Wednesday, January 30, 2008
I've really been fascinated lately with the way people greet each other non-verbally and I've pretty much realized that it's usually by either a wave of the hand or nod of the head.
What's really got me perplexed is the nod of the head.
I've noticed that some people nod their head back with a kind of cool "what's up" greeting and others nod forward with a more respectful kind of "hello".
I want to write about this but I want it to be more than just my own personalize observations; I was going to just ask a couple of close friends and family about it (since they're used to my shenanigans) but figured, why not bother everyone I know with it?? And I do want to hear from everyone of every age, so if you received this email, I want to hear from YOU!
So please respond to the following:
How do you typically non-verbally greet other people?
A) A wave of the hand
B) Nod your head back in a cool, hip kind of way
C) Nod your head forward in a respectful, gentleman kind of way
BONUS - I'm now very aware of how I greet people, but don't know if I change my non-verbal greeting depending on who I am around; so if you can think about it, how do I, Josh Mahler, typically greet you??
Can't wait to hear from you all... Now, back to work!
Thursday, January 24, 2008
So yeah, we were excited.
Originally it was just going to be the two of us going to dinner and then we were planning to meet our friends Liz and Dave later to see the new movie, “27 Dresses” starring Katherine Heigl. As luck would have it, we found out that our good friends Chris and Michelle were planning on going to see that movie at the same time anyways, so we decided to all go together; and then there we were – three couples going to the movies.
The six of us were tying to pull off the rare Triple Date.
And, just for an added degree of difficulty, we were faced with the toughest issue that comes with Triple Date Goes to the Movies: the seating arrangements while in the theater.
Seriously, how do you do it? On the far more common Double Date, the group always sits Boy-Girl-Girl-Boy (unless of course the girls don’t know each other or are mortal enemies), but when you throw in another Boy and another Girl, the whole thing gets more convoluted than an Oliver Stone plot.
As I see it, here are your options:
Boy-Girl-Girl-Boy-Girl-Boy – This doesn’t work because the girls will all want to sit together.
Boy-Girl-Girl-Girl-Boy-Boy – This doesn’t work either because now you have a couple separated (in some cases, however, that’s probably not the worst idea).
Suddenly, I had an idea, nay a dream, and even though I knew there was no way the girls were going to go for it, I had to try. Ever so casually, I suggested having all the girls sit together in one Girl Row and all the guys sit together in a Boy Row behind them.
As a man going to a chick flick, you have to understand the vision of getting to sit with two other guys during a girly movie and being able to go all “Mystery Science Theater 3000” on it with no repercussions.
I would go down in history as a pioneer.
Now there is one fundamental problem to all of this and that is that girls actually LIKE to sit next to their guys during romantic movies just so that they can hold hands, or lay their heads on your shoulder during the mushy parts of the movie.
When it’s just the two of you, that’s certainly not the worst thing in the world.
But it is common knowledge that on a Double or Triple Date, the guys are always going to be left to fend for themselves, so I knew that I had an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make chick flicks a little bit better for every guy every where, and I took it.
Imagine my surprise when the girls not only didn’t devour me when I tossed out my revolutionary idea but actually kind of liked it as well (see, I told you they all want to sit next to each other).
And I have to admit that despite the scary levels of estrogen in the room, the whole experience really wasn’t that bad. Having our own Boy Row was amazing (and apparently disturbing to the rest of the theater as no one else tried to sit in our row), the films’ lead actresses Heigl and Malin Akerman are both easy on the eyes, and we finally got a romantic comedy where the male lead (in this case, James Marsden) wasn't a way-too-perfect, way-too-sensitive tool.
I’m talking to you Matthew McConaughey!
What was even more surprising than the girls allowing the Boy Row and the Girl Row was their reaction after the movie. I guess since the film was so girly, they actually felt bad for us for having to sit through it. So basically, we got to watch a half-decent movie filled with beautiful woman, sit in our row and make fun of it during the sappy parts, AND we came off looking like troopers for “suffering through” such an estrogen-induced romp.
I am a pioneer indeed.
The more I thought about it, I realized that given some time James Marsden’s performance in “Dresses” might actually make it into my Favorite Guys From a Romantic Comedy List. His character was cynical and sarcastic in a realistic way (Hmm… I wonder what made me like him) and ultimately made the movie bearable enough to get through.
