Monday, February 25, 2008

The Insane Search for Jesse James by the Obsessive Josh Mahler

To me, birthdays really are special days.

Not because you celebrate the day of your birth, but because it’s the one day a year when you can do whatever you want to do.

The other 364 days you have to play by everyone else’s rules, but on your birthday, that’s your chance to say, “Hey, I’m going to wear pajamas all day and eat a whole box of Pop Tarts while watching the entire second season of ‘MacGyver’ and there’s nothing you can do to stop me!”

If that’s your thing.

And as much as I was looking forward to all of the other weekend festivities that I had planned for my birthday this year, I knew there was only one thing I wanted to do on my actual birthday.

I had been anxiously waiting to see “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” starting Brad Pitt since I first heard about it back in 2004. Unfortunately it was only released to one theater locally back in October and only ran for maybe two weeks. I missed seeing it then but I had been diligently waiting for the February 5 DVD release date ever since.

Knowing it would be in high demand, I went up to the nearest Blockbuster video store on the Tuesday that it came out and I planned on renting a copy then and just waiting until Sunday, February, 10 – my birthday – to watch it.

But I was stunned when I got to the store.

There were only two rows with copies of the film on the shelf, maybe 12 copies total, and they had all been rented out at the time.


Although I was surprised, I wasn’t necessarily concerned because I still had a couple of days to secure a copy.

I officially hit concerned when there were still no copies on Thursday and I hit worried when there were still no copies on Friday. I think I touched panic the first time I checked on Saturday afternoon and I went into full-fledged freak out when they still didn’t have any on Saturday night.

The first time I checked on Sunday – my birthday, mind you– was right after church and when there were still no copies, even my poor Girlfriend could start to see the wheels coming off of this one.

Looking back now, I honestly don’t remember how many video stores we went to that afternoon. I lost count when we hit double digits.

We even tried some other video store chains but were shocked to find out that Blockbuster had apparently secured some sort of exclusive rights to the film because no other store even had it in stock. So Blockbuster basically owned me as they were the only place to carry it and as they decided to only rent out a limited amount of copies.

I have never been more proud to be an American.

It was getting late but I knew I just had to try the Blockbuster closest to my house one last time before I officially conceded the night. Seeing how this was the seventh time that I had been in that store in the past six days, I was not surprised when the store clerks recognized me.

I was, however, when they asked for my share of the rent money.

“It’s still not in,” one clerk said before I was all the way in the front door.

“Let me get this straight,” I began spouting. “You’re the only store that carries a popular genre film starring one of the most popular actors on the planet and you only have 12 copies but yet you have a whole shelf of ‘The Game Plan’ starring ‘The Rock’ Dwayne Johnson?!”

I wish I could fully describe the look of confusion and fear on every clerk’s face as I noticed all action in the store had come to a complete stop and all eyes were suddenly on me. It was at this point that I realized it was time to cash in my chips and call off the search.

It was over.

Despondent and dejected, I limped home and suffered through the Grammy awards as a feeble alternative.

And I was ready to count the day a loss until my Girlfriend dryly commented, “Man, now we’ll never know what happens to Jesse James.” After the stroke-like sensation had finished seizing through my body, I could not help but laugh out loud as she slowly started to smile.

It hit me right then that my Girlfriend had not only spent the last day of her weekend traipsing around town listening to me pontificate about corporate short-sightedness, but she still tried to make me feel better at then end of a disastrous day as well.

Then again, maybe not such a bad day after all.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

My Friendaissance

Check out my Weekly Entertainment Report at

And be sure to tune into The Pop and Culture Show tonight at midnight on 88.7FM in Hampton Roads (and if you miss it, we will have the show posted on our page first thing tomorrow)!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Here's the Plan...

I have to say that I've really enjoyed writing more ever since I started this blog page a couple of weeks ago.

I'm still trying to figure out the best way to do everything because I still like to occasionally post on our "Pop and Culture Show" myspace page (which apparently carries some sort of contagious disease because no one ever goes there) and I always feel bad sending out a mass email prompting you to come check this page when all I've done is posted something meaningless about sports or head nodding or candy.

Hmmmm... Candy...

Wait, where was I? Oh, yeah... So I've come up with a plan to let you know how I'm going to start posting and when the best times will be to come check this page (this will also be good practice for me to force myself into writing more routinely, you know, like a real writer).

So, here we go:

On Mondays, I will post a new "column". This will be more than just random blog thougths, and will be an actual formatted column about SOMETHING (again, I use the word "something" loosely as you will probably still see a steady diet of sociological obersvation/head nodding/candy related topics).

