The PO Life Tackles the Academy Awards’ Best Picture Nominees

An awesomely insightful recap of 2012′s best movies by your favorite know-it-all bloggers

2013 Oscars Academy Awards

The 85th Academy Awards are being presented this weekend and far be it from The PO Life to not get our word in before everyone starts patting each other on the back.

If you’re here it’s either because you have some sense about you or our weird SEO rankings made you think this is a porn website. Regardless of why you’re now stuck here, you might as well make the most of it.

We here at The PO Life like to fancy ourselves movie watchers (especially with one actually in Film School) and, between each other, have almost seen all of the Best Picture nominees. There’s more uncertainty about who will win ever since the Academy increased the number of contenders, but you’re in luck. This week we’ve put together our collective take on the movies up for the top award.

Come see what fair and objective opinions we have on this year’s nominees. And, since this is a movie discussion on the internet, don’t forget to hurl insults and defend your horse in the comments!

Continue reading

The Friday Five: The Five Greatest Video Games of All Time

One of my favorite sayings, one that my dad taught me at a young age, is “Opinions are like assholes. Everybody has one and everybody thinks the other guys stinks*.” While I find this to be absolutely true, I also find other people’s opinions to be fascinating. That is due partly to the fact that I will literally argue with anybody about anything, so when somebody offers up their opinion, I am all over them like a fat kid on cake. But it is also due to the fact that I love hearing different sides to the same story; I love the way other people’s opinions get me to rethink and reevaluate my own. I think this is true for most people; that’s why there are so many “Top 10” lists out there. You literally can find a Top 10 list for everything; Top 10 People of All Time, Top 10 Unsolved Mysteries, Top 10 Assholes, Top 10 Colleges. You can even find a Top 10  Top 10 Lists if you look hard enough.

But around here at the Po Life ain’t nobody got time for a Top 10 list, which is why we do the Friday Five. This week I bring to you, “The Top 5 Video Games of All Time.” Yes, this list has been done to death in a multitude of different fashions because, duh, the internet LOVES lists and the internet LOVES video games. But you know what? Those other lists are some shit. I looked at three different lists today and they all had the original Super Mario Brothers as the best game of all time. Are you kidding me!? Yes it was revolutionary and yes it helped save the video game industry and yes it may very well be the most influential game of all time, but the best? Shame you video game mass media; you’re better than that.

Super_Mario_Brothers (1)

Yeah this game was tight, IN LIKE 1985. AMIRIGHT!?

That is where the little guy (me) comes in. I have been playing video games since as long as I can remember and consider myself pretty well versed in the subject. Some of my earliest memories involve me watching my brother play Megaman 2 on the original NES while I tried to memorize the levels. Video games have literally been a backbone of my upbringing and have been a constant throughout my entire life. I am perfect for a list like this because I don’t have any sponsors, I don’t have any hidden agenda, and I am not afraid to take some risks with my list. I know you’re thinking, “Joey, you write for a blog that gets 100 views a day, I wouldn’t exactly call your work risky.” Well thank you very much ever-present fake reader, who I often invoke because I am a terribly lazy writer, you are correct. But I have made this list up in my mind in so many different iterations, constantly adjusting the list as time goes on and the more games I play. So suck it.

As for how I put together the list, I am judging my favorite games based on some nebulous criteria that are hard to really quantify: how many times have I played it? Does the game still hold up today? How immersed into the game do I get? How much FUN did I have playing the game?

So feel free to judge, comment on, commend, insult, or hate on my list. Hopefully it will get you thinking about what your favorite games are too. In descending order:

Continue reading

The Five Star Wars spin-offs Disney should be making

Star Wars Han Solo

Earlier this week Disney CEO Bob Iger announced there are additional Star Wars movies being planned besides Episodes VII, VIII and IX which will each focus on a stand-alone character.

