Thursday, July 30, 2015

Commentary on TeachingCenter

A couple of days ago I was on some random website and this headline jumped out at me:

Key & Peele Sketch Imagines A World Where Teachers Are Paid Like Athletes And It's Awesome

Naturally, as a teacher, I just had to click on the page. What I watched was very entertaining, but also very thought-provoking. Watch it below:

Fabulous, right? From the huge amount of money guaranteed to a talented teacher to the drafting of a "mathlete" who was living on his father's modest paycheck from playing professional football to the "play of the year" getting the introvert involved in the discussion, all of these are things for which teachers would love to be praised.

So why does it take a popular sketch show mimicking a sports show to get people talking? Why aren't teachers paid like athletes? The second question is easy to answer:

1. Public schools are owned by the government, and you know there's not a lot of money there. Church schools (like mine) are paid through offerings of the congregation and tuition of the families - not much there, either. Meanwhile, sports teams are owned by rich guys who know they can get a lot of money back and make a name for themselves.

2. Teaching is not a spectator event. Sporting events are. The more eyes you get watching a game on TV, on the Internet, or in the stadiums means more revenue. Schools have to resort to bake sales and fundraisers to get more money for music or PE equipment.

It can be said that not everyone requires sports to survive, but everyone needs some sort of education. While we wish that we teachers could be compensated a little more for that, we also know we didn't get into this profession for the money. For some athletes, money is the only thing that matters.

There are tough times when it comes to being a teacher, but the happy times are often so wonderful that it makes the tough ones easier to handle. I was at a presentation on Monday evening, and one of the families from our school was there. I taught their son and daughter last year, and both of them came right up to me to say hello, and the daughter sat herself right next to me for the presentation. Better yet, their little brother - who will be a kindergartner next year and has never talked to me that much - came up to me and gave me a hug!

Those happy moments can occur in the classroom, too, like when you finish switching classes with another teacher, come back to the room, and everything you asked them to do is done.

At the end of a good day, a teacher won't think "I made a lot of money today!" They'll think "My students really did a great job today!" Money can't buy that kind of happiness.

So it's fun to see these spoofs and wish that teachers would get the same appreciation and recognition as the professional athletes of our day, and hope that one day we get the same kind of rights as teachers in Scandinavia. But we know that if our students look at us in the future and remember us more fondly than their childhood athlete "heroes," that kind of appreciation keeps us going year in and year out.

But thanks, Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele, for keeping the conversation going.

Monday, July 27, 2015

The Best of Scrubs

With the normal TV season drawing to a close in May, I tend to find myself binging old television shows over the summer months, when I have time. In June I decided to go back to my DVD collection and watch Scrubs, an insanely funny television show from ten years ago.

I always tend to skip season 1, because the show was just starting to gain its footing, and didn't quite have the quirky attitude it developed in seasons 2 and beyond.

Some of the best episodes of the series, however, come from it's most serious and heartfelt moments. That's what made Scrubs great: while it was a comedy set in a hospital, it knew how to be serious at just the right times. 

Because it would be too difficult to rank the episodes, I just wrote down episodes that I thought were the best of each season. I won't go into too many details, but if you ever get around to watching the show (and you should), be sure to set your distractions aside and enjoy these episodes in particular. 

Synopsis: Scrubs follows J.D. and his friends through the process of going from lowly interns to doctors at Sacred Heart Hospital. J.D. is best friends with Christopher Turk and an on-again, off-again relationship with flighty Elliot Reid. The show also follow's Turk's relationship with nurse Carla Espinosa. Trying to get them into shape are Perry Cox and Bob Kelso, while the Janitor just keeps trying to mess J.D. up in any way he can. Hijinks ensue.

