Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Holiday TV Guide

I was flipping through the channels last night while my Girlfriend was doing some work and I came across the cartoon version of "Dr. Suess' How the Grinch Stole Christmas" on ABC.

I couldn't believe that it was already airing this early in December but was randomly really excited that I had found it because there are a few Christmas specials/movies that I have to watch every year.

But more on that another day...

But it made me wonder if there were any of my other favorite classics that I was missing so I started doing a little research online. Of course, there's not just one website with all the listings, but hey, that's what I'm here for!

I've highlighted a few of my favorites and a few of the absolute classic Christmas specials for you (you can get complete listings at either
tvguide.com's holiday page or ABC family's 25 Days of Christmas site).

Buckle, up TiVo. You've got some work to do this month.

Tuesday, Dec 2
- Santa Claus is Comin' to Town (8PM, ABC)

Wednesday, Dec 3
- Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (8PM, CBS)
- Christmas in Rockefeller Center (8PM, NBC)

Friday, Dec 5
- Dr. Suess' How the Grinch Stole Christmas (8PM, ABC)

Saturday, Dec 6
- Miracle on 34th Street (8PM, My Network TV)

Monday, Dec 8
- 'Twas the Night Before Christmas (7PM, ABC Family)
- Charlie Brown Christmas (8PM, ABC)
- Jingle All the Way (8PM, ABC Family)

Tuesday, Dec 9
- A Garfield Christmas (7PM, ABC Family)

Wednesday, Dec 10
- Mickey's Christmas Carol (7PM, ABC Family)
- Home Alone (8PM, My Network TV)

Friday, Dec 12
- Frosty the Snowman (8PM, CBS)
- Frosty Returns (8:30PM, CBS)

Saturday, Dec 13
- Holiday Classics Marathon (All day, ABC Family)
- It's a Wonderful Life (8PM, NBC)

Tuesday, Dec 16
- Charlie Brown Christmas (8PM, ABC)

Wednesday, Dec 17
- A Muppet Christmas: Letters to Santa (8PM, NBC)

Tuesday, Dec 23
- White Christmas (6PM, ABC Family)

Thursday, Dec 25
- A Christmas Story (24 hour marathon, TBS)

...Just to name a few.

Print this out and enjoy. Happy Holidays and happy viewing!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Snap Back to Reality

I can not tell you how badly I DID NOT want to come back home from the Thanksgiving holiday weekend I spent with my family in Roanoke, VA.

It was great being with my family and celebrating my grandparents' 60th anniversary, this was the first Thanksgiving my Girlfriend and I got to spend together, the whole weekend was way relaxing in general, and I slept A LOT.

Like I actually don't know what to do about this whole "rested" feeling I have now.

But the reality of being back hit hard and fast last night as we realized that there are now only 16 days before my Girlfriend leaves to spend Christmas with her parents in Atlanta and there are only 26 days left before I move across the country.

So much for that rested feeling.

Beyond that, it was kind of overwhelming to look at our calendars and discover that we only have FIVE nights left with nothing already planned before my Girlfriend leaves on December 17.

Seriously, I need another nap.

We're going to try to knock out a few of my Hampton Roads Bucket List items between now and then but we're obviously not trying to fill up every night and not even enjoy the remaining time together.

Needless to say, It's going to be a little busy between now and the 17th (After that, I really have no plans - other than Christmas, of course - until I leave on the 27th).

But I'm looking forward to it all.

I always feel like I can start celebrating the Christmas season the day after Thanksgiving, so I'm already getting into the spirit a little (in spite of the apparent heat wave we are experiencing here in Chesapeake).

It's going to be a crazy month, but I think it's going to be a really good one.

And I will be on here as much as possible...

Hope you will be too.

(PS - here are a couple of pictures from my grandparents' anniversary party on Friday night. The top one is me and my Girlfriend with my grandparents Charles and Bettie Hutton and the bottom one is the annual grandkids pic that my cousins and I take together every year. You can see more pictures at their anniversary announcement page.)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

I hope everyone has a safe and happy Thanksgiving. May your family gatherings be warm and your football games exciting (Go Eagles!).

I will leave you with a clip from one of my favorite Thanksgiving TV episodes of all time, "Thanksgiving Orphans" from season five of "Cheers" - if nothing else, just skip ahead to the food fight at the 5:37 mark and just remember that the payoff at the end has to do with the fact that during the entire 11 seasons of the show, you never once saw the face of Norm's wife Vera.

Grab a plate of pumpkin pie and enjoy!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A New "Day & Age"

I have gone back and forth the past few days in deciding whether I would weigh in with my own personal thoughts about The Killers new album "Day & Age" for a couple of reasons:

1. Every one that knows me knows that I'm a monster Killers fan. I was never a "favorite band" kind of guy before, but I loved their first album "Hot Fuss" in 2004 and their "Sam's Town" follow-up in 2006 is, and always will be, my favorite album of all time (sorry, Sam). So how do you write -or even think - objectively about a new album from your favorite band? It's like trying to write about a newborn child. You don't even know how you feel yet.

2. I hate apologizing for how I feel about music. I KNOW that I'm not the smartest guy in the room when it comes to music or musical taste so whenever I'm around smart music people I feel like how it must feel like to be around me in regards to TV shows and movies. Music is the ultimate personal experience and "you- like-what-you-like-and-don't-have-to-defend-it" thing for me. "Sam's Town" got ripped apart by every review in the world (literally) two years ago but it just hit home with me when it came out and only continues to resonate more through time.

But the more I thought about, the more I realized I had to go on the record with something AND after posting these initial thoughts, it will be interesting to look back in a year and two and see how my feelings have either grown or changed (an amazing experience with every Killers record).

First of all, there seems to be three kinds of Killers fans in the world today (again, this is all from my own personal opinion). The ones who love their Euro-pop, synthesized style (my buddy Sam), the ones who love their gritty rock and roll (Me) and those who are blessed and love both equally (my buddy Paul and my Girlfriend). "Hot Fuss" was definitely more synth-driven and "Sam's Town" was more rock-driven and last year they released their own B-sides album "Sawdust" that was a glorious mix of both.

In a couple of their newer cuts from "Sawdust" ("Tranquilize" and "Shadow Play" in particular) you could almost see a new hybrid blend of both sounds and I really thought that was what "Day & Age" was going to sound like.

When I popped in "Day & Age" on Monday night, I started skipping through to get to the one rock-driven song that I knew was going to be on the album (I had obviously already heard "Human" which is more Euro-pop and "Spaceman" which is just good ol' American pop rock).

The only problem was that I kept skipping... and skipping... and skipping...

I was crushed when I got all the way through the album and there wasn't one classic Killers ROCK song. "Losing Touch" and "Neon Tiger" are close but still stay too much on the softer side for me ultimately.

There's no "Uncle Johnny" or "For Reasons Unknown" or even "When You Were Young" on this album and that momentarily devastated me. What kept me afloat was the fact that I KNEW the songs that are included were really, really good.

Just not my particular style.

So, I already knew this one was going to take longer to fall in love with but the good news was that I already appreciated it.

The best way I can describe "Day & Age" is that it truly is a Las Vegas album (that's where the band is from). Like Paul said, you can just be yourself in Vegas and that's what every song on this record is: unique and original.

And going through the album is like driving down the Vegas strip. You have the astronaut-themed restaurant ("Spaceman") on your right, there's the African-themed amusement park ("This is Your Life") up on the left and the tropical-themed casino ("I Can't Stay") is straight ahead at the end of the street. But with songs titles like "A Dustland Fairytale" and lyrics like "under the heat of the southwest sun" and "rattlesnakes and romance", you are always reminded that all the lights and glamour of the city are still out in the middle of a desert.

I think they could have scaled back a little on all the stylized settings but I still love this album because there's no other band out there today making songs like this. I'm proud that it's part of the Killers collection, even if it will never be my all-time favorite, "Desert Island" album.

So far I do love "Human", "Spaceman", and "This is Your Life" (very U2-ish at the end despite the African chanting). "A Dustland Fairytale", "Losing Touch" and "Neon Tiger" are starting to grow on me (I saw a live performance of "Losing Touch" and I already like it better as a concert song than a studio cut). It's going to take a little longer for "Joy Ride", "I Can't Stay" and "The World We Live In", but I committed to giving them a chance. And I hope I'm never in the emotional place necessary to get something out of "Goodnight, Travel Well".

What is that, six, maybe seven out of 10 songs that I could really be into before it's all said and done?

