Wednesday, October 05, 2011


When I get into a show, I get into a show. It can be a bit of a problem. (see: Mickey Mouse Club, LOST, Friday Night Lights.) One of my favorite things about following a show is the pay-off you get when something happens between the characters and you can only fully appreciate the moment because you know everything that has come before it.

NBC's Parenthood is currently in its third season and it had one of those moments last night. (Fair warning this contains spoilers about the show.) I started watching it because I liked the movie a lot (trivia: a friend of mine in Orlando lives down the street from the house the movie filmed at) and it had a lot of the same behind-the-scenes folks as Friday Night Lights. I've been particularly pumped when FNL actors show up on Parenthood. Lyla as Max's behavioral aide? Score! Vince playing the role of Haddie's boyfriend? Go Lions! I miss having a team to cheer for like I did on FNL, but Parenthood is appointment television for me.

Michael B. Jordan, the actor who plays Haddie's boyfriend Alex is awesome. His arrival onto the show during its second season caused trouble for Haddie's family because her parents didn't want them dating. He was older than her, had dropped out of school and was recovering from problems with alcohol. Parents were understandably concerned. But Alex has cleaned things up and long story short, they work things out and he even plays basketball with Haddie's little brother and the rest of the family. In the beginning of this third season, he gets into some trouble with the law and Haddie's dad helps him out. However, shortly after that Alex decides that he and Haddie should call things off. Haddie doesn't respond well to the news and here's what happens when he takes her home and runs into her mom:

This is hands down one of my favorite scenes ever on this show. Several things about it get to me:

- The use of doors. Doors are instrumental to this scene. You see Alex and Haddie come in through the front door, hear Haddie slam her bedroom door, see Alex leave through the front door and see Haddie and her mom talk through the previously mentioned slammed door.

- Alex and this mom have come so far in their relationship. She tells him he's now like family. I don't think that Monica Potter, the actress who plays Haddie's mom, gets the credit she deserves for playing this role. She owns it. This mom is such a control freak, but she manages to somehow make the character likable and, I think, relatable. She just wants what is best for her kids. In this scene, things that are out of her control unravel before her eyes and she has to not be as pushy as she normally is. I don't think you can appreciate how she handles those interactions with her daughter and Alex without knowing how those kinds of things have previously played out. I love the look of restrained panic on her face, the way she pats the back of Alex's head when they hug, how she takes a deep breath once he has left and how instead of giving into her temptation to open Haddie's door, she gives her daughter some space by simply saying, "I love you."

- I love Alex's acknowledgment that he feels lucky to have gotten to know a good mom after losing his own a long time ago. I know these characters are not real, but my heart goes out to Alex when you see his response to Haddie's mom speaking into his hurt, validating him and telling him they love him. (Michael B. Jordan's agent needs to start his campaign for a best guest star Emmy or something.) Not only is he losing his girlfriend, he's losing the closest thing he has had to a family in a long time. He has been forgiven of his past and is loved by these people. And that's a lot to take in. As I get ready to go to bed, my prayer is that I would be as overwhelmed with the forgiveness and love my Creator has for me.

I don't know where this story line will lead to next, but if it includes more scenes like this one, it looks like my Tuesday night plans won't be changing anytime soon.

Sunday, October 02, 2011


I've gotten into the habit of watching the 6:30 national news at night. NBC's Brian Williams is my anchor of choice. One of my least favorite things about watching the news, though, is hearing about the unemployment rate, especially because I am part of that percentage of people they talk about. While I am in this in between period, I have picked up some habits like spending too much time on Facebook and eating more junk food than I normally do and should. But some good ones have also developed. I get the proper amount of rest. I do some sort of exercise 4 or 5 days a week. I also make more of an attempt to take note of things, superficial or not, that bring me joy. Some of those things of late have been:

- A former student of mine now volunteers with the Youth Group at his church in college. One Saturday morning I woke up to a text message from him with the following picture:

As I scrolled down I read the attached caption: "middle school lock in. need i say more." Getting that text was especially sweet since I lead a few lock-ins with that student when he was a middle schooler.

