Thursday, December 31, 2009

When Do My Favorite Shows Return?

With most of the television shows on the winter hiatus, I’ve been getting a lot of texts and e-mails about when certain programs are coming back to the air. As one last holiday gift to the masses, I thought I would cobble together this release schedule with the dates and times of when our favorites are returning (listed below are shows returning in the month of January; at the appropriate time, I will post subsequent lists for February and March).

I understand the winter and summer breaks, but it is bruuutal right now with no new episodes on the air. Unfortunately, we’ve still got a while for some shows to come back (poor 90210 and Melrose fans will have to wait until MARCH!) – and don’t forget that NBC has another two week break coming up for the Winter Olympics – which is disappointing unless you actually watch the Olympics.

Also, starting on Wednesday, January 13, I will be bringing back my American Idol recap blog after the singing contest returns Tuesday night, the 12th. I’m already interested to see what the new season will bring us.

Happy viewing!

NOTE: ALL TIMES ARE MOUNTAIN STANDARD TIME

SUNDAY JAN 3
Desperate Housewives (ABC) 8:00 PM
Brothers and Sisters (ABC) 9:00 PM

MONDAY JAN 4
The Bachelor (ABC) 7:00 PM
Heroes (NBC) 8:00 PM

TUESDAY JAN 5
NCIS (CBS) 7:00 PM
The Biggest Loser (NBC) 7:00 PM
NCIS: Los Angeles (CBS) 8:00 PM
The Good Wife (CBS) 9:00 PM

WEDNESDAY JAN 6
Mercy (NBC) 7:00 PM
Nip/Tuck (FX) 8:00 PM
Law & Order: SVU (NBC) 8:00 PM
Modern Family (ABC) 8:00 PM
Cougar Town (ABC) 8:30 PM
Ugly Betty (ABC) 9:00 PM

FRIDAY JAN 8
Ghost Whisperer (CBS) 7:00 PM
Medium (CBS) 8:00 PM
Numb3rs (CBS) 9:00 PM

SUNDAY JAN 10
Chuck (NBC) 8:00 PM
Big Love (HBO) 8:00 PM

MONDAY JAN 11
House (Fox) 7:00 PM
How I Met Your Mother (CBS) 7:00 PM
Accidentally on Purpose (CBS) 7:30 PM
Big Bang Theory (CBS) 8:00 PM
Castle (ABC) 9:00 PM
CSI: Miami (CBS) 9:00 PM

TUESDAY JAN 12
American Idol (Fox) 7:00 PM
Southland (TNT) 8:00 PM

WEDNESDAY JAN 13
The New Adventures of Old Christine (CBS) 7:00 PM
Gary Unmarried (CBS) 7:30 PM
Our Little Genius (Fox) 8:00 PM
Criminal Minds (CBS) 8:00 PM
Leverage (TBS) 8:00 PM
CSI: NY (CBS) 9:00 PM

THURSDAY JAN 14
The Vampire Diaries (CW) 7:00 PM
Bones (Fox) 7:00 PM
Community (NBC) 7:00 PM
Parks and Recreation (NBC) 7:30 PM
CSI (CBS) 8:00 PM
Fringe (Fox) 8:00 PM
30 Rock (NBC) 8:00 PM
Grey's Anatomy (ABC) 8:00 PM
Project Runway (Lifetime) 8:00 PM
Archer (FX) 8:00 PM
Private Practice (ABC) 9:00 PM
The Mentalist (CBS) 9:00 PM

SUNDAY JAN 17
Human Target (Fox) 7:00 PM
24 (Fox) 8:00 PM

THURSDAY JAN 21
The Deep End (ABC) 7:00 PM
Supernatural (CW) 8:00 PM
The Office (NBC) 8:00 PM
Burn Notice (USA) 8:00 PM

FRIDAY JAN 22
Smallville (CW) 7:00 PM
Caprica (Syfy) 7:00 PM
Spartacus: Blood and Sand (Starz) 8:00 PM

SUNDAY JAN 31
The Simpsons (Fox) 7:00 PM
The Cleveland Show (Fox) 7:30 PM
Family Guy (Fox) 8:00 PM
American Dad (Fox) 8:30 PM

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Top 10 Movies of the Oh-Oh's

*Quick Anniversary wish to me - I have now lived in Colorado for exactly one full year! Looking forward to many more...

I’m going to let you know right now that I’m going to cheat for this one.

I know you’re thinking I’m wimping out by not ranking my Top 10 favorite movies of the past decade, but hear me out. I easily came up with 10, I just couldn’t award ANY of them with the #1 honor (most of my Top 10 occupied the top spot at one time or another over the past three months).

That got me to thinking about the films of Oh-Oh’s in general.

I read an article the other day (and now I can’t find it for the life of me) about how the movies of the 2000’s were the most escapist era of films that we’ve ever seen. I could not disagree more.

Way back in the film genres class I took in college, I realized the obvious notion that movies typically mirror the mood of the world. In my opinion, most of the movies we’ve seen recently have had dark tones and were rooted in reality; because that’s the world we live in now.

Three quick points about the past decade in films:

1. My buddy Jesse and I were just talking about all of this a few weeks ago before I read that article. I was saying how I miss the “Adventure” films of the 80’s and 90’s (Back to the Future, Honey I Shrunk the Kids, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Jurassic Park, to name a few) where we saw ordinary people going on extraordinary adventures.

Now we have hobbits and superheroes – even the films that showcased superheroes that don’t possess superpowers (i.e. Bruce Wayne and Tony Stark) are darker and more intense (The new Batman franchise) or completely grounded in our current events (Iron Man) than they have been in the past.

Even though the Will Smith’s Hancock had superpowers, the premise of the story focused on the reality of a superhero living among us. We required realism in a way I’ve never experienced before.

That’s necessarily good or bad, better or worse, it’s just where we are now.

2. There was also a time where I saw every film nominated for an Oscar award in a given year; now I feel lucky if I’ve even heard of most of the nominees. Like it or not, there is growing divide between artistic-award driven films and mainstream-popcorn films and this terrifies me because I don’t really care for either camp.

There are times when I don’t mind an emotional or mental journey from a film (Juno, Up in the Air – not coincidentally done by the same director) but There Will Be Blood and No Country for Old Men did nothing for me. On the flip side, I’m now receiving therapy for the damage that two Transformers films and G.I. Joe did to my childhood memories.

In my Top 10 TV Shows, I mentioned that if How I Met Your Mother had run during the 90’s as opposed to the 2000’s, it would have been regarded as an all-time classic. I felt the same way about The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Ben Button is to Forrest Gump what HIMYM is to Friends. Both films were grand journey pieces (and Button was probably technically better, just like HIMYM) but it is already forgotten because of the climate that it was born into.

To cement my point, Jerry Maguire was literally nominated for Best Picture in 1996. Can you begin to even imagine a scenario where it gets nominated 10 years later in 2006 ahead of that year’s nominees The Departed, Babel, Letters from Iwo Jima, Little Miss Sunshine, and The Queen?

I know Little Miss Sunshine was considered a comedy (and a fine film) but I don’t remember laughing.

The defense rests.

3. Probably the most prominent way that I will remember this decade in cinema will be as the era of the visually-stunning-yet-plot-lacking films. I get that offerings like Wall-E and Avatar were technological accomplishments, but it just doesn’t mean that’s what I’m looking for in a movie. Let’s see how I Avatar stacks up on my movie-going checklist:

Q. Do I like the main actors?

A. Sorry Sam, you’re not as cool as you think you are… yet.

Q. Do I like the director?

A. My only thoughts towards Cameron are that he ruined a great shipwreck story with an awful love story.

Q. Am I interested in the premise of the movie?

A. It's a politically driven, eco story with blue people running around in what looks like the Fern Gully remake? Hmm… not so much.

(You gotta remember that I’m the guy that walked out the second Lord of the Rings installment because I was annoyed by the talking trees. I love adventure films, but not fantasy. Save the talking animals and inanimate objects for Disney and Pixar.)

So when you look past the I-MAX theaters and the 3D glasses, there’s just not a whole lot there for someone like me. Hollywood is a phase of sacrificing substance for the style.

It’s OK, it always come backs around.

So that’s the way I’ve viewed the movies this past 10 years. I know I probably sound a grumpy old man, but believe me, I LOVE the movies. Before I make any plans for a Friday night, I checked to see what’s opening because if it’s anything decent, I will be there.

Like I said above, I’m not going to try to rank my Top 10 favorite movies, but I will list them by genre.
Once again, these are just my favorites. I’m not claiming them to be the BEST (but of course, I think they are). I can’t wait to hear your opinions and thanks for letting me recapture my favorite pop culture moments over these past few weeks.

