation would not define success in monetary terms. For me, if I am happy at my job and am surrounded by wonderful family and friends, I will be the richest person on the planet.

Do you feel that there is too much of an emphasis on money in our world today?

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Answering the Unanswerable...

"He explained to me with great insistence that every question posessed a power that did not lie in the answer" ~ Elie Wiesel

Some time ago, I came across a question that really made me think: Would I want to live in a world where everything could be explained? I pondered the question for a few minutes. I am a very inquisitive person, so by nature I am a “seeker”. I'm frequently ruminating about questions that I know I’ll never find the answer to. What’s the meaning of life? Are we alone in the universe? Nature or Nurture?  Or both? Is mankind inherently good? Do we have free will or is everything pre-destined? Is there a Santa Clause (kidding)? What's up with Dane Cook (not kidding)? Etcetera…etcetera…etcetera.

After a few minutes I realized that the answer was really quite easy for me…I would not. It was one of those moments where your own answer surprises you, if that makes sense. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that life’s unanswered questions are probably unanswered for a reason. What is that reason? I have no idea. That’s a little above my pay grade. But what I do know is this: I love knowing that there are questions that I will never know the answer to. That may sound odd, but for me it truly adds to the magnificence of life.
What about you? If you were able to have all of your questions answered, would you want to?

Monday, February 18, 2013

Reminiscing About my First Job...

Saturday evening I drove to my hometown of Maysville, KY to visit my sister. While there, we drove around downtown, which is something I always love to do whenever I travel back home. We passed the building that used to be Clyde’s Grocery Store - which happened to be my very first job.
I have fond memories of that place and of that summer in general. Clyde’s Grocery Store was a small store in downtown Maysville right on the Ohio River. I was hired as a grocery bagger. I loved it and took a lot of pride in it. A first job is always so exciting! I’ll never forget getting my very first paycheck and spending the money on a Sony Walkman (does anyone remember those?).

Good times :)
What was your very first job?

Friday, February 15, 2013

Paths Crossing in the Sky...

“The higher we soar, the smaller we appear to those who cannot fly” ~Friedrich Nietzsche
A couple Sundays ago, I arose to the most beautiful of mornings. There was a crispness in the air that gave me a sense of calmness and unexplainable tranquility. As I walked outside that morning, I glanced up in the sky to see the remains of passenger planes that had been flying by earlier.
A couple of things struck me: First, it’s still so amazing to me that there are people up there…thousands and thousands of feet up in the sky. Isn’t that incredible? Secondly, I was struck by the thought that people’s paths cross up there. Even thousands of feet up in the air, paths cross. Those brilliant white lines of smoke crossing each other illustrate that beautiful thought for me.
Every time I glance up in the sky and see one of those planes so far away that they almost look like a dot, there is one prevailing though that crosses my mind…I wonder where they’re going. It’s a thought I can’t get out of my head. Are they flying to California, Texas, or New York? Are they traveling somewhere father away like Ireland, Canada, or Hawaii?
To me, there’s something incredible about not knowing the answer to that question.
When you look up into the sky and see the wonder of flight, what are some things that cross your mind?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

I Love Mornings

Morning Dew HD Wallpaper
"Morning is when the wick is lit. A flame ignited, the day delighted with heat and light, we start the fight for something more than before" ~ Jeb Dickerson
I love mornings. There, I said it. I really and truly do! I even get up super early on the weekends. I know this probably makes me a bit of an oddball but that certainly wouldn't be the first time. Mornings are something I long for and appreciate. I think we too often take them for granted. To me, nothing compares to that feeling of embarking upon a new day. It awakens the senses. There are just so many wonderful things about the morning time:
  • The promise of a new day
  • The chorus of birds as they celebrate the day to come
  • The breathtaking beauty of the sunrise
  • The glistening shine of dew-covered lawns
  • The way the morning fog embraces the hilly landscape
These are but a few of the reasons that I love mornings. Are you a morning person or a night owl?

Saturday, February 9, 2013

My All-time favorite Movie Scene

American Beauty 

I recently had a conversation with a friend in which our favorite all-time movie scenes were brought up. When my friend asked me about my all-time favorite movie scene, the answer came easily - the floating plastic bag scene in American Beauty.