Alright so this sounds a lot like their approach to the Marvel franchise – which works – but since I’m a baleful movie critic I am not that excited. (Also, my tender inner child is still on the mend from the prequels [they’re all bad, don’t believe Joey’s apologist arguments])

Here’s what we know so far: two movies are in the works, one on Han Solo and one on Boba Fett. Ain’t It Cool News claimed one would be about Yoda but that’s apparently hearsay. (The prequels ruined Yoda anyway, so unless they’re going to delve into his adventures in Jedi afterlife I don’t care.)

Continue reading

The Five Best Things About Eating Animals (Dr. Seuss Book Title Edition)

A wise king once told his prince that “everything you see exists in a delicate balance. As king, you need to understand that balance and respect all the creatures, from the crawling ant to the leaping antelope.”

“But,” the prince said, “don’t we eat the antelope?”

“Yes,” the king reassured him, “but let me explain. When we die, our bodies become the grass, and the antelope eat the grass. And so, we are all connected in the great Circle of Life.”

Man has been eating animal since before man was man. But, a very real and imminent threat, spearheaded by the Kale Chip industry and augmented by the Kelp Farmers of America is looking to change that. Don’t believe me?

Ask Taco Bell. They recently took a light jab at partygoers who bring veggie trays (and probably their kids and non-alcoholic beer) to Super Bowl Sunday, equating them to “punting on 4th & 1”. This apparently upset the vegetarian and nutritional community, whose arrogance towards having both a literal and metaphorical seat at the table prompted a new pigskin analogy from yours truly. Vegetarians are like Dan Snyder – self-righteous in nature, extravagant spenders on inferior products, and sufferers of cognitive dissonance, foolishly believing their stance will avert the inevitable slaughter.

Well, today, I say ‘I’ll give you my Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Taco when you pry it from my warm, greasy hands’. Eating animals is part of the great circle of life. Taco Bell shouldn’t have to apologize. And neither should America.

In honor of this week, the holiest of weeks, Meat Week, I bring you The Five Greatest Things About Eating Animals (Dr. Seuss Book Title Edition).

Love Us Not Eat Us

Now that you mention it LoveUsNotEatUs.com, I’d love to try Macaw.

1) Oh, the Places You’ll Go! – As a meat-eater, the world is a pristine tablecloth ready for you to tower over it with a full rack of barbecue ribs to your right and a 32oz. sweet tea to your left. Etiquette and pleasantries are thrown to the wind as you unsheathe the bone from its honey-smoked protectorate, devouring the later as quickly as you can discard the former. Soon to follow is the requisite lip-licking and finger-sucking, like a young rottweiler nursing its wounds after a date with the pack’s alpha male.

No matter where your travels may take you, from the Kyungdong Shijang Market in Seoul to a Ruby Tuesday in Gary, Indiana, you’ll always find an animal that’s a few links below you on the food chain — seasoned, sauced, sliced, and sauteed. The same can’t be said for non-meat-eaters. Whether it’s a vacation, night on the town, dinner for two at home, or family reunion, every eating decision is prefaced by a visit to Yelp or a skim of the recipe to ensure that it will fit the self-imposed dietary restrictions.

So venture forth young chicken connoisseurs and Angus artisans. There’s a whole world out there waiting for you to eat it.

2) Green Eggs and Ham – Imagine this scenario. You’re out late with your crew, partaking in one too many beverages, and find yourself waking up the next morning with a colossal hangover. Your remedy? Sustenance and matter, preferably through an IV.

But if you’re all out of clean needles and liquified lobster tail, perhaps your next best bet is a ham, egg, and cheese biscuit. The grease acts as a natural antibody for the invading alcohol virus, sending the cells back from whence they came. It’s science.

You might be saying to yourself, ‘wouldn’t just an egg and cheese biscuit work?’ Yes, it would work. But only if you were a meat-eater and the deli was out of ham, bacon, and sausage. If you’re eating eggs or cheese and you’re a self-proclaimed vegetarian, you’re wrong. That also goes for wearing leather, going to the circus, using most soaps, shampoos, and conditioners, having tires on your car, and oh yeah, FIREWORKS.

Now you’re just spitting in the face of our Founding Fathers, who valiantly fought to bring us to the top of the food chain.