My List has always been a short one and right now it's just Tom Hanks in “You’ve Got Mail” and Tom Hanks in “Sleepless in Seattle”. Hanks was a man’s man in those films and everyone else can just go home
Speaking of, can he please make another comedy someday soon?
Yes Tom, we know you are a legitimate actor, but somewhere in between your next war epic and human condition drama can’t you and Meg Ryan squeeze out another Nora Ephron comedy?
Anyways, maybe I'm just over looking some obvious choices; so let me know who your Favorite Guys From Romantic Comedies are and we'll compile them all together or rank them them or something.
Post your thoughts here or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
So to say that I was getting a little nervous would be a big understatement, but just like he always does, the Lord came out of nowhere and opened an unexpected door.
Starting today I am now the communications coordinator at my parents’ church, Apostles Lutheran; and in the history of things working out perfectly, this could not be any better. Basically I will be responsible for continuing to develop the church’s website and putting together the weekly church announcements and a small monthly newsletter. It’s nice because it’s something in my field and the best part is that it’s only 16 hours a week (it’s pays really well), so when things get figured out with the mag I will easily be able to do both; and/or freelance in the meantime.
It really is an answer to prayer because my biggest thing all along was that if I couldn’t do what I really wanted full-time, then I wanted to at least stay within my career field so that I could continue growing and improving as a professional. I’m actually really excited to start learning more about website development because after all, that is the undeniable future of all media forms.
Definitely wanted to say thank you to everyone for all your prayers and support, I know that something like this has been waaaay too long in coming, but I’m beginning to understand that sometimes you just have to hold on and ride the wave until something worth while comes along.
And finally, it did.
Thursday, January 17, 2008
One of the main reasons I have been able to get into a show like “Cheers” has been the absence of new television shows because of the on-going writers’ strike. I know I probably watch waaaay too much television so when I first realized that the strike was going to be a reality back in the fall, I had the fleeting thought that I would maybe use this time to read more, or start a new hobby, or maybe even hang out more often with actual human beings… Oh, silly me.
Instead, I’ve been plowing through more and more shows on DVD and getting more and more depressed about the lack of the new shows. Seriously, if I don’t get a new ep of “The Office” soon, I will be sending you these posts from an institution.
And then, the calendar finally rolled over to January and I knew that temporary relief was on its way. Just like a beacon in the night, we survived through the onslaught of cheesy holiday programming and were rewarded with something new, something fresh, something watchable… Ladies and gentlemen, “American Idol” is back.
And I’m happy to report that the two night premiere this week hasn’t disappointed at all. The contestants are just as crazy as ever, and it is just me, or does Simon appear nicer this year for some reason. You keep waiting for him to really land on someone but it just hasn’t happened yet. I know we’ve still got time but perhaps seven seasons of watching these loony toons have finally gotten to him and he just doesn’t care as much any more.
Also, it’s been no surprise that “Idol” dominated the ratings this week either. Though it was somewhat surprising that the numbers were down a little from last year’s opening, FOX has got to be stoked that right now “Idol” is really the only new thing on the air right now.
I can see some of the FOX executives in negotiations with the other producers and writers now: “Um, yeah… Why don’t we all just take a little break to cool down and let’s say we start trying to resolve this whole ‘strike’ thing again… Oh, I don’t know, how does June work for everyone?”
You can’t blame them for trying.
And you can’t blame me for using this post to also promote the return of the talk radio show that I co-host with my buddy Gray, “The Pop and Culture Show”.
We took a little break for the holidays but we are officially back on the airwaves tonight at midnight (so actually tomorrow, but you know what I mean) for an all new season of what’s going on in the arts and entertainment scene from Hollywood to Hampton Roads (how’s that for a tag?!)
You can tune in live on the radio at 88.7 FM locally or could listen to us live on the WFOS website http://eclipse.cps.k12.va.us/departments/radio/index.html (click the Live Audio Stream in the upper left hand corner) AND if you miss the show tonight, Gray will have the show up on our MySpace page, www.myspace.com/popandculture, sometime within the next 24 hours so check us out there too.