And on Thursdays, I will post a new entertainment/"American Idol" recap column on our show's myspace page (the web address is: and you DON'T have to be a myspace member to read the column. Just go to the page and click on the latest blog entry link on the right hand side of the page). Please check the site out as my buddy Gray does a great job keeping things updated and we both want to start putting more content up on that page.

I will send e-mails alerting you about new posts on Mondays and Thursdays (unless you don't want me to and thereby effectively ending our friendship) but please feel free to stop by this page regularly as you are bored or just jonesin' for some Josh during your work day because I will be posting random, unformated blog thoughts throughout each week.

I hope that all makes sense because I just read through this again and got lost and confused.

Mercifully for all of us, that's it from me today; but please keeping checking this site throughout your week and be sure to check out our myspace page on Thursday for my latest entertainment column.

Until then...

Monday, February 11, 2008

The Great Birthday Weekend

There's a plane and I am flying
There's a mountain waiting for me
Oh these years have been so trying
I don't know if I can use them
Am I strong enough
To be the one?
Will I live to have some children?

Whenever I am in the middle of a bad day or a bad weekend, I always try to remind myself that the pattern in my life has been Bad Weekend now = Good Weekend the following week. And after the hell ride I endured last week with my visit to the emergency room, I was ready for a great weekend (that just happened to coincide with my birthday) this week.

I am very happy to report that the pattern has stayed true to form.

Yeah, it was just a great weekend all around. Unfortunately though, this year was the last of the Weekend Birthdays for the next few years (the last three years my birthday was on a Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, respectively). The Weekend Birthday is great because you can genuinely celebrate it all weekend long. You can’t get away with those kinds of shenanigans when your birthday is on a Tuesday (which mine will be on next year because of Leap Year). But you can abuse the Weekend Birthday because you never have to tell anyone when your birthday is specifically.

YOU TO A FRIEND: “Hey, do you want to go out on Friday to celebrate my birthday?”

FRIEND: “Cool, yeah, when is your birthday?”

YOU: “This weekend!”

You can’t pull that same conversation when your birthday is on a Tuesday! No one is wasting a Friday night on your lame Tuesday birthday.

Forget about it.

But when your birthday is on a Sunday, then you have some pull when you play the Social Obligation card on your friends.

Needless to say, I played that card ALL weekend long as I tried to plan out a nice, diverse celebratory weekend. On Friday night, a bunch of my buddies and I played some pool and watched some NBA basketball at a very nice sports bar in downtown Norfolk. On Saturday, I just relaxed after my radio show that morning and then my Girlfriend and I went out to dinner with our good friends, Chris and Michelle that night. Sunday was great as well because my family and my Girlfriend’s family took me out to my favorite steak place after church and then we just relaxed before I lost my mind on the Greatest Search ever (more on that later this week).

So, yeah, it was just nice and relaxing and I was very appreciative of everyone coming out and spending part of their weekend with me.

Help me get down

I can make it
Help me get down
If I only knew the answer
I wouldn't be bothering you, father
Help me get down
I can make it
Help me get down
If I only knew the answer

And If all our days are numbered
Then why do I keep counting

I'm not one of those people that freaks out with every year they get older (I am freaking out, however, by the number of WHITE hairs on my head that have been multiplying like rabbits lately) but 28 is just a weird age to be to me. It doesn’t sound very sexy or exciting, it’s just kind of there. At least with 29, you can say that you’re almost 30 but that’s still too much of a stretch at 28.

I can’t really believe I’m 28, if that means anything.

I still remember being a kid thinking that I would never be in my late 20’s, it just seemed so far away and yet here I am. I really doesn’t sound that old to me, 28 still seems very young in the grand scheme of things.

I guess my biggest thing is that I would have done more with my life by the time I was 28 (and by more, I just mean “not still living with my parents”), but at the same time, I really don’t have any real regrets. I love the life I am living and I’m really excited about the path I am on, so I guess there just had to be some sacrifices to come with that.

I just thought 28 would be hopefully be or at least feel a little different that 27 but so far, not so much. But the first 24 hours of being 28 years old have been really nice and enjoyable, so I’m not complaining.

My sugar sweet is so attainable
This behavior so unexplainable
The days just slip and slide
Like they always did
The trouble is my head
Won't let me forget
I took one last good look around
(So many unusual sounds)
I gotta get my feet on the ground

I really received a lot of nice gifts from my friends and family this year for my birthday, like I was REALLY blown away by it all. I got a couple of DVDs that I really wanted, some new clothes and some new shoes that were badly needed (basically it had gotten to the point where I could not leave my house when it was raining because ALL of my shoes had holes in them); but I have to say that beyond the writers' strike FINALLY getting settled (more info on that here:, my Girlfriend came through with the surprise gift of the weekend that was my favorite.