That's pretty much "Hot Fuss" for me and I'll take that any day.

The FUSE network is running a special half hour Killers concert over and over again this week and it was cool to see the new songs blended in with the old stuff. Everything with The Killers always sounds so different but somehow works as a whole.

Oh, and did I mention they kick off their U.S. tour on January 17... in Denver, CO? (While that's not a reason to move somewhere, it certainly doesn't hurt.)

I'm looking forward to seeing them live again and living in this new day and age as a Killers fan.

Monday, November 24, 2008

My Hampton Roads Bucket List

This past weekend my Girlfriend asked me if there was anything I wanted to do locally at least one more time over the next month before I move to Denver at the end of year.

My initial response was something along the lines of, "Nope. I'm ready to blow this Popsicle stand!"

But the more I started thinking about, the more I realized that there really are a lot of Hampton Roads-specific activities I would like to do before I leave.

And this got me excited because I now got to do one of my favorite things in the world.

It was time to make a list, baby!

After jotting down a few Hampton Roads must-do's, the euphoria of list making began to wear off as I suddenly realized two things: (1) After 15 years of living here, it's gotten easy to take my surroundings for granted, and (2) it was kind of weird to think about doing some of this stuff for the last time (at least for a while).

"This is creepy," I said. "I feel like I'm dying or something."

"Awww," my Girlfriend teased. "We're making your Hampton Roads Bucket List."

As in, things to do before I kick the (Hampton Roads) bucket.

I'm not totally sure where the financial backing for all these activities is going to come from yet but I'll do what I can do and go from there.

So, you go. Just a few of the items from my Hampton Roads Bucket List:

- I want to see a movie at the Commodore Theater. Whenever friends or guests have come into town over the years, I've always tried to take them to the Commodore as one of those things that you can only do while in Hampton Roads. It's a big, old theater in Olde Town Portsmouth and you actually sit at tables and order dinner while you watch the movie. Unfortunately, that new vampire movie, "Twilight" is the only thing running there until mid December (not interested) so maybe something good will come in before I go.

- I want to hit some of my favorite restaurants one last time. Right now I'm salivating for a knockwurst from the Bier Garden in Olde Town Portsmouth, a nice glass of Chianti from Bella Monte in Virginia Beach, and some banana pudding from The Virginia Diner in Wakefield (not all at once, of course. That would actually be kind of gross).

- I want to play Lambert's Point golf course. I've never seen a golf course frustrate so many good golfers like Lambert's does on a regular basis (I'm not referring to myself as a "good golfer" by the way). The course looks so easy but it plays so hard. That's where I got my very first legit birdie (the par four fifth hole) and the view is so amazing, I always find myself realizing that I would rather be bad at golf than good at anything else. Get your clubs, Chris. I've got a few more golf balls to leave at Lambert's.

- I want to drive Kempsville Road from start to finish
I think I have probably spent more time on Kempsville Road over the past 15 years than anywhere else in the area. I took Kempsville to get to my high school, a LOT of my friends, and a bunch of my jobs. It starts in Virginia Beach as Pembroke Blvd. at a dead end by a neighborhood pool (where I used to go with one of the summer camps I worked at) and then turns into Witchduck Rd. by the radio station where Paul and I did our sports show and then into Kempsville. Once you cross over Battlefield Blvd. in Chesapeake, it becomes Great Bridge Blvd. and then runs through Norfolk before you finally have to turn left or right onto Bainbridge Blvd. I don't think I've ever gone start to finish. I don't even know how long it will take. Half hour? 45 minutes? Hour? Two Hours? Any thing is possible on Kempsville. From the traffic to the uncoordinated stoplights, there is never a good time to be on that road.

- I want to do a Newport News day. Newport News is where I went to college (for the first time) at Christopher Newport University. It's where I fell in love (for the first time) and where I helped start that sketch comedy show. It's where I lived on my own (for the first time) and where I felt like an actual human being (for the first time). Even though it's changed dramatically, I just want to walk around the campus for a while and watch a game at Schooners.

- I want to say good bye at the Monarch. I finally found my Cheers and now I'm leaving. The wait staff knows me, knows my drink of choice, knows what game to put on for me, and beyond all of that, are genuinely great people. Seriously, the thought of leaving the Monarch was one of the very last emotional hurdles I had to clear before I could vocally announce I was leaving home. That's where I've been going to unwind at the end of a crazy day, that's where I go when there are three games I want to watch at once, that's where we have finished 2nd place at Trivia Night for the last 18 times in a row. That's where I was when the Phillies won the World Series.

So that's where I want to be with my closest friends on Friday night, December 26, the night before I leave for Denver. I hate going away parties, but I don't think this will feel like that.

I just want this to be us hanging out, watching a game.

Seriously, everyone that wants to come is invited. That's where I want to say my good bye's and that's how I want to leave this area that has been my home.

When Was the Last Time a Newspaper Columnist Wrote an Entire Column for You?

* I've been really impressed with the suggestions I have received for the ultimate road trip CD that I announced I was trying to put together on Friday (and if you haven't already, please read the "Let's Make Some Sweet Music Together" post below this one and feel free to add your own submissions!) but two of them blew me away.

My buddy Sam (who will always be my go-to music guy) compiled a great list - and you can read that in the comments section below that post - but I had to highlight the response that I got from Virginian-Pilot lifestyle columnist Mike Gruss (as you also can also see, I've added Mike's Pilot blog page to the list of my recommended sites in the bar to the right. Definitely check it out!).

Mike is a great writer with a fresh, unique perspective on life in the Hampton Roads area. I annoy him regularly with questions about journalism and column writing and he has never blown me off or just reply with enough to placate me. Instead, he always responds with very thorough advice and suggestions, and his song submission email was no different.

So I decided to let you enjoy what I get to appreciate on a regular basis.

Thanks again Mike! Hope to stay in touch...

- Josh

The classic road trip song…

One of the best things about music is that it can instantly recall a memory or a feeling from the past.

For a long time, I did not believe in the quintessential road trip song. I found it too cliché mostly because 90 percent of all roadtrip mixes included “Life is a Highway” and “Born to Run.” (See “The Office.”) No matter how fitting they might be, I did not want to ride it all night long.

But it is impossible and uncreative (not to mention no fun) to dismiss the genre as a whole.

In college when gas was about $1 a gallon and before burnable CDs, my friend Susan loved spending the afternoon going for a drive. For years, one of my favorite pictures was one she took from the dashboard of my car that showed the cornfields of southwestern Ohio. She assembled great road-trip tapes to accompany.

When I drove solo from Ohio to Chicago in the summer of 1998, it was the start of an incredible and eye-opening adventure for a kid who had grown up in the suburbs. My first gig at a newspaper. My first apartment. All that stuff. I popped in one of Susan’s tapes before I left. The first song: “Learning to Fly” by Tom Petty.

Grant me, a little slack here.

“Well I started out down a dirty road/Started out all alone/And the sun went down as I crossed the hill/The town lit up the world got still”

Yup. All those things were true.

“Well some say life will beat you down/Break your heart, steal your crown/So I started out for God knows where/But I guess I’ll know when I get there”

Yup. Yup. Yup. True. True. True.

I can’t help but think this would be a fitting start to your own trek. But I’m not convinced. Besides, out at the bar the other night, one of my friends told a story where the punchline was “If Tom Petty was on the radio, I suppose I wouldn’t turn it off.” Yes, everyone in the world loves Tom Petty. So he can’t be the artist of choice for this question.

Another story.

In 2002, I took a solo roadtrip from Indiana to Pittsburgh for a friend’s wedding. I listened to two CDs and two CDs only on non-stop repeat. They were Wilco’s “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot” and Beck’s “Sea Change.” Because of the events of that trip, it became clearer than it had been in the past, I was an adult. And because we often look for meaning where there is none, I kept listening. In particular, the best song of YHF, and honestly one of the best songs of all times is “Jesus, etc.”

“Don't cry/You can rely on me honey/You can come by any time you want/I'll be around/You were right about the stars/Each one is a setting sun”

But. … eh … I’m not sure this makes the cut either.

If I was bringing just one album, I would probably bring “For Emma, Forever Ago” by Bon Iver. Although my desert island album is “Yield” by Pearl Jam. But the question you asked requires just one song.

Others to consider:

“Off He Goes” by Pearl Jam. I could quote the entire song, but read the lyrics here:

“The Ballad of Love and Hate” by The Avett Brothers. Lyrics here: http://www.cowboylyrics.com/lyrics/avett-brothers/the-ballad-of-love-and-hate-21589.html

But slow songs are banned with Kansas being Kansas.