I’m looking forward to see what the new decade has to offer us.


COMEDY

Anchorman (July 9, 2004)

The Hangover (June 5, 2009)

Just like Tommy Boy in the 90’s, Anchorman took the crown for movie with the most and best catchphrases. You know a movie is a great when it has a catchphrase for any real life situation. You want to recommend something to a friend? You can tell them that 60 percent of the time it works every time. You make a bad life decision? You can say that milk was a bad choice. And The Hangover jumped Wedding Crashers, 40-Year Old Virgin, and Knocked Up because it was able to do what the others could not – the comedy never fell apart at the end of the movie. Because you had a mystery involved, it kept you hanging on. There was no misunderstanding that breaks the main characters up, these guys just wanted to find their buddy! Just a great story structure.


DRAMA

Cast Away (December 22, 2000)

The Royal Tenenbaums (December 14, 2001)

These are both films that I appreciate and enjoy as I get older. We’ve all had Cast Away moments in our lives, so there’s the comfort there – besides, was that the last good Tom Hanks performance we’ve seen? Thanks for going on cruise control with two Da Vinci codes and that Charlie Wilson movie, Tom. How about taking a page out Downey’s playbook (more on that in a bit) and give us another comedy just to spice it up a little and remind us that you still care? The best compliment that I, or anyone else for that matter, can give The Royal Tenenbaums is that it was a J.D. Salinger story (that wasn’t) come to life. I’m proud to say that I was somehow able to get my Wife to use the Hey Jude version from the movie’s soundtrack during our wedding.


ACTION/ADVENTURE

Gladiator (May 5, 2000)

Ocean’s 11 (December 7, 2001)

Batman Begins (June 15, 2005)

Like Scrubs with the single camera comedy from the TV Show list, we can thank AND blame Gladiator for the rebirth, then subsequent glut of the Epic Movie (which of course was recently spoofed under the same title). I just remember feeling blown away after seeing it on opening weekend in May of 2000. It just felt a step ahead of everything else at that time (looking forward to Crowe and director Ridley Scott reteaming this coming May with Robin Hood). I don’t know exactly what genre the Ocean’s films would technically fall under (other than “Cool”) so I just had to put the representative first one here. I was one of the few people that actually loved the second film in the series and as avid fan of a quality heist film these three hit the spot with Ocean’s 11 leading the way (PS – if you’ve never seen it, the original Ocean’s 11 starring the Rat Pack is pretty cool too). As I mentioned above, the Batman reboot revolutionized the comic book to film genre. That movie made you feel like it would not be out of the question for a man to dress up like a bat and fight crime in a metropolitan city.


ROBERT DOWNEY, JR.

Iron Man (May 2, 2008)

The Soloist (April 24, 2009)

Sherlock Holmes (December 25, 2009)

To say Downey has been on fire as of late doesn’t even close to doing him justice. This is already an impressive resume WITHOUT mentioning him turning in the best overall acting performance of the decade in Tropic Thunder. He was the first one to make you care more about the secret identity than the superhero in Iron Man, he and Jamie Foxx are brilliant together in the vastly underrated Soloist, and he updated my favorite work of fiction for a new generation in a fresh and fun way in Holmes (I’ve seen it twice already). Can’t wait for his upcoming road-trip buddy comedy Due Date with Zach Galifianakis from The Hangover.


**BONUS CATEGORY**

MUSICALS

Moulin Rouge (May 18, 2001)

Chicago (December 27, 2002)

To show off my well-rounded side, I was going to have these two listed together but then Downey snuck up this weekend with Sherlock Holmes. The way Moulin Rouge used pop culture classic songs to fit in its story was ridiculously creative to me (the White Elephant Medley still shatters my brain) and Chicago was the last movie I saw in the theater that felt like the best movie I saw that year and actually won the Oscar for Best Picture.

Monday, December 28, 2009

It All Comes Back to Footwear Bonus Material

Here is that final scene from the series finale of Cheers:

It All Comes Back to Footwear

In the final scene of the Cheers series finale, resident barfly Cliff Clavin notes that the true secret of life is comfortable shoes. According to the mailman, “If you’re not wearing comfortable shoes, then life is just chaos.”

When I look back on 2009, I think Cliff might just be right.

After the first day at the Disney theme parks on our honeymoon back in November, my feet were ripped to shreds. I had packed my trusty Nike sneakers, so I was confused as to why my feet were hurting so bad (and not just my feet, but my knees and back were killing as well). By the end of the day, I felt like I was just standing in cement and couldn’t even walk. Since my Wife is a physical therapy assistant, she had me take off my shoes and checked out my feet. They were a shade of glowing pink and had become gnarly and bloody. There were blisters everywhere.

“There is absolutely no sole to the bottom of the shoes!” She exclaimed. “How long have you had them?”

“Um… since the Clinton administration?” I responded sheepishly.

“That’s it,” she said, “We’re getting you new shoes tomorrow.”

If you haven’t noticed over the past few months, I have a tendency to be selective about things, especially when it comes to clothing; so we both knew that this was not going to be an easy task. And (for an extra degree of difficulty) while I have nothing against the other brands of shoes I will only wear Nikes. That is the one random case where I am a brand snob. There's something simple yet profound about that swoosh that I just connect with and there's no way to argue with a slogan like "Just Do It". You just have to do it.

The next morning we found a Nike outlet shop close to our resort and I instantly saw the pair of shoes I wanted. It was uncanny how quickly I, Josh Mahler, was able to find something I actually liked.

Only one problem: it was the ONLY shoe there that they didn’t have in my size.

Un-ridiculously-believable.

It’s not like I wear some rare size shoe either. I’m not a 5 and 3/8 or a 17 and 1/4 or something uncommon like that. Like I said, they had my size in every other shoe on every shelf in that store.

My Wife tried futilely to sell me on other shoes and we even checked out a couple other non-Nike stores.

There wasn’t a chance I was going to settle for anything else.

I could sense my Wife’s angst over another jean saga so I said we would just check out a couple of regular shoe stores for my shoe and if we didn’t find it, my feet would just have to suffer.

We found a giant shoe store just down the road and I could sense my shoe the moment we walked in. My Wife was legitimately surprised that in a store that big, I was somehow able to walk right to it.

And they had my shoes in my size.

I’ve noticed a common theme over the few months that I’ve had the opportunity to write in this space: I often seem to get myself lost on some twisted mission because I’m not able to settle for something less that is easy or temporarily more convenient.

I know that it’s probably stressful for those around me (and I honestly do feel bad about that), but I’m proud of that quality in myself and have seen that kind of mentality affect my entire life for the greater good this past year.

There were so many opportunities to settle for the easy or more convenient back east, but I knew that the better jeans, the better child’s train set, the better shoes, and the better life were somewhere else.

On December 27th of last year, I packed up my belongings and drove across the country to Denver, having no idea what to expect. I arrived here on the 30th and it blows my mind that I have lived here almost an entire year already.

I’ve often tried to imagine how life would have been different had I stayed in Virginia and I physically can’t comprehend it. I had to get outside of that comfort zone and sink or swim on my own.

And I’d like to think that I’m swimming just fine so far.

2009 felt like a very solid transitional, building year and I’m hoping to keep that momentum rolling into the new decade. I know you can’t predict the future but I’m starting to understand the concept of building the strongest foundation possible to put yourself in the best situation for success.

For the first time in my life I feel like I’m finally on the right road

And I have a good pair of shoes to get me there.

I hope everyone has a safe and happy start to 2010! Thanks for reading and I can't wait to see what we can get into next in the new year...



*Check out a new column every Monday morning here and at INDenverTimes.com

Thursday, December 24, 2009

My #1 TV Show of the Oh-Oh's

1. The Office (Premiered March 25, 2005)

I tried so hard to not write an entire column for this #1 like I did last week.

Whoops.

I know 30 Rock has won more Emmy awards this decade and I really enjoy that show, but here’s the difference for me. 30 Rock consistently puts up an A minus performance. Every week. You know it’s never going to be bad but at the same time, it’s never going to be amazing. I enjoy it and then forget it in the same moment.

I've been the first to rip The Office over the years. They have certainly posted their share of D’s and even F’s (I try to forget that strike-shortened fourth season) but their greatest episodes aren’t even on the scale.

I’d rather have to take the lows to get those highs as opposed to just maintaining the status quo.

There has never been a life-altering-I-will-remember-it-for-all-time moment on 30 Rock (yet) but there have been countless instances of that kind of experience from the folks in Scranton, PA.

I sometimes get frustrated with the romance story lines on the show but I just keep in mind that those arcs keep the show on the air for the glut of undiscerning fans that just want to be pampered with love stories (the Andy-Angela plot was abysmal – but I do have to admit that the Niagra episode this season was one of the series’ best).