We will definitely be talking more about “Idol” on the show so tune in and tell your friends! And let me know what you think of "Idol" so far. You can leave a comment here or email me at email@example.com.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Show me that you care
And love's not just a flare on my sleeve
Sleep well, I pray that cardboard boxes,
Set the perfect stage.
'Cause wood grain makes all man made things seem so out of date
Life is not a play, it's what we
Make of the people we love.
(Uh, oh! We're going a little "Life of Josh" old school to start off here...)
On the Sunday before New Year's, my mom called to see if I knew that I was in the newspaper that day. I had no idea but apparently a couple of her friends from church had seen it so I raced home to check it out.
Sure enough, right there in our local Chesapeake community section, The Clipper, yours truly had been awarded a "Clippie Award" for being the editor of Inside Sports magazine and for hosting the Chesapeake-based pop culture radio show. Basically the "Clippies" are a great end-of-the-year feature that local arts and entertainment reporter Eric Feber puts together to honor locals that have done something creatively over the past year; and he was gracious enough to include me on the list for 2007.
Crazy enough, two things stood out to me when I read about myself and my work in the paper: (1) It was hard for me to realize that it was actually me that I was reading about because (2) everything written about me sounded so cool!
Like, I was reading it and wishing I could be that guy or at least know that I guy; I couldn't put it together that I WAS that guy.
And I guess that just comes with how tough the past year has been - I just haven't had a chance to really enjoy all that I've accomplished. But I guess in way that's been good; it's kept me humble and it's kept me focused.
That is just like my mom
Never lets go, never lets me grow old
I wanna pay her back
But love is nothing you can tax
My family’s not rich by any means
But I feel we won the lottery, that day
The really crazy thing is that even though there have been many moments where I feel like I'm making one huge mistake after another with my life, something happened last week that actually gave me some much needed perspective and peace.
My buddy Paul and I were driving back from a high school basketball game out in Suffolk and had, for once, ran out of things to talk about. I don't even know where it came from but just out of no where I asked Paul if he could go back in time 10 years and had just 10 seconds to give the 1998 version of himself some advice, what would it be?
Think about it, if you had a minute or even 30 seconds to visit with yourself 10 years ago, your past self would probably freak out before the time was up and there's no way he'd ever remember everything you said in that amount of time because of the shock. But if 2018 Josh dropped in for just 10 quick seconds and said something to me and then vanished, I think I would be startled enough to pay attention and heed any warnings.
It was actually a very interesting exercise in that at first, Paul couldn't really come up with any thing because everything he would say to his past self would ultimately affect where he is now; and that's when it hit me like a ton of bricks.
As miserable as I have been at times over the past year, given the opportunity to go back in time and change it, I would NOT try to change a thing. Every "mistake" I have made I have learned from substantially and I have never felt closer to the people I care about around me - why would I want to change that?
And that's why I posted this song today. The basic message has gotten me through a lot of tough times and sometimes, that's all you need.
That, and to be an award winning journalist.
Snails see the benefits
The beauty in every inch
So why, why, why, why, why
Are you quick to kiss?
Baby, maybe I spoke too soon
I’ll touch you once you make the first move
Snails see the benefits
The beauty in every inch, oh
Snails see the benefits
The beauty in every inch
PS - I want to hear from you! Given the chance, if you could go back 10 years in time and tell the 1998 version of yourself something in 10 seconds, what would you say??
(I think I finally came up with something like "be more aggressive for the things you want and don't work in daycare centers for so long".)
Monday, January 14, 2008
But here lately I've really wanted to get back to writing more columns and blogging more often, so I decided to create this little site so that you now can come to me. Think about that – I did more work creating this page than I would posting and emailing just so that I could be ultimately more lazy.
Those are the ABC’s of me, baby!
So I’m still trying to figure all of this out myself but here’s how I think it will work: whenever I post something, I will send out a quick email or post a MySpace bulletin letting you know about it with a link to the site so that you can get here quick. You can comment on a post by clicking on the “comments” link at the bottom of each entry and if you’re not a registered Google blogger, than just select the “Anonymous” option and you will be good to go (just be sure to leave your name at the end of your comment so I know who you are).