So, drumroll please, the song I chose is “All My Friends” by LCD Soundsystem.

(Actually I prefer, the version of this song sung by Franz Ferdinand)

Thematically, this song is similar to “The Rat” by The Walkmen. (When I used to go out, I would know everyone that I saw/Now I go out alone if I go out at all/When I used to go out I'd know everyone I saw/Now I go out alone if I go out at all”)

“All My Friends” is a song about trying to grow up too fast. It is a song about making the right choices in life. It is about always being able to go home. Most importantly, it is about knowing that your friends will always be with you.

I love the site songmeanings.net. (LOVE. IT.) A commenter on there named ‘Douchebag” (ironic?) writes: I believe this song is about how it feels after you realize you're no longer a young person and you gradually fall into being an adult. The guy is looking at life through the eyes of an adult and realizing some decisions he makes are immature, but he doesn't necissarily care. At the same time looking back at how he got to where he is now and wondering if it was right. Or maybe this is how I feel right now and I'm warping the song to fit how I feel. ?”

From another commenter: “So it's fairly straightforward that the song is a retrospective on the rock 'n roll lifestyle and whether it was worth it and what was actually gained from it. What I liked most about it was the monotony of the keyboard and bass line mimicking a life that just goes on and on, regardless of how tired one gets of it, or how oblivious one is to time's passage. It's as if the melody represents the same repetitive tasks of life: sleep, breathe, do the damn thing, etc. But what the hell do I know? I drunkenly cried myself to sleep over this song the other night.”

And another: “I think this is not about someone reaching adulthood, but rather someone looking back upon when they were emerging adults. This song is reflecting about what it was like to reach adulthood, "get with the plan", and then realize that you might not want the plan. You might not want to spend every minute with your partner. And you might want to spend time with your friends. That's not to say that you don't like the life you have. The lines- "Then it's the memory of our betters / that are keeping us on our feet" suggests that you are still motivated by the life you have with your partner. But at the same time, you miss the energy, stupidness, and freedom of your younger days. And although you are "showing your age", you still want to have those late nights.”

Fast-paced? Check. Strong lyrics? Check. Thoughtful? Check. Better than looking out the window? Check. Worth playing multiple times? Check.

Download it.

More importantly, safe travels and best of luck.


Friday, November 21, 2008

Let's Make Some Sweet Music Together

The past few weeks I've been trying to get all of my ducks in a row before I move out to Denver at the end of the year.

I think I have a pretty good route mapped out. I'm going to drive to Roanoke, VA on the 27th of December and stay with my family there. On Sunday the 28th, I'm going to drive 10 hours to St.Louis, and I haven't totally decided but I'm either going to try to make it the 13 hours to Denver on the 29th or break it up and stay in Topeka that night and then get into Colorado on the 30th.

Topeka don't want none of me, I will tear that town up!

Fortunately, I have a powerful motivating factor to get me out there in a timely manner - my Girlfriend is flying into Denver on the 30th and is going to be out there for almost two weeks to help me get set up and on my feet (we will be staying with the very gracious family that let us stay with them back in May).

I can't tell you how huge that will be to have her out there with me. That should prevent any freakouts or knee jerk reactions to run back home when I haven't landed a job within the first 48 hours of being there.

I'm not really taking any furniture (the family out there has a finished and furnished basement) so I'm just going to be packing up my clothes and a few other key essentials in my car. I've also been trying to knock out all the other unexpected details that sneak up whenever you're trying to move, and I think I've been doing a good job staying on top of everything... so far.

But it hit me the other day that I've neglected the most important issue when it comes to making a cross-country road trip.

The music.

You don't want to be stuck in the Middle of Nowhere, Kansas with bad tunes - believe me, I know from experience.

Sure, I have my own personal CD collection (I will be adding the new Killers album "Day and Age" to my collection on Tuesday!) that can get the job done but I think a trip like this calls for an epic mix.

That's where you come in.

I've been making a list of songs I want to add to the "Destination: Denver" mix CD but I have now decided that I want to expand the playlist beyond my own taste. I'm looking for legitimate song suggestions from all of my family and friends and people I don't even know to add to the ultimate road trip CD.

Here are the only two criteria:

1. Song suggestions have to be road-trip worthy (nothing slow, I'm gonna to need something to keep me going when I've been driving for 8-10 hours a day).

2. I need a reason (don't just offer up a song because it's a classic road-trip tune. Give me a personal story behind it, or tell me that it will remind me of you, or something. Lie to me if you have to).

That's it. That's all I'm looking for.

After I get a good list of suggestions, I'll post them and then you all can help me put them in order (what good are quality songs if they're not in the right order? I'm talking to you, Viva La Vida!).

You can either email me your suggestions or post them in the comment section below (to the bottom right of THIS entry it says "comments" - it will show many comments have been made so far - just click on that link and submit your ideas. PLEASE NOTE - you don't have to have a google gmail account or anything like that to leave a comment. I've set it up so anyone can post, just be sure to leave your name).

I'm looking forward to hearing from all of you on this and making some sweet music together.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

My Unpardonable Sin

I should have known I would eventually get caught.

As a high-profile blogging personality, living a normal life has gotten so much tougher in this day and age of the paparazzi and camera phones. But this time I'm going to beat the media to the punch. I'm going to stand up, recognize my actions, and take the heat from the public reaction.

Now that I've officially announced I'm moving to Denver, I feel ready to come clean and clear up all the rumors that have been swirling the last few months.

Yes, that is me in the picture above and yes, that is me - a life-long, die-hard Philadelphia Eagles fan - wearing a the jersey of another team (A Brandon Marshall Denver Broncos' jersey to be exact).


It feels good to finally get that out.

Like any good affair, I don't know how it happened or where it started. There was a chain reaction of exterior events that I had no control over that led to the moment captured above.

In some ways, I think it was always just meant to be.

Follow me, if you dare, down the dark twisted path that brought me to this act of betrayal.

- When the Eagles were really bad in the late 90's (they went 6-9-1 in 1997, 3-13 in 1998, and were 5-11 in 1999) I had to find someone else to follow after the Birds' season was over by mid October. And that just happened to be when the Denver Broncos were really good and won back-to-back Super Bowls in '98 and '99. The Broncos were a safe pick for me because they had an aging super star quarterback in John Elway that every one was pulling for to get a title, they were an AFC team so there was no inner-conference conflict with the Eagles in the NFC, and there was no intense pressure on me for them to win. If they won, great. If not, I just went on with my life. They actually made it fun to watch football for once.

- No one believed me at the time, but when the Eagles made their Super Bowl run in 2004-05 I said I would probably be done as a Philly fan if they won it all. I even wrote in a blog post that I would be like a thief in a movie that just disappears to an exotic island after the huge heist, never to be heard from again. Life as a Philadelphia sports fan has been taxing since day one. Not just because of the losing but because of the almost perverted enjoyment of the torture. That wears on you after a while.

- In the middle of the NFL season last year, I was lucky enough to pick up a then unknown Denver Bronco wide receiver named Brandon Marshall for one of my fantasy football teams. I think I only picked him up because one of my starting wideouts was either hurt or on a bye week. Only once I put Marshall in my lineup, I couldn't get him out. He blew up as a premiere WR and basically led my team to my first ever fantasy football championship and actually scored the winning points in the championship game against my buddy Chris. I knew then that he would get a free pass from me for the rest of his career.

- Fast forward to the Phillies winning the World Series this year and I have to admit that there has been a cathartic release amongst Philly sports fans everywhere. The Eagles are terrible this season, but the for the first time I honestly don't care because that angst is gone. Andy Reid blows two timeouts in a close game to the Giants on back-to-back challenges? Don't care. With the season on the line, the Eagles tie the 1-8 Bengals? Don't care. Quarterback Donovan McNabb sounds like an idiot when he admits he didn't know that games can end in ties? Don't care. The Phillies handled their business during the playoffs and won the World Series. I got to celebrate it with my Dad and close friends at the Monarch and I have the t-shirt to prove it. No matter what happens from here on out, that moment can never be taken away from me. My worst day can only be so bad from now on.

