Bye-Bye Li’l Sebastian

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After 7 seasons, the Parks department of Pawnee, Indiana will shut its doors tonight.

Pawnee looks a lot different than how we saw it in 2009. It is no longer the 4th most obese city in America. It is home to free WiFi for the entire town. Most of the starting members of the parks department have moved on to bigger an better things: they have gigs as a service worker in DC, Interim Mayor, Major figurehead in the National Parks Service, congressional candidate, owner of Very Good Building Company, Business Owner, married mogul headed to Seattle, and TV Superstar Johnny Karate.

Our little Parks and Rec employees have grown up, and it’s time to see them off.

Just like with all shows that have run for several years, many people tuned out before tonight’s finale. But for the rest of us, tonight is the heartfelt goodbye to characters we feel like we’ve raised.

Why is this show important? Why is this show — described by so many as a way to profit from the popularity of The Office in the late 2000s — so painful to say goodbye to?

I can only relate some of my personal reasons:

— The creation of Galentine’s Day, which is a real thing now

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— Treat Yo Self, also a thing

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— My discovery of Aziz Ansari as a stand-up comedian

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— My discovery of Nick Offerman, who I had the opportunity to see live at UMBC

Credit to NBC for images of Ron Swanson

Credit to NBC for images

— The world’s discovery of Chris Pratt (he is Andy Dwyer, not Starlord)

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— My weird crush on Ben Wyatt, which I can’t even try to explain

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— Getting all of Ben’s nerdy references to Game of Thrones, Star Wars, Star Trek, Settlers of Cataan, Economics and Accounting, Batman…

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— The cutest TV couple since Jim and Pam

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— Mouse Rat, the only fictional band I’ve actually searched for on iTunes

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5,000 Candles in the Wind, which I kind of want played at my funeral, even though my name is not Sebastian and I am not a mini horse

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— Countless actually-funny political jokes that I’ve heard at SGA events and poli sci classes for years. Seriously. I’ve even started adopting Ron Swanson as a half-decent representation of my view on domestic policies.

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— Guest stars aplenty (John Cena was on an episode last week. What other sitcom is John Cena gonna appear on?)

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Yes, it had its rough moments. But every show has its moments. When a person dies, his funeral isn’t usually an ode to the mistakes he made, but to his accomplishments, his brightest spots. Parks and Rec had a lot of them, and I’m glad it ran as long as it did. Was it time to end? Yes. Am I sad to see it go? Also yes.

So tonight, the Ron Swanson Pyramid of Greatness will have to be amended: Crying is acceptable at funerals, the grand canyon, and the Parks and Recreation finale at 10 PM eastern on NBC.

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10 Rules for Valentine’s Day

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Let’s be honest, this is the perfect couple.

For some reason, you people turn this holiday into this demonic, soul draining ritual. I know we’re not five years old anymore and the days of cards sealed by little heart stickers are over. But the way most people talk about it, you’d think that Valentine’s Day is a day reserved for sucking the joy out of puppies.

So, some rules. I’m even giving you a few days’ notice so you can take notes before this weekend.

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Please, PLEASE, watch the State of the Union

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Tonight at nine PM — as in less than three hours from now — President Obama is speaking. This shouldn’t be news to you, but hey. I won’t judge.

I don’t care if you have never watched the news. I don’t care if you refuse to identify with a political party. I don’t care if you think that the democratic/republican/save-the-llamas party drinks the blood of innocent children. I don’t care if you’re scared of The Man. You’re gonna watch this speech.

The biggest problem in American politics today is ignorance. People refuse to listen and refuse to participate. They think so little of our system that they forget that the system is run for, and by, The People. And when The People don’t step up, political types have to run the show all on their own. Thus we end up with an inefficient, ass-backwards governing body.

Interestingly, President Obama is doing a post-address interview with three YouTube stars. Not major networks, but people you’ve likely watched while you were procrastinating that history paper.

Your criticisms or praises of the Obama administration — of the system — have no weight unless you know what you’re talking about. And the very least you can do is listen to this general, likely short, address tonight. It’s an annual tradition. It’s bare-bones politics. And it is aimed at you.

Besides, it’s not like you’re doing anything on a Tuesday night. And if nothing else, you’ll get the jokes on SNL when they inevitably parody it this weekend.

Nine PM. Every freaking network channel (NBC, right after Parks and Rec ). Be there. You owe it to yourself and the rants you’ll go on this year.