So I tolerate those. I used to think that the pretend fans watch the show for the Jim and Pam relationship and that the real fans watch for the Michael and Dwight interactions. But since the show is so layered and is constantly evolving, I’m starting to wonder if Jim’s Darth Vader transformation to a corporate Sith Lord at Dunder Mifflin is not the story they’ve been trying to tell all along (I could write an entire thesis on this premise).

Or maybe that story is just taking us somewhere else (my dream series finale sequence would be Michael taking David Wallace's corporate postition and Jim taking over at Scranton. He will have fully transfrormed into the Michael we know - Michael wasn't Michael before he took over at Dunder Mifflin if you haven't noticed - and the series ends with Jim sitting at Michael's desk with that crazed look in his eye and drops a "that's what she said" joke. AWESOME).

The Office is the comedic equivalent to Mad Men for me. It might take a few episodes or it might take a few years, but EVERYTHING always pays off eventually. Nothing happens by accident (and I could write an entire book on this premise).

So that makes it like HIMYM in a way, that it feels like everything has already been planned out; but in this case there’s no past tense or story teller. So it doesn’t feel as preordained, there’s still an element of free will to these characters that is wildly intriguing.

Also, can you ever see another show getting a cast of close to 20 actors being so OK with having so little to do at times? Stanley or Creed or Kevin or Meredith may only get one line in a given episode but it’s always the line you remember the next day.

That has to be a lightning in a bottle circumstance.

I will wrap it up with this: as much as these characters hate their jobs, hate that office, hate their boss, and (to some extent) probably hate each other, they HAVE to work there. Stanley wouldn’t be able to do crosswords anywhere else. Kevin couldn’t be that incompentent for another company. Another employer wouldn’t put up with Dwight… or Andy… or Ryan… or even Jim.

So there’s a “made-for-each-other” factor that is constantly in play. We’ve seen outsiders mortified by the Michael and the gang before this light bulb finally went off over my head during the ep after the Super Bowl last year (during the CPR scene).

No other show grows the way this one does, no other show makes me cringe and cover my eyes in awkward horror the way this one does and there is no other show that’s on television right now that’s better than The Office.



Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Top 10 TV Shows of the Oh-Oh's

On the Top Songs of the Oh-Oh’s list that I posted last week, I mentioned that it was the most difficult one of the four to finish.

This one was by far the easiest.

I think it took me all of two full minutes to come up with the top TV shows of the past decade and maybe another 30 seconds to rank them.

I consider myself a television connoisseur as it is my favorite artistic medium. I don’t just watch TV shows, I study them. I break down how they are structured and how and why the good ones stand out from the rest.

I have to preface all of this by saying that I lean heavily towards the comedies as opposed to dramas, reality, and game/contestant shows. Surprisingly enough, three dramas make this list and one game/contestant show – and I'll let you know now that it’s not American Idol.

I’m not looking for shows that were ratings magnets, won a bunch of awards, or carried a lot of buzz. I treat TV shows like fine food and wine. The shows included are the ones that were constructed brilliantly, provided memorable moments, and said something about the world around us.

This was the easiest list for me to make but also had the most stringent guidelines. The fact that it was made quickly doesn’t mean that there wasn’t a lot of thought that went into it. There was probably too much thought involved. There were other basic components that weighed into my evaluation:

How excited was I for the show to air throughout the rest of the week?

How devastated was I when an episode ended and I knew I had to wait seven more days for another one?

How much did I talk about each episode to friends, family, and complete strangers afterwards?

Do I own the DVDs and watch them regularly?

Most people prefer films to television shows, but it’s not even close for me. Just as I’m getting to know the characters and story in a movie, it ends. A TV series gives the characters and stories the opportunity to grow and breathe, just like real life.

But when done properly (i.e. with some actual creative thought behind it – I’m talking to you Two and a Half Men!), it can take transcend real life and provide the perfect, entertaining escape.

I’m going to go ahead and apologize for shows like Lost, 24, The Wire, and The Sopranos not being included. I recognize and appreciate their greatness but I didn’t watch them during their live run (or in some cases, haven’t watched them yet – I refuse to Wave Ride more than I have to).

The 2000’s also gave me a new opportunity: to find new shows on my own. In the 90’s, I bandwagoned on shows like Seinfeld, Frasier, and Friends because I was either in elementary school or in my early teens when they first premiered. Now I know about shows a year or two before they even shoot a pilot and I’m proud to report that I saw the very first episode live as it aired for every selection (except for one) on my list.

Can’t wait to hear about your thoughts!

10. GREY'S ANATOMY (Premiere Date: March 27, 2005)
The first four episodes of Jersey Shore have been so sociologically amazing that it legitimately almost knocked Grey’s out of the spot, but I just couldn’t do it. The first two seasons of this show were so ridiculously action packed that I knew the ensuing burnout was not only inevitable but was going to be glorious as well. I was right on both accounts. I have to give the original writers and producers credit: they treated every episode from those first two seasons as an edge-of-your-seat, season finale cliffhanger. Every plot line was exhilarating like a roller coaster; but just like any thrill ride, it can’t sustain that kind of pace for too long. I won’t even acknowledge the series’ existence these days (my Wife loves it), but I think that’s a compliment. You can’t settle for a shadow of former glory.

9. TOP CHEF (March 8, 2006)
As I mentioned above, I don’t particularly care for reality/game/contestant shows but Top Chef was so much different from all the others. The biggest knock I’ve heard against TC is that as a viewer, you are physically unable to experience what the chefs are cooking. So? I can appreciate their approach to different competitions and then, oh I don’t know, copy down the recipe and try it myself at home (OK, we all know my Wife does the cooking, but still). It was also the first show of its kind that didn’t care about the contestants’ previous success. I’ve seen a lot of American Idol contestants get a free pass on an off night but that is never the case on TC. I started watching the series regularly during a season of Idol and found that it started getting more difficult to tolerate the cheesy-soapy element of the singing show. Top Chef appealed to a more sophisticated part of my viewing palate and I haven’t looked back since.

8. BOOMTOWN (September 29, 2002)
Did you ever get to see that Dennis Quaid movie, Vantage Point? Yeah, they just ripped that premise (of telling one story from different angles) straight from Boomtown, only they did it worse. I knew Boomtown was doomed in America from the pilot episode because it required paying attention and doing a little thinking to keep up with the story and I knew that was more than we could collectively handle (which was only confirmed with the premiere of a show like The Biggest Loser). Boomtown only lasted a full season before NBC burned off the few retooled (read: dumbed down) episodes in a very short second season. Just a couple of years ago, I read somewhere that Boomtown paved the way for shows like 24 and Lost and would probably make it on the air now; that it was just a little ahead of its time. Well, gee. Doesn’t that just make it all better?

7. THE BIG BANG THEORY (September 24, 2007)
When Frasier left the air for the final time in 2004, I thought that was it; I thought it was the final time we would get to enjoy pompous intellectuals in a situational comedy. I’m so glad I was wrong. While TBBT will never have intricate plots like Frasier, I am more than happy to settle for a show that at least sounds like my All-Time Favorite from time to time (TBBT is run by the same guy that gave us Two and a Half Men and Dharma and Greg, so you know it’s going to have some sort of a comedic ceiling). As entertaining as the show was for the first two seasons, it perpetually felt like a light appetizer. There was never any depth. Penny’s growth has been the key to the entire series from the start and we’re starting to see it pay off here in the third season. If she had stayed static as the ditzy blonde this show would have run out of steam quick. But her unconscious meandering to the nerdy side has kept the momentum going (it has been on a roll since her Star Trek analogy late in the second season). We might not ever get another Frasier but The Big Bang Theory is not a bad consolation prize.

6. ED (October 8, 2000)
You know Justin Long, the kid from the “I’m a Mac” commercials? What about the actress that plays Claire on Modern Family? Or Roger from Mad Men? Just in case you didn’t know, they were all once-upon-a-time on a great little show called Ed. Tom Cavanaugh played the title character that moved back home to Stuckeyville, OH to pick up the pieces of his life. He opened a law office in the bowling alley that he ran and chased his childhood crush. I’m not even ashamed to admit that I used the same song to propose to my Wife that Ed used to pop the question to Carol – it was just too perfect not to! Unfortunately for me and the rest of the world, there is a bitter studio dispute that is preventing the release of this series on DVD; but don’t worry, when it all gets straightened out you’ll be the first to know as long as I'm still around.

