In August of 2008, I embarked on a journey that irrevocably changed the heartbeat of my family. It was then that I boarded an airplane in Nashville bound for a rural village in Africa. I would be living and working at a village for children orphaned by AIDS. I was leaving a few months after graduating from Vanderbilt to live at Lily of the Valley for a year. Fully realizing the idealism with which I traveled, I hoped that somehow my naivete would be transformed into what James talked about in Chapter 1, Verse 27 of his epistle – “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
While at Lily, I met a small malnourished boy named Aphiwe. Aphiwe was a sweet five year old little boy who was very sick. He had come to Lily only several months earlier and was a virtual loner. Every morning he would sit outside the window of my room, tending the dirt in my flower bed.
Director Alfonso Cuaron captured top honors from the Directors Guild of America Saturday evening. Largely seen as the top indicator of what film will win Best Picture, the DGA has a proven track record of recognizing the cream of the crop. This year was no exception.
This should position “Gravity” as the front-runner for Best Picture, right? Normally, it would. Even last year, without Ben Affleck capturing a Best Director nomination, his DGA win sealed the deal for “Argo” to win Best Picture on Oscar Night. Why would this year prove any different?
Before I start, let me say that I’m a Christian. If it weren’t for my relationship with Jesus, I’d be nothing. What you’re about to read might come across as idolatry, but I firmly believe that the things discussed in this post are all things that happened for a reason and things that God ordained for my good.
The past six or seven months have largely been pretty rough. In late June, my dad was diagnosed with stage three lung cancer. By the time it was discovered, the cancer had already spread to his brain and his lymph nodes. A month later, my mom took a job in Kansas City. We’re pretty close so having her move seven hours away was a shock to my system. In the same few weeks, to a lesser extreme, but still one that had a great effect on my personal well being, I began to grow frustrated with my career and started questioning exactly what I was supposed to “do” for the rest of my life. Needless to say, I was an emotional wreck.
About a month before all of this, my wife and I made two decisions that I wholeheartedly believe helped me from going off the deep end. First, we got a dog. Second, we started watching The Office.
In many ways, the 56th Annual Grammys was a mixture of everything right and wrong with modern awards shows. Performances ranged from the inspirational to the outlandish, but all proved to be the type of buzz-worthy segments show producers were eager to achieve.
The 2014 ceremony was all about the leading women in music. Beyoncé kicked off the show with a sizzling “Drunk in Love” bit with husband Jay-Z. Lorde kept her angsty persona going with a memorable “Royals” solo. Who didn’t love Pink’s stunning descent from the ceiling? And Taylor Swift seemed hell-bent to prove her critics wrong and did such with a stunningly aggressive rendition for “All Too Well.”
Of course, the boys had their fun, too. Kendrick Lamar with Imagine Dragons easily stole the show with an intensity rarely seen on the Grammys stage. Ditto to Metallica’s return and the crazed finale that saw Nine Inch Nails, Queens of the Stone Age and Dave Grohl go ballistic with one of the best rock mash-ups in recent memory.
It was Daft Punk and friends who really owned the evening, though. Think it couldn’t get any better than an on-stage medley with Stevie Wonder? Amazingly, it did, as the crew swept the show, earning Record and Album of the Year. All of the “Get Lucky” love almost made us forget about Pharrell’s outrageous hat. Well, almost.
One of my fondest Christmas memories growing up was unwrapping a beautiful box in 1996 that contained a Nintendo 64. My mom had skillfully obtained (i.e. bribed) one from a layaway employee at Target. I sat back in my room all morning long, mesmerized by “Super Mario 64. “
The Nintendo 64 is warmly remembered by guys of my generation. What wasn’t to love? From the revolutionary first-person-shooter “Goldeneye” to the brilliant racer “Mario Kart 64” to the game commonly still listed as the greatest ever “The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time,” Nintendo’s 64-bit powerhouse proved to be highly popular in the United States, where sales were solid.
Ironically, though, the console would mark the beginning of the end for a strong Nintendo business model. For years, the company had been the primary force in gaming, and for third-party software makers, getting their game on a Nintendo platform was key to a title’s success.
You say you want an interesting Oscar race? Well, we’ve certainly got one on our hands now. While the acting categories are starting to become clearer, the journey to the top prize is more confusing than ever before.
First off, let’s talk about the acting statuettes. After securing the Golden Globe, Matthew McConaughey won Best Actor at SAG, putting him in front-runner status. Many thought Bruce Dern, as the older gent in the race, would get a win here, but it’s now apparent McConaughey is the one to beat.