- Re-reading some of my favorite books (Ender's Game, Harry Potter) and discovering some really good new ones (The Wednesday Wars, The Help, Room).

- Mat Kearney's latest album came out over the summer. I got a copy the day it came out, but waited to listen to it when I had a short road trip a few days later. Track 2 instantly became my favorite song. It is one of the few songs right now that can almost always lift my mood.

- Hearing my Dad say he was proud of me for being one of two final candidates for a job (even though I ended up not getting the job).

- Seeing the excitement on the faces of the team members of the Tampa Bay Rays when they won their Wild Card spot and overcame their nine game deficit. That was such good television.

- Getting Vanilla Coke from a fountain (courtesy of the Coca-Cola Freestyle machine).

- Visiting my elementary school and the secretaries in the office remembering me!

- Remembering my high school fight song when I went to a game and heard the band play it.

- Auditioning for Who Wants to be a Millionaire. Didn't make it pass the written test, but got a free shirt.

- My cousin Josh telling me he got engaged.

- Exploring the woods of a nearby Tampa park with great music playing in my ears. The soundtrack was music I'd heard on the show Friday Night Lights: "Remember Me as a Time of Day" by Explosions in the Sky, "Deus Ex Machina" by If These Trees Could Talk, "Stokkseyri" by Jonsi and Alex and "Devil Knows Your Dead" by Delta Spirit.

- Speaking of Friday Night Lights, I literally stood up and cheered when Kyle Chandler won the Emmy for Best Actor in a Drama for his work in that show:

In the words of Entertainment Weekly: "Clear eyes. Full hearts. Didn't lose."

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

an epic send-off

Confession: During my sophomore year of college, I would often watch The View. But only because I thought Meredith Vieira was awesome. I remember thinking that she was funny, attractive and that I wanted to do something cool enough to get me interviewed by her one day. But I never felt like I could fully enjoy her because she was on The View. Then in 2006, right around the same time I made a transition in jobs, she announced she was going to be an anchor on the Today show. Finally! She was going to be on a show I could watch without shame.

In 2008, I had the opportunity to lead a group of high school students on a missions trip to New York City. Part of my preparation involved going on an orientation trip with other leaders. I loved being in a city I'd never been to before surrounded by things I'd only ever heard or read about. Hands down my favorite memory from that trip was when our group leader took us to Rockefeller Center and we were right outside the set of Today. It was around 10pm at night on a weekday, so there weren't too many people around. I peered through the windows of the Today set, but could only see one guy cleaning up. Although I didn't get to see Meredith in person, I made sure to take a picture of the next best thing:

Now, as I make another job transition, so does Meredith. This morning was her last day on Today. I don't watch regularly, but set my alarm to wake up and watch. I didn't really have any expectations for the show, but thought it was one of the best send-offs I've ever seen on TV. Below is video from what I think was the best part of the morning: Yes, it might be over the top and a bit cheesy. But what stood out to me the most was how that surprise (and the other things they did for her) displayed how well they knew her and appreciated, valued and loved her. It was all so intentional. Maybe it was a ploy to get some good ratings, but I thought it was a great display of care for another person and it reminded me of the good good-byes I've recently been given. I admit I'm probably a bit of a sucker for this kind of thing right now with all the changes I've had going on, but who wouldn't love to have something like this put together in his/her honor?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


The final season of Friday Night Lights has already aired on DirecTV, but I get to watch it starting Friday, April 15, on NBC. I've managed to stay clear of any major spoilers so far, and I hope I can keep it up. I stumbled across the following promo that DirecTV showed before it aired the finale and I am ready to see what happens in Dillon this year.

Friday, March 11, 2011

super 8

A movie written and directed by J.J. Abrams? starring Coach Taylor? music composed by Michael Giacchino? I'm there.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


Some things I've been especially grateful for this last week...