- It should also be noted that I didn't buy the Marshall jersey myself, my Girlfriend bought it for me as a present. I don't think I could have pulled the trigger on that purchase in good conscience. Since it was a gift, it would almost be rude of me if I didn't occasionally wear it, right? That's only polite (never mind the fact that I had been asking for it for months!). Honestly, it did feel a little weird when I put it on for the first time. I had never seen myself in any colors other than the Eagles. I legitimately felt like I was cheating a little bit and I guess I was.

So there you go.

Flimsy and flawed, that's my defense.

Different people have different rules about who you can and can not root for as a fan. I've always been from the "you pick a team and pull for them until you die" school of thinking but I feel like I'm starting to soften as I get older.

You like who you like and you can't help it (the only no-no is front running. There are way more Celtics-Giants-Red Sox fans today than there were a few years ago and that's just annoying).

I'm going to be living in Denver and am kinda excited about being in a town that has pro teams and supports them instead of the Redskins-Steelers-Cowboys-Dolphins bouillabaisse that is the Hampton Roads sports community.

I know I'm always going to be an Eagle fan at heart for the rest of my life and that's something I will always share with my dad and buddy Kevin. But if I wear my Marshall jersey to a Broncos party out in Denver or if my kid is running around in a Rockies' t-shirt someday, I don't think I should have my fan rights suspended.

Now if I let my kid become a Cowboys fan, that's a different story.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Destination: Denver

I have hesitated about announcing this for a while now, but I am officially moving to Denver, Colorado on December 27.

I did my best to notice
When the call came down the line
Up to the platform of surrender
I was brought but I was kind
And sometimes I get nervous
When I see an open door
Close your eyes
Clear your heart
Cut the cord

I’ve never done anything the easy way.

There’s always been this exciting-yet-recklessly irresponsible aura around me for as long as I can remember.

While most of my friends graduated high school, graduated college (in a timely matter), started their careers, and started their families, I took the road less traveled. I graduated high school, did an internship in New York City, got engaged, broke that off, drove across the country, decided to move to California, decided to move back home, went back to college, finally graduated college, and worked (for free) for a fledgling magazine.

Wow. I just got lightheaded.

I’ve never heard it directly, but I have to believe that there have been some “what in the world is he doing with his life??” chats behind my back.

It’s OK.

I would have done it too.

But I have to be honest: I have no regrets.

I’m 28 years old and I’m brutally self aware of who I am and what I’ve done. The positive side to that, however, is that I’m now supremely comfortable in my own skin and I’ve never been more excited about the future – because of the lessons I’ve learned in my past.

Are we human?
Or are we dancer?
My sign is vital
My hands are cold
And I'm on my knees
Looking for the answer
Are we human?
Or are we dancer?

The biggest reason I haven’t really wanted to talk about Denver or make it official was how badly my “move” to Los Angeles went a few years ago. It was painfully embarrassing to come back home with my tail between my legs and I can’t imagine going through that again.But I just couldn’t escape the facts anymore.

I have always loved it out there, my Girlfriend loves it out there more than I do, she’s planning to go to grad school out there, and, probably most importantly, there are more job opportunities in my industry out there and nothing has been working out here.

All of sudden I found myself trying to make a case for NOT going because going seemed too obvious.

I’ve talked to a couple of companies (magazines, newspapers, etc.) that seem genuinely interested in me and seem like they would be a lot more interested in me if I was already out there.

So why not go now?

For about two months, I couldn’t get away from that one question.

Pay my respects to grace and virtue
Send my condolences to good
Give my regards to soul and romance,
They always did the best they could
And so long to devotion
You taught me everything I know
Wave goodbye
Wish me well
You've got to let me go

During a two week span at the end of the summer, I watched as three of the people closest to me moved out of Chesapeake. It was difficult for me to go through, but I couldn’t be upset because they were all moving on to better situations for their lives.

But I couldn't help feel like I was missing out.

NERD ALERT – I couldn’t help but remember that scene from the series finale of “Frasier”. Frasier really didn’t want to leave Seattle but looks around and sees that his dad has remarried, his brother has started a family, and his producer has gotten a promotion. He takes the job in San Francisco because he wants what they all have found.

A new chapter in their lives.

That’s how I felt after those weeks in the summer. It’s just not working here. As much as I don’t want to leave my family and friends, I know I can make something of myself there that I haven’t been able to do here.

Pay my respects to grace and virtue, send my condolences to good…

I’m not very good at making new friends. I’ve had the same core group of buddies for over 10 years now. In fact, the only real new legit friend I’ve made in that time span is my buddy Chris, and that’s only because of my Girlfriend.

In case you haven’t realized, I’m not always so good with the people.

Sure, I can fake it at a party for an hour or so but then I just get tired and lose interest. I like having a small, tight group of friends and I’m going to feel lost without them.

I’m going to miss talking sports with Jake, doing the radio show with Gray, playing a round of golf with Chris, killing an afternoon playing “Madden” with Kevin, trying to figure out life with Paul, lamenting the movie industry with Jesse and Jon…

Seriously, what I am going to do out there?

Fortunately, I have absolute confidence in two important facts: (1) We are all good enough friends, that there is no doubt that we will keep in touch and (2) Denver is so cool, you will all be crazy not to come out.

Give my regards to soul and romance, they always did the best they could…

I’m going because I want to get to a point where I can ask my Girlfriend to be my Wife. I hate the thought of leaving her for the next few months but it’s one of those “more beneficial in the long run” things.

She’s the one that sold me on that.

She’s the reason I’m dying to go but also the reason that it’s killing me to leave.

I love that she's better than me. She believes the best in everyone and everything and is all the proof I will ever need that there is a merciful and loving God. He knew I wouldn't have gotten through the past couple years on my own so He put her in my life.

I know you can’t get into Heaven for being with someone, but I have to think that having her in my life will look good on my permanent record.

And so long to devotion, you taught me everything I know…

I can’t tell you what a relief it was that the Phillies won the World Series this year.

That was the final push over the top for me that it was OK to go. That might sound crazy, but you've gotta know that the only thing I’ve ever really wanted that you can’t buy in a store is to celebrate a Philadelphia sports championship with my dad.

And now I have.

When Brad Lidge got the last out to end the Series, I didn’t weep because of an overflowing joy. I didn’t even totally weep because 25 years of torture were finally over. I wept because I got to celebrate a title with my dad and I knew it was OK to leave.

It’s OK to move on… In every sense.

Trying to describe what my parents have meant to me would be tacky and cliché.

I’ve always thought your job as a parent is to build a ship that is capable to sail through life’s waters. I know I’ve taken the long way around at times, but I am confident enough to take this next step because of what my parents have invested in me and the support they’ve given me.

Will your system be alright
When you dream of home tonight?
There is no message we're receiving
Let me know is your heart still beating

Somewhere deep down, I always knew I was going to leave the Hampton Roads area at some point. I’ve kinda been writing this entry off and on for the last four years ever since I got back from California.

Of course, it didn’t come out like I had originally planned, but that’s life.

Nothing does.

Sure I’m planning to move to Denver in just over a month but who knows how that will turn out and where it will take me next.

I’m done trying to figure out the next step, I’m just trying to take it.

My priorities have shifted greatly, even just in the last year. We were at my buddy Gray’s wedding back in October and that was the first time I’ve ever genuinely felt like I couldn’t wait to get married. Not for the ceremony or hoopla but because I want to take that next step with Summer.

And I have to think that getting outside my comfort zone (read: friends, family, free place to live) in Denver will force me to take care of myself in a new way so that I can eventually get to a place where I can take care of her and a family someday.

This is the right move for me and this is the right move for us.

So, thanks for reading.

Thanks for your prayers and support.

Since I’ll be out of town, I plan to be more active in writing on this site and posting updates and I’ll let you know what I get into next…

You've got to let me know

Are we human?
Or are we dancer?
My sign is vital
My hands are cold
And I'm on my knees
Looking for the answer
Are we human
Or are we dancer?

Are we human?
Or are we dancer?

Monday, June 2, 2008

And the Award for Best Award Show Goes To...

A couple of months ago I was griping about how boring the Oscar Awards were and how I thought they (and most award shows for the matter) were becoming completely irrelevant.

When I sit down to watch an awards show, I'm not there to see who wins or loses (I could check a complete list of winners online), I just want to be entertained. I honestly can't believe I'm saying this, but I was thoroughly entertained by last night's telecast of the MTV Movie Awards. It didn't take it self too seriously, it was very casual and more importantly, it was self-aware because nobody tried to hide the fact that all of the presenters were just there to promote new projects.

