Saturday, April 24, 2010

Playing Family Feud in Real-Time

There are times, when handling the ups and downs of an extended family, that life mimics a real-time version of a game-show gone terribly wrong.  The contestants range in age across multiple generations; pressing their buzzers and shouting to be heard above everyone else on the panel with no regard to the rules or game format.

The biggest problem with this game of Family Feud, is that everyone is hoping for a drastically different outcome.  Mom is hoping that behind door number one the entire family (children, second cousins, great-aunts twice removed included) will get along; sharing and caring together while putting aside clashes in opinion and personality.  Dad is sure that behind door number two is the key to getting everyone to see things from his point of view and agreeing that he is utterly right in his stance on all things big and small.  Cousin Sally has her fingers crossed that door number three will give her the house, platinum serving set, husband, dog and 2.4 children she is sure she needs to have the perfect Christmas gathering next year.  And dear old Aunt Mildred just wants everyone to leave her the $&%* alone.

Left to decode the shouts, screeches and incessant ringing of the buzzer is the poor game-show host; a man (or woman) who had once dreamed of being a famous actor but in a twist of fate became ringleader of this prime-time circus.  He does his best to keep his smile wide and bright, even when it's obvious that none of the contestants are going to follow the rules or have something intelligent to say in response to the questions peppered on the cue cards in front of him.  He nods emphatically and puts on his best "happy face" as he wrangles the onslaught of ribs and jabs that the contestants pass back and forth, and no one gives any regard to the fact that truthfully he detests both game and contestant equally.

Unfortunately in the end no one gets anywhere near the prize doors and the game drags on forever because no one is willing to stop pointing fingers and distributing blame long enough to hear what anyone else has to say.  It can (and does) drag on for decades; splitting the family apart with rifts that are not easily breached.  It is as painful to watch as it is to participate in, and yet every family still signs up to play with unbridled enthusiasm.

Perhaps when we find ourselves banging our own buzzer against the table, we should take a moment to step back and evaluate how we are playing the game.  If we took the time to define who we are and what we are hoping to accomplish, and tried to understand the same for the family standing around us then perhaps we could all set down our buzzers and have a more relaxing evening playing Connect Four.

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Friday, April 16, 2010

Amazing TV: Ninja Warrior

Normally, when I blog I have some insightful thought, fun event or fantastic gadget that I want to share with the masses.  But right now, as I type, I am watching one of my secret guilty pleasures: Ninja Warrior on G4TV.

Now granted, Ninja Warrior will never replace MXC's hilarious entertainment value, but it does have the Japanese-engineered obstacle course from hell and a slew of over-the-top contestants.  The thing about Ninja Warrior that tops shows like MXC, American Gladiator, and dare I say it - even the Olympics, is that the contestants that are most famous are just regular guys.  They train in back-yards, city streets, garages and warehouses.  Sure, some of them have impressive athletic backgrounds or are well known celebrities, but it is one of the few shows where anyone can give the course a try and the only thing they are trying to beat is the clock.

You can't help but cheer along with each new contestant's run through the 1st course, especially when the other contestants are cheering each other on.  It's enough to make you want to get up and jog around the neighborhood a time or two.

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Saturday, April 3, 2010

Thoughts on Easter, Spring and Renewal

It's been a long time since I really sat down and thought about Easter, or any holiday for that matter.  This year I have a bit more time to ponder the meaning and impact of things on my life than I have in the past, and so while I'm sitting and gathering my thoughts I figured I might as well type them out for you all to read and add your perspective on.

I am not overly zealous in my faith, but I'd like to think that I'm also not completely passive in my beliefs and thoughts on the the order of things.  I did take the opportunity to go to services on Palm Sunday and reflect on the goings on during Holy Week; the wrongful persecution of Jesus by the masses, the abandonment by his followers, his crucification and resurrection.  While many roll their eyes at the stories and shrug them off in favor of white rabbits and colored eggs, the story of the resurrection is really the core basis of every underdog tale ever spun.  It's a story about overcoming insurmountable odds, and coming out victorious in the end.

The one thing about the Christian telling of the resurrection that has always bothered me is that so many take it as a free pass to continue to behave badly.  Jesus died for our sins, and all we have to do is believe that to be true and "TA DA" we're all heaven bound?  I think not.  I think the story's true meaning is that we can renew ourselves (although the process needn't be as violent, or deadly), and that there is an utter necessity to believe in ourselves so that others might believe in us.

Easter comes at a time when nature itself is in a state of renewal.  Animals are giving birth to a new generation; plants begin to poke their heads out and reach towards the sun; the weather begins being brighter and warmer and pushes all of our winter blues away.  In all cases, it doesn't matter what happened last season.  What matters now is how all the beings react together as they perpetuate new life and support each other in their growth so that they all might reach maturity in time to begin the cycle all over again next year.

For me, this Easter falls at a very pivotal turning point in my life.  I am currently processing my own renewal and reinvention of self, and I think this has given me much greater pause as eggs are hidden under the leaves of newly blooming flowers and children run screaming from one bush to another with baskets in hand.

Although the year is still young, I sense that it will be one that I remember vividly for decades to come.  As the sun sets on this chapter of my life, I look forward to looking into the mirror and seeing my new-self.  Revived, renewed and ready to make my mark on the world.

Happy Easter to all of you, and may this pivotal point in history bring you the perspective you need to move forward in your own lives.

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