1.) going to Chick-fil-a and watching the original 3 Ninjas movie with Reese

2.) phone calls from my friends Brad & Jenna, James and David that came at just the right time

3.) the awesome staff at the Waterford Chick-fil-a and my Chick-fil-a mug (in the above picture) that gets me free drinks at that store

4.) a rainy day followed by cooler weather

5.) encouragement & truth

6.) free rentals at Blockbuster Express

7.) overly enthusiastic contestants on Wheel of Fortune

8.) finding a Mat Kearney concert download on iTunes and having enough left on my gift card so that it cost me nothing

9.) getting to enjoy time with one of my favorite students, Michael, courtesy of the new banana pudding milkshake at Chick-fil-a one day and Simply Frozen Yogurt the next

10.) the following conversation with my dad, who loves singing and is really into karaoke:

me: Have you been watching American Idol?
Dad: Yes.
me: I watched it last night because I wanted to see the new judges.
Dad: Yeah, they've got Jennifer, Tyler and the Dawg.
me (once I was done laughing): It's really funny that you call him "the dawg."
Dad: That's what he says. If I meet him one day, that's what I'll call him. I'll be like, "What's up, dawg?!"

Tuesday, March 08, 2011


I've been drinking the John Eldredge Kool-Aid lately and reading Wild at Heart. In one of the chapters I recently read, he talks about Frederick Buechner's father committing suicide when Buechner was only ten years old. When Eldredge wonders how a young boy handles a tragedy like that, he shares the following excerpt from Buechner's book The Sacred Journey as an answer:

"A child takes life as it comes because he has no other way of taking it. The world had come to an end that Saturday morning, but each time we had moved to another place, I had seen a world come to an end, and there had always been another world to replace it. When somebody you love dies, Mark Twain said, it is like when your house burns down; it isn't for years that you realize the full extent of your loss. For me it was longer than most, if indeed I have realized it fully even yet, and in the meantime the loss came to get buried so deep in me that after a time I scarcely ever took it out to look at it at all, let alone speak of it."

After thinking I should add The Sacred Journey to my reading list, I pulled out my pen and marked that passage. As someone who lost his mom at a young age and has only recently started to realize the profound effect that event has had on my life and who I am as a person, I appreciate Buechner's words. It's actually startling to me how well his words describe me as a 13 year old trying to figure out life after experiencing that loss. I often avoided the subject. When my dad wanted to talk about my mom, I remember sometimes simply telling him, "I don't want to talk about it." So we didn't.

Instead I obsessed over school staying up until one in the morning doing homework and practicing my saxophone obsessed. I guess it seemed easier to control. But when things at school didn't go well, it got ugly. The most vivid memory I have of that playing out was toward the end of my 8th grade year. Our English teacher, Mrs. Barnes, assigned our class to do a project on the book Ender's Game. I was furious at Mrs. Barnes when she determined I could have been a little more creative with my work and awarded me 93 out of 95 points on the project instead of the full 95 I felt I deserved. I proceeded to argue with Mrs. Barnes about my alleged lack of creativity and she told me, "Jason, you still got an A." Certainly a truthful statement, but I was so mad it didn't matter. You would have thought the world had ended. As Buechner states, though, my world had already come to an end. I just wasn't aware of it.

A counselor I've seen has said that something in me went underground when my mom died. I don't like how that sounds, but I can't deny that it feels true. I have theories as to what "went underground," but they remain theories in progress for the time being.

I still miss my mom. She was funny, loved the Lord, made really great spaghetti, hugged me when I cried, hooked me up with quality after-school snacks, took me to a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles concert for my 11th birthday, stood in line with me for hours to meet the girl of my dreams from the Mickey Mouse Club (and gave me a stuffed bear to give to her!) and always managed to surprise me with thoughtful and creative Christmas gifts. It reminds me how grateful I am for the time I did have with her.