3) One Fish, Two Fish, Red, Fish, Blue Fish - As a meat eater, you get variety. A cow has no less than twelve different cuts of meat, each one with its unique color, texture, and taste. Tofu has one color – bland, one texture – aerated Gak, and one taste – awful.

With meat, the possibilities are endless. You want your meat deep fried and stuffed between two donuts? Done. You want your bacon to form a trough? Only if you’re adding a delicious mixture of Mexican meat delicacies and topping it off with a healthy serving of Four Loko.

Hell, there’s even a class of meat for the AGE the beast was on it’s death-birthday. Veal is as tender as it is delicious. You catch it at the perfect time in a cow’s life – aged just enough so it has a little meat on its bones but slaughtered for your benefit before it enters its adolescent years of drugs and promiscuous sex. I like my cow free of black tar heroin remnants and bovine strains of the clap. Ergo, I like my veal.

4) I Am NOT Going to Get Up Today! – With nothing other than my own observances and incredulous attitude towards scientific studies that may prove otherwise, doesn’t it seem that people with non-traditional diets are ALWAYS getting sick?

Take a look as Ashton Kutcher, who adopted the “all fruit” diet in homage to the man he’ll be portraying in his next film, Steve Jobs. While his physical reaction to the diet was another item for the “No Shit Sherlock” file for the most of us, Oscar Saurus Rex (an ironic name for this column’s purposes) on “30 Bananas a Day” questioned where Ashton may have gone wrong. Was it a lack of calories? Bad food combining? Or maybe the people at Chinese Foooood spit in his General Tsos after he got violent against a helpless customer service advocate? Or maybe YOU WERE EATING NOTHING BUT FRUIT AND SUPPLEMENTED THE DIET YOU HAD FOR THE FIRST 34 YEARS OF YOUR LIFE BY EATING 30 BANANAS A DAY!

Going “natural” is unnatural. Eat regular and you’ll poop regular. That’s my credo.

5) Yertle the Turtle – Actually, come to think of it, don’t eat turtles. That’s fucked up dude.

You, Me, and RGIII: The Indisputable Case for RGIII as NFL Rookie of the Year

Welcome back bitches! While we were out gallivanting, saving the word from destruction, causing an overall raucous, and completely neglecting our dear readers, a lot has happened to our cherished Robert Griffin DA Third. He was named offensive captain of the Washington Redskins, led the team to 7 straight wins, won a divisional title, and brought hope to all football fans in America. Notice I didn’t say “hope for all football fans in Washington, DC.” RGIII is so great he literally gives all football fans hope of a better NFL.

He also tore his ACL and MCL, was involved in one of the biggest on-field controversies in recent sport, lost his first NFL playoff game, and underwent a complete knee reconstruction. Today, however, I do not want to talk about that time when even Stevie Wonder was screaming at Mike Shannahan to take Griff out of the game. That argument has been done to death. Today, I am going to give you the indisputable case for RGIII as Rookie of the Year.

With the NFL Award Season rapidly approaching, I thought today would be a perfect time to reflect on the season that RGIII had and why he deserved Rookie of the Year. A couple things before I start. We must first remember that ROY is an award for the entirety of the regular season. All 16 games count, from Week 1 to Week 17. The playoffs do not have anything to do with the award. Secondly, I realize that I am the most biased person in the world, excluding Robert Griffin Sr., to write this article. This is no exaggeration; after just one season, RGIII has vaulted Juan Dixon, Gilbert Arenas, and Sean Taylor as my favorite athlete of all time. That is no small feat in just 17 weeks. But I will do my best to ensure that my bias doesn’t play into the argument. Finally, I will try focus on why RGIII deserves the award; not as much why Russell Wilson and Andrew Luck do not deserve this award. They are both great players and would probably have won the award in any other year. But this year they have Black Gesus to compete with. Without further ado:

Not shown: Joey Greenthumb pleasuring himself in the corner.

Not shown: Joey Greenthumb pleasuring himself in the corner.