Also, I believe my five newest posts will be shown in their entirety on the right side of the page, so always feel free to scroll down in case you have missed something; and I believe that you can find all posts in the archive under that pretty picture of me to the left.
But then again, what do I know?As always, I appreciate all of your love and support and I’m really looking forward to hopefully entertaining you (or at least give you something to do when you’re bored) with my skewed perspectives about the world around me.
Hope to hear from you soon...
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
From the teams that I have played for to the teams that I have pulled for, my whole life in relation to sports has been marred by either great expectations that have fallen short or just bitter and utter failure.
I believe it all started on my sixth grade little league baseball team. We were a legitimate juggernaut and plowed through the regular season, easily wrapping up the No. 1 seed for the playoffs. I don’t know if we just got too cocky or simply ran out of gas, but were upset in the first round by the lowly No. 4 seed that we had already beaten twice that year.
It hasn’t gotten any better since.
Being a fan of all four major Philadelphia sports teams hasn’t helped my pursuit of a postseason parade either.
There was the infamous Joe Carter homerun against the Phillies in 1993, the Flyers were totally dominated by Detroit in the ’97 Stanley Cup Finals, the 2001 Sixers were the second notch on the Lakers’ three-peat belt and the ‘04 Eagles ran into the buzz saw that is the New England Patriots dynasty. So you can understand if I was beginning to take all the losing a little too personal.
And then fantasy football came along.
Back in the fall I wrote about the many different types of fantasy sports personalities and I finished by noting that while I’m still not sure what category I fit into, all I cared about was finishing the season as the champ.
Well, break out the champagne, baby!
After 27 years of sports-related disappointed, I’m proud to say that the Sam’s Town Killers (named after my favorite album from my favorite band) are the champions of the East Coast 10 fantasy football league.
While I usually spend the off-seasons planning and pining for next year, this was at last my year.
I actually felt pretty good about this team after draft night back in August. I once again had high expectations going into the season and that was only validated as I got off to a sizzling 5-0 start and stood alone in first place.
But then, almost on cue, I inexplicably went into a three game free fall and suddenly found myself having to fight for a playoff spot heading into the second half of the season instead of cruising towards one.
A couple of well-timed trades and waiver wire pick-ups got me back on the winning way and I won three straight before the wheels came off once again. I dropped two of my last three because of several key injuries and I limped into the playoffs as the fourth and final team.
In the semifinals however, my team seemingly banded together and responded with an improbable upset of the top seed; and then there I was, staring destiny straight in the face, as I prepared my team (and myself) for the title bout.
On championship day, I set up a makeshift media headquarters in my living room as I had my computer updating my league’s fantasy scores sitting next to my television that I kept flipping back and forth from channel to channel so that I could keep up with the most pertinent action of the moment.
We ended that Sunday tied and while all of my opponent’s players were already done, I still had Denver Broncos’ wide receiver Brandon Marshall left to go on Monday night, which just also happened to be Christmas Eve.
Despite needing only one point to win, I still spent the whole day Monday envisioning how I could still manage to lose. In our league, a wide receiver just needs 10 receiving yards for a single point and Marshall (who was by far my most consistent player this season) had yet to give me less than at least seven points in a game all year.
He would have to earn it again this week as the stifling San Diego defense came out strong and held him to five measly yards in the first half. My worst fears were beginning to consume me. My girlfriend groaned as she knew there was no chance of us being able to enjoy Christmas Eve until this was decided and she prepared for the worst as I paced the floor.
And then, sweet rapture.
Looking back now, I know that for as long as I live I will never forget the first time I sipped from glory’s cup. Midway through the third quarter the Broncos were faced with a third-and-three and I just had a feeling inside. And at precisely 10:03 p.m. (EST), Denver quarterback Jay Cutler dropped back to pass and hit Marshall on a slant route for a 15-yard gain and more importantly, my first championship ever.
A lot of people think that fanatics like me foolishly take fantasy sports too seriously and if I have to be honest with myself, they’re probably right. But my question is how is it any different than investing in a professional team and celebrating or commiserating depending on their outcomes?
At least with fantasy sports, there is some degree of personal involvement.
