In Defense of Being a LeBron James Fan

I am a fan of LeBron James, and by extension, that makes me a fan of the Miami Heat. I get a lot of grief about that and have been called a “bandwagonner” more times than I can count, so I decided that I should explain my reasons for being a Miami Heat fan.

First of all, I have lived in Alabama my entire life, which doesn’t have an NBA team. I also have no personal connection with any team, and no one in my family was ever much of a basketball fan before I came along. Therefore, I was not raised to have any loyalty to any particular team. So, when a player came along that enthralled me more than any other player I had seen, I latched onto to that player regardless of what team he played for or would play for in the future. I remember watching LeBron James’s first NBA game in 2003. It was the Cleveland Cavaliers vs. the Sacramento Kings, and it was played in Sacramento. I had never seen a player that had so much natural basketball talent and yet was so unselfish and such a good teammate.

I distinctly remember a play that happened in the first half of that game. LeBron stole the ball from one of the Sacramento players. He had a wide open fast break dunk opportunity, but as he was running down court, he noticed that he had a teammate trailing and didn’t have any defenders chasing him. He stopped at the free throw line, waited for his teammate to catch up, and handed the ball off to his teammate for a free dunk. After watching that play, my LeBron James fanhood was set in stone.

Now for the LeBron James haters out there. There are a lot of them, and I know several. Most of the haters that I know say that they hate him because of “The Decision” and how he left Cleveland to team up with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami. I will admit (and so has LeBron) that he didn’t handle that situation as well as he could have. However, if the worst thing that he has ever done is hold an overly produced, glorified press conference, I would say that’s a lot better than most people can say (much less a professional athlete). How many NBA players can you think of that have been the best player on their team, led their team to a championship, and have never had any legal trouble or any negative tabloid attention? I would be surprised if anyone could name more than 3. I have followed LeBron’s career as closely as anyone, and I have never seen him do anything that would lead me to believe that he is anything other than a loyal husband, a great father, and a fantastic teammate. I can’t even remember there even being any stories of him going out and partying very much.

I am a LeBron James fan, and I’m not going to apologize for it. I was a fan of his when he was in Cleveland, I’m a fan of his now while he’s playing for Miami, and I will continue to be a fan of his if he ever decides to play for any other team. If that makes me a bandwagon fan, then so be it. For the record, I’ve learned quite a lot about the Miami Heat organization over the last few years (as well as attending 3 playoff games in Miami), and I hope that LeBron stays in Miami. Even if LeBron does decide to go somewhere else, I will follow him to whatever team he signs with, but I think I will probably always keep an eye on the Miami Heat.

Crowd-funding: Perks

In my previous post, I talked about the crowd-funding campaign that is currently trying to raise money for Nerd HQ. One thing that I didn’t talk about in that post was the fact that shortly after Zachary Levi started the crowd-funding campaign, there was a lot of negative backlash. Several bloggers and podcasters started ripping Levi as if he was some villain that was trying to steal money from his fans. One of the main problems that a lot of these people had was that the campaign had no reward structure. Most crowd-funding campaigns usually have multiple tiers of perks that give a t-shirt or a poster or something if you contribute a certain amount of money to the campaign. The Nerd HQ campaign, on the other hand, does not offer any perks because they feel that the best perk they can give is the event itself, and if they were to offer any perks, those perks would cost money and take a lot of time, both of which could be put towards making Nerd HQ a better event.

This brings me to a point that applies to much more than just the Nerd HQ campaign. Crowd-funding (in it’s current form at least) is a fairly new idea, but the vast majority of these campaigns have offered perks. These perks have made people warp the idea of what the purpose of a crowd-funding campaign should be. If someone is crowd-funding a movie, people should contribute to that campaign because they want to see that movie get made. They shouldn’t contribute because they want a t-shirt with the movie’s logo on it. If the goal was to just give contributors cool little perks in return for their donation, then they should just start an Etsy store and sell the things that they’re giving away as perks in the store. It’s called a donation for a reason. If you donated to the Red Cross, would you expect the Red Cross to give you something in return for your donation?