Season Two's Best

My Own Private Practice Guy (episode 17)

I love this episode because of the duel between Kelso and Turk. When Kelso parks in the lot where the basketball court is, Turk unplugs Kelso's Ms. Pacman machine. They are constantly battling each other throughout the episode, leading up to the match at the golf course where, after Turk wins the hole, Kelso has to tell Turk something, and watching an old man say that is hilarious to watch. Eventually, they both realize that basketball and Ms. Pacman are their stress relievers, and both come to a mutual understanding about it. 

Season Three's Best

My Brother, Where Art Thou? (episode 5)

I love this episode because J.D.'s brother Dan shows up and actually helps J.D. out for a change. J.D. has become cynical about his job and it seems like he no longer enjoys it, something that Dan's never seen before. Dan actually goes up to Dr. Cox and tells him to be a better mentor to J.D. because J.D. is turning more into Cox every day. I loved how Dan stood up for his little brother, after a few episodes of Dan being a giant pain for J.D.

My Porcelain God (episode 13) My Screw Up (episode 14) My Butterfly (episode 16)

These three episodes are some of my favorites, and they aired almost in successive weeks. My Porcelain God was the second episode with Michael J. Fox, a surgeon who suffered from OCD. Unlike his first episode, Dr. Casey finds comedy in his OCD through a toilet (the "epiphany toilet") the Janitor put on the roof. Elliot can't decide what she wants to do with her life, and Dr. Casey leads her (with a toilet paper trail) to the roof, where she gets her own epiphany. 

My Screw Up has a fantastic twist at the end that I won't spoil here. But, unless you already know about it and you're looking for it, you'll never realize what the twist is until it hits you at the end. 

My Butterfly shows two different options that could be followed for several plots: Turk's surgery, Carla's do-rag search, and Elliot's stuffed animal quest. You feel like the episode wrapped way too quickly...until they take you back to the beginning and you do the whole episode over again with different choices being made!

Season Four's Best

My First Kill (episode 4)

I love this episode because of the unlikely pairing of Carla and the Janitor. Initially the Janitor was only meant to be a figure of J.D.'s imagination, and that's why the Janitor only interacts with him in season 1. Eventually in season 2 the Janitor talks to someone else, and it's really a shock to see!

In this one, Carla loses Rowdy, J.D. and Turk's taxidermied dog. With the Janitor's help (and expertise in stuffing squirrels and other animals) she gets a new dog that looks almost just like Rowdy. 

My Female Trouble (episode 10)

I love this episode because, in the end, Jordan, Carla, and Elliot show how tough and strong they are. Girl power! I certainly felt good after this episode.

My Life in Four Cameras (episode 17)

Similar to My Butterfly, this single camera show turns into a multi-camera sitcom thanks to J.D. wondering how all these plots would be resolved on a TV show. They borrow a lot of weird plot ideas that would have been used in 1970s and 1980s sitcoms, put the ladies in skimpy outfits, and have a lot of audience laugh tracks. But in the end, the idea is that those crazy comedies we love are perfect ways to bring us out of reality, and the occasional bad day.

Season Five's Best

My Way Home (episode 7)

I love this episode because it uses the Wizard of Oz as inspiration: Turk is looking for a heart (donor), J.D. is trying to get home, Carla feels like she doesn't have the courage to become a mom, and Elliot needs the brains for an endocronology Q&A session. In the end, they realize they've had those things all along. Plus the Janitor is painting colored lines all over the hospital, and the yellow line leads to the exit.

My Big Bird (episode 8)

I love this episode because a patient dies and there's an M&M session to figure out who's at fault. In the flashbacks you see that all the medical staff are responsible because they are too wrapped up in their own plots to care about the patient. But it all ends up being for naught because of a technical error, and they all go free without reprimand. However, Dr. Cox reminds them how horrible they'd been, and the episode ends on a haunting note.

My Cabbage (episode 12)

This episode works really well after you've been binge watching, because you've been seeing Mrs. Wilkes in B-plots for a few episodes, and she finally gets to leave the hospital in this episode. Everyone gets a chance to say goodbye and good luck to her, and it's great to watch...UNTIL THE END. It made me so mad! But in a good way. I won't tell you what happens - just watch for yourself.