Continue reading

Remember The PO Life? It’s Back! In BLOG Form!

We’re back bitches! I know you have missed us since we abandoned the blog in late 2012, but here is a quick recap of what we have been up. Get ready for loads of new content!

Joey Greenthumb:

You’re welcome world. While you were off getting ready for the Holidays with your loved ones, yours truly was off saving the world from apocalypse. Defeating the prophecy of the “Mayan Calendar” was no easy task, but it was a cakewalk compared to the “Doomsday Demon” I had to fight off back in 1409. That fucker packed a real punch. Other than saving all of humanity from imminent destruction, I have been busy teaching the youth of America how to dribble a basketball and run at the same time. And no I don’t mean Rudy and Eli, I mean 15 year old freshman who are significantly more athletic.

McCannon:
Jaying off on my day off

Eddy:
Not too much to report on my time away from the blog. Honestly I was never the biggest contributor so my life wasn’t altered too drastically. I did take a trip to Utah, but not the really Mormon skiing part of Utah. It was the slightly less Mormon hiking part of Utah. I also spent a lot of time with McCannon on his days off.

Merkyll:
I recently became the proud parent of a 1 year old Australian Shepherd.

Rudy:
Hey guys! Did you hear I’m going to grad school in the fall to get my MBA? Yeah, I’m going to grad school in the fall to get my MBA. I studied all summer for the GMATs and took a few months off from writing for The PO Life because I was preparing for my applications to grad school. Then, after I submitted my applications for grad school, I had some interviews. Then, after I had some interviews for grad school, I got some acceptance letters. Then, after I got some acceptance letters from grad schools, I got some scholarships from grad schools. Well not some scholarships, just really one scholarship. So, I’m now officially going to grad school this fall to get my MBA, but in the meantime, you can find me here on The PO Life. Instead of grad school (where I’ll be in the fall getting my MBA).

Eli:
I’ve been claiming to be a nerd for years now. I’ve lived my life acting like a full blown Sci Fi, fantasy, comic book geek. Sadly, I was caught in a web of my own lies. The geek police did a full audit and realized that I’ve been half assing it for years.
They didn’t revoke my status but I’ve been put on probation. The last six months have been spent rehashing the familiar works of of Gene Roddenberry, J.R.R Tolkien, and Orson Scott Card. I’ve also gone through nerd rehab by plowing through the finer points of Joss Whedon’s portfolio. I’m almost done with Battlestar Galactica and when I’m finished, they’ll take me off of probation. I’m finished coasting, though… hold onto your butt Isaac Asimov, I’m coming for you!

Cliff:
I’ve become the fakest (and yet most real) Redskins fan.
I’ve come back to Amurika.
I’ve taken up crochet in my spare time.
I’ve run my first 100 mile race.
I’ve invented the question mark.
I’ve recently become unemployed.
I’ve bought a fantastic pair of sunglasses.
I’ve caught up on sleep.
I’ve tried to scale back on my lying.
I’ve set goals for myself (like not lying so much).
I’ve eaten more vegetables.
I’ve come to grips with my own mortality.
I’ve really worked on my flossing.
I’ve absolutely detested hearing about everyone elses’ successes.
I’ve gotten off Facebook.
I’ve gotten back on to Facebook.
I’ve purchased many leatherbound books.
I’ve embraced change.
I’ve gotten a tattoo on my chest.  (It says YOLO in Chinese).

Al and Bart
Al and Bart, much like Bertram Grover Weeks of Sandlot fame, got really into the 60s. Nobody’s really heard from them.

You, Me, and RGIII

You, Me, and RGIII:

Your weekly recap of the biggest thing to hit Washington since George.

RGIII is really, really good.  But you don’t need me to tell you that.  Every news source, fantasy league, NFL analyst, and Baylor alumn has talked him up all season and guess what?  He is even better than expected.  Few things are actually as good as advertised:  Lebron, Season II of Game of Thrones*#, Doritos Locos Tacos, and now – RGIII.  RGIII performs under both the stat geek analysis as well as that strange Jon Grudenesque analysis:  “DOES THIS GUY HAVE WHAT IT TAKES TO PLAY THE MOST IMPORTANT POSITION ON THE FIELD IN THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE” which is generally half grunted from a guy wearing a terrible suit accompanied with a power knot.