I had only seen it in a Best Buy one time before and I guess she had remembered it because I had completely forgotten about it and was very surprised when I opened it.

She got me a DVD that basically tells the story of the forming of my favorite band, The Killers. It’s just a collection of interviews with the band, but more importantly, with people (former band mates, local DJs, band promotion people, etc.) that knew the band and were around with they started playing together in Las Vegas back in 2001-02.

It was awesome to hear that when they started playing, that they couldn’t book a job anywhere because they were so different from all the hardcore/metal rock that was coming out of Vegas at the time. People didn’t know what to do with this group of clean cut guys that were basically playing 1960s British Rock with a 1980s New Wave sound. They tried be more appealing to the mainstream by doing some Oasis covers (PS – If I ever hear The Killers do an Oasis cover please have the paramedics ready because I don’t think my body or my brain would be able to handle the awesomeness of that moment) but still struggled to find an audience.

Obviously people started coming around when they released “Mr. Brightside” onto a four song demo (I told my Girlfriend that getting an original copy of that demo is now the only gift that I want for the rest of my life, so good luck to her on that one) and then really landed with “Somebody Told Me” and my personal favorite, “All the Things That I’ve Done”.

I guess that’s why I’ve always liked The Killers. They just don’t sound like anything else on the radio yet they are able to weave familiar sounds through their own unique vibe. After watching the video, the title track from the band’s second album “Sam’s Town” just got 10x cooler to me because they have the very unique ability to match their sound to their lyrics. All through the song there is this very British, 1980s New Wave thing going on while at the same time you feel like you’re listening to a Bruce Springsteen song and then you hear the lyrics: “I see London/I see Sam’s Town/ Holds my hand and let's my hair down/Rolls that world right off my shoulder/I see London, I see Sam's Town now” and then it all make sense.

That’s why I included the lyrics to one of my favorite tracks, “Why Do I Keep Counting” from “Sam’s Town” in this post. And for whatever reason, this song makes a lot more sense on your birthday too.
Looking forward to 28, it’s gonna be a great year! Thanks to everyone that helped me celebrate, it really did mean a lot.

Would you help me get down?
(I can make it, help me get down)

Help me get down
(I can make it, help me get down)
If I only knew the answer
If I change my way of living
And If I pave my streets with good times
Will the mountain keep on giving

And if all of our days are numbered
Then why do I keep counting

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Writers' Strike is Almost Over!

Found this on the other day:

This Just In: WGA Strike Nearly Over?
Looks like we're in the homestretch, kids. Both the
New York Times and the AP are reporting that the major roadblocks between the striking Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers have been eliminated, paving the way for a tentative agreement as early as next week. Yes, you read that right — as early as next week.The breakthroughs — reportedly involving the hotly contested matter of revnue from Internet distribution — came last Friday after two weeks of productive (if informal) talks between the two sides.

This is great news for all of us that are ready to bludgeon Howie Mandel to death with one of those silver cases on "Deal or No Deal".

From everything I'm reading, it will take a couple weeks to go through all the paperwork but everyone should be back at work by March 1. It obviously will then take a couple more weeks to write scripts and then film them; so most reports are saying that our favorite shows will air anywhere from 3-6 more episodes (between April and May) to finish out the season.

It may not be a full 22-24 episode season like most years, but with how bad it has gotten, this is a deal worth taking to me.

What shows are you looking forward to having back?

Since it's been SO long, I will probably pass out when I see another episode of "The Office". Also looking forward to having "How I Met Your Mother" back to finish out its strongest season yet (You're welcome for that one Paulie) and I was really enjoying the first season of "The Big Bang Theory".

What about you?

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

My Not So Super Sunday (Or They Don’t Serve Guacamole in the Hospital)

NOTE: Due to the graphic nature of this column, reader discretion is advised – But, hey, if I could live through it, you can certainly read through it.

Now I've had bad weekends before. We all have. You always look forward to the weekend, you make some plans but nothing really works out for you and somewhere on Sunday afternoon you just decide to pack it in, count your losses and wait it out until the following week.

I've also been very sick before. All joking aside, most of you know about my life threatening stomach illness seven years ago and ever since, I usually battle something nasty for a couple of days at least once a year.