My Lunch (episode 20) My Fallen Idol (episode 21)

If you ask a Scrubs fan the episode that stands out, they will 90% of the time say My Lunch because of how heartbreaking it is. You look back at all the other serious episodes of Scrubs, and this one trumps them all. It is incredibly emotional and depressing, and leads perfectly into My Fallen Idol, where roles are reversed and J.D. gets to step up and not just be a buffoon. This is his first step to becoming a great doctor.

Season Six's Best

My Coffee (episode 3)

I love this episode pretty much because of CoffeeBucks. I was re-watching the series, plus I had watched Cougar Town, which also has CoffeeBucks, and to see it make its grand entrance here was very entertaining. 

My Musical (episode 6)

The songs in this episode are spectacular, and everyone gives it their all. Probably my favorite musical-themed episode of all time. 

My Long Goodbye (episode 13)

A very sad episode where a long-term secondary character dies. But I love the episode because Dr. Cox and Jordan's baby girl is named Jennifer Dylan...J.D.

Season Seven's Best

My Identity Crisis (episode 4)

I love this episode because of J.D. imagining Dr. Cox at home, a la Risky Business, but is interrupted by J.D. and Turk also coming into the shot in that classic way! 

Sometimes episodes are great for the overarching plot. And sometimes it's great because of one laugh-out-loud gag. This is the latter.

My Bad Too (episode 7)

By far, the funniest part was the Space Invaders - parking lot edition. 

My Waste of Time (episode 10)

Two words: Legal Custodians

My Princess (episode 11)

I love that we don't spend much time in the hospital, because we are instead with Dr. Cox and Jack as Dr. Cox tells him a story that seems very similar to a normal Scrubs episode...but in a magical realm instead of a hospital. The interpretations of the characters works really well for everyone, and the end is very heartbreaking. 

Season Eight's Best 

 My ABCs (episode 5)

I love this episode because of the appearance of the Sesame Street Muppets. However, the best part of this episode is the melancholy version of the Sesame Street theme that's played at the end, when J.D. is very emotional over the death of a patient and his intern, Denise, just doesn't get it. Ugh, it gets you right in the gut.

My Lawyer's in Love (episode 8)

The first episode with Gooch, Ted's love interest! I couldn't believe how emotionally invested I was in this pair, but after seeing Ted's troubles over the past seven seasons, it was fantastic to see him get a storyline that wasn't depressing for his character. 

Dr. Cox also sees that Ed (who I'd forgotten was played by Aziz Ansari) is just making up excuses and isn't cut out to be a doctor. I cheered when he gave him his pink slip. And you can't miss when you use Our Lady Peace's song "Innocent" to wrap up the episode. I've always loved that song.

My Soul on Fire (episodes 14&15)

I love this episode because it's the Janitor's wedding! Plus, this is the first episode I watched where I saw J.D. and realized he was fiiiiiiiine. The scruff and the beachwear looked great on him. All the plots of this episode were great - from Carla's frumpiness and concern for her kids to Dr. Cox pretending like he had work to do when he didn't to Kelso's refusal to leave the bar at all...even for the wedding. Another great song is played at the end, when Sam Lloyd plays a mellow, soothing version of OutKast's "Hey Ya."

Have I mentioned that I'm glad that J.D. and Elliot are together, no strings attached? Because it was about time.

My Finale (episodes 18&19)

I have to mention this one because it is the end. I don't feel like season nine qualifies as true Scrubs, but more like a spinoff, so I don't include it. Besides, this wraps up our characters perfectly! It's sad but wonderful at the same time. I'll miss these guys. 

I would love to hear your favorite episodes - comment below!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

LWMS: For Everyone!

Last month I had the privilege of attending my fourth Lutheran Women's Missionary Society convention, held in Rapid City, South Dakota. It was a weekend full of missions, fellowship, friendship, and tradition!