If one of my Philly teams ever win a title, I know that I will lose my mind and purchase every piece of championship memorabilia that I can get my hands on and will use phrases like “we are the champions” and “I can’t believe we finally did it” even though I will have had absolutely nothing to do with the team’s accomplishment.
But the Sam’s Town Killers, now that was all me.
I drafted the players, I pulled the trigger on the blockbuster trades, and I scoured the free agent list to put together this title team and because of it, my championship draught is officially over.
Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe nothing compares with following a team your whole life and then finally witness them achieve the ultimate goal; and thereby feel some sort of justification for aligning yourself with that city and those colors. I can’t wait to find out for sure, but for now I’m just going to enjoy the ignorant bliss.
They don’t call it “fantasy” football for nothing.
I was actually going that day to pick up the required pass for the building's parking garage and had to park in a metered spot right outside the building. I put enough coins in the meter to give myself just over a half hour, but, of course, there was a hold up with the pass inside, so I knew it was going to be close. I was only six minutes late and sure enough, there was a glorious $15 parking ticket waiting for me on my windshield when I returned.
Let the irony of that moment sink in... I got a $15 ticket while waiting to pick up a free parking pass.
A few nights later, I was leaving my Girlfriend's house and as I was pulling out of her driveway, I noticed that my car was kind of rumbling in ways that I'm definitely not used to. And when I changed gears to drive, it felt like the engine was about to stall out.
Alarmed, yet tired, I decided to just try and make it home (we only live a couple of miles away from each other) and deal with it the following morning; but the drive that ensued can only be described now as a Death-Defying-Broken-Down-Rollercoaster-Hell-Ride that to this day, I still have no idea how I lived through.
My car was herking and jerking so badly that I could only imagine myself in the middle of a cartoonish scene where the entire car falls apart around me and I'm just left sitting there in the middle of the road holding onto the steering wheel that is now attached to nothing.
It should be noted again that I know nothing about cars. Like I've always said, I know nothing about anything outside of sports and entertainment. I feel like I should apologize now to any future children that I ever have because while they won't know anything about politics, business, simple home or mechanical maintenance, etc., they will know invaluable information such as which television show won the 1995 Emmy award for Best Comedy Series or which team won Super Bowl XXIII.
"And the Father of the Year Award goes to…"
Fortunately, my Girlfriend's dad knows his way around a car and agreed to take a look at mine and my parents were gracious enough to let me borrow their Saturn station wagon while my car was being repaired.
Now, while I will never turn down such generosity, I must take a moment to state the painfully obvious truth that it is impossible to look cool behind the wheel of a station wagon. No matter how good you look outside, any coolness you possess decreases by at least five points once inside. So if you start off as a seven on the cool scale, you instantly become a two when you climb into a station wagon.
So yes, for me the numbers went negative.
The worst part about it was that while I was out the next day "cruising" towards work, I saw an Ex-Girlfriend out on the road. Everyone knows that the only thing that matters when running into an Ex is to have the appearance of having a better life than they do.
This is just social law.
And while I am perfectly content with my life right now, I hated that she saw me in a station wagon. You could be the CEO of a major company making six, seven figures and it wouldn't matter. When an Ex sees you in a station wagon, the only thing that they are thinking is, "Whew. Glad I got out of that one."
To add insult to serious injury, as I was on my way home that day (and by "on my way home" I literally mean "less than 30 seconds from my house") I was about to go through the last stop light before my neighborhood when I saw a car at the light on the right hand side waiting to turn onto the road I was on.
You can already see where this is going can't you?
I clearly had the green light, but I then see the car beginning to make the right on red, which would have been fine if he had just pulled into his lane – the one on the right hand side of the road (I was in the left lane).
Ah, to live in a land where things make sense.
But, no. He obviously didn't see me and started to drift into my lane and despite my best efforts to avoid him, he drifted right into me and my parents' station wagon.
So to update the old scoreboard for everyone at home, I'm sitting there in a traffic accident, in my parents' car because God only knows what's wrong with my car, and I still have to pay a $15 parking ticket for a FREE parking pass.
Yep, I was ready to blow it.
But as I marched over to his car, his door opened and I only felt disappointment as I knew my impending tirade would fall on deaf ears.
To say this guy was elderly would be a gross understatement because basically he was Father Time's father. And that's being generous.