I have contributed to crowd-funding campaigns before and was asked to select a reward tier. Not long ago I actually contributed to a campaign for a web-show that was trying to raise money to make their third season, and for contributing, I get my name in the credits for every episode of the season, a digital download of every episode as they are released, and I also get a small box full of little items and trinkets related to the show. These perks are cool, and I’m looking forward to getting them. However, I didn’t contribute so I could get those perks. I contributed because I’m a fan of the show, and I want them to make a third season. In fact if it meant that they could have a bigger budget and create a better show, I would rather not get those perks. This is the same reason that I contributed to the Nerd HQ campaign.

I have enjoyed the live streams of celebrity panels that they have been provided for the last three years (which no one else does), and I want them to be able to continue doing that. Not to mention all of the other awesome stuff that happens at the event that I hope to enjoy one day when I’m no longer a lowly grad student and can afford to take a weekend trip to San Diego. That’s why I contributed. If anyone doesn’t believe that having access to approximately 25 hours of un-moderated celebrity panels every year is worth a $5 donation, then don’t donate, but I have a problem with people who feel like their being robbed because they aren’t getting a t-shirt in return for their donation. If you want a t-shirt, buy a t-shirt.

If you want to learn more about the Nerd HQ campaign, you can visit the campaign page here, and you can hear Zachary Levi address some of the negative reaction that the campaign received here. And just for fun, here’s a video of some highlights from some of the panels that have been at Nerd HQ over the last three years:

I Want My Nerd HQ

In case you are unaware, there is currently a crowd-funding campaign going on right now that is trying to raise money for this year’s Nerd HQ. If you know what Nerd HQ is, then you know how awesome it is, and you’ve probably already contributed to the campaign. If you don’t know what Nerd HQ is, then my hope is that I will be able to tell you a little about it, and I will spark your interest enough for you to contribute as well.

Nerd HQ is an event that has been happening for the last three years in San Diego during San Diego Comic-Con (Nerd HQ is not affiliated with SDCC). This event has been provided by actor Zachary Levi (known for the TV show Chuck, the voice of Flynn Rider in Tangled, and portraying Fandral in Thor: The Dark World) and his company The Nerd Machine, which is an apparel company that was founded to be a “Nike for Nerds” (http://www.thenerdmachine.com). Nerd HQ is essentially a more intimate, less corporate version of San Diego Comic-Con. Best of all, nearly everything at Nerd HQ is free with the exception of tickets to the panels, known as “Conversations for a Cause,” (that go for about $20 per ticket) as well as some celebrity photo-ops and signings, all of which go 100% toward the charity Operation Smile. If you want to know a little more about what Nerd HQ is like, then check out this video of highlights from Nerd HQ 2013:

Some of you may be in a situation similar to mine. I live on the other side of the country from San Diego, and I’m a lowly grad student with no chance of taking a weekend trip to California. If this situation is similar to yours, then you might be asking yourself why you should care about some awesome event that you’re not going to be able to attend. Well, remember those “Conversations for a Cause” that I told you about. These panels are streamed live online as they are happening. Plus, the panels are then all archived on The Nerd Machine’s YouTube channel. The panels are intimate, un-moderated, hour-long panels where celebrities (which have included Joss Whedon, Vin Diesel, Nathan Fillion, Stan Lee, Jared Padalecki, Evangeline Lilly, Tom Hiddleston, Yvonne Strahovski, and many others) answer questions from fans. Since they don’t have a moderator, unlike all of the huge panels at SDCC, you don’t just get the bland, scripted questions. You might even get something like Tom Hiddleston impersonating a velociraptor from Jurassic Park.

This brings us to the crowd-funding campaign. For the last 3 years, Zachary Levi has fronted the money for this event mostly from his own pocket and reimbursed himself once sponsorship dollars came through. But, last year he had some sponsors that dropped out at the last minute, and he took a big financial loss. This is why he is asking for help funding this event this year. It would probably be better if I just let you hear it from Zach himself.

As he says in the video, he’s not asking you to give a huge chunk of money. He’s simply asking for $5, and if you want to give more, then feel free to give more. Even if you can’t go to San Diego for Nerd HQ, I think having access to all of the live streams of panels from the event is worth $5.

If you are looking for another reason that this campaign deserves your contribution, I would suggest learning a little bit more about Zachary Levi as a person. He is quite possibly the most kind-hearted and genuine person in all of Hollywood. He goes out of his way to give back to his fans. He has even said that one of the main motivations behind Nerd HQ in the first place was to break down that barrier between fans and celebrities that is created at big events like SDCC. He’s not trying to take money from anyone. I would be willing to bet that, if it were possible, he would just bankroll the entire event himself, but he just doesn’t have the money to do that.