Mom and Grama in LaCrosse - 1999
As I walked through the Rapid City Civic Center, where the convention was held, I was pleased to notice something about the attendees - they're getting younger!

And no, I'm not talking about facial treatments and hair dye. I'm talking about age.

I remember "attending" LWMS conventions when I was a little kid. My mother would attend the conventions with my grandmother, and my father would take us kids and do all the touristy stuff. Then we would come to the closing service on Sunday morning and worship.

It might have been my young age, but I was convinced this convention was for older ladies. While my mother was definitely not old at the time (she would have been in her 30s and 40s), all the other ladies seemed to be the same age as my grandmother! I just thought my mother came to hang out with Grama.

Attending my first convention in
2007 (Detroit) with Grama
My worry as I got older was that LWMS was going to struggle to find an audience after the generation of my grandmother met their Lord in heaven (as Grama did back in 2013). But to my relief, LWMS has started to bring out the younger generations in their quest to support the mission field of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod.

The biggest reason for that has been family connections. My mother went with my grandmother, and now my sister and I go with her. It is a great excuse to get together as a family and hang out while hearing great presentations and singing hymns with 1000 other people. (It never gets old.)
Mother, Daughter, and Aunt in
Rapid City - 2015

I did notice a lot more mother-daughter groups at the convention this year. And mothers aren't waiting till the daughter is in college or out on her own. It was fun seeing how many were high-school - or even grade-school - age!

With our bags in
Raleigh - 2012
Another way the group is growing is through friends. A few years back the convention was held in Raleigh, North Carolina. It happened to be hosted by the circuit that my best friend was in, and we both decided to go. We ended up participating in an insane scavenger hunt, which involved listening to presentations in order to find answers to questions, looking at the displays for little bits of information, or even tracking down missionaries and presenters to get that knowledge. And we won amazing bags that I, for one, still use on a regular basis. (Now they just pick a name out of a hat for those bags.)

Another bonus of the win was that she, as the first-place winner, received free registration to the next convention, held in LaCrosse, Wisconsin. This meant she and I got to hang out together for another wonderful weekend.

Rapid City opening service - 2015
(photo courtesy LWMS)
My mother experiences the same thing. She has been to so many of the conventions over the years and made so many friends that each convention is more like a reunion for her! Last month we spent the Friday "free night" to go out to a Mexican restaurant with some of her closest LWMS friends. It was a hoot! Not only is the draw to come and hear more about our WELS missions, it's also an excuse to connect with friends.

With all that said, it is wonderful to have the older generation at the conventions. Many of them had the same experiences that I'm experiencing now - coming with mothers, bringing daughters, and now are meeting up with friends! They have a zeal for missions that I hope I can replicate as well. When it comes to support through money or through prayers, they are the first ones to offer that support. I tend to get along really well with people older than me, so I feel right at home when I'm seated with any group!

Courtesy LWMS
Flag Presentation in
Rapid City - 2015
(photo courtesy LWMS)
Another wonderful addition are the men that have been attending the conventions. I know, I know, it's Lutheran Women's Missionary Society, but many of the women bring their husbands along and make a vacation of it. A lot of times husbands and wives are working, and this is a great way for both to be able to experience a wonderful cause together, without the distraction of work.

But the main reason we all get together at these conventions (and at our circut's rallies and retreats) is to help spread the saving message of the Savior to all nations. We have presenters from all over the world that fly in to present about their work in a certain country. We hear about the troubled times, but we also hear about the wonderful success stories that bring many in the room to tears. (It's not often that presenters get a standing ovation, which I feel is deserved and appropriate.)

A skit inviting us to Chicago in 2016!
(photo courtesy LWMS)
We also hear from presenters from our Home Missions, where pastors are sent to areas of the United States where there is growth, but no WELS church. There are fewer stories of culture shock (though there are some), and more of the different ways to access a community and be a welcoming presence in a neighborhood. I've heard stories from preschools to soccer camps to cookouts to participating in community events - our home missions run the gamut!

