Best of List: Top Movies of 2015

Today’s post will feature my favorite movies of 2015. It’s an interesting list because Rachel and I usually are big moviegoers. We normally go 2-3 times a month, especially during the summer and late fall. However,this year we didn’t get out to the movies as much. With movie ticket prices continuing to rise and the fact that you can stream movies within 3-6 months after they are in the theater, we limited which movies we saw to the ones we really wanted to see sooner rather than later.

All that to say, we are behind on quite a few films that we were hoping to catch after the summer ended. So this list is shorter than I would have expected. But we still saw some excellent films this year. Here we go…

  • Inside Out: I love Pixar movies. They stand the test of time. I have watched most of them numerous times. The last several Pixar movies have been good but not great for me. But wow…Inside Out brought it right back! Rachel and I both loved it. It’s deep, funny, sad, sweet and hits you in all on the right places.
  • The Martian: This movie was so good for me. It was funny, intense and captivating. I loved Matt Damon’s character. You know it’s a good film when the movie ends and you can’t believe it was 140 minutes. I can’t recommend it enough!
  • Ex Machina: I love movies that are different and unique. This is one of those movies. It’s weird and dark and really makes you think. And the acting is top notch. I’m not sure it’s for everyone, but it definitely makes my top list.
  • Mad Max: Fury Road: This movie was so great. I had no expectation going in, but it blew me away. The action sequences alone make this a must-see movie. Plus, Tom Hardy is one bad dude (in a good way).
  • Spectre: Daniel Craig is my favorite Bond since Sean Connery. Plus, I just love the Bond movies. They are always so entertaining. And anytime Christoph Waltz is the villain in a movie, you know it’s going to be a good one.

Several movies that I haven’t seen yet but hope to soon:

  • Southpaw
  • Bridge of Spies
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens (seeing this on Thursday night!)
  • Joy
  • The Revenant
  • Trainwreck

What are some of your favorite movies from 2015?

Best of List: Top TV Shows of 2015

A few days ago I started my first “Best of List” with “Top Moments Of 2015.” I enjoyed taking a look back at the last 12 months. It’s been a great and busy year.

Today I wanted to take a look at my favorite TV shows from the year 2015. I love watching good TV shows. Once you get me hooked into a good storyline and compelling characters, I will stay with a TV show until the very end. Two of my favorite shows (Mad Men and Parks & Recreation) ended this year. But several new shows have entered into my weekly viewing.

I have 4 comedies and 4 dramas on the list this year. Several (House of Cards and True Detective specifically) would have made the list last year, but put up disappointing 2015 seasons in my opinion. Below is the list of shows in no specific order (but broken up by drama and comedy). Enjoy!

  • Fargo: Fargo is easily becoming one of my favorite shows of all time. I loved the first season, but I actually might be enjoying this season even more. The final episode of this season is tonight. I have high hopes!
  • Mad Men: Mad Men ended this year with a fantastic second half of Season 7 (the first half aired in 2014). I started watching this show in season 2 and never looked back. For me, Don Draper is one of the best characters in the history of television. If you have never seen this show, I can’t recommend it enough.
  • Game of Thrones: HBO is responsible for some of the best TV shows of all time. GoT has definitely joined this list. If you have never seen this show, be warned…do not get attached to any specific character. That is all.
  • Better Call Saul: To know me is to know that I am a huge Breaking Bad fan. It is my favorite TV show of all time. I think it got better every season and ended on top. That’s a huge accomplishment. So I was very apprehensive about the prequel/spin-off Better Call Saul. It did not disappoint! I am very excited about the second season starting in a few months.
  • Parks & Recreation: I will miss this show. Rachel and I loved watching it together. We loved the characters. They felt like family. It’s one of those shows that also improved each season. Plus, Ron Swanson will forever be one of my favorite characters on TV.
  • Last Man on Earth: Will Forte and Kristen Schaal have some of the best chemistry on TV. They are both so funny. While this show is only in its second season, it’s quickly becoming one of my favorite comedies on TV.
  • Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: First off, the theme song alone puts this show on the list. I still find myself singing it. Secondly, Titus Andromedon is unlike any other character on TV. But mainly, this show is quirky, witty and flat-out hilarious.
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Michael Schur (The Office and Parks & Rec) helped create this show and it does not disappoint. In my opinion, this show has the most potential to be the next great comedy.