5. SCRUBS (October 2, 2001)
You can trace the success of other shows single camera comedies The Office, 30 Rock, and Modern Family right back to Scrubs. I’m sure other shows had tried it before, but coming off the excess of laugh-track laced multi-camera shows (more on that at #2), Scrubs felt fresh and new back in 2001 (now we’re getting too many of single camera sitcoms so maybe we have to blame Scrubs too). Scrubs has enjoyed a wild ride as it was stellar for three seasons, OK for one, then bizarre for three, finished strong for one and then was reincarnated in its current state on ABC. Beyond his zany-yet-tempered portrayal of J.D., Zach Braff found most of the music for the show which has always been a vastly underrated cornerstone to the series. Oh, and I’ve really enjoyed how Hugh Laurie has just been playing Dr. Cox on House the past few years and I enjoyed it even more when Scrubs acknowledged it.

4. ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT (November 2, 2003)
This was the chosen one. This was supposed to be the greatest sitcom of all time. It perfected the Scrubs model and was The Office way before The Office was on the air or before Modern Family was even a conceptual idea, only it didn’t even try to bother with any realistic romantic or character evolution elements. This should be the number one show on the list but can only go as high as number four because it was canceled a mere three seasons into its run (Thanks to perpetually bad ratings due to ignorant viewers that couldn’t “get” the comedy). The first mistake was that the show should have never been on network television. This is the prototype cable show and would thrive now on HBO or Showtime or even FX. It would probably get the same ratings there that it did on FOX which would be stellar for a cable series. I have to stop this train of thought now before I stick a fork in my eye from the frustration of it all. The Bluths were the perfect TV family and I still miss them even now.

3. MAD MEN (July 19, 2007)
I self admittedly don’t have the attention span for hour-long dramas, especially ones with little to no action ever taking place. That’s the best testament to how good Mad Men is for it to be this high on the list. And it’s only this far down the list because we’re only three seasons in so far. This definitely has Top 5, maybe even Top 3 All-Time potential for me, but let’s not gets ahead of ourselves. I wrote extensively about the series back in the summer, so I’ll spare you those details here. Audiences get frustrated with the show because there’s rarely anything that actually happens in a given episode. I’ve trained myself to watch it differently now. You have to see the change and growth of the characters’ reactions to certain developments and that’s the “action” of the series. How things hit them and affect them in one episode always come out in a new, organically developed way later. That’s the definition of an excellent show to me: when it changes your expectations of how a series progresses and how you watch it.

2. HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER (September 19, 2005)
I promise you that if HIMYM had debuted in 1995 as opposed to 2005, we would be regarding it as one of the greatest sitcoms of all time. It keeps getting compared to Friends, which is fair, but it’s more creative than Friends because of the story-telling, time travel element. HIMYM debuted in an era that was burned out on laugh track sitcoms (darn that According to Jim/Dharma & Greg/George Lopez/My Wife and Kids deluge of the late 90’s) so people still refuse to give HIMYM a chance. Their loss. This show has given me more get-up-out-of-my-seat moments than any other series this decade and has become the perfect TV Group show for us in Virginia AND Colorado. It has reinvented the coolness of a catchphrase and like the movie The Hangover, it keeps you glued in because of the lingering mystery surrounding the identity of the title character. Just a legen – wait for it – dary show all the way around.


Tune in tomorrow for my Top TV Show of the Oh-Oh's...

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

In Case You Missed This...

Other than American Idol, I try not to get involved with too many singing competition shows. I had no intention of ever checking out NBC's recent a capella contest, The Sing-Off, but got sucked in because of one ridiculously entertaining group.

First of all, I am stunned that NBC actually had enough self awareness to not try and force a whole season of this show down our throats. It was just three episodes last week and then a results show finale last night (Monday). It was the perfect supplemental programming while most of the network's regular shows are on the holiday hiatus.

OK, I'm almost beginning to believe that NBC is finally getting its act together. Let's keep moving before I wander further down that dead-end road.

All of the acts were talented for sure but the only reason I kept coming back was for The Beelzebubs - a college a capella group from TUFTS University outside of Boston, MA. I will never remember any of the other groups as anything more than being a part of a growing trend of a capella, but I don't know how you could forget the 'Bubs.

They were infectious to say the least.

The way I always judge talent off any of these singing contest shows is by one question: would I pay hard earned money to ever see this artist or band or group.

I couldn't pay enough to see the 'Bubs.

Not only was every performance flawless from a technical and singing standpoint (they were the ONLY group that didn't get a whiff of negativity from the judges), but they genuinely entertained every time they took the stage. Sure it was sometimes goofy and playful but there was a maturity and self awareness that always kept it stable. Basically any time they went too far Jerry Lewis, they had enough Dean Martin to rein it in.

You don't see that kind of presence from most performers these days, let alone college kids.

By last night's finale, I found myself just fast forwarding the other groups just to get to the 'Bubs, because you knew exactly what everyone else was going to bring to the table but you had NO CLUE what the 'Bubs were going to come up with next.

And they never disappointed.

I'm not going to even try to come up with a theory as to why they came in second place - other than just remind myself that I live in America where Two and a Half Men is the highest rated comedy on television and then it all makes sense.

I've included everyone of the 'Bubs' performances that I could find below. There were no clunkers, there were no miss-steps. I checked
their website to see if they were going to be touring only to remember that they are a college group and (so far) only seem to have dates booked for the immediate New England area.

Our loss.


Sweet Caroline






Right Round






The Who medley






Come Sail Away






The 'Bubs & Nicole Scherzinger - You Don't Own Me (by far the most epic performance)

Monday, December 21, 2009

A Colorado Christmas Story Bonus Material: If You Want to Help...

It's Christmastime
There's no need to be afraid
At Christmastime, we let in light and we banish shade
And in our world of plenty we can spread a smile of joy
Throw your arms around the world at Christmastime


I love comedian Dane Cook's bit about how when you see those "help the children" commercials and the spokesman is always too nice. Cook makes the point that the guy doing those ads should be screaming in your face and berating to give more to help out the kids.

Today, I'm going to be that guy.

We were in church yesterday and watched a video about people in Africa that die because they don't have clean water to drink.

This concept broke my brain.

I burn HUNDREDS of dollars a year on bottles of water to drink and some kid is throwing up right now because he can't get one clean sip of water?

Unbelievable.

I understand that there's some areas of the world where resources are limited, but in this case it's just a matter of these people not being able to dig far enough into the ground to access a healthy water supply.

We can actually do something about that.

Click here for more information on the Africa Oasis Project

Pray for the other ones
At Christmastime it's hard, but when you're having fun
There's a world outside your window

And it's a world of dread and fear

If you want your donations to go to people closer to home, our church is also involved with a downtown Denver outreach program called Sox Place that ministers to youth living on the streets.

This coming Saturday, I will be going downtown to help serve some pizzas and hang out with some of the youth (my poor Wife has to work) and am looking forward to getting more involved with that project in the coming months.

Click here more information about Sox Place

The only water flowing is the bitter sting of tears
And the Christmas
bells that ring there are the clanging chimes of doom
Well tonight thank God it's them instead of you


The outreach that my Wife and I are most excited about getting involved with is right in our back yard, here in Parker, CO. We are going to start volunteering at least one Saturday a month with the Parker Task Force which reaches the needs of people in our neighborhoods that aren't necessarily homeless or officially poor, but are living all around us and struggling mightily to make ends meets.

It's not just a place to donate foods (although you can), the Task Force is committed to prioritizing people's needs, helping them find work and providing what they need until they get back on their feet.

I'm all about helping the homeless and needy at home and abroad, but I love the concept of being involved with something where you can see the tangible results of your time and effort.

Click here for more information about the Parker Task Force

And there won't be snow in Africa this Christmastime
The greatest gift
they'll get this year is life
Where nothing ever grows
No rain nor rivers flow
Do they know it's Christmastime at all?

Finally, I mentioned in today's column that my Wife and I participated in a local outreach of many churches to provide Christmas presents to local families.

This was through an organization called SECOR. While the presents have already been delivered, I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that they're not going to turn down any donations to help replenish the funds that they had to use for any gifts that were not selected off of area churches' trees.

Click here for more information about SECOR

(Here's to you) raise a glass for everyone
(Here's to them) underneath that burning sun

Do they know it's Christmastime at all?

I know that was a lot all at once and I'm not trying to pat ourselves on the back for anything that we're doing. You have to understand how much I LOVE doing this kind of stuff and am stoked to finally be in a place (physically and financially) to do more.

My heart is just crushed by the thought of some kid not having a Christmas present while I download another song off of iTunes or a family goes hungry while I throw away half of a fast food burger that I really didn't want in the first place.

Yeah, we're all strapped a little right now but I've always found that I am blessed the most when I'm trying to bless someone else.

We should all try that more.

Feel free to contact me at jmahler47@gmail.com or reply here at this site if you want more direct information on how to contribute to these or other outreach programs.