An LWMS convention (or, as I put it in my calendar this year, "LWMS Con") is a wonderful way to refresh yourself and uplift others in the work of spreading the gospel. It is hard not to leave a convention and not feel a zeal for missions and mission work. And it doesn't take much to help support that work! Prayer is the #1 thing that missionaries ask for when they do a presentation, and many are moved to contribute in other ways, as well.

I enjoy attending these conventions, and am eagerly looking forward to the next conventions in Chicago (2016) and Orlando (2017). For more information about the Lutheran Women's Missionary Society, visit And please view this wonderful video about the work of LWMS!

Lwms-reachingout-looping-2 from Beth Taticek on Vimeo.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Running: What I've Learned So Far

I've now been running for about eight weeks, and I've gotten better. I'm not going to be running any marathons anytime soon, but just the fact that I get a little excited every day that I go out to run, and I feel even more accomplished when I finish!

I have learned quite a lot since my last running blog post, so here's a nice rundown:

SPIBelt over FlipBelt

I told you all about the new FlipBelt that I had ordered and begun to use. I also told you that I'd probably gone for the smaller size and it was shrugging up to my natural waist instead of staying at my hips. Luckily, a friend of mine (who's about to have a baby) sent me her SPIBelt to use. I used it once, and knew I wasn't going to use the FlipBelt again.

Instead of being a stretchy material, it's a belt with a clasp. While the pocket looks really small, it can hold my iPhone comfortably, and I can sneak a couple other things in there, too, if necessary.

I like that it stays around my hips, and it's easier to open and get to my phone when I start and stop my Runkeeper app. Plus, it's adjustable, so I don't need to guess on a size!

I actually sent the FlipBelt back to Amazon and got my money back. I'm pleased with my decision.

Water on the run

Two years ago I purchased a nice waterbottle from NathanSports with a fabric around it to help with gripping. I take it with me on my runs because it is so dry around here that I need to hydrate every 5 minutes or so. I can't wait to get back to the apartment, because my runs are getting longer.

The waterbottle also has a pocket, so I can store smaller things in there if my SPIBelt were to run out of room.

Eventually, I will need to also look into food intake during my runs, too. Apparently there are some energy gels that I can use, but I need to try them out before I make a commitment to them.

Early to rise

The weather here has been quite odd - especially in June. We had a lot of cloudy and rainy days instead of just showers in the afternoons and evenings. This meant that the whole day was a lot cooler than usual, and I could run later in the morning and still feel comfortable.

In July the weather returned to "normal," but I didn't quite catch on to that fact. On Monday I postponed my run to about 8:30, and that was a terrible idea. The sun was high in the sky and it was hot. It meant I had one of my slower runs, and I felt exhausted and worn out by the end instead of feeling good.

Two days later, I ran at 6:30, and my run was much, much better. I hate not being able to sleep in as much, but if it means I will feel better after my run, I'll do it. Plus I can get so much work done after my run since I have more time in the day!

Run right - arms

I have a run section on Pinterest, and I've gotten a lot of good motivational quotes and tips from there. One thing I learned was about the position of my arms. If I'm not thinking about it, my arms swing up at and across my chest. This is a real waste of energy.

Instead, I focus on keeping my arms at my sides, bent at the elbow about ninety degrees. Instead of clenching my fists, I have one hand on my waterbottle and the other hand as if I'm lightly holding onto a potato chip. I also make sure to keep my arms swinging forward.

Run right - breathing

Another tip I learned was how to get the most out of breathing. They say to try not to breathe from your chest, because that's very shallow. Instead, "belly breathe."

Now I've been belly breathing ever since Freshman Chorus at MLS. My experience in different choral groups has really helped me learn how to use that same technique when I run. When I really focus on the breathing, it does help me feel better and give me more energy! (and oxygen!)

Don't eat pizza the night before a run

Your tummy will not appreciate it, and then you will not appreciate your run.