This is my list. There are several shows that were close to making the cut and several shows that I haven’t seen yet, but have heard great things about. What were your favorite TV shows of 2015?

Best of List: Top Moments of 2015

I’m a sucker for a good “Best of List.” Whether it’s movies, concerts, music, tv shows, sports teams…I always find myself reading them and then creating my own list in my mind.

So for the month of December, I thought I might do my own version of a best of list. Not sure how many I will do and how often but for today, I wanted to start with my personal top moments of 2015. Quite a few of these will include running and Disney because I love both of those things.

This list is in order chronologically, not by importance.

  1. Running the “Goofy Challenge,” which included my first full marathon, in January. (Goofy Challenge is a Half Marathon on Saturday and a Full Marathon on Sunday for a total of 39.3 miles.)
  2. Moving into our new house in February.
  3. Rachel’s brother getting married in March.
  4. Running my first sub 2:00 half marathon in Montgomery, Alabama in March.
  5. Duke Basketball winning the national title in basketball in April.
  6. Staying on property at the Walt Disney World Resort for Rachel’s 30th birthday in May.
  7. Going to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina in late May/early June with Rachel’s family.
  8. Visiting my Dad with my siblings over the 4th of July.
  9. Visiting one of Rachel’s best friends and her husband in August up in Durham, North Carolina for the weekend.
  10. Spending a week over Labor Day at the Disneyland resort while running the Disneyland Half Marathon. This was our 2nd straight “coast to coast” year (running at least a half marathon in Florida and California in the same calendar year).
  11. Renewing our season passes at WDW in October for another magical year.
  12. Having a super busy but amazing November.(Officiating my friends Ellis and Colleen’s wedding, California road trip from San Francisco to Anaheim, beach trip to Florida over Thanksgiving with my family)
  13. Turning a new decade in December as well as going to the SEC     Championship Football Game.

Below is a small sample of my top moments from the year 2015.

 

SEC Championship

My birthday was Thursday. I don’t typically like to make a big deal out of my birthday. I’m not sure if it’s being the middle child or the fact that it’s in December, but I usually like to keep my birthday pretty low key. 

I knew our plans for my birthday weekend were pretty laidback. All we really had planned was a 20 mile training run and a dinner with Rachel’s family. Outside of that, I was hoping to take it easy and maybe watch some College/NFL football. There were several games of interest to me, including the SEC Championship.

A little background on me: Being from Alabama, there is no doubt that College Football (and specifically Alabama/Auburn football) runs very deep in my family. I was born and raised an Alabama football fan. Both my parents went to the University of Alabama. I remember growing up going to and watching Alabama games with my Dad/family.

However, when it came time to pick a college…surprisingly Auburn University won out. There are several reasons for this, but honestly the biggest reason was Auburn was where several of my closest friends were going. But (and I know this is weird), I stayed an Alabama football fan. After 18 years of cheering for the Alabama Crimson Tide, I couldn’t bring myself to cheer against their biggest rival. And yes…I was that guy at the opposing college that went to class wearing their rival’s shirts and hats.

Now don’t get me wrong, I loved my time at Auburn. It was a great experience. I met so many amazing people and had amazing experiences. But my allegiance in football never wavered. 

Well to make a long story even longer…Rachel ended up surprising me with tickets to the SEC Championship for my birthday. She got them from her boss at work. And friends…these seats were amazing. Club level on the 25 yard line. There was no way we were passing up this opportunity to watch Alabama play in the SEC title game.

So as I mentioned in yesterday’s blog…we shifted our training run to early Saturday morning and then made our way down to the Georgia Dome for the game. Even though we were pretty dang tired from running 20 miles that morning, we had a great time! Plus, the Crimson Tide won! Below are several pictures of our time at the game.