Feed the world
Feed the world
Feed the world
Let them know it's Christmastime again
Feed the world
Let them know it's Christmastime again

A Colorado Christmas Story Bonus Material: Our First Colorado Christmas

Here are some pictures of my Wife and I enjoying our first Colorado Christmas!


This is us at the lot picking out our first tree:



My Wife puts on the first ornament:



Here I am (with my awesome "You'll shoot your eye out!" t-shirt) next to the decorated tree:




Our little tree in all of its glory:



Here is the outside our apartment that my Wife so nicely decorated:


A Colorado Christmas Story

I’ve been driving my loved ones crazy this year with my Christmas wish list – or, should I say, lack thereof. There’s just not a whole lot of buyable stuff that I want or need right now. And by “buyable”, I mean the items I really want include a motorcycle, a Jeep Wrangler, and my debt to be paid off (basically things that you can’t just swing by Wal-Mart and pick up).

Besides, I’ve been so ridiculously blessed this year, that I almost feel greedy asking for anything more. In 2009 I found a good job that lets me pay rent at a great apartment in the best city I’ve ever been in (and I’ve been to a bunch). Oh, and I got to marry my best friend.

Those were a bunch of big wishes that had been sitting on the list for a while that all came true this year, so I’ve been feeling pretty good already.

With all of that in mind, my Wife and I really wanted to bless some of the less fortunate people in our community – especially now that I have more financial resources than I’ve ever had in the past.

Meaning I finally earn more than zero dollars.

The only problem is that we didn’t know where to start. There are so many opportunities to help people that it can get overwhelming. Having a heart for others is one of the strongest bonds my Wife and I share, so at first we wanted to write a check to everyone. After a while, I almost got downtrodden at how much need there actually is out there and how little we could actually contribute.

We finally got a hold of ourselves and decided to just concentrate on one area at a time.

Our church is involved with a regional outreach project (kinda like Angel Tree where a bunch of churches set up a Christmas tree in their lobbies and hang cards with gift ideas on it for local families that are struggling financially) and my Wife saw a card on our church’s tree that she knew I would never say no to. She found a five year old boy that was asking for a Mickey Mouse train set.

We all know my love – OK, obsession – with trains so I was immediately sold.

I just didn’t realize how difficult it was going to be to find a Mickey Mouse train set. I went everywhere locally tracking down a train set that was somehow Mickey Mouse related but couldn’t find anything close.

My family and friends kept telling me to just get a generic train set and that the child was going to be thrilled to be receiving any presents but that wasn’t good enough for me.

I was now on a mission and I knew I had to go to the King store of all things toys.

I had to go to Toys 'R’ Us .

I probably haven’t been in a Toys 'R’ Us in something like 15-17 years (maybe longer) and there was a part of me that was actually kind of excited about strolling down the aisles of memory lane once again. Then my Wife and I actually got into the store and I instantly remembered why I hadn’t been there in almost two decades.

The store was just a packed war zone of greed and commercialism – or, America at its finest.

And as we trudged our way through crowded walkways, we still could not find any Mickey Mouse brand train set. Here I am trying to do something nice for someone else, and I’m swearing (sorry, mom!) in the aisles of Toys 'R’ Us amongst mortified parents trying to earmuff their kids because I’m growing more and more scared of going to hell because I ruined some kid’s Christmas because I couldn’t find him a Mickey Mouse train set.

‘Tis the season to be me, baby.

My poor Wife was trying desperately to rein me in, but I was officially a lost cause at this point. I was a few more minutes away from booking a flight to the Disney headquarters before she finally talked me down and got me to settle on a top of the line generic train set. Just to appease my guilt, I made sure to find a Mickey Mouse toy figure to go with the train.

Mission accomplished.

This past Saturday, my Wife and I went to help deliver the presents with all of the area churches. We didn’t get to actually deliver the train set to our kid but two things jumped out to me from the experience. (1) As much as I stay frustrated with humanity, it was pretty cool to see that many people giving up their Saturday to help out. There is still some good out there, I guess. (2) Based on the reaction of the kids that we did get to see, I think my friends and family were right: kids are just stoked to get stuff for Christmas no matter what it is; especially when times are tough.

I personally get so caught up with specifics, that sometimes I forget to just give, whether that’s of my resources or even as simple as my time.

I can’t wait for Christmas morning in a couple of days. It’s going to be so cool for my Wife and I to sit by our decorated tree, in our apartment, in our town and just bask in the knowledge of how far we’ve come in just a year and the bright path we seem to be on heading into the future.

And just hope that kid likes his generic, non-Mickey Mouse train set.

This is gonna haunt me for the rest of my life.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!


*Check out a new column every Monday morning here and at INDenverTimes.com

Thursday, December 17, 2009

My #1 Song of the Oh-Oh's

1. All These Thing That I’ve Done – The Killers (2004)

Buckle up boys and girls. We’re going old school today.

When there's nowhere else to run
Is there room for one more son
One more son
If you can hold on
If you can hold on, hold on

There was just no way that one little measly paragraph was going to sum up what this song means to me and why it is number one, not only on this list, but on my All-Time Top Songs list as well. I might look like a homer for putting a song from my favorite bands as #1, but what most people don’t understand is that The Killers are my favorite band because of this song. If U2 had done it, they would be my favorite band. If The White Stripes had done it, they would be favorite band. If the Electric Light Orchestra had done it, they would be my favorite band.

Why is it my favorite song? For three very specific reasons.

I wanna stand up, I wanna let go
You know, you know - no you don't, you don't
I wanna shine on in the hearts of men
I want a meaning from the back of my broken hand


Another head aches, another heart breaks
I am so much older than I can take
And my affection, well it comes and goes
I need direction to perfection, no no no no

Reason No. 1:

Never before (and I can’t imagine it ever happening again) has a song come along where EVERY SING LYRIC completely defined me and the way I see the world. It was almost eerie the first time I heard it because it described my mentality towards this existence in a way I could have never described on my own. Somehow it transcended my own comprehension about myself.

That’s a good song.

In the summer of 2005, I drove from Virginia Beach, VA to Harrisburg, PA and just left this song on repeat the entire time. From what I can remember, that’s about a five to six hour drive, so needless to say, I got to hear it quite a few times. And it wasn’t even because the song is so good on its own (which it is), it was because every time it played, I heard something new and discovered something new about it. It led me to think about different things in my life and the way I really see myself and this life.

That’s a REALLY good song

And when there's nowhere else to run
Is there room for one more son
These changes ain't changing me
The cold-hearted boy I used to be

Yeah, you know you got to help me out
Yeah, oh don't you put me on the backburner
You know you got to help me out
You're gonna bring yourself down

Reason No. 2:

In the fall of 2006, my buddy Paul and I had committed ourselves to working for free for that sports magazine back in Virginia. Despite our absence of income, we scrounged up enough money to each buy a ticket to a Killers concert in Philadelphia (ask me how much I miss having to drive forever to see major bands now that I live in a major market. Go ahead, ask me). We rocked out to the band’s albums the entire drive and this was going to be our escape from the pressures of our reality.

We got to the venue in Philly only to find a sign on the front door saying that the show had been cancelled. I don’t remember if we said two words to each other on the way home that night because we both knew that this was just fate’s symbolic gesture to us that we had hit rock bottom.

A few months later, we heard The Killers were going to be in D.C., so we decided to try it again. This time we weren’t let down. We sat in the very last row at the top of the arena, but it felt like were right in front of the stage.

The only song I cared about hearing was All These Things… and I was getting nervous as the night went on and they still hadn’t played it. They came back for the first encore and didn’t play it. They came back for the second encore and didn’t play it. It wasn’t until the last song of the third encore that they brought the house down with an epic performance of my favorite song.

I learned a very important lesson that night that I still remind myself of from time to time: sometimes you just gotta wait.

I got soul, but I'm not a soldier
I got soul, but I'm not a soldier
...

Yeah, you know you got to help me out
Yeah, oh don't you put me on the blackburner
You know you got to help me out
You're gonna bring yourself down
You're gonna bring yourself down
Yeah, oh don't you put me on the blackburner
Yeah, you're gonna bring yourself down

Reason No. 3:

In the summer of 2006, my Wife was just a good friend at the time and she was actually trying to help me chase another girl (love has a funny sense of humor sometimes).

My Wife and I were hanging out regularly that summer but there was still no level of commitment to each other of any kind. There was on Sunday night that I blew off plans that we had together to go hang out with the other girl – I think my Wife would have understood and been OK with it, but I was kind of shady about the whole ordeal (yes, I disclosed all of this to her a long time ago).