Prep for race

My 5K training program ends next week, but my race (the Broncos 7K) isn't until Labor Day weekend. What do I do between? Well, I keep running! The difference between a 5K and a 7K is 1.2 miles (or 2K, duh), so I don't have to increase all that much.

My long runs have been 50-55 minutes, and while my Runkeeper app just says I need to keep going, I try to make sure I jog the whole time. I did actually run a 7K in one of those long runs!

Prep for the race after that!

I have registered for the Star Wars Half Marathon (which you can read more about here). Well, actually I registered for the Rebel Challenge, which is a 10K on Saturday and a half marathon on Sunday! I've got six months to go, and I've got a good feeling about this!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can't Lose...My FNL Awards

After several years of hearing from multiple people that I just had to watch Friday Night Lights, the NBC series that ran for 5 seasons, I finally had the time to binge-watch the whole thing.

Everyone was right - I did love it.

Instead of just putting a bunch of stuff on the page, I'm going to give out awards for my favorite and least favorite things. Feel free to agree or argue with me in the comments!

Best Season: Season four. I loved the transition to East Dillon and the growth of a team from the ground up. It really made you realize how great the Dillon Panthers had it, even if it didn't seem so in the first three seasons.

Best Game: It's hard to remember all of them, but I'm going to say any game where the team had the game won before the last minute of the fourth quarter. It's amazing how many of those games went to the last second!

Oh - I have it. In season two, there's a tornado that demolishes rival Laribee High School's facilities and they're forced to move over to Dillon High School for two weeks, right before they have to play each other. Laribee players ruin the Dillon locker room and their coach is a huge jerk even though Coach Taylor is trying to be hospitable. Then Tim Riggins' clothing is peed on by Laribee players, Riggins confronts them about it, and the Laribee coach and Riggins get at it until Coach Taylor grabs the Laribee coach and pins him to the wall and threatens him never to touch his players again.

Then in the game, the Panthers have come back and it is clear they are going to win because Coach Taylor is having one of the best-coached games of his career. But as Riggins takes the ball down the field for the winning score... the Laribee coach runs on the field and tackles him!

Best Main Title Character: Coach and Tami Taylor. Hands down.

Best Main Title Character who's not an adult: Matt Saracen. Yea, I said it. He's the most realistic guy in the show - awkward and clumsy. When he had to deal with his dad's death in season four, it was so heartbreaking to see him go through it. And then after the funeral he takes the gravedigger's shovel and starts putting dirt on his dad's coffin, and he's crying and his hands are bleeding all over the shovel...that was horrible to watch.

But in the end, he still got the girl. The girl he was oogling in the very first episode. I was so glad Zach Gilford came back to do those episodes at the end.

Best Main Title Character who's not an adult, Runner-Up: Jess Meriweather. She was used in season four as the Girl, but in season five she developed into an equipment manager and student coach! I can get behind that for sure.

Worst Main Title Character: Julie Taylor. As weird as that may seem, since I like her boyfriend the most, she was so annoying. I almost cheered when she got slapped in season five.

Best Episode: "Kingdom" - season five, episode five. I was laughing out loud during this episode, where East Dillon takes an overnight road trip to play South King. The antics at the hotel were hilarious, and the game was fun to watch. ("Welcome East Dillon Loins")

Best Overarching Plot: I was always hoping that Jason Street would come out on top, and I was glad that, even though things fell through playing quad rugby, coaching football, and selling cars, he finally succeeded as a sports agent and had a family of his own.

Best Overarching Plot, Runner-Up: Tim and Billy Riggins. Tim had his ladies and Billy had his legal troubles, but by the end of the series you realized it wasn't about all those other things. It was about them - brothers being brothers.

Worst Overarching Plot: Julie in everything. She's turning into a bad girl! Now she's hanging with an older guy (Swede)! Now she wants to do Habitat for Humanity! Now she wants to avoid her mom's advice at any cost! Now she's ignoring her mom and road tripping to Austin! Now she's sleeping with a married man! Now she's refusing to go back to college! Now she's off to Chicago!