If you would like to contribute to Nerd HQ or learn more about the event, visit their Indiegogo campaign page, and if you need some more convincing that this is worth $5, visit their YouTube page and watch some of their videos from the last 3 years. I’ve already contributed to the campaign once, and if I can afford it, I might contribute some more before the campaign is over.

How I Met Your Mother Finale Reaction

Spoiler Alert: It should go without saying that there will be some major spoilers about the HIMYM finale below.

Ok. I’m seeing a lot of negative reaction online about the series finale of How I Met Your Mother tonight. I can partly understand that. As was predicted by many, the Mother ends up dying. (I was convinced all of those hints were just red herrings, but I guess I was wrong.) At the very end, it is revealed that the Mother died from an illness 6 years before Ted is telling this story to his kids, and after telling the story, his kids convince him that he should ask out Robin, which he does by showing up at her apartment with the blue French horn.

I can see how this would upset people. The show is called How I Met Your MOTHER, after all. A lot of people have been watching this show just because they wanted to find out who the Mother was. However, to the people like myself who have been watching the show from the beginning and have gotten to know these characters over 9 seasons, I think the ending actually makes a lot of sense. In case anyone has forgotten, Ted fell in love with Robin in the very first episode, and then they end up dating in the second season. Even though they love each other very much, they decide to break up because they wanted different things in life. Ted wanted to settle down, get married, and have kids. Robin wanted to travel the world, pursue her career as a journalist, and didn’t want kids. Ted eventually met and fell in love with Tracy McConnell (the Mother), settled down, and had 2 kids. Robin ended up traveling all over the world and became a world famous news reporter. It makes sense that after both of them got what they wanted out of life then they would end up back together since that was the only thing that was keeping them apart in the first place. Some people are saying that having Ted get back together with Robin cheapens Ted’s relationship with Tracy. I can see how they might think that, but it’s not like Ted divorced Tracy to get back with Robin. They had a great relationship for 10 years, had 2 kids together, and were deeply in love for the entire time that they were together. But, Tracy died of an illness and Ted was alone for 6 years after her death. It took the urging of his own kids to convince him to actually move on with his life.

There are probably a million different ways that they could have decided to end the show, and I probably would have liked several of them just as much as the way they chose to do it. I might have even liked some of them better, but I think that the ending did the show justice. There are some things I probably would have changed. For example, I would have liked to have seen the Mother more. Not only is Cristin Milioti an excellent actress, but she and Ted made a great couple. But, I think I prefer this somewhat bittersweet ending over a cliche, happily-ever-after ending.

HIMYM Re-watch: Season 2

Recap

The second season started right where the first season left off. Ted and Robin had just started their relationship, Lily had just left Marshall to go to San Francisco to pursue her dream of being an artist, and Barney was still being Barney. The beginning of the season is about Ted and Robin falling in love and enjoying their new relationship while at the same time Marshall was wallowing in self-pity and trying to get over Lily. While this was going on Barney was trying to talk Ted out of being in a relationship and trying to talk Marshall into enjoying the single life. Pretty early in the season (I think it’s the second episode), Lily returns from California. At first, she tries to act like she loved it in San Francisco, but she soon reveals to Ted and Robin that she made a huge mistake and she just wants to get Marshall back. Later it is revealed that Barney was actually the one that got her to come back with one of the first truly heartfelt gestures that Barney ever makes on the show. Of course, Lily and Marshall eventually get back together and the season ends with them getting married. In the season finale it is also revealed that Ted and Robin have decided to breakup. Along the way there are also some great moments such as Barney going on the Price is Right to meet Bob Barker (who he believes is his real father), and we also get to meet Barney’s gay, black brother (played by Wayne Brady). In the episode “Single Stamina,” we get to see them being each other’s wing man, which was pretty entertaining. I also caught a great reference to the show that many people compare to HIMYM, Friends. I couldn’t believe that I missed it the first time around. The episode “Swarley” begins with Ted, Marshall, and Barney sitting in a coffee shop sipping coffee and looking around in an awkward silence for probably a solid 15 seconds. Then Ted says, “So I guess that decides it.” To which Barney replies, “Hanging out in a coffee place is not nearly as much fun as hanging out in a bar.” I loved Friends too, but I found this scene to be hilarious.