Is there a single person who actually likes Mark Schlereth? Honestly?

Continue reading

The Friday Five: The Five Reasons You Should Drop Everything You Are Doing and Immerse Yourself in Game of Thrones

If you are a regular reader of our blog, you may have noticed something. No, not the fact that we are narcissistic man-boys who have nothing better to do than write for a blog that 30 people read, but that we are pretty much obsessed with the universe of A Song of Ice and Fire, or in laymen terms, Game of Thrones. You will find several references sprinkled throughout our writing. If you ever bring it up in casual conversation with us around, we will talk your head off for an hour about how we would pledge fealty to the Starks, but that Tyrion is still our favorite character. We are ‘those guys’ that sit around and play the Game of Thrones board game for five hours at a time, all while making ridiculous references, stabbing each other in the back, and holding grudges against one another months later. Hell, McCannon still is furious that I turned on him in the second to last round of a game we played six months ago. We haven’t played the game since.

Every time McCannon and I play a board game

My point being that A Song of Ice and Fire is absolutely something that you have to experience. I don’t care if you are young or old, male or female, or whether you love fantasy or can’t stand it. This series has something for every single walk of life. Without further ado, here are the five reasons you should drop everything you are doing and immerse yourself in Game of Thrones. As always, the reasons are in reverse order. And don’t worry, there are no major spoilers ahead.

1) Everybody you know has recommended it to you: I am a big believer in the idea that just because something is popular doesn’t mean that it is a quality product, sometimes it means the opposite*.  I guarantee you that at least five people have recommended either watching Game of Thrones or told you that you had to read the books, and you are probably a little skeptical.

*Look at Nickelback: Every single song they come out with is a shit stain sandwich that tastes exactly like the previous shit stain sandwich. Yet somehow, they still have rabid fans, make millions of dollars, and get laid significantly more than me or you. 

But guess what? They are ABSOLUTEY right! The quality of both the show and the books really is unmatched. I am not exaggerating at all when I say that I think Game of Thrones Seasons 1 and 2 are some of the best TV seasons in the history of the medium and that the books are my favorite series I have ever read. I know that all the rage these days is being hipster and that we as individuals feel that we can’t like something unless we were the firsts to do so.

Please don’t let that attitude take away from what I promise will be one of the best literary and viewing experiences of your life. Once you take the plunge, you can finally join in in your co-workers conversations, tell your friends to get off your back, and have your mind blown. I haven’t met a single person that has actually dove in and didn’t like what they got*. Seems like a win-win-win to me.

*Eli’s stance: If you can read the prologue of the first book and then put it down, maybe this story isn’t for you. As for Eli, he couldn’t put it down. Neither could I.

2) If you don’t like to read, there is a TV show to watch: This is kind of piggy backing on the previous one, but I think it is still important to point out. Look, I know that over 5000 pages of small text about an imaginary medieval kingdom can seem daunting. And I realize that not everybody has that kind of time, energy, or passion to read. But that is the beauty of what HBO is doing: they are putting together one of the best produced and highest quality programming out there and they are making the plunge much less daunting. You can watch the first couple of seasons, see if you like it, and decide to read it if you want. If not? Well then you’ll eventually have 10 seasons of top-notch television to take up your time! Whatever floats your boat!

It doesn’t hurt that Emilia Clarke is the star of the show and is naked in at least 4 episodes

3) Dragons: Ben Franklin once said, “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes. But I think we all know that there is one more certainty: people love dragons. Whether it is in video games, movies, music, or television; people just can’t get enough of dragons. They are the ultimate magical beast, the final frontier for majestic creatures, and the keeper of secrets. With dragons come power, wealth, and fame. Every little kid dreams of slaying one to save the damsel in distress.  Everybody wants to harness the power of the beast to help them rule the world.