So You’ve Already Screwed Up Your Resolution

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We’re almost 100 hours into 2015. Still committed to your New Year’s resolution? Good for you! You have more willpower than a lot of other people I know.

Did you already fall off the horse? That’s okay. You’re not doomed to a wasted year. And you’re not the only one that has already broken that “promise” they made after that third drink on Wednesday night.

People have cemented January 1st as a day for resolutions because it’s easy to remember your start date and it’s a convenient date to use when counting the number of days you have left until your end date. But really, it’s a bunch of nonsense.

You don’t have to make a year-long resolution. Are they worthwhile? Yes! It’s good to think of 2015 as the year you read every day, or did push-ups every night. But is it a requirement? Heck no. Maybe your resolution won’t take a year. Maybe it’s more obtainable to read every day for six months because from July until December you’ve got a seasonal job that takes more time and effort than your January to June gig does.

Every day is a good day to start something new. If you wait for “the perfect day” you’ll never actually start. You’ll stay stagnant. So what if you decide that you want to get in shape, but it’s already January 21st? You haven’t missed the boat! It’s still a very noble goal and one you should start anyway — or else you’ll be nearly a year behind where you could have been. The champion is better than the casual goal-setter, who is infinitely better than the drifting bum.

If you missed a day already, or miss days in the upcoming weeks, don’t give up on your goals for the sake of “the perfect year”. There is no such thing. Progress is not dictated by a calendar or measured by one. It’s your resolve and the improvements you make that matter.

Cartoon courtesy of Angus and Phil

Storytime #1: The Bird and the Christmas Tree

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We’re almost out of 2014; whether that’s a good or a bad thing is up to you. But the end is coming. And as we waste our hours until tomorrow night looking at articles like “2014’s Top Ten Pictures of Koalas wearing Funny Hats” (someone please write that for me), I’d like to divert your attention to something with a little more meat. Something that I can’t believe I haven’t done yet this year.

I started out as a fiction writer. In third grade, I wrote a short story about puppies. I can’t remember the plot for the life of me, but I do remember that they were attacked by an out-of-control model airplane and that one of them was named Spyro (I was an awesome eight-year-old). My first book came in fifth grade: a forty-page thing about a pilot with a talking dog that fought giant chipmunks and befriended super-intelligent toddlers.

It’s fun to write fiction, but it doesn’t take a lot to know that it’s hard to pay the bills as a fiction writer. So I don’t think it’s my calling. But it’s fun, and as it’s Christmastime I’m going to have fun.

I wrote this little half-thing after a scary experience on Christmas Eve night, when we were graced with an unexpected visitor. I present to you, for your possible pleasure, The Bird and the Christmas Tree:

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Wedding Bells, Love, and Indescribable Joy

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There are many kinds of happiness. There’s the happiness that comes with success—the feeling of accomplishment. There’s the feeling that comes after receiving a gift. There’s a high that comes from a night out with friends. Good books, TV shows and music create another kind of happiness. As does service.

But there are three kinds of happiness that are superior to all others. The first is the peace found in religion. The second is the indescribable feeling someone has when they’ve met their spouse, their companion, their partner in life and death. And the third is the happiness you feel when watching someone you love very much experience pure joy.

Yesterday, I had the incredible pleasure of watching Melanie Wilhelm and Scott Wood celebrate their marriage. I don’t think I’ve ever been happier in my life.

Melanie is hands-down the kindest, most considerate person I’ve ever met. If her soul were a color, it would be the pure white of a person who lives her life for others. She is always there with an open heart and an open mind. I can’t be unhappy around her. And I know where she gets it from; she has a wonderful family, with sisters and parents who have acted as beacons of light to me for years.

I do not know Scott that well; like most people on this side of the country, I only actually met him a week ago. But I don’t need to interrogate him to know that he is a good man with a good heart.

We all know people like this. We all have those friends that are so perfect, for lack of better term. You love them so much and you don’t ever feel like you deserve to be in their presence. And to see them so gloriously happy, married in the eyes of God and the community, is something that puts a light in your soul. The sparkle in their eyes as they look at the one they love is bright enough to break any darkness.

Cherish your friends. Be there for the bad times, because they need you. But be there for the happy times, too. It’s a feeling of ecstasy more powerful than anything you could do for yourself. Rejoice in their happiness.

Mel, I love you more than I know how to put into words. Scott, I look forward to getting to know you and I’m sure I’ll love you just as much. Congratulations and best wishes. Look to God for guidance and put Him first; lean on each other; and know that I—and a whole bunch of people that love you just as much—are always here for you.

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