Monday, August 1, 2011

A Simple Choice

I was sitting at a Royals game with my friend Jenny and chatting about her last road race. I was gabbing on about how I hated running, but I like biking and swimming as exercise. Jenny's eye sparkled and I could tell I possibly had just walked into a trap that was already strung around my neck. She smirked at me as she dipped another chip into nacho cheese, "So if the race was just swimming you'd do it."

I started to backpedal, "Well, it would depends on how long and if I had to do the front crawl, never."

Nodding Jenny crunched down on another chip, "500 meters and whatever stroke, it's open."

I narrowed my eyes in thought and quickly thought about the lengths of a pool that would notch up to be, and shrugged, 500m wasn't that long. I was a  strong swimmer even without practice.

At that point I knew I was promising to something that was a whole year away. How lucky for me to have all that time to ignore the need for practice and training!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Day 27: 30 Days of TV - Best Pilot Episode

Day 27: Best Pilot Episode

A pilot episode really is just an introduction to the characters, voice, and scope of the world that you will be visiting week to week on a television show. They can feel clunky if it's just introducing character after character and stating what it is they do or how they're related to your lead character.

There is a reason that most shows take a while to win you over or gain their footing. While I love Parks and Recreation the entire first season felt like they were introducing the viewers to the style, characters, and storytelling... which isn't bad since it is different than the normal way of storytelling on a show, but it's not the best.

The best pilot episode that I can remember?

Gilligan's Island.

And here's why they did all the hub bub that takes the first thirty minutes of meeting people, giving the situation, and style of the story all in theme song. Brilliant. Now they're able to delve into the hilarity and hijinks.

The close second. Scrubs. Oh show, how lovely you are.

Apologies for no clips or pictures. It's quite hard to find Gilligan's Island stuff that uses the actual opening of the first season on the youtubes.

Ceasing Ramble.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Day 26: 30 Day of TV - Season Finale Failure

Day 26: Season Finale Failure

It's been months so it must be time to do another of the 30 days of TV challenge.

Season finale failure, note that this is not series finale failure as that's a whole 'nother can of worms and also with that I won't be taking into account any series finales. It just makes it easier on my brain.

I'm putting this as a task the season finale that made me think... well I'm not going to need to watch that show anymore. I honestly don't have this thought too many times as I'll make that decision in the midst of a season more often than at the end.

A season finale merely is the final episode to tie up the thematic arcs of a show and show us either the possibilities of where the characters and stories may go or leave you with the always chancy cliffhanger.

I was the most underwhelmed with the Glee's season one finale Journey.

It had the set up to be a very well played finale with the talent of Dianna Agron, but it fizzled as the story arcs so well done in the first half of the season stared to fall apart in the second half.

Many times when Beth and I mention when talking about Glee that it got too popular too fast and fell into the trap of many of the popular shows. Playing for everyone all at once, but in doing so the characters felt less real. When Glee is written well it is great, there are moments when I get so pleased with it and there were moments in this episode... again mostly surrounding Quinn.

But it left me with an eh feeling.

I found my way back as a passive watching in the second half of the last season as a favor for my friend Michael. I'm still happy to see a 'normal' representation of LGBT youth, but I expect more.

I'll always expect a Buffy when there is a show about the high schoolers on the outskirts.

Next season they're going to have Marti Noxon... maybe I'll finally get my arcs and development back.

Ceasing Ramble.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Feeling Useful and Useless at the Same Time

Parkinson's Disease.

It's something I've known for nearly half my life as a constant trait that causes those who know me to always ask, "How's your Mom doing?". My mother was diagnosed with early onset PD when I was sixteen. I remember my parents calling me to the living room and asking me to sit on the couch. They had something to tell me that was so serious that it wasn't around the dinner table.

I was sure they were going to tell me they were getting divorced, because that was the worst possible thing I could think of to happen that would sit me staring over my right shoulder at the clock ticking, the pendulum swinging back and forth awaiting for the bad news to hit.

But then my mom fit her hand into my dad's and said that she had been diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. I felt relief wash over my body, because they were still together. We were still the family I knew. So we can get through some weird sounding disease thing. My Mom looked fine. I didn't have a frame of reference on what PD was at that point because it hadn't been showcased on an ABC soap opera.

I clapped my hands on my knees and thought the family meeting was adjourned, but could still feel the tension in the room.

It's always there, the tension of what a disease brings to a family. Now and again there would be PD moments or the line of pills and jokes of how I was now the chauffeur for mom on trips to Kansas City. Mom and I participated in the Parkinson's Unity Walk in Central Park and I saw it grow through the years.

I also believe that Micheal J. Fox is am amazing hero who we often take for granted as a showman who makes us laugh or brings us comfort. He's brought me hope now and again in his speeches and the joy that I feel in a PD crowd when he speaks.

My mom had DBS surgery a while back and was able to cut her medicine in half and her movement improved. We lauded the surgeons at KU Med and I found myself eeking back into my sixteen year old self. That it was fine, we were the family unit I remembered and the surgery pushed back the reminders of PD.

Recently I had been noticing that mom's movements have taken more focus, her speech has become slurred (although granted my family does love a good mumble) and I had made what I had hoped were off handed comments to friends about how it seemed that PD was leaking through and around the DBS and medicine's usefulness.