Dragons play a huge role in Westeros, the setting of Game of Thrones, where one hasn’t been seen in over 150 years. But they are omnipresent throughout the narrative and hold the key to many of the mysteries in the universe. They also help speak to many of the themes sprinkled through the books: The illusion of power; strength; fear; secrecy; wealth. Not to mention the fact that they are totally badass.

4) You could spend twice as much time researching theories on the internet about the universe as you could actually reading the books: There is a reason that Star Wars, Star Trek, and Lord of the Rings have such rampant followings: they are amazing universes that are realistic enough that we could find ourselves a part of them while simultaneously letting us escape to a place that is deep, engaging, endless and imaginative. The same can be said for the A Song of Ice and Fire universe.  To me, the sign of a strong universe is one that attracts thousands of fan theories, rampant speculations, and crosses into the main stream conscience.

I have spent probably hundreds of hours researching theories online, playing the board game, and talking about what I think will happen next with my friends. For those of you who have read ALL the books, I strongly recommend checking out both http://www.reddit.com/r/asoiaf and http://towerofthehand.com/ for several hours’ worth of really well thought out theories and speculation, as well as several interesting facts, foreshadowing, and insight that you probably missed on your first read through. It really helps add to the whole experience when reading the last chapter of the last book is only just the beginning of the adventure. A big kudos goes out to everybody that has contributed to this community. They are actually coming out with a book that focuses on thematic elements, character development, and general narrative structure. Simply amazing.

5) Shit like this happens throughout the whole series: I dare any of you to watch that scene and not immediately want to jump in. Not much else needs to be said.

You, Me, and RGIII – The Skins Fan Redemption

Your weekly recap of the biggest thing to hit Washington since George.

Remember, Red[skins fans], hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.

-Andy Dufresne, The Shawshank Redemption

Hope is a good thing…

This isn’t a spoiler alert, its a commandment: if you haven’t seen Shawshank, stop reading this and start watching. This blog post, and your life, will be much better for it. Yes, Rudy, I’m talking to you. Also, keep in mind that this whole thing will read a lot better if you can imagine Morgan Freeman’s voice narrating it to you. Actually, I recommend that for pretty much everything in life.
Continue reading

The Friday Five: The Five Best Things about Being Back in America

Ah…  to be home.  Everyone out there has been away from home for a while. A long weekend away, a full vacation or even some time working abroad…  You know that feeling when you finally get home, you put your suitcases on your bed, get into something comfortable, and sit on the couch…  Take that feeling and multiply it by exactly 267.23 and that is what it feels like to return home from a combat deployment.  I’m always reminded of the great scene in Fight Club where Tyler threatens the shopkeeper’s life and then lets him go…

Tomorrow will be the most beautiful day in Raymond K. Hessel’s life. His breakfast will taste better than any meal you and I have ever tasted.

This is what it feels like.  The colors of the leaves on the trees are more vivid, the food tastes richer, the breeze on your face as you drive with the windows down feels cooler; everything just feels better.  So in celebration of getting home, I bring to you the Five Best Things about Being Back in America…  In no particular order.

1) Pavement: For anyone who hasn’t lived the majority of their life in a 1st world country…  Large portions of the rest of the world are not blessed with particularly great infrastructure.  Afghanistan, continuously being in the bottom 10 poorest countries in the world, is no exception.  My first deployment I spent almost the entire time driving on some of the worst roads in the world.  Trying to get from Point A to Point B on a road where you have to stop every couple hundred meters just to avoid a massive hole (I won’t even get into the IEDs that produced them- because that’s just not the direction we’re going with this post) is incredibly frustrating.

Worse than the roads though, is walking on gravel every day all day.  The amount of gravel purchased and used by the US Army in Afghanistan would easily fill this hole

with plenty to spare.  Spending every day trudging through the stuff gets old very quickly. Just being able to go for a stroll around the block on a combination of well constructed roads and sidewalks is fantastic.