I felt so guilty about it, that I asked if I could take her to dinner the following weekend and that was the night it all turned around for me. That was the first time I saw her as more than a friend, and I really liked it. It was the first time that it felt like we were on a “date” but there was no pressure or anxiety because we already knew each other so well.

This is what I had been looking for all along but just didn’t know it.

The deal was sealed for me on the way home when I threw The Killers’ Hot Fuss album in the car CD player and we finally got to the fifth track and those legendary first few piano notes started to play. My Wife legitimately rocked out to All These Things… (she could care less that I was even still in the car) and I was a goner.

People have asked me in the time since when I first knew that I loved her and I always go to that moment. Sure it wasn’t the love that we share know and I may not have been cognizant of that emotion as “love” there in the car, but I promise you, that somewhere in the unconscious recesses of my heart, I knew it even then.

After only being married a few weeks this past summer, we got to see The Killers live at Red Rocks. Our favorite band at the greatest venue in the world. It was perfect. I don’t want to sound sacrilegious but it was a borderline spiritual experience and not because of the band or the song, but getting to experience it all together.

If all of that can’t launch a song to the Top spot, then I can’t imagine what could.

All These Things… is my by far my no doubt, Top Song of the Oh-Oh’s.

With a bullet.

Over and in,
Last call for sin
While everyone's lost, the battle is won
With all these things that I've done

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Top 10 Songs of the Oh-Oh’s

When I decided back in August to try and encapsulate the best in pop culture from the 2000's (or the "Oh-Oh's" as we're going with here), trying to pick the 10 best songs was the toughest one by far.

The biggest problem for me was that I didn't really like most of the "best" songs and artists from this past decade. My buddy Jesse and I were talking about this a few weeks ago and I realized that what made our college campus sketch comedy show work back in 1999 was the fact that as a producer, I was completely in touch with the biggest and best artists/albums/songs of that moment.

If we tried to start that show now, I would be lost.

As I've discussed before, from my perspective, music seemed to be split into three different eras during the Oh-Oh's: (1) bubble-gum, mainstream pop, (2) underground indie that became mainstream, and (3) Euro-dance pop - all encompassed by an evolution in hip hop (from traditional rap).

Even more importantly than all of that was the way we could access music. We were no longer dependent on physical albums or CDs with the emergence of Napster, illegal downloading sites, and eventually iTunes (I would give ANYTHING for the newspaper industry to adopt some form of iTunes, but that's another discussion for another day).

So I will remember music from the Oh-Oh's as a transitional decade. I don't know if it's going to get any better or much worse, but we're heading in a new direction regardless.

OK, on to my list.

Once again, I know that all of the standard Top 10 lists will feature selections from Radiohead, and Outkast, and Beyonce, and Jay-Z, and Kanye, and The White Stripes, but that's not the stuff I was listening to, so it would be impossible for me to rank it.

This song dilemma is what made me decide to go the personal route with these lists and I hope that comes through in my explanations. As much as I didn't care for music on the whole this past decade, I was pleasantly surprised with the 10 songs (actually 11) I was able to find and how they each hit me at different points during this part of my life.

Go ahead and blast my list (and feel free to submit your own). I think we can all typically agree on best teams, best TV shows, and best movies (even if they're not a personal favorite) but music seems so much personal than the other pop culture mediums. A certain song has the ability to mean more to one person than it does to another in a way a show or film cannot.

I've included my favorite line from each song (known as the "Money Line") and if you click on the name of the song, it will link you to the music video or live performance or the best option I could find (note: some songs include strong language).

Once again, can't wait to hear your thoughts on your favorite songs of the Oh-Oh's and the ones that got me through them as well.


10. Bad Day – Daniel Powter (2005)/You’re Beautiful – James Blunt (2004)
These two make the list in a tie for the most overplayed songs of the decade (Kings of Leon’s Use Somebody made a gallant run just a little too late). The crazy thing is that I really liked both of these songs before they were playing on every radio station all of the time – I honestly heard You’re Beautiful on FIVE stations at once. Bad Day also gets the distinction of best music video of the Oh-Oh’s. It was like a full romantic comedy wrapped up in three minutes.

BAD DAY MONEY LINE: You had a bad day/The camera don't lie/You're coming back down and you really don't mind/You had a bad day/You had a bad day

YOU’RE BEAUTIFUL MONEY LINE: And I don't think that I'll see her again/But we shared a moment that will last till the end.



9. You’ll Be Coming Down – Bruce Springsteen (2007)
You don’t have defend yourself too much when it comes to The Boss. One of the best songs off of one of the best drive-to-albums of the last 10 years. Every spring I can’t wait for the weather to warm up enough so that I can roll the windows down and blast this one.

MONEY LINE: Like a thief on a Sunday morning/It all falls apart with no warning/Satin sky's gone candy-apple green/The crushed metal of your little fine machine



8. Should’ve Said No – Taylor Swift (2006)

Beyond being a great song, it was Swift’s water soaked performance of Should’ve Said No at the ACM awards that I will always remember – and before your dirty minds wander, there was no sexual element to it. We’ve seen so many performances done on so many award shows, that it all kind of blends together now. This seemed so simple (sing angry while water pours down on you) but it was so unique and fresh. In a decade of a lot of songs and artists I didn’t care for, Swift gives me a glimmer of hope that all is not lost.

MONEY LINE: And I should've been there, in the back of your mind/I shouldn't be asking myself why/You shouldn't be begging for forgiveness at my feet/You should've said no, baby and you might still have me



7. Say Hello, Wave Goodbye – David Gray (2000)

I know that this was a Soft Cell cover and I know that White Ladder was actually first released in the UK in 1998 (released in the States in early 2000), but this was my official breakup song of the Oh-Oh’s (and if you knew me in my mid-20’s, you’ll know that this song got a lot of play time). It’s interesting how life changes your perspective on – or need of – certain songs. Five years ago, this one would have probably made the Top 5. Now, I’m banking that I will never have to play it again. Gotta love life.

MONEY LINE: We try to make it work, you in a cocktail skirt/And me in a suit, but it just wasn't me/You're used to wearing less, and now your life's a mess/So insecure you see



6. Snails – The Format (2006)
A calming presence during a tumultuous time of life (see #2 for more on this). Try chasing your dreams for a salary of $0 a year and see if this song doesn’t make a little more sense to you.

MONEY LINE: Snails see the benefit, the beauty in every inch



5. Time to Pretend – MGMT (2007)

Like a refreshing breeze blowing in on a scorching summer day, just the first couple of synthesized notes of this tune can turn the even the most boring party in to the event of the year (saw it happen more than once). It was probably the best get-up-and-going song of the past decade and I can’t see it losing that title any time soon.

MONEY LINE:
This is our decision, to live fast and die young/We've got the vision, now let's have some fun/Yeah, it's overwhelming, but what else can we do/Get jobs in offices, and wake up for the morning commute



4. Paper Planes – M.I.A. (2007)

No other song could make a bunch of white people channel their inner hip hop self more than this one. Besides, you just gotta respect an artist that relies on gun and cash register sound effects instead of actual words. This one will always be remembered to me as the song on the greatest movie trailer of all time for Pineapple Express. After seeing that preview a few hundred times, I was convinced Express was going to be the next Casablanca. Unfortunately it is the king example of trailers that were better than the actual movie (I should really write THAT column someday soon).

MONEY LINE: All I wanna do is (BANG BANG BANG BANG!)/And (KKKAAAA CHING!)/And take your money



3. Viva La Vida – Coldplay (2008)

This is probably the most creative concept for a song that I have heard in my lifetime. I love the idea of delving into the perspective of a former king. And there’s no real preface or reason to it. I just really like the thought that someone was smart enough to think it up and flesh it out. I can’t see a scenario where Coldplay doesn’t go down as The Band of the Oh-Oh’s and this was their signature song.

MONEY LINE: I used to roll the dice/Feel the fear in my enemies' eyes/Listen as the crowd would sing/"Now the old king is dead, long live the king!"/One minute I held the key/Next the walls were closed on me/And I discovered that my castle stands/Upon pillars of salt, and pillars of sand



2. Black Parade – My Chemical Romance (2006)

Go ahead. Rip me apart for including a My Chemical Romance song on this list. I would if I were you. Yeah, MCR is pretty much just an emo-punk-goth group geared towards middle class teenagers that want to rebel against their suburban parents, but as crazy as it might sound, this song helped get me where I am today. While I watched most of my other friends spend their 20’s climbing the professional ladders, buying houses, getting married, and having children, I was living with my parents getting paid nothing to do what I wanted to do in life. The only solace I could find was that while most of those friends had everything going for them on paper, they didn’t really seem fulfilled. So I pressed on. This song helped me fight the doubts (or embrace the insanity, depending on how you want to look at it) and now I am just beginning to live the life I have always dreamed about. My Chemical Romance makes my list and I am the winner, so there.