I haven't watched the MTV Movie Awards in a couple of years and officially gave up on the network's Video Music Awards after last year's train wreck and I only tuned in last night because Mike Myers was hosting (say what you want about his crappy new film "The Love Guru" but he gets a free pass in my book because there's still people out there dropping an occasional "Yeah, baby!" or "Do I make you horny?" Anytime you can get morons to keep quoting lines from a movie you made 11 years ago, you can trot out whatever atrocity you want.) But I decided to stay after he decided to ditch the standard corny opening monologue jokes and instead engaged music artist Chris Brown in a team vs. team dance-off (I was sold when Myers was out of dance moves and lifted his shirt and moved his gut in a wave-like motion).

No one, except "Juno's" Ellen Paige, took their acceptance speech seriously and most of the skits or pre-packaged videos were legitimately entertaining (there were a couple of clunkers like the Orbitz gum bit with Verne Troyer from "Austin Powers" and "The Love Guru" that was just bizarre). And this awards show features some of the best categories ever, including Best Fight, Best Kiss, Best Villain, and my personal favorite, Best Summer Movie So Far... you know, stuff that people actually talk about after seeing a movie.

It didn't matter that all the winners were from teeny-bopper movies that I had never seen, the show got all the credibility it needed by giving two awards to uber-star Johnny Depp, who received the biggest reaction from the audience both times he ambled out on the stage to pickup his popcorn statue. Who cares that it was a stretch that he won for Best Comedic Performance (he even seemed surprised), I was more concerned with the fact that he was born in Kentucky and now somehow has a British accent. Also, the show landed some extra cred by getting Coldplay to perform their first ever live performance of the title track from their new album, "Viva La Vida" which drops later this month.

All of that was good and great but here were my top three highlights of the night:

3. Mike Myers and Dana Carvey in the "Wayne's World" skit.

Um... WOW.

Apparently the two had a big falling out in the mid to late 90's over a Lorne Michaels inspired character that Myers obviously used as Dr. Evil in his "Austin Powers" trilogy so it was, well, Excellent! to see them together again in one of my favorite "SNL" sketches of all time. And yes, it did make me feel old as hell that half of the younger audience had no idea who these characters were.

2. Adam Sandler's tribute to himself. I've been planning a Sandler themed column to write when his new film "You Don't Mess With the Zohan" or "Don't Mess With the Zohan" or whatever it's called comes out so I will keep my comments about him brief here but again, this is why this particular award show was better than most. This was technically a lifetime achievement/generational award or something and those are always brutally long and boring during real award ceremonies but this was great. Tom Cruise introduced him and instead of a watered-down speech, Sandler brought out his guitar and sang Carly Simon's "Nobody Does it Better" (from the "Spy Who Loved Me" James Bond movie) to HIMSELF. And yes, it did make me feel old as hell that Adam Sandler was receiving a life time achievement award.

3. Ben Stiller, Jack Black, and Robert Downey Jr. trying to film an internet video that will (A) promote their new movie "Tropic Thunder" and (B) impress Stiller's teen-aged nephew, who has seen it all when it comes to media spectacles. From Stiller and Downey's passive-aggressive interplay to Downey beating the life out of Black (wearing a giant Panda head from his other upcoming summer flick "Kung Fu Panda"), I literally had to pause the DVR because I was laughing so hard. These three are great together this year and they even stole the show at the "American Idol" finale as they provided back-up vocals and dance moves to Gladys Knight on one of my Top 3 favorite songs of all-time ("Midnight Train to Georgia"). A lot of people are down on "Tropic Thunder" but I can not wait. If you don't get the fact that Downey is trying to pull something off that hasn't been effectively done since Peter Sellers than please don't buy a ticket and then complain about it afterwards.

Ok, so now reading this back, this event was basically just a Josh Mahler love fest featuring guys like Myers, Carvey, Sandler, Stiller, Black, and Downey. Maybe this was just one of those shows that connected with some one like me because I actually knew the people on the stage (I did have to ask my Girlfriend who Chris Brown was) and they were genuinely funny to me.

The show started at 8 p.m. and ended promptly at 10. I was never bored or restless and I turned off the television satisfied and entertained. The truly sad part is now I will actually tune into another Emmy's or Oscars or Grammy's or whatever and will be looking for the same thing that I got last night.

Sometimes, in cases like this, there is nothing worse than hope; but it was fun while it lasted.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Carbonated Confessions

Everyone has a vice.

We all have the one thing that we spend way too much time and money on and are really not that good for us in the end. For some people it's as serious as gambling or smoking. For others it's as simple as video games or shopping; but no one is immune, we all have something.

For me, it's soft drinks.

We all know that I have a well documented love affair with Vanilla Coke (which was cruelly pulled from the shelves for over a year but has since made a triumphant return), but that's just the beginning.

I've always been like one of those snobby wine aficionados that enjoys only a specific selection of sodas and turns my nose up at any less superior offerings. In my opinion, a soda should be experienced, not simply guzzled while at a picnic or ball game.

There are only a few, very particular sodas that I will drink, and they are (in order): (1) Vanilla Coke, (2) Mr. Pibb, (3) Dr. Pepper, (4) Pepsi and (5) Cherry Coke or Pepsi (I do have a couple of special occasion sodas: I will drink 7-Up when I am sick and, oddly enough, I will sometimes have a Diet Pepsi when eating Chinese food – It makes sense in my world, baby). I will spare you the romantic details as to why I like each one but the moral of the story is that's the list. Don't even think about trying to slip a regular Coke or a Sprite pass me; it's not going to happen.

As I'm sure you know, there aren't many dining establishments that carry Vanilla Coke or Mr. Pibb (the ones that do become personal favorites and regular haunts) and I am fortunate that while Dr. Pepper is typically paired with Pepsi products in the greater Hampton Roads area (grocery stores, many dine-in restaurants), it is often available at many regional Coke-only venues (Wendy's, McDonald's, etc.).

Such was not the case this past weekend, however.

For the first time since I have lived in Chesapeake, Virginia (almost 15 years, now), I attended the Chesapeake Jubilee. For those of you unfamiliar with this local annual event, it's just a traditional carnival/county fair complete with caged animals, arts & crafts, and overpriced rides and other amusements.

It's basically every thing that I would put on the "con" list of being an American.

As much I tried to be a good sport, the whole carnival experience was starting to wear thin after about an hour and I was ready to leave. Naturally, we had a half-hour walk back to my car so I wanted a soda for the journey and began searching for one of my favorites amongst the throng of vendors.

I was seeing a lot of regular Coke and thought I had a decent shot at landing a Mr. Pibb somewhere but then like a beacon in the night, I saw a Pepsi logo and decided to settle.

"I'll take a medium Pepsi," I said to the vendor.

"Sorry," she said, "We're not allowed to sell Pepsi here. The Jubilee has a contract with Coke."


This legitimately confounded me because I could see the Pepsi AND Dr. Pepper fountain dispenser behind her. She had Pepsi. I had willing money. But she couldn't serve it to me because of a contractual agreement?


I wasn't deterred until I began looking closely at each stand and only saw the same options over and over again.

Coke, Diet Coke, and Sprite. Coke, Diet Coke, and Sprite. Coke, Diet Coke, and Sprite.

What maddening hell had I wandered into?

I mean I get these exclusive contracts, but there are other soft drinks in the Coca-Cola catalog they could trot out at events like this. Somewhere there had to be at least a Dr. Pepper and I was going to find it. I checked every vendor on the grounds and from what I could see, those where the only three choices on the entire lot.

In a flare of righteous anger, I thought about writing a letter to the Jubilee but then realized that soda selection would only be the least of my frustrations. And then I thought about opening up an "alternative" soda stand next year but then realized that would require me to actually be at the Jubilee again.

So I made the trek back to my car under the hot sun, parched in my principles.

The weekend was redeemed, however, as I was picking up a few things in Target on Sunday evening and found a special on a 12 pack of Vanilla Coke. Maybe it’s just the trauma of the Jubilee fiasco, but somehow this batch seems better than usual; making the wait now worthwhile.

Discriminating taste never tasted so good.

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Rules

A couple of weeks I ago I was wandering around the local Barnes & Noble when a book titled “The Rules: A Man’s Guide to Life” caught my eye. Basically it is a book of 668 simply stated rules and guidelines for every man to live by that was complied by a bunch of writers and editors from “Esquire” magazine.