Best Plot Twist: East Dillon. As I said before, I loved that monkey wrench thrown into the start of season four. I think it gave the series a fresh start, and we could move on with the new characters and the red-and-white team.

Best Plot Twist, Runner-Up: Matt's artistic talent. It made small appearances in the first couple of episodes of the series, but didn't appear again in all seriousness until the end of season three, when he decided football wasn't in his future...but he loved art! And look where that got him - a job at an art gallery! (Plus he was accepted to the Art Institute of Chicago, where my grandma went to school!)

Worst Plot Twist: Lyla's Born-Agan phase. Not that it happened - but how fast it disappeared in season three, and was never mentioned again. I get that season two originally had 22 episodes and could only do 15 because of the writer's strike (remember the final shot of Jason asking his one-night stand to keep the baby...and that was it?), but she was drinking and sleeping around again right at the beginning of season three! And we never heard the reason why she turned away!

Worst Plot Twist, Runner-Up: Smash's steroid use. Usually if stuff was taken care of in secret on the show, it came back to haunt the characters later on. But when Coach Taylor decided to not report Smash's steroid use, it never came back. Should I be impressed?

Best Secondary Character: If you had told me after the pilot that Buddy Garrity would be my favorite secondary character, I would have laughed in your face. But it was amazing what they did with that character. He was the booster you hated, and then the dad you loved because he stuck up for his daughter when she was being called a slut, and then you hated him again because of all the grief he was giving coach, and then you REALLY hated him when you realized he'd been cheating on his wife...but then as season two started, you really felt sympathy. And finally in season four, when he gets up in front of the boosters and denounces his school because of all the changes going on, you love him!

Second-Best Secondary Character: Corrina Williams. No matter what dumb thing Smash did, or what dilemma he was going through, she always seemed to have the right thing to say. She put her kids first and always kept things real, even when Smash had his head in the clouds.

Best Parent: Corrina again!

Best Parent, Runner-Up: Landry's dad. Even though he tried to hide his son's guilt when he found out he killed Tyra's stalker, he also stuck with him and helped Landry see how he killed the man to protect his friend. Plus he was just as flummoxed as the rest of us when Tyra was hanging around.

Worst Parent: Vince's dad. Yes, he made sure that thug never threatened Vince or Jess again, but when Coach says to put all recruiting through him, don't ignore him. Jerk.

Worst Parent, Runner-Up: Riggins' dad. Way to be there for your kid.

Can't Get Any Worse Parent: Joe McCoy. I HATED HIM. And what happened to his awkward child J.D.? Well, he turned into a giant jerk, too. I had high hopes for J.D. and was disappointed he went down the wrong path. Thanks Joe. Jerk.

Best Couple: Is there any contest? Eric and Tami were perfect. They had issues, but never let them fester enough to seriously damage their relationship. They didn't keep secrets and kept everything out in the open. And in the end, even though he was stupid about it at first, Eric rejected the Dillon contract and went with his wife to Philly so she could take her dream job.

Best Couple, Runner-Up: You may think I'm going to say Matt and Julie. But I'm not. I'm going to say Billy and Mindy Riggins! It was a surprise in season three when they suddenly were dating and got hitched, but over seasons four and five, when their siblings weren't on the show anymore, I really got to like those two. They both started off as blundering idiots, but turned into a couple I was rooting for - especially when they defended Becky and wouldn't let her stay with her deadbeat dad and evil stepmother.

Couple That Should Have Stayed Together: Landry and Tyra. Good grief, after all the ups and downs they went through, there should have been something at the end making the two of them stick! It was so unlikely, but then I adored it. I was disappointed the two of them didn't even have a scene in the final episode.