MONEY LINE: On and on we carry through the fears/Disappointed faces of your peers/Take a look at me cause I could not care at all/Do or die, you'll never make me/Because the world will never take my heart/Go and try, you'll never break me/We want it all, we wanna play this part/I won't explain or say I'm sorry/I'm unashamed, I'm gonna show my scar/Give a cheer for all the broken/Listen here, because it's who we are/I'm just a man, I'm not a hero/Just a boy, who had to sing this song/I'm just a man, I'm not a hero/I don't care


Tune in tomorrow for the #1 song on my list…


Monday, December 14, 2009

I'm an Analog Player in a Digital World Bonus Material

Here is a good article on exactly what's going on with the Studios delaying new releases to Redbox:
http://tech.yahoo.com/blogs/patterson/55205?comment_start=6&comment_count=20


Here is one about Blockbuster's current struggles: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32861720/ns/business-retail/


And here is one about a new upcoming Redbox rip-off where you can rent movies by the hour:
http://tech.yahoo.com/blogs/patterson/62367



If you are like me and are looking for some rental options and are more technologically savvy than me, here are some of the answers I got back from my friends (thanks to everyone that responded):

- Personally I just switched to netflix and can watch blu ray, dvd, OR stream a movie and watch instantly no mail required...

- I normally rent movies from Blockbuster but since they are closing a bunch of stores, I have and will continue to rent movies from On Demand through Comcast. With the new Comcast Merger it will be cool to rent movies a lot sooner, but that also will become more expensive. I am not sure if I will enjoy this new movie viewing process. They took away drive-ins and now they are taking away the old, and much better way, of renting movies. What's next no more movie theaters only in home new movie viewing. What is this world coming to?

- Hulu is the bizzomb for tv and streaming Netflix online is the way to go (immediate gratification). But, my friend has Apple TV and really loves it-- you should check it out!

- I stream netflix like a champ. The only downside is that they don't make everything available for streaming...sucks. Ninjavideo.net is also a really cool site for streaming shows. I use that one a lot. Redbox is a sweet concept but I rarely pay to rent anymore. Only netflix. It's awesome not having a return date. I'm sure I stated a lot of obviousness.

- Well.... you sound a little too impatient to go through the library system. I have to wait longer, but it's free and I get them for 2 weeks. I place a hold and they email when it's ready for pickup.

- We just do redbox...I actually like that there is a little lag time between when the movie is in theaters and when I can get a hold of it to watch it...it gives me time to hear a good amount of buzz about it...whether it was good or bad...that way I don't waste my time or money on crap.

- Xbox Live Marketplace, streaming Netflix, Amazon VOD, online video sites like Hulu, Crackle, mooovies, etc. all streamed to my home theater via my 360! There you go, mostly free entertainment... most importantly: instant gratification on demand :) In fact, I don't need cable any more.

AND FINALLY...

- As long as we are talking legally .. i'd go with Hulu ...

I'm an Analog Player in a Digital World

Since I don’t count the four days I worked at Chick-fil-A fast food restaurant, I will always remember my first job at the video rental store across the street from my parent’s house back in Virginia (I kept getting yelled at for taking too long to butter the buns at Chick-fil-A, so I had to move on).

In the history of a job being right up someone’s proverbial alley, that job for me is up there on the list; and I already know it was probably the most enjoyable source of employment I will ever experience.

That would be like me to peak professionally at 16 years old.

When I first started working there, it was just a mom and pop store but was shortly thereafter bought out by a chain. I don’t remember the exact sequence but in some order during my three summers there, we were known as Video Stars, Video Update, and Moovies (with a complete cow theme). I always liked being associated with the little guy going up against the big, bad Blockbusters of the world.

But now I’m even sad to see that the Blockbusters are struggling in this modern economic climate.

Forget about the mom and pops.

It felt like a punch to the stomach while my Wife and I were in Orlando a few weeks ago and I saw that a local Blockbuster was closing down. It felt like the knockout blow to the face when I got back to Denver and saw that the Blockbuster closest to our apartment was following suit (and apparently close to a thousand more will be closing down before the end of 2010).

I get why it’s happening and I know that I’ve been a part of the problem.

With too many convenient and cheaper options out there, actual physical video rental stores are having a nightmare of a time trying to keep up.

I’ll be the first to first to admit that I got caught up in the Redbox craze (in case you’ve been receiving your mail under a rock for the past couple of years, Redbox is a free standing kiosk that you can find at places like McDonald’s and Wal-Mart and you can rent movies for just a dollar a day) because it was now worth it to skip an iffy looking film for $10 at the theater and take a chance on it through Redbox for a buck.

I will watch anything for a dollar.

Well, anything not directed by Stephen Sommers.

But thanks to greedy – and suffering – Hollywood studios, it’s getting more difficult to find your favorite movie titles there. Basically what’s happened is that the studios are upset that Redbox is cutting into their DVD sales so much (and it is) that they’ve put a delay on when Redbox can get access to new releases. They certainly underestimated how little Blu Ray would help – and I have a Blu Ray player so I can say with a certain authority that there’s just not enough difference from DVD to Blu Ray to make the leap. We all understood the jump from VHS to DVD, but you want me to spend $35 on a Blu Ray disc because it has blue-violet laser as opposed to a red laser?

Sorry, thanks for playing.

I know a lot of people that use Netflix (in case you’ve been at Rip Van Winkle’s slumber party, Netflix is an online system where you can select what movies you want and they will mail them to you and you can get as many as you want for just a flat rate per month) but that’s not even close to a plausible option for someone like me. As I am the king of “in the mood viewing” there is no way I could place an order than wait even 15 minutes for it to be mailed to me. When I want to see something, I have to watch it right then or else I won’t care about it the next day.

What is someone like me supposed to do now?

I posed this question to my friends on Facebook and via e-mail this past week and I was really grateful for the amount of responses I got in return. Unfortunately none of them were helpful. Most had something to do with streaming and computers and getting clearance from top secret government agencies.

I’m not doing any of that.

I’m not old by any means, but I guess I am old school. I like going to a physical location and looking at the covers of the DVDs and reading the information on the back. One of my favorite memories from childhood is the Friday nights where my parents would take me to McDonald’s for a happy meal, then going to pick up a VHS tape at the local video store.

Not that it was a big deal, but it was a way for us to spend time together. It was a memory.

What am I going to do with my children someday?

“Hey kids, make sure you put your movie in the internet queue so it can be downloaded to your eyelids tomorrow.”

So forgive me if I’m hanging on to the past here. Just like Roman told Danny and Rusty in Ocean’s 13, “you’re analog players living in a digital world,” and I think I might be as well.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go out and try to find the next nearest Blockbuster for this week's new releases.

I might even get some Chick-fil-A for the drive.


*Check out a new column every morning here and at INDenverTimes.com

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Top 10 Sports Moments of the Oh-Oh’s

*Every Wednesday through the rest of the year, I will be posting a special "TOP 10 OF THE OH-OH'S" feature (sports moments, songs, TV shows, and movies) for at INDenverTimes.com.

As we sufficiently established a couple of weeks ago, I love lists. I get excited every December for all of the end-of-the-year lists that always come out, but typically refrain from providing my own just because we don’t really need one more. With that said, there was no way I was going to let an END-OF-THE-DECADE list opportunity pass me by.

By the beard of Zeus, where did the 2000’s go? (Or as I like to call them, the oh-oh’s) I know there will be many more life changes along my journey, but I have to think it doesn’t get much more drastic than when you’re in your twenties. Sure I will (hopefully) continue to grow as an adult from here on out, but your twenties is when you go from a child to an adult.

That’s a lot of growing.

So here’s my plan to remember the decade where I turned 21, interned at Letterman, dropped out of college, drove across the country twice, went back to college, helped start a magazine, got to be on TV and radio, got engaged and MARRIED, moved to Denver, and began our happily ever after (whew!): every Wednesday for the rest of December, I will roll out my Top 10 of the Oh-Oh’s in Sports Moments, Songs, TV Shows, and Movies (probably in that order).

There are a couple of quick rules. This is my list. Originally I had tried to keep my personal feelings out of it, but then I felt that by trying to appeal to everyone I was actually appealing to no one (basically I had become NBC). So please feel free to disagree and/or reply with your favorites below but this is just how I saw it. Also, (this will mainly apply to the TV shows) the moment or song or show or movie HAD TO start/happen in the 2000’s.

I think that’s it.