But I've never had my two arch-nemesis, the Bad Weekend and the Getting Sick, join forces like this before.

Especially with the holy grail of all weekends, Super Bowl weekend, at stake.

It all started on Friday morning with a simple cough that turned into severe chills which turned into a severe fever which turned into me wanting to Google how ice was invented and wishing Karen Carpenter could come back from the dead and sing the national anthem at Sunday's game.

Sadly, not too far off from my normal day-to-day line of thinking.

Saturday the chills and fever turned into explosive vomiting and a massive headache that was so bad, I couldn't sleep but at the same time I couldn't see and focus on any thing or keep my balance for that matter.

Basically, I was the life of the party.

But I had no idea that the fun was just beginning as dawn broke on Sunday morning; and as I see it, the best way to tell it is as a running dairy – Bill Simmons style!

Sunday February 3, 2008

8:20 a.m. – I wake up after just a few hours of sleep only to realize that my headache is now exponentially worse than before. And you have to understand that at this point in my life, I am somewhat of a headache connoisseur. As someone that gets frequent migraines, I know every stage of every headache. I know when I have a headache because I'm too tired, I know when I have a headache because I'm too hungry. I know when it's a sinus headache, I know when it's a stress headache. So I was a little nervous because I did not know this headache and knew that I needed some serious medical attention as soon as possible.

8:36 a.m. – My Girlfriend picks me up and drives me down to the closest Patient First medical center. All I can think about during the car ride was the scene from "Groundhog Day" when Bill Murray asks his new drunk friend if he wants to throw up outside the car or inside the car, to which the drunk responds, "Both?" Yep, that was me at that particular moment

8:43 a.m. – Sign in at Patient First and sit down in the main waiting room.

8:55 a.m. – Finally hear name called, only to find out that it's just my turn to fill out paper work. I appreciate the fake out.

9:01 a.m. – Still waiting in the main waiting room.

9:14 a.m. – A nurse finally call us to the back and after getting my vitals and pretending to listen to what was wrong with me, she shows us into an examining room and assures us that a doctor will be right in to see us.

9:38 a.m. – Still waiting in the examining room.

9:57 a.m. – Have now been waiting so long that I could have gone back to undergrad and med school, become a doctor, come in and examined myself.

10:02 a.m. – Doctor finally comes in.

10:05 a.m. – After a few minutes a regular routine, the doctor declares that she is going to need to take a rectal exam and this is somewhat peculiar to me because that is currently the one area of my body that is not ailing.

10:06 a.m. – The doctor tries to touch my brain and I'll give her the benefit of the doubt that she was just trying a new way to help cure my headache.

10:07 a.m. – The doctor does not offer to cuddle, but instead dashes off once again.

10:09 a.m. – While still trying to locate my dignity, the doctor comes back in and announces that there is a significant amount of blood in my stool and I need to be sent to the emergency room.

10:10 a.m. – Apparently a clown car just pulled up to my room, because all of a sudden 15 nurses rush into my room with different monitors and medical equipment. One nurse was hooking me up to an IV, two more nurses were putting those little round stickers all over my chest while two other nurses attached those to different machines. Another nurse was trying to draw some blood from my other arm and yet another nurse was asking me a bunch of questions.

10:11 a.m. – For the first time in two days, I'm no longer thinking about my headache.

10:12 a.m. – My girlfriend and I laugh out loud. Honestly we did. This was so far from what I thought was going to happen when I got there, I just could not believe it. I was just hoping for some sleep-inducing meds to knock me out until kick-off and get rid of this monster headache. Instead, here I am being hooked up to an IV and waiting for an ambulance because I have blood in my stool. Unbelievable.

10:20 a.m. – Paramedics arrive and move me over to their gurney. Since my Girlfriend won't be allowed to ride in the ambulance with me, she agrees to follow behind and let my parents know what's going on.

10:22 a.m. – Get loaded into the ambulance with a full crowd watching me. If they had ever found out that I just had a bad headache and blood in my stool, that would have been the most disappointing public viewing of something since "Transformers" came out in theaters.

10:23 a.m. – The paramedics tell me that since it's obvious that my life is not in any imminent danger, they are not going to have the sirens on or blaze down the road. This also apparently meant that they were going to take the long way to the hospital because from the bed in the back, I could see us going a certain way that I would only go if I wanted to be sure to never make it to any hospital of any kind.

10:33 a.m. – Paramedics stop for coffee and offer me a scone, I politely decline.

10:46 a.m. – We finally arrive to the hospital and are greeted by my parents who have been waiting for me for more than 10 minutes.