Commentary

Season 2 had some great moments. Notably, this season introduces us to two of the greatest things in the whole series. In the episode “Slapbet,” we are introduced to the slapbet itself which just reached it’s conclusion 7 seasons later in the next to last episode of the series. In that episode, we also discover Robin’s secret past as the teen pop star Robin Sparkles in Canada who had a hit with “Let’s Go to the Mall.” This is also the only season where we see Marshall as a single guy trying to pick up girls with Barney. Of course, it turns out that Barney, even though he hates the concept of marriage and monogamy, realizes that Marshall and Lily belong together. He intentionally steals every girl that it looks like Marshall might hookup with, and he flies all the way to California just to talk Lily into coming back to Marshall and to give her a one-way ticket back to New York. I also like the symmetry that this season has. The season begins with Ted and Robin starting there relationship and falling in love and with Marshall being heartbroken and trying to get over Lily leaving him. The season ends with Marshall and Lily getting married, and it is revealed at their wedding reception in the season finale that Ted and Robin have decided to breakup.

Final Thoughts

This season has a great quote that I think applies not only to this entire series but can also be applied to life in general. In the episode “Monday Night Football,” the gang has to miss the Super Bowl because they have to go to a funeral, but they DVR it so they can watch it together Monday night. All of them try to go the entire day without finding out who won, but as expected they all find out somehow. The episode ends with them all watching the game together even though they all know who won, and Future Ted says, “I don’t remember who won. Hell, I don’t even remember who played. What I do remember is that we drank beer, we ate wings, and we watched the Super Bowl together. Because sometimes even if you know how something is gonna end, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the ride.” I feel like this quote had to have been added intentionally by the writers as a response to the people who become so fixated on learning who the “Mother” is that they can’t enjoy the great stories that are told along the way. This is also a great message about life. Sometimes people, myself included, get so caught up in looking at the big picture (career goals, relationships, etc.) that we forget to enjoy the ride. I think that is another life lesson that this show has tried to teach us. Something that HIMYM has made me think about is that this entire show that has lasted 9 seasons is a story that a 50 something year old man is telling his children 30 years later. It kind of makes me realize that when I’m 50 I want to be able to look back on my 20s and have some stories to tell.

It is unlikely that I will have time to finish Season 3 and write the blog post before the series finale on Monday night, but I still plan on finishing the re-watch. I hope that if anyone is actually reading this that they are enjoying my commentary, and I hope everyone enjoys the series finale.

HIMYM Re-watch: Season 1

I decided that I’m just going to post a little recap and some commentary at the end of each season with the possible exception of particularly monumental episodes that I feel deserve their own posts. I probably would post more, but taking time to blog would mean it would take much longer to get through the episodes. Plus, I just don’t have time to sit down and blog everyday.

Recap

It had been awhile since I had watched any of Season 1, and I had forgotten how much actually happened during that first season. Of course, we had the first episode with Ted and Robin’s first date and the infamous blue French horn. Then, we had Ted’s relationship with Victoria. Ted then out-did the blue French horn with a blue string quartet. Marshall and Lily frantically tried to plan a wedding. Of course, throughout the whole season there were great moments of hilarity from Barney. Ted almost gets Robin a few times, he thinks he’s finally going to find love on several occasions, and then he finally gets Robin for real. And finally, the season ends on a bitter note with Lily leaving Marshall to go to San Francisco.

Commentary

I think the first season really encapsulates everything that I love about this show. There were tons of hilarious moments that had me laughing out loud even though I had seen and heard all of the jokes before. There were also plenty of heartfelt romantic moments. And there were also some moments that tugged at the heartstrings and made you really feel for one of the characters (such as, Lily leaving Marshall). Another thing that I think gets under-appreciated is the life lessons that you can learn from the show. I know it might seem stupid that you can learn life lessons from a sitcom, but this whole show is a story that Future Ted is telling his children. Obviously, some of these stories are way more inappropriate than anything a father should be telling his teenage children, but he’s also telling them about lessons he learned along the way and mistakes that he made and regrets he has. One of my favorite quotes from the whole season is from the episode “Sweet Taste of Liberty” (the one where they lick the Liberty Bell). Future Ted tells his kids, “I never got where I thought I wanted to go, but I always got a good story.” I love that quote because it reminds me that sometimes it’s ok to just do something crazy with your friends that you normally wouldn’t do because if you never did something crazy then you would never have any good stories to tell.