2) Couches: It’s a verifiable fact that couches are the most underrated personal possession in any family’s inventory. You hear a lot of, “Oh nice car,” or “did you get the new iPhone 5?” but usually unless you just got a new one, people don’t comment a whole lot on the comfiness of a couch. This is a national tragedy. Furthermore, upon googling if there is a national couch day, the first link I found (answers.yahoo) said no. Which is unquestionable proof. Chairs are all well and good, and lying in bed is of course great, but there is just something about kicking back on a couch spreading out a bit and doing any number of things. They are are force multipliers. They make pretty much anything more fun. 

3) Clothes that aren’t a Uniform: I’m not really a super well dressed guy (though I am a horribly addicted Gilt shopper- somebody please help me stop) but I’d ask anyone to consider wearing the same thing everyday with two variations.  Boots, pants, and a long sleeve top with a hat and sunglasses, or running shoes, white socks, and the Army Physical Fitness Uniform with sunglasses.  Oh…  you know who else only wears one or two things every single day…  Inmates. And part of the reason wardens insist on this, is to strip away convicts’ identities. The feeling of putting on my most comfortable pair of jeans, a tshirt, and some sandals was in a word splendiferous.  Everybody has that set of clothing (Nike basketball shorts, and an American Flag imprinted Under Armor shirt that says “We must protect this house,”) that they wear around their castle, and is their go-to when they just need to be comfortable.  Getting back into this getup is equally glorious.

Alright… this is actually what I wear around the house.

4) Friends and Family: This one probably goes without saying but was too critical to leave out. For anyone who has never been present for a deployed unit’s homecoming… It is truly something to experience. Take Hugh Grant’s Love Actually comment about the uplifting experience at Heathrow’s Arrivals section and add the fact that everyone coming home could have been killed.

In 2004 I was present when my Uncle’s reserve unit returned from the invasion of Iraq. As they marched across the field to join with their families in the stands, pandemonium ensued. The families in the bleachers could not be contained. They came down on the returning soldiers like a pack of ravenous carebears. It was a sight to see.

Almost a decade later I’ve had two such homecomings. Without a doubt they were polar opposites in many ways, but the one thing that stayed constant was my mom.  Who was at both and was more than prepared to bring on some joyful waterworks. Since I know my mom is one of about five people who read my posts, just thought I’d give her a shout out and a thanks.

Though my particular group of friends like to write posts exaggerating some of my past exploits, and as Rudy mentioned “My deployed friend has now sent our house in Clarendon more packages than we have sent him in Afghanistan,” spending some time with these clowns (read- drinking, arguing, and endlessly ragging on each other) is pretty much the best. 

5) Freedom: Quite paradoxically, soldiers spend a large percentage of their time with limited to no freedom, in order for the other 99% of American’s to enjoy theirs. This isn’t me getting on a high horse.  The way this country has continuously separated political decisions by our government from supporting our troops is incredible.  (Nearly) everyday of my short Army career I have felt supremely appreciated by my fellow Americans. From random people buying me drinks in airports (I’m wasn’t even in uniform, but the bad haircut gives it away), to shaking hands with WW2 veterans in Maine on our way out, we are given rockstar treatment and it means a lot to us.

Yet, while deployed we have almost no personal freedom.  Want to go grab a bite to eat?  Sure, if the DFAC is open.  How about driving down the… oh wait, there is no where to go except from your tent to the office, to the gym, to the DFAC… and that’s about it.  This type of insulation goes against everything that makes us American.  Americans love wide open spaces because wide open spaces breed big ideas and limitless possibilities.  We like trying new things, seeing new places, and taking chances.  We’re a people born for adventure, discovery, and ambition.  Coming home now, as the leaves start to change, the smell of limitless possibilities is pungent in my nostrils.  What does the future hold?  The beauty of being American is the freedom to build that future through my own will and determination.  And that is completely worth dressing like an inmate and walking on gravel all day.

Honorable Mention:

Robin Meade

3G/4G Cellular Service

Freshly Cut Grass

$5 Footlongs at Subway

The Radio