10:49 a.m. – Get rolled into a broom closet, er, I mean a hospital room and begin waiting to see a doctor

*We waited for quite a while so I'm just gonna skip ahead a little…

11:51 a.m. – A very tall doctor, with a physically long face walks in and pretends to care as I tell him what's been going on with me.

11:54 a.m. – He is surprised that Patient First wanted to take a rectal exam and decides he needs to as well.

11:54 a.m. – WHAT?!

11:55 a.m. – For the second time today I've been treated like a muppet (that one's for you Colin) and am now growing concerned that random people from off the street are just going to start throwing on white coats and rubber gloves to come in and see what all the fun is about.

12:13 p.m. – The doctor comes back in and confirms that there is a significant amount of blood in my stool (Geez, Ya think??) and says he wants to scope my stomach to see if there's any blood in there as well. FINALLY! I will get some meds to put me out!

Quick Note - Now we all know I like to joke around and exaggerate for the sake of a laugh but I am not kidding and I am not exaggerating when I say that what happened next was by far and without question or debate, the worst thing that has ever happened to me in my existence as a human being.

12:25 p.m. – A nurse walks in with a long tube and a bucket and tells me she is there to scope my stomach. She asks if I have any questions and of course I ask how doped up am I going to be. She turns around and with the most empathetic face I've ever seen, she says that she's sorry but I'm going to have to stay awake for this.

12:25 p.m. – WHAAAAATTT???!!!

12:26 p.m. – Trying to get my head around this information, I let her know that I have severe problems with my gag reflux and struggle getting my teeth cleaned at the dentist. There's no way I'm going to be able to stick a tube down my throat while I'm still conscious.

12:27 p.m. – She says that she understands and that she does too (aww, thanks) but that they need me awake to actually be able to swallow the tube and that it doesn't go down thrown my mouth but through my nose.


12:28 p.m. – Sensing my panic, the nurse calls for some help and another nurse quickly comes in (I have to give them credit now, they were both amazing to me and really put up with a lot from me and did not make me feel like the whining baby that I was and probably am).

12:30 p.m. – The first nurse starts rattling off a list of instructions for me to do because if I have my head the wrong way, the tube could go into my lungs (I'm glad there's no pressure) and I honestly do start to freak out at this point. Thinking it will be just 30 seconds to a minute tops, I ask how long the procedure will take just to have a sense of how long the torture will last. "Oh, no more than five minutes," the first nurse says.

12:30 p.m. – I almost honestly pass out.

12:31 p.m. – Knowing there's no way out, I take one last deep breath and tell them to go for it.

12:31 p.m. – I will never be able to accurately describe the pain/alien sensation that I felt next. My family said the tube was the size of a pencil but to me it looked like one of those Big Gulp straws from 7-11. It was excruciating and when it hit my gag reflux in my throat I was ready to cash in my chips and buy the farm.

12:33 p.m. – Just feeling absolutely freaked out, I just start saying every word I've ever heard of and some that don't even exist. I think I rocked a "jaleezbeep" at one point. Like I said, the nurses were great; they told me to say anything I wanted and just let it all out.

12:34 p.m. – I am now grabbing onto anything I can to feel some comfort. I think one of the nurses could file for sexual harassment against me because I kept grabbing her arm over and over again. She obviously didn't mind but I still felt bad. I just kept flailing my arms, trying not to think about the giant tube that was going through my nose into my stomach or the blood that is now pouring from my nostril into the bucket (they said the tube was just aggravating my nose – oh, really? I couldn't tell).

12:36 p.m. – A team of doctors walk in to check my progress and comment that I'm doing great (thanks, guys) and that there is no blood and that the tube can come out now.

12:37 p.m. – the nurse tells me to relax and that she's just going to gently pull the tube out now. And again a deluge of verbage from my mouth follows the tube out of my nose as I fall back into the hospital bed, traumatized and exhausted.

After that, pretty much everything else was a blur to me. The doctor came in and said that it looks like I just had a nasty sinus infection and that the blood in the stool could be from that or could be a minor ulcer or something. He gave the name of a specialist to see this week and said that he didn't see the need to violate any other orphus on my body so I could go home for the afternoon.

He switched me over to some Sudafed which cleared my headache that afternoon and I finally passed out when I got home that night. I had lived through the weekend. And fortunately I was coherent enough to enjoy the game Super Bowl that night but stayed away from any spicy foods or sodas just to be on the safe side.

I just enjoyed some light refreshments and some Gatorade; and just in case you're wondering, I did not use a straw.