The way that movements were slower as if running on a battery on low. The nerve endings from the brain out to the muscles in the body running on a circuit board that seemed archaic. Mom was still there joking about PD as most Parkie's do and I always love to be in on a joke. It's a device I've used since my grandma slipped away through Alzheimer's.

Make your loved one laugh and in that one moment you are with them somewhere that the disease can't get.

Last month though I caught a drive to my cousin's high school graduation with my parents. The drive felt different from the moment I slid into the back of the maroon Crown Victoria substitute (I refuse to remember the new car's make/model). My father, the eternal smart ass was being kinder than usual to my mom. We stopped at a small town gas station for the bathroom and the requisite acquiring of gum for my mom.  I slipped into the Midwestern small talk and brought up my dad's yearly fishing trip in August. He mentioned I might need to stay with mom, because she would probably need help at night.

For those who are unaware the medicine cycle for some PD patients, ends with a 8pm kick back. This was why Micheal J. Fox had Spin City start taping early. It's when Parkie's are better equipped.

Take a moment to think about the muscles in your body. All of them. You wake up in the middle of the night and need to go to the bathroom... how many muscles do you call on? I understood why I'd be needed.

But most of all I could hear how tired Dad was in that moment. It put me on guard and I've been there for a month now. Observing, changing my behavior a bit to be nicer as well, more patient...

My good friend, Beth, was singing in the KC Women's Chorus and had told me that Mom would really like the music. I knew that an outing to KC would require driving, getting into a building, getting seated, and lots of people to maneuver around, but I was up for it. 

I could tell the day was physically exhausting for my mom, but she did love the concert we sang along with the Shoop Shoop song, one she used to sing and spin around the kitchen with me. The linoleum helping our socked feet feel like we were gliding across some grand dance hall.

When we got back into the car on the way home through a maze of ramps and elevators Mom was sweating like she had run a marathon, which as her muscles were concerned she had done so her breathing was labored, but mine is from climbing three flights of stairs. I was worried about her being overheated, but she said it's a new thing the doctors are trying to figure out. The doctors had run a sonogram to see if that illuminated anything. (She said that she had come from the room and Dad asked her how it went and she said, "There's a Junior!" He was not amused. I thought it was pretty awesome.) She explained the feeling as your outside being cold, but the inside being hot and she was right her skin was chilly, but her body was reacting as if she was boiling inside.

As we got home and I helped get everything out of the car she stood in the kitchen and concentrated on smiling, thanking me for the trip and hoping that she didn't embarrass me too much. My heart broke a little, but I grinned back at her and said, "I've known you my whole life. If you haven't done it by now, you never will."

I had been her companion that day. I leaned in when she spoke to me and listened. I teased her when she said I was a good driver and two minutes later would tell me the direction I should be turning right before the exit as she always has done. I walked with her holding her hand without being asked. I was her companion.

Just like she had done before for me and how she still is to this day.

Parkinson's Disease.

It's been a constant in my life. It defines how some people know me and my family. Its effects can make me feel useful and useless at the same time.

But it will never make me embarrassed by my mother.

That would have been the matching jumpers she made when I was a tow headed elementary school student. Actually no, we looked awesome in those. We pulled them off.

But that's how we roll.

Ceasing Ramble.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Better Off Ted: Always Quotable

Veronica: Ju! Ju! Ju! Ju!
Ted: What are you doing?
Veronica: Deflecting your whiny bitching with my happiness shield.

Oh show, I miss you. 

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Day 25: 30 Days of TV - Show You Plan on Watching... But

Day 25 - A show you plan on watching, but haven't gotten around to yet (old or new)

Now, when I had started this 30 days back in December the answer to this was Friday Night Lights, but I've finally got around to plugging through since it was on Netflix watch instantly.

And, holy hell.... what took me so long?

I can see how this show is hard for some to get into as it is at times, so devastatingly true to life, but also it can show you the moments of pure love and joy. It hits really too close to home and that is scary for some viewers.

I'm finally going to be caught up this weekend and get to start in on the second airing of the last season on NBC, appropriately on Friday nights.

Everything pulls together seamlessly sometimes making me forget that I'm watching a fictional show from the editing and camera work that at times feels like you're watching a reality show.

The actors are giving the fluidity to block and act like they would on stage, the cameras coming to find them, they talk as we talk: over each other, improper sentences, and with beautiful simplistic nature.

I have soft spots for most all of the characters that they brought in: Smash Williams, Jason Street, Tyra Collette, Lyla, Julie, Landry, and Tim Riggins. But the stars of the show are the Taylors, Eric and Tami: the football coach and the coach's wife. They transcend how we have seen the study of a marriage, the give, the take, the ability to fight and forgive.

Yes, this is a show that centers around the use of sport as something that can bring together or tear apart a town. That can help bring belief and pride to teenagers who are never told they are anything other than worthless.

And as I just finished up this season four finale I'm in tears again. As much as I love Buffy, Veronica Mars, and The X-Files.... Friday Night Lights is hitting me somewhere different than any other show I've watched.

For that I'm sad that I took so long to get into Dillon, Texas... but I'm happy I'm finally able to experience the brightness of Connie Britton and Kyle Chandler as the Taylors.

Ceasing Ramble.