At first, I thought it was nothing more than a humorous take on life (Rule No. 18: No talking at the urinals. Rule No. 23: If you become annoyed with a telephone customer-service representative, be aware that the words “I’d like to speak to your supervisor” are generally understood to mean “I’d like to speak to your friend in the next cubicle who will pretend to be your supervisor.” Just so you know. Rule No. 347: Captain Crunch should be Admiral by now.)

Then, I became increasingly surprised with how much I agreed with most everything that was included (Rule No. 63: People with state pride are to be strictly avoided. Rule No. 75: The ampersand should be more popular. Rule No. 518: Something probably happened in Delaware but nobody knows what that its, not even people in Delaware.)

And by the end, I was beginning to think that I had written the book myself (Rule No. 160: No straws. Rule No. 310: Never wave at a video camera. Rule No. 491: Scoreboard races demean us all.)

Actually, in the whole book, there was only rule that disappointed me. Rule No. 125: Nobody named “Josh” is over 35. Seriously? Because “Joshua” sounds like an old preacher man that would offer you a place to stay while you cross the Oregon Trail.

I’ll take my chances with “Josh”, thanks.

But other than that, I really believe that if we could get just half of the world to live by just half of these rules, country line dancing clubs would go out of business, there wouldn’t be any more obtrusive advertisements all over every corner of the screen during your favorite TV shows, and there would never be another movie starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

As good as the book was, however, it just didn’t feel complete; so I had to add a couple of Rules of my own (please feel free to add any that you can think of as well). NOTE: A couple of mine will be familiar to those who have read my stuff over the past couple of years but I had to get them on the record as official Rules.

So, here ya go.

Rule No. 669: You can’t get a ticket for driving through green light so why are you putting on your breaks?

Rule No. 670: It’s always “water, no lemon”.

Rule No. 671: Every time you have to sit at a reception waiting for the bridal party to finish taking pictures, you lose precisely 14% of your will to live.

Rule No. 672: Do not plan your wedding for the same day as a major sporting event.

Rule No. 673: Just go with July or August to be on the safe side.

Rule No. 674: There are exactly 82 real New York Yankee fans, 56 real Dallas Cowboys fans, and 35 real L.A. Lakers fans in the world right now.

Rule No. 675: Never take a pink Starburst candy unless it’s offered to you.

Rule No. 676: And even then you have to respond with a sincere “are you sure?”

Rule No. 677: Don’t wait until it’s your turn at the front of the line at a busy coffee shop, concession stand, or fast-food restaurant to look at the menu for the first time.

And finally, and maybe most importantly:

Rule No. 678: When you have 47 pennies that means you have 47 CENTS, not 47 cent. Failure to use the plural form will result in a public stoning.

That’s all I have for now but this is something that I feel will be regularly revisited and updated.

Did I leave anything out?

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Learning to Love Again (or The Hour of Power)

Anyone that really knows me will remember that I was in a very serious relationship when I was a student at Christopher Newport University from 1999-2001. It was a great relationship, we had a lot of fun, we really only got to see each other once a week or so, and back then I thought it would last forever.

It ended however – as many college relationship do – and the sting of that break-up has lasted with me through the years; so much so that I have had trouble letting down my guard and letting go of my heart ever since.

Ladies and gentlemen, that all changed last night as I’m proud to announce that I have found a new weekly TV group.

(What did you think I was talking about?)

Back at CNU, a bunch of us would get together on Thursday nights for “Friends” at 8:00 p.m. and then “Frasier” at nine and to this day, those nights together are still on my Top 10 Greatest Memories of My Life list. There’s just something about a group that makes a show better. The jokes are funnier, the drama is more suspenseful, everything just seems to “pop” a little more than when you watch it by yourself.

Thinking I could never recapture the magic, I have actively stayed away from getting involved with another TV group but this new one came to me more that I came to it.

If you have read any of my stuff at all over the past few months, you know that I’m a big fan of the CBS sitcoms, “The Big Bang Theory” and “How I Met Your Mother”; and since CBS is apparently mentally unstable, “HIMYM” has yet to officially be picked up for next season, so I’ve been on a personal campaign to get people to watch because (A) selfishly, I want the show to return and (B) I really do feel like it is the best show on TV right now and people are missing out.

Of course the writers’ strike happened and derailed everything but when the shows came back on the air, there started to be some rumblings amongst my friends about trying to get together to watch on Monday nights. My Girlfriend and I have been big fans of both shows since the beginning but in a weekly TV group, you obviously need more than that. Fortunately, the Britney episode last week got some of our other friends interested and in some cases, re-interested in the show, so this seemed like the perfect week to try a test run for a group watch.

There were about eight of us and we all met at my buddy Paul’s house and I have to say that the night was glorious.

I was a little nervous a couple of weeks ago when CBS announced that “Theory” and “HIMYM” would be swapping timeslots (“Theory” now airs at 8:00 p.m. and “HIMYM” follows at 8:30 – before the strike, they were swapped) because networks have beaten people like me into believing the hype that the 8:00 show is the “anchor” show of the hour. A lot of people (including myself) felt like this move was a slap in the face to “HIMYM” because they’ve been on longer and this is just “Theory’s” first season.

But I have to give credit to Paul. He was excited about the move because he feels like “Theory” serves as the perfect lead-in for “HIMYM”. He used the analogy that “Theory” is like a warm-up comedian and after three weeks of the change, I think that is very accurate.

And this is nothing against “Theory”, it is a brilliantly written show and I’ve already realized that over time it could actually be one of my favorites (I’m such a sucker for sitcoms about pompous intellectuals, read: “Frasier”), but it is still finding its way. Also, I can’t quite put my finger on it, but it seems to have a little bit more of a generic, mass appeal to it than “HIMYM”. A
gain, that’s not an insult, I don’t mean “generic” in a negative sense. “Friends” and “Cheers” were the same way and they are legendary shows.

“HIMYM” definitely has more of a cult feel for some reason and you really do have to follow it week-in and week-out to get the full experience, where as you can just hop into a “Theory” ep and catch up quickly.

That's the difference.

Regardless, the night was great and the shows were great and the more I think about it, that might have been the best “HIMYM” ever or maybe the great group dynamic is just coloring my judgment.

“Theory” was the perfect appetizer but every week I keep waiting for the episode to be epic and really launch the show into greatness. That didn't happen again this week, but still a solid outing. It’s probably better that I’m not running the show, because I probably would have Penny and Howard hooked up by now and the show would be out of gas by the third season (i.e. “Desperate Housewives” and “Grey’s Anatomy”).

The producers are being smart and letting the characters grow naturally. It’s been a little eerie how many ways “Theory’s” freshman season reminds me of the first season of “Frasier”.

Not a bad playbook to follow I guess.

“HIMYM” was off the charts awesome last night and since there’s no possible way to rank the moments, I will just list a couple of my favorites:

- Of course I loved the whole NCAA basketball tourney parallel and they PERFECTLY capped it off with the “One Shining Moment” montage at the end.

- The fight between the group over which of Barney’s conquests was worse. From “12 hours to live girl” to Ted’s emphatic feelings about “fake baby”, it was HI-larious.

- The nod to Neil Patrick Harris’ former series, “Doogie Howser, M.D.” at the end of the show with the “Doogie” music playing while Harris’ new character Barney was typing on his laptop.

- The way that they left it with a cliff hanger for Barney! I legitimately can’t wait for the next episode (which won’t be for another two weeks because of the NCAA championship game this coming Monday night).

This ep was also a great way for “HIMYM” to follow up last week’s ratings boon. Last week was solely centered around Ted and was kinda serious. This week was all about Barney and the group (Ted actually took a pretty reserved back seat) and really showed the series’ light and fun side.

Great move by the producers.

I know there’s only like five or six new episodes this season and there is still a dumb chance that “HIMYM” doesn’t get picked up for the fall, but it doesn’t matter to me.

I’m so happy to be in a weekly TV group once more, watching two shows that I really do like. And just like the beginning of a any new relationship, it is fun learning how to love again.

Monday, March 24, 2008

I Just Feel Sorry For You

I just got done watching the greatly appreciated Britney Spears episode of "How I Met Your Mother" and I couldn’t help but notice a few things along the way:

1. There is obviously a lot of things going on behind the scenes with the show right now. CBS has been looking for a justifiable reason to cancel the show and the show’s creators and executive producers (Carter Bays and Craig Thomas - two guys I worked for at Letterman) responded by pulling the ultimate stunt casting move of all time by bringing in Britney Spears and Sarah Chalke from "Scrubs" (PS - it has been awesome to see the show getting so much attention on websites and on magazine covers the past week. It’s just a shame it’s not because of how great the show is but whatever).

2. In the first three years of the show this was the first episode written by Carter, Craig, and Chris Harris (another Letterman writer that they brought over to "HIMYM") and this was only the fifth episode written by Carter and Craig in the last two years. To me this says that they were taking this ep very seriously and they knew there was a lot riding on it. They knew that with having Britney and Sarah there was potential for it to get out of control in the wrong hands and they even brought in Chris to help keep it grounded. I could be reading waaaay too much into this but that instantly struck me when I saw the writing credits at the beginning of the show.

3. Britney was actually kind of funny. The dialogue overall felt a little forced at times and first 20 minutes of the episode were kind of awkward because it featured so much of Ted, Sarah (playing Ted’s dermatologist), and Britney (playing the office receptionist) and relegated the rest of the (stellar) cast to a complete supporting role but that leads me to...

4. How it was all worth it for the "two minute date" at the very end. That was completely epic and one of the creative sitcom moments I have ever seen. Did you also notice that there were NO edits in that scene? Amazing.

5. And that leads me to my fifth and final point. For the last three years I have been killing myself telling people about this show and trying to get people to watch. For whatever reason people don’t and it will probably get cancelled. People will keep complaining that there’s nothing good on television and CBS will continue failing to connect with younger viewers because they couldn’t realize that they had something there to pave the way all this time. But after seeing that "two minute date", I just felt sorry for everyone that didn’t get to see it. Instead of feeling sorry for myself for liking yet another show that will be prematurely axed, I was proud that I have been there along and I got to witness something truly special.

The ratings will come out tomorrow around 12:00 p.m. EST and hopefully the Britney cameo and media pub will give it a little spike. A 7.2 rating/12 share would be awesome, however unlikely, but something like a 6.6/10 would have to get the attention of CBS (the show has consistently been in the 4.8/7 - 5.9/9 range for the last two seasons).

I actually think next week’s ratings - without Britney - will have more to do with the hope of future seasons.

But I honestly don’t care anymore. All the emphasis going into tonight was on Brit (and she delivered) but Carter and Craig knew that they needed something more to keep people coming back next week and that’s why we got the "two minute date" and that kind of thinking has been the driving force to the continual brilliance of the show.

Watch or don’t, it doesn’t matter anymore.

I did and you missed it.

My New Best Friend

I have a new best friend.

My sincerest apologies to everyone who has considered themselves to be my closest companion (and believe me, there are many) but a new relationship has blossomed in my life and I have to follow my heart.

Its official name is “global positioning system navigation unit”.

Many people know it as “GPS”.

I now know it as “BFF”.

I know I’m probably a couple years late getting on board with this one but I don’t care; this thing has legitimately changed my life.

Last weekend my buddy Kevin was planning to go up to Philadelphia to visit some family. He didn’t want to make the trip alone so he said that if my Girlfriend and I went up with him on Friday, we could have take his car into the city on Saturday while he was hanging out with his fam.

We were staying with Kevin’s aunt and uncle (who live outside the city) and when we arrived to their house on Friday night, his uncle said that we could use his GPS to help us get around town the next day. I was very reluctant at first because I happen to very proud of a little something that I like to call my “IPS” or Internal Positioning System.

Seriously, there’s not much that I really excel in, but for whatever reason, I’ve always been kind of freakishly good at knowing where I am and finding my way around unfamiliar places.

Like I’m borderline amazing.

Being the obsessive compulsive that I am, I went to bed that night secretly hoping that Kevin’s uncle would forget all about this GPS nonsense and we almost got out of the house the next morning without it (believe me, I was trying) before he remembered to give it to us.

Of course my Girlfriend was instantly enamored with the new technology and turned it on and began playing with it. We were greeted by a synthetic woman’s voice that instantly began barking out directions and as the blood raced to my head, all I could think was, “Great, now I have TWO women telling me how to drive.”

Before we went to the city, I had planned on taking my Girlfriend into Levittown, PA – my dad’s hometown – and I called my folks from the car to get the address of the house where dad grew up.

Even though I was supremely confident in my abilities to find the house on my own, my Girlfriend took it upon herself to enter the address into the GPS and suddenly the woman’s voice began telling me what lane to be in and when to exit and when to take a sip of my coffee.

I was ready to throw it out the window when I realized two very important things: (1) It wasn’t my property to destroy and (2) I wasn’t that stressed trying to find the house because the stupid thing was actually doing a really good job.

Without breaking a sweat, the GPS got us right to my dad’s old house and I have to believe it also saved us from a disastrous argument that would have resulted in a half hour of tense silence and me begrudgingly stopping somewhere to ask for directions.

From Levittown, we were then able to enter in the location of Geno’s Steaks (the famous downtown Philly cheese steak stand) and even though I had a general idea of where I was going, the GPS got us there easily and I was never panicked while fighting the intricate downtown traffic.

After grabbing a bite to eat at Geno’s we plugged in the directions to the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall area and it was during that trip that I realized the greatest GPS benefit of all: I now had something besides myself to get mad at if we ever did get lost.

A mental life saver for any man.

We found a parking lot and began walking over to the Liberty Bell when we couldn’t help but feel a little turned around on the streets.

My Girlfriend joked, “They need to make a GPS for walking.”

It was in that moment, as I was already beginning to feel the disoriented feeling of confusion, that I knew I was falling in love.

When we got back to Kevin’s uncle’s house later that night, I found myself handing over the GPS as timidly as I had taken it; but now for a completely different reason.

So as it stands now, we are currently separated but I can’t help but dream of the day when we will be reunited and I will once again follow that sweet soulless voice of technology.

Until then, my friend.

Until then.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Fight Club

I caught a lot of flack for the “happy ending” to my column a couple of weeks about my Girlfriend and I chasing down a copy of the “Jesse James” DVD. It is never my intent to offend anyone so I would like to publicly apologize for our happiness and trying to shove it down everyone’s throat.

Life is not always Vanilla Coke and roses for us, so I thought I would try to balance out the sappiness of that column with a tale of horror and despair regarding our relationship.

The only annoying problem was that I couldn’t come up with anything.

My Girlfriend and I really don’t ever fight or get into arguments about anything serious (a main reason we got together). Sure, we have our differences and disagreements but we’ve always believed that if you really don’t want to take the time and energy it requires to fight and subsequently apologize, then you shouldn’t have to.

Call us crazy.

The truly bizarre phenomenon in our relationship, however, is that while we don’t argue about anything of substance, we have apocalyptic battles over the most ridiculous topics. While other couples struggle with things like communication, family problems and finances, we have almost broken up because of trivial issues like card games, women’s basketball, and walnuts.

Yes, walnuts.

Case in point: we lived through an episode recently that took the cake. Blood was almost shed, cops were almost called, and straight jackets were almost necessary.

We had just gotten into the car after seeing the new movie “Vantage Point” (set entirely in Spain) when the following exchange took place word-for-word:

Her: Why do the movies always make Hispanic men more attractive than Mexican men?

(Instead of questioning why she was contemplating the attractiveness of other men, I chose the road less traveled)

Me: What??

Her: In movies, Hispanic men are always more attractive than Mexican men.

(As crazed confusion began to seize my brain, the car and road around me now appeared to be spinning)

Me: What are you talking about? Mexican men are Hispanic! They’re the same thing!

Her: No they’re not. Mexican men are from Mexico and Hispanics are from Spain.

(It’s usually me that lets things escalate. Fortunately for us, I stayed true to form here)

Me: WHAT?? Mexican and Hispanic mean the same thing for people from Mexico. Spanish people are from Spain!

Her: Spanish is a language, not people!

Me: Are you kidding me?!

(At this point, I was questioning my entire existence so I did not clearly think through what I was about to say next. My girlfriend has yet to let me forget it).

Me: People from Spain are called… Spaniards!

(Yikes. Here it comes)

Her: SPANIARDS?? Maybe in the 16th Century!

(Yep, I walked into that one)

Her: Besides, you don’t call people from England “English”!


(Now we are officially yelling and it only took us 47 seconds. Our personal best)



Grasping for sanity, I gathered my wits and called my aunt – who is a high school Spanish teacher – to settle the dispute.

Turns out we were both kind of right.

Apparently, the term “Hispanic” used to refer to people from Hispania (modern day Spain, Portugal, Andorra, Gibraltar, and a small part of southern France). It now refers to anyone who speaks Spanish, and specifically, people groups in Latin America.

So she was right.

But, it should also be noted, that people from Spain can be referred to as Spanish – or more formerly, SPANIARDS!

So I was right too.

Since we had both been mildly validated, a new set of complications arose as neither one of us was about to concede the argument now. We spent the rest of the evening festering and annoyed.

There you go.

No happy ending. No mushy wrap-up. We are just as flawed a couple as anyone else, if not more so.

And for those of you worried that I might get in trouble when my Girlfriend reads this, don’t worry; this is way too legitimate of a subject for us to squabble over.

Knowing us, our next fight will probably be over something really important like song lyrics or free-falling rollercoaster rides or dogs wearing pajamas or…

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Weekly Entertainment Report (3/6/08)

> If John Travolta Mated With a Muppet
I read one "American Idol" recap that declared Jason Castro's performance of "Hallelujah" on Tuesday night so amazing that we will be talking about it for years to come. I think I'm missing something. I mean, it was good but I enjoyed David Cook's rock/emo cover of "Hello" and Michael John's "Don't Forget About Me" a whole lot more.

I like Castro but all I can think about whenever I see him is that if this guy mated with this guy we would end up with Jason.

It's just too creepy.

Other than the names I mentioned, I really am bored watching the other guys at this point. Even WonderKid David Archuleta was a little dull this week. And he better calm down with his whole "I picked this song because it has a good message about helping homeless people" thing. No one wants a contestant to be that perfect. He needs a little edge or the rest of us mere mortals will turn on him eventually.

As far as the girls, there are five that I legitimately like and would enjoy watching their careers grow over the coming years (in no particular order: Syesha, Carly, Kristy Lee, Kady, and Brooke). Unfortunately I have a bad feeling that one of them, if not two, will be going home this week. Kady somehow avoided elimination last week and I was hoping for something big from her to gain some momentum last night. Her performance wasn't necessarily bad but it wasn't life-altering, which it had to be, so I think it might be the end of the road for her tonight. I was also hoping for another bad performance from Amanda to get her off the show as well but she actually did come through with one of the night's best outings. If she sticks around, it could be bad news from Kristy Lee, who was actually really good with the country twist that she put on Journey's "Faithfully"; but like Simon pointed out: she wasn't memorable enough, so she could be in trouble if Amanda gains in the voting.

Who I want to go home: Definitely Luke Menard and any one of David H., Danny N., or Chikezie from the guys and I would love to see Amanda and Ramiele get ousted from the girls, but I honestly don't see either one leaving.

Who I think is going home: Definitely Luke and I'm going to say Chikezie from the guys and unfortunately Kady and Kristy Lee from the girls.

I still can't believe that I've gone 3-for-4 the last two weeks so I hope this is the week I'm totally wrong... In regards to the girls that is.

> Semi-Pro is only Semi-Funny
I was so excited about Will Ferrell's new movie "Semi-Pro" which opened last weekend; so excited in fact that I attended the midnight premiere last Thursday night with my buddies Gray and Kevin.
The movie has been met with tepid reviews and a poor opening box office and sadly, I'm not too surprised. While Will Ferrell could make me laugh reading the phone book, the film's "R" rating took his typical outrageous, yet controlled style found in his usual "PG-13" fare to just plain outrageous levels that just got old after about 45 minutes.

I kept trying to make myself like the movie and whenever you find yourself forcing an emotion like that, you eventually have to accept the inevitable truth that... on second thought, scratch that, Ferrell is still king, baby!!

> All Aboard!
We try to keep things clean here on "The Pop and Culture Show" as much as possible, so I am not going to post the brand new uncut, R-rated trailer of Seth Rogen's new film "Pineapple Express" (opens August 8). In fact, I'm going to further appease my hypocritical conscience by not even providing the link; but if you want to go find it, I definitely recommend it.


You know what? Now that I'm thinking about Ferrell and Rogen, I really want to expand this discussion on tonight's show (check us out at midnight tonight on 88.7FM WFOS or look for the rebroadcast of the show tomorrow right here on our myspace page).

So I want to hear from you now to help us with that topic tonight. Who is currently reigning as the King of Comedy in Hollywood??

Is it Ferrell or is it Rogen?

Or is it someone else all together?? Let me know what you think...

Monday, March 3, 2008

I Know, I Know...

I know that I’m supposed to write a regular formatted column on Mondays but with everything that has gone on in the past few days in regards to the Oscars column I wrote last Thursday, I couldn’t resist posting a few more thoughts.

If you haven’t gotten a chance to read it yet, here is the link (it's long, so pace yourself). As you can see below the actual column, there were some interesting comments posted by my good friends Paul and Heidi (along with a lengthy response from me to Paul’s comment). I was really excited when I saw Paul’s comments because I had not gone into as much depth as I wanted to because I was afraid it was going too long; but when someone was challenging me on it, I was stoked to have the opportunity to keep going.

Needless to say, beyond that posting, I have also received other spirited emails and phone calls the past few days, so I did just want to revisit the subject one last time before I move on.

Paul and I have actually had multiple discussions beyond the comments posted and he conceded some points and I conceded some points and we actually realized we really weren’t that far off in our thinking. I thought Heidi’s comments were excellent and probably represent the majority of most people’s feelings towards the Oscars.

But I want to hear from everyone else.

What are your thoughts on the Oscars? Do you care who wins best picture anymore (if ever)? Do you try to see Oscar nominated films? Have the Oscar pictures gotten too artsy and independent for you or do you really enjoy Oscar-type films?

I came to a realization during my many conversations I had with many different people over the weekend and this will be my last point.

One thing Paul was absolutely correct on was when he challenged me to name five “mainstream” films from last year that should or could have been nominated over the five that were.

I couldn’t do it.

For me, “Dan in Real Life”, “Knocked Up”, and “3:10 to Yuma” were the best films I saw last year and with the exception of maybe “Yuma”, none of the three are really "Oscar" films.

Heidi suggested “American Gangster”, “The Bourne Ultimatum”, and “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End”. All were big budget films produced by major studios and were heavily hyped and promoted prior to their release. I don’t think that it’s a stretch that in years past, any one of these could have been nominated, but here’s the thing: other than maybe “American Gangster”, never once did you feel like these films were on their way to being nominated this year.

This got me thinking and I couldn’t help but look up what studios produced the 2008 nominated films and I kind of got my answer to this whole issue.

Of the five nominated films this year, only one (“Michael Clayton”) was produced by one of the “Big Six” Hollywood studios (Columbia, 20th Century Fox, Walt Disney/Touchstone, Warner Bros., Paramount, and Universal).

The other four nominated films were all produced by the arthouse/indie subsidiaries of each studio. “No Country for Old Men” was produced by Paramount Vantage (subsidiary of Paramount) along with Miramax, “Atonement” by Focus Features (Universal), “Juno” by Fox Searchlight (20th Century Fox), and “There Will Be Blood” was also produced by Paramount Vantage (“Michael Clayton” was produced by 20th Century Fox).

This is a big shift when you think that in 2003 (not that long ago), only one of the five nominated films wasn’t produced by a major studio (“Lost in Translation”) – and I know that there have always been smaller studios producing Oscar nominated films and there has never been a year when only blockbusters have been nominated.

But this was my realization: maybe the major studios aren’t even trying to make Oscar nominated films anymore. Now that they’ve firmly established these productive arthouse subsidiaries that are credible combined with the trend of big name actors looking for “Oscar” roles, the big studios seem content to just focus on cranking out the big budget blockbusters.

It’s something to keep an eye on.

Paul wanted to see all five nominated films this year and for the most part enjoyed them. He said it was cool to see a pseudo-slasher film take home Best Picture. I, personally, had no interest in the majority of the nominated films this year. I don’t get the other growing trend with recent Best Picture films that you have to been grim and violent to win.

Does all of this diminish the quality of these films or their qualifications to be recognized?

Absolutely not.

But for someone like me, this is going to be a tough trend to swallow on Oscar nights in the future as well as when I try to go to the movie theater. As I mentioned before, I consider myself a discerning moviegoer so big budget fare like the “Spiderman” franchise isn’t going to get it done for me; but at the same time overly brooding and bleak movies aren’t what I’m looking for either.

The fact that films like “A Few Good Men”, “The Fugitive”, "Jerry Maguire" and “Quiz Show” could get an Oscar nomination in years past, it’s clear that there used to be a mainstream, yet sophisticated middle ground for moviegoers that is now fading away.