Final Thoughts

One plot line that has never really been addressed since the first season is the “Love Solutions” girl that was a perfect match for Ted that he never actually met because he was still in love with Robin. I’m curious if they will incorporate that into the mother’s story and reveal that she was that perfect match that Ted stood up. I think it would actually be great if in the finale she just said a throwaway line like, “I even tried a dating service once, and I got stood up.” Only people that remembered that plot line from the first season would get the reference.

I also love all of the little running gags that were started in the first season that are still going 8 seasons later. For example about midway through the season, Barney is asked for the first time what he does for a living. To which, he replies “Please…” Of course, only a few weeks ago in season 9 was it finally revealed that his job is literally P.L.E.A.S.E. (Provide Legal Exculpation And Sign Everything).

Ok. That’s it for Season 1. I actually finished watching it a few days ago, but I just didn’t have time to write the blog post until now. It’s very unlikely that I will be able to finish the series by the day of the finale, so I’m setting a new goal of getting to the 100th episode by that time. Onward to Season 2.

HIMYM Re-watch: S01E01 – Pilot

Well, I decided to go ahead and start my How I Met Your Mother re-watch. I’m still a newbie when it comes to blogging in general, much less a project like this, so please bear with me. I don’t know how frequently I’ll blog or if I’ll blog about every episode, but I felt that the pilot episode deserved it’s own post. Without further adieu, let’s get started.

If you aren’t familiar with HIMYM, the premise is that in the year 2030 Ted is telling his two children the story of how he met their mother. This story is then drawn out with many little side stories about his life with his friends as a 20-something in New York City. The concept of a narrator telling a story as if they are looking back on something isn’t a new concept. “The Wonder Years,” for example, used this story-telling method. However, using this method to tell a story with an exact goal in mind (meeting the mother) is brilliant. By having this lingering question, they ensured that even if the show had gotten really boring, which in my opinion it never did (with the exception of a few episodes here and there), there would still be a large part of the audience that would hang around just because they wanted to find out how Ted met the mother of his children.

Debunking theories

I think I’m going to try to use some things that I pick up on in these earlier episodes to debunk some theories that some fans have come up with over the years. There is a big one in this very first episode.

Throughout all 9 seasons there have been tons of theories about the mother. One theory that has gained some steam lately after a few hints that have been dropped in recent episodes is that the Mother is dead, and in the year 2030, Ted is just reminiscing about his deceased wife. I think that this theory is irrefutably debunked at the very beginning of the pilot episode.

The first scene of the series shows Ted’s son and daughter sitting on a couch and Future Ted says, “Kids, I’m going to tell you an incredible story: the story of how I met your mother.” His kids react by saying, “Are we being punished for something?” and “Is this going to take a while?” Now, if I were a teenager whose mother had recently died (or even if she had died several years ago), I wouldn’t be so annoyed or bored from hearing any stories that had anything to do with her. On a typical sitcom, this might be discarded as the writers just hadn’t thought the ending through at this point, but Craig Thomas and Carter Bayes haven’t just been coming up with this stuff episode by episode. They have known what the “big picture” story was going to be from the very beginning, and the closer the show got to the finale the more detailed that picture became. Plus, with the amount of attention that they put into continuity, I would be shocked if they would miss a detail that big.

I believe that this very first scene also debunks another, similar theory: that Ted actually is the one that dies and this whole story is actually someone reading a letter or something (this would explain why Future Ted is Bob Saget) to his kids after he dies. In this scene after Future Ted says that he’s going to tell his kids this story, his daughter asks if this is going to take long, and Ted responds by saying, “Yes.” The fact that Ted’s daughter interrupts him and he responds proves that Ted is in fact the one that is telling this story.

Favorite Quotes

Ted: “This woman could actually be my future wife. I want our first kiss to be amazing.”

Lily: “Aww that’s so sweet…so you chickened out like a little bitch.”

Ok. That’s it for this post. Like I said, I don’t know how frequently I’ll post. It might just be a few times for each season. If you can’t tell, I’m kinda figuring this out as I go.