Friday, February 26, 2010

American Idol Week 1 Power Rankings

WHOA! Did America actually agree with me on three of the four eliminated contestants? As much as I am sad to see my boy Tyler go, I will take that sacrifice to see Ashley, Janell, and Joe get voted off. Now I can be as objective as possible and we got rid of a lot of the riff raff.

I'll take that compromise even though I can't imagine anyone picking up their phone to vote for Alex Lambert - can someone please defend that to me?

So good to see Allison Iraheta by the way. She was one of my all time favorite Idol contestants, and I can't wait for her to be out from under her Idol contracts so she can actually be the artist we all know she can be. Also good to see Tim Urban - er, I mean Kris Allen perform as well.

On to my first Power Rankings! Again, I'm going to put personal feelings aside and these are my rankings based on who I think can actually win from everything we've seen thus far:

1. Casey James

2. Andrew Garcia

3. Didi Benami