Today we start with the Top 10 Sports Moments of the Oh-Oh’s. It’s weird to think about how the sports landscape has changed in just a decade. Back in 1999, Jordan, Elway, and Jeter were leading dynasties, we didn’t know what a LeBron was and we hadn’t been yet introduced to Tom Brady. The Red Sox were still cursed and Philadelphia was still a tortured sports town. Then again the Yankees were world champs and the Cubs were still waiting for next year so maybe some things don’t ever change.

Keep in mind that these are my moments the way I remember them. I'm not going to rehash stats or scores, this is about where I was, who I was with, and how these moments affected me. I can't wait to hear back from you with your favorites.

And I can’t wait to see what and who the twenty-tens (or twenty-teens?) bring us and the moments we will experience.

10. 2008 NBA Finals – Celtics vs. Lakers (June 5-17, 2008)
This series makes the list for three reasons: (1) The first NBA finals that I can really remember is the 1989 matchup between the Bad Boy Pistons and the Lakers, just two years removed from the last classic between L.A. and Boston. As a die-hard pro basketball fan, I had always heard about the epic Celtic-Laker showdowns and it had perpetually irritated me that I had never witnessed one before. (2) So many times as a sports fan, you hope and wish and pray for a certain championship pairing and it rarely happens (I’m not holding my breath yet for the Undefeated Super Bowl this year between the Saints and the Colts). I was pining for this particular Finals from the beginning of the season and we actually got it. (3) It’s always nice to see Kobe lose.

9. 2008 NCCA Men’s Basketball Championship – Kansas vs. Memphis (April 7, 2008)
Never mind the fact that this was a great championship game that went to overtime, I will always remember this night as one of the first legendary DVR moments in the United States. Basically what happened was that if you had set up this game to record on a DVR but didn’t add extra time to the recording (as I always do now for sporting events because of this moment!) then the recording caught up to real time just as Kansas was passing the ball up the court for Mario Chalmer’s eventual amazing game-tying three pointer at the end of regulation. At the party I was at, we saw the pass to Chalmers but then the screen suddenly jumped to a live commercial. We were in agony as we had to wait until the coverage returned to find out what had happen. Originally I thought it was just us, but the next day I read multiple reports of the same thing happening across the country. Welcome to the DVR sports era!

8. Appalachian St. upsets Michigan (September 1, 2007)

This is the only one in the list I actually didn’t see. I was in a store shopping for my dad’s birthday present when I got a call from my buddy Moochie that this one was coming down to the wire. As Mooch gave me the play-by-play on the Wolverines’ final drive, I could not wrap my head around the thought of Michigan losing to App St. We both thought it was over when the Maze and Blue lined up for the game-winning field goal but I still laugh when I think about Moochie screaming into the phone when App St. blocked the attempt to secure the win. I got more than a few odd looks as I returned the screaming; at that was the exact moment I realized the importance of sports as a connection between friends.

7. Vince Carter’s 2000 Slam Dunk contest (February 12, 2000)
Before Vince became the unprofessional professional that he is now, he was once upon a time, my favorite college player of all time for my favorite college basketball team of all time (I still pull out the #15 UNC jersey every spring during March Madness). This was a simple case of the perfect dunker coming to the dunk contest at the perfect time – because if you remember the event had gotten a little stale during the 90’s after the Dr. J./Dominique/Jordan heyday of the 1980’s. That’s the night Carter went from just Vince to Vincesanity and an ex-girlfriend even got me an awesome framed frame-by-frame picture of Carter’s 360 Tomahawk. Every time I see Vince take a play or a game off, or destroy an entire franchise, I take a look at the picture and remember what he once was.

6. Colorado Rockies 2007 Rocktober Run (September 16-October 15, 2007)
The one moment that will forever stick out for me was the night my then-Girlfriend (now Wife) and I were eating in an Olive Garden back home in Virginia and I just happened to walk by a TV set at the bar to see Tony Gwynn Jr. (playing for the Brewers) get the game winning base hit to beat the Padres to keep the Rockies’ playoff hopes alive. That, and of course the EPIC one game playoff between Colorado and San Diego that ended with another gut-wrenching come from behind win for the Rock Stars. We had been watching that game at my Girlfriends’ house and I just wasn’t feeling the mojo there. I made a risky decision to leave her house and drive home in the middle of the 13th inning and got to my place just in time to see the game winning hit off the right field wall that scored Matt Holliday at home. It was a magical run from the beginning and everything fell just perfectly along the way. You’re welcome Denver.

5. 2001 World Series – Diamondbacks vs. Yankees (October 27-November 4, 2001)
This one was huge for a variety of reasons. First of all, the Yankees were on the verge of a four-peat that would have surely ushered in the end of the world. Secondly, this was the last legitimate really World Series we saw in the decade (I know the Giants-Angels went 7 Games, but it didn’t offer the same level of drama). And finally, and most importantly, this series took place just a few short weeks after the 9-11 attacks and we were all still an emotional and mental mess. Regardless of your politics, there was something comforting about then President Bush coming out in the middle of that open stadium before Game 1 to throw out the first pitch. It was just another reason to love sports: not only did that series serve as the perfect distraction to help us rebound, but it was the ultimate stage to show ourselves – and the world – that we were going to be OK.

4. NCAA Championship Game – Texas vs. USC (January 4, 2006)
This one probably should be higher but it’s my list and I was rooting for USC, so there. Almost four years later I still can’t get over the Trojans’ outright arrogance in refusing to change their defensive game plan as Longhorns’ QB Vince Young was just gashing them on the ground. As much as I cannot stand the BCS system (can you imagine a world where the Vikings were told they couldn’t challenge for the Super Bowl this year because the Saints and Colts were ranked higher… by a computer???), this was one of the few “title” games that actually felt like it in the 2000s.

3. Super Bowl XLII – Giants vs. Patriots (February 3, 2008)
This one should DEFINITELY be higher but this was legitimately one of the worst days of my life. I had been brutally sick in the days leading up to this game and finally went to the hospital on Super Bowl Sunday morning. After one of the most intrusive physical exams I’ve ever received (you can read all the graphic and gory details here), I just wanted to pass out that evening. As much as I don’t like the Patriots, I really wanted to see a team go undefeated, and as a lifelong Eagles fan, I HATE the Giants. You know what? Let’s keep moving, I can’t relive this day any longer…

2. LeBron’s 48 point playoff game (May 31, 2007)
As sacrilegious as the Nike “We Are Witnesses” ad campaign is, we were in awe for this performance and it made me a believer in King James once and for all. You have to understand that I saw him play live in Philly in 2004 and in D.C. in 2006 and I hadn’t yet seen what all the hype was about. For those two live games, LeBron took A LOT of plays off, just standing by the three point line on offense and defense and only moving when he seemed motivated. This was NOT the next Jordan. The weekend of the legendary 48 point game, Mooch and I had flown up to Boston for a Red Sox-Yankees game (we had seen them play in the Bronx in 2001 and wanted to get both sides of the experience) and we had just happened to stop in one of the nation’s most famous sports bars – The Fours. There was just something special about watching LeBron go nuts on the Pistons under the shadow of the Celtics arena (what is that building even called these days? The Boston Garden Fleet Center at the TD Bank Arena in the Boston Garden?). That’s the day LeBron became one of the greats and as much as I hate to say it, we were witnesses.

1B. 2004 ALCS – Red Sox vs. Yankees (October 12-20, 2004)
For the rest of time whenever a team gets down three games to none in any playoff series, you cannot count them out because of this series. This was back when the Phillies would be out of the race by July and I would turn my attention to the BoSox because I hated the Yankees that much (still do, but the Red Sox have basically become the Yankees so I hate them now too). After the Dave Roberts steal that led to the Boston win in Game 4, a light bulb suddenly went on over everyone’s heads. If the Red Sox could just somehow win Game 5 in Boston, then they would have Schilling in Game 6 and Pedro in Game 7 (in New York). It didn’t seem that outrageous that it could happen. And it did. Paulie’s poor Cardinals didn’t have a prayer against that momentum train in the World Series and it is a series that will be talked about until the end of time. That’s why it gets the top spot along with one special exception…

1A. 2008 World Series – Phinally! (October 29, 2008)
This one is just for me and my dad. You go 25 years without seeing you favorite teams win a championship (the 76ers won the NBA title when I was three so I definitely do not remember that) and you start to think that’s just the way it’s going to be. That World Series win forever changed my life as a sports fan. I’m in the club now and it can never get taken away. Of course our Series win had to be split into two nights (because of weather) and we were at the Monarch Sports Bar in Norfolk, VA for the suicide innings on that Wednesday night. I am not ashamed to say, I cried – no wept when the final out was recorded. It wasn’t tears of joy but relief; 25 years of agony gone for good. My dad and I had seen a championship together. I knew I could finally move to Denver, I knew I could finally move on with life.