American Beauty is by far my all-time favorite movie; and this scene is a perfect example of why. To set the scene up, Ricky (a troubled but fascinatingly deep individual) wants to show Jane (The girl he is falling in love with) the most beautiful thing he’s ever filmed.

One random autumn day, he saw a plastic bag floating in the wind and began filming.  He describes it as follows:

"It was one of those days when it's a minute away from snowing and there's this electricity in the air, you can almost hear it. And this bag was, like, dancing with me. Like a little kid begging me to play with it. For fifteen minutes. And that's the day I knew there was this entire life behind things, and... this incredibly benevolent force, that wanted me to know there was no reason to be afraid, ever. Video's a poor excuse, I know. But it helps me remember... and I need to remember... Sometimes there's so much beauty in the world I feel like I can't take it, like my heart's going to cave in."

It’s the most powerful moment I've ever seen on film…

What’s your all-time favorite movie scene or scenes?

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Venturing into the Unknown...

"One is never really afraid of the unknown; one is afraid of the known coming to an end." ~Jiddu Krishnamurti

Sometimes I envision myself standing at the oceanside staring out into the sea with the ocean breeze on my skin and the endless sight of blue in front of me…an endless blue that is vast, eternal, and filled with the unknown. I think this can be drawn as a metaphor to everyday life. Sure, we can play it safe and venture in ankle-deep and stay very comfortable…but really, what’s the fun in that? OR we can wade out a little deeper and take that risk of becoming completely vulnerable and embracing how wonderful that sort of vulnerability can really be.

The safe bet is to stay ankle-deep…it’s very low risk but also very low reward. Many people live their lives like this, and to be honest there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. In fact, if you had asked me a couple years ago, I would have probably voted to play it safe in life, being content with the “status quo”. But sometimes in life you have an epiphany…a moment where everything becomes, for the very first time, crystal clear.  With this epiphany comes an internal clarity that is one of the most wonderful things that could ever be experienced…a moment in which a light turns on and you begin to “live” for the very first time.

I think we often associate vulnerability, or the unknown, with negative thoughts or consequences…but who says that it has to be that way? Why are we so afraid of the unknown? Is it because we like to have control of our lives and that with something unknown we have to cede that control? Is it because stepping out of one’s comfort zone is just something that we are discouraged against from a very young age? Or is it because we are afraid of what we may discover about ourselves if we venture into that unknown? That we may discover a part of ourselves that we never knew was there? A part of ourselves that would no longer be content with playing it safe. I don’t know the answer…but I do know that the only way to find the answer is to wade a little deeper into that ocean that we call life :)

How about you. Do you fear the unknown?

Sunday, February 3, 2013

A Shout-Out to Those in the Helping Professions

"We are all here on earth to help others; what on earth the others are here for I don't know."  ~W.H. Auden

I want to dedicate today’s blog post to those in the helping professions. I have such a tremendous amount of respect and admiration for those who enter these fields. They do it not for notoriety, glory, and money (For these fields offer none of the three). But rather, they do it because they have an innate desire to help others. What a beautiful trait.

So this post is dedicated to:
The school teacher who takes the time to work with a student and makes the difference between that student going on to college, or dropping out of school
The firefighter who risks their life running into an engulfed home to save someone who is trapped.
The disaster relief worker who helps people when their homes, and lives, have been leveled.
The ER nurse who works a 24-hour shift in triage, comforting people in some of life’s most traumatic moments.
The social worker who dedicates their life to protecting children from child abuse.
The police officer who puts their life on the line every single day.
The Home Health Nurse that spends their day visiting elderly people in need.
The Red Cross worker who is the face of hope for people who so desperately need it.  
The EMT who spends every day responding to the scenes of accidents and saving lives.
The Hospice Care worker who provides comfort and solace during a family’s most difficult time.
These are but a few of many examples of the dedicated workers in the helping professions. So let us salute them on a job well-done and let us never pass up the opportunity to thank them.
Do you know someone who works in the helping professions? Have you ever been helped by someone in the helping professions?