Couple That Should Have Stayed Together, Runner-Up: Tim and Lyla. It really felt like Tim was in love with Lyla, and it never felt that way about anyone else (including Tyra in the end). They were so opposite, but I wanted that crazy couple to stick.

Best scene: When Tami confronts Luke about the mailbox in season four. Instead of being a jerk about it and defending it so he can play for Dillon, he breaks down and apologizes and is super polite about it. I immediately felt for the kid, and I liked him instead of regretting him going to East Dillon. (By the way, most of the time the kids were super polite - I've never heard more "Yes sir/ma'am"s and "No sir/ma'am"s in my life!)

Do you have any other awards to hand out? I'd love to hear them. This was a great show, and I'm so glad I had the time to race through the episodes - it would have been too hard to wait!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Standing Ovations: Appropriate or Pressure?

I have always had an issue with standing ovations. This was especially the case years ago, when other people would stand up and applaud for something and I would just stand up with them. Eventually I realized what am I doing? Most of the time I was just waiting for someone else to stand up, and then I would come to the conclusion that it was time for me to stand up.

You see, giving someone a standing ovation means, to me, that you are so overwhelmed by the amazing thing that is happening before you that you automatically just get out of your seat without even realizing it and clap and cheer as hard as you can.

The first time I felt this way was at my very first trip to the Minnesota Orchestra back in college. I went with a few friends and we sat up in the side balcony of Orchestra Hall. The featured piece was great, but they ended the concert with Ravel's "Bolero." I'd never heard the entire piece from start to finish, and the dynamic changes that take place over the piece with the addition of instruments was mesmerizing. And what holds it together? The snare drum, which just plays the same beat for 15 minutes. 

I was entranced and exhilarated, and then there's the modulation that signals that the piece is wrapping up and this is the loudest it gets, and then BAM! It just stops. I didn't even wait for the cue to stand; I just jumped to my feet. And you know what? Most of the audience did the same thing. There wasn't that ten seconds of applause followed by that one person who just has to stand up and then everyone follows suit. There was no doubt that everyone was going to stand and cheer after the piece was done.

After that, my view on standing ovations changed. I knew that some people were going to be so excited for whatever they were viewing that they were going to stand, but I shouldn't feel the need to do so if I didn't feel the same way.

Of course, that kind of depends on who you're with. If I'm with family or acquaintances, I almost feel a pressure to stand up if everyone else is standing. If I don't, they might think I'm some miser or too stuck up for my own good. Or I might get The Look, like "You better get up and show some support." I am! I'm applauding! Just because I'm not inspired to stand doesn't mean I'm not supporting them.

Being on the other end, though, makes me feel a bit differently - but only a bit. When I was in a play or putting on a concert, a standing ovation was vindication that we had just put on a really good show or concert. But sometimes I did feel like people were just standing up because "that's what we do," even though our performance wasn't that good. I was more inspired and happy when people would personally come up to me and tell me what a good job I did!

There is one time when I definitely feel a standing ovation is necessary. (And I'm not going to cover weddings and funerals, because that's standing and not applauding.) Over the Fourth of July weekend I attended a parade in a small town nearby. The parade had the cop car clearing the path of stray people crossing the street, and then the American flag was marched down the street. And out of habit and respect for the flag and for our nation, and because I'd been taught to do it at parades back in my hometown, I stood and applauded.

I was shocked to see how many people lining the streets didn't stand up as the flag went by. A few more stood up and applauded for the vets that walked behind it, but it still wasn't a unanimous. It was pretty depressing.

That is something that parents and adults need to teach children to do. The adults in my hometown showed me and my siblings and friends how to do it, and now we as adults teach the children we know how to do it. It was Independence Day, and when you are properly instructed on why that day is celebrated and the steps that were taken to ensure our freedom, why wouldn't you stand?

Your opinion on standing ovations might be different from mine, but I think we can all agree on this point. Just remember that no matter what you're watching, those people worked really hard to put on that performance, and no matter how you show it, make sure they feel appreciated!