Marathon Training Run (20 Miles)

So this weekend turned out quite a bit differently than I had expected. The plan was for me to emulate a shorter version of the Dopey Challenge (5K, 10K, Half and Full in 4 days). Therefore, I had 3 miles scheduled for Thursday, 5 for Friday, 8 for Saturday and 20 (with Rachel) for Sunday.

However, Rachel ended up surprising me on Thursday night with SEC Championship tickets for Saturday evening. We decided to push the 20 miler to Saturday morning so that we wouldn’t feel the pressure of 20 miles the next day.

So I changed up my schedule as well. After doing 3 miles on Thursday (before I knew about the tickets), I did 8 miles on Friday morning before tackling 20 miles on Saturday with Rachel.

We got up bright and early Saturday morning. It was quite chilly to start (36 degrees which is pretty cold in Atlanta). We ended up going back out to Cochran Shoals since it’s a good path that we are both very comfortable with. (Plus the scenery really helps as you are running for that many hours)

We knew it was going to stay in the 30’s for the first hour or so before getting up to the mid to upper 40’s by the end of our run. So we layered up so that we could shed as we go. (We even got in a quick “before” picture…we look way too happy for it to be that chilly)

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The goal was to keep a steady pace throughout the run. (That’s one of Rachel’s biggest strengths as a runner, while I have a tendency to start too fast) Here we are around mile 11. Still smiling which is a good sign!

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At one point we came across a few deer which was pretty neat.

I believe we were crossing the 14 mile mark here. I had started listening to music by this point for extra motivation. Rachel was getting ready to take another gel.

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Crossing mile 18. Only 2 miles to go. Still feeling good!

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All in all, we finished within the time frame we were hoping for. Rachel said her feet were starting to hurt the last few miles or so but nothing major. I hit a “mini wall” around mile 16, but I know it was due to poor fueling on my part. I am bad about waiting too long to take fuel before I need it. Although, I have been much better during this marathon training than I was last year for my first full. Anyways…I was so proud of Rachel. She even said she could have gone a few more miles if needed which is always a good sign.

At this point, we are down to the final month before the WDW Marathon on January 10th. We will do one more 20+ mile run in 2 weeks before tapering. I am planning on using that weekend to mimic the Dopey Challenge again. But I’m definitely feeling good about that as well.

How was your weekend?

 

 

Scott Weiland

As a teenager in the early to mid 90’s (who played guitar and was in several “garage” bands), I was heavily influenced by Alternative music. For me, bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins, Alice In Chains, Soundgarden and Stone Temple Pilots were on constant rotation in my CD player.

I was very sad to hear the news this morning that Scott Weiland of Stone Temple Pilots had passed away at the young age of 48. Stone Temple Pilot’s first two albums (Core and Purple) are responsible for some of the best songs of the 1990’s. From the songs Plush and Creep to Interstate Love Song and Vasoline (and so many more), their songs will always hold a special place in my heart.

RIP Scott Weiland. I will never forget the impact that your voice and music had on my life and music.

Thanksgiving Trip to Florida

Last Tuesday, Rachel and I headed down to Tarpon Springs, Florida (Crystal Beach) for Thanksgiving with my side of the family. My Dad rented a huge beach house for all of my siblings and their spouses/kids. (17 total people!)12313975_10153778067827558_5602750581904689160_n

I blogged about my family last week as a part of the What I’m Thankful For series of posts. When we all get together, it is always a good time. (Sometimes a little loud and crazy but always good fun!) I think it was especially meaningful for my Dad to have us all together. You could just see it on his face the whole time. He was so happy. Plus, no one loves his kids and grandkids like my Dad does.

It was a super laid back time. We lounged around the pool/hot tub, ate way too much food, watched a lot of football, walked/ran several days, rode bikes, played on the beach, kayaked, fished, made s’mores, drank a lot of coffee (and a few adult beverages) and so much more! I think it reminded all of us how important family is.

I’m so grateful to be a part of a family that not only loves, but genuinely likes each other. Here are several pictures from our trip last week. Enjoy!