I quickly gathered myself because the last thing I want when I'm that age is to have some jerk kid yelling at me, so while I knew I couldn't be "irate", I was still ready to be "displeased" until he shouted out the clinching, "Hold on… Let me get my cane!"
And you just can't get mad at that.
He actually turned out to be a really nice guy and was very apologetic for the incident. There was minimal damage but the arriving cop still had to issue him a citation, so as I got back into my car I felt like a bad guy even though I was technically the victim.
My Girlfriend's dad was able to fix my car the following day and it has been running fine ever since and things have seemed to quiet down for the most part the past week; except that the other day the Check Engine light came on my dashboard for no apparent reason other than to mock me.
They call all of this technology "progress"; and that's exactly what it is… progress towards a heart attack.
It's not that I'm lazy or procrastinate (well, I mean I don't procrastinate in this particular area), it's just that for the past five years or so, there's just not been a whole lot of material things that I've wanted. When I was a kid, a G.I. Joe tank, a Lego set, or a video game was all I needed under the Christmas tree but I've obviously outgrown those things (except of course for the video games) and now my Wish List contains more, shall we say, "expensive" items like a six figure salary or a brand new Jeep Wrangler.
Try and fit those into your little sack, Santa.
I already have all the newest electronics that I've wanted and I've never been too big on asking for clothes as a gift because I'm the guy that's still trying to get sweatshirts included as a legitimate option of "Dressy Casual" to catch on.
A couple of months ago I honestly had no idea what I wanted for Christmas and was beginning to think that this might be the first year that I just didn't ask for anything. I didn't want any of my family or friends to waste time and money on me for things I didn't really want or need.
And then a buddy of mine gave me the greatest idea ever.
He said that every year he just has his family go in together to purchase him the entire NFL football package on satellite TV; and even though he sacrifices opening a gift on Christmas morning, he gets to watch every pro football game that is televised for the entire football season
How did I not think of this first?
I was surprised how receptive my family was to the idea (I think they're just tired of waiting for me to come up with something) but they kept reminding me that if I did decide on the football package, that would be it; there would be nothing else from them come December 25.
Willing to try anything once, I rolled the dice and took the plunge. I was sacrificing my right as a middle-class American to open gifts on Christmas morning for television and football? Two of my favorite things, mind you, but still a risk.
What pushed me over the top was really just one factor. I can't stand being stuck with the games that the local affiliates air based on what they consider to have the most regional interest. There has been absolutely nothing more annoying to me than having to decide whether to go plunk $25 down at a restaurant to watch the best game of the week or just follow the score online at home because the only choice I have is the Redskins-Panthers on one channel or the Ravens-Jets on the other.
Um? I'll take: C) There are no winners here.
On the first Sunday of the season, I just spent the afternoon in awe. I wasn't just a kid in a candy shop, I had the keys to the whole factory. It was almost too overwhelming because I didn't know how long to stay with one game and then I felt like I wasn't staying long enough because I wound up missing some big plays.
After telling my parents how much I enjoyed the day, my thoughtful mom couldn't help but continue to worry that I would eventually regret the decision. It probably wasn't until about week four when she asked again that I realized that this really was the perfect Christmas present.
Usually on Christmas morning you receive a gift, appreciate it, enjoy it, and begin to use it or wear it or whatever; but you really only have that one initial moment of opening it and experiencing it for the first time. Having the football TV package this year has been like having that moment every Sunday for 17 weeks.
And I wasn't even ready for the most amazing added bonus of all. Beyond getting to see every good game and not having to sit through a bad one each week, I have yet to see a commercial all season long. When the game I'm watching goes to a break, I'm off to another channel. I've even gotten to the point where I don't really even sit through a team huddle anymore. As soon as the current play is whistled dead, I've mastered the timing to where I can check in with at least two more match-ups before the team lines up for their next play.
I am now the poster child for Attention Deficit Disorder.
For the first time in my life I've seen every key game, every big play, and every overtime thriller of the season, all in the comfort of my own home. I'm proud to say that my gamble has paid off epically and even though I will have nothing to unwrap on Christmas morning, I'm not worried. I will still be basking in the glow of the greatest present I've ever received.
And if nothing else, at least I already know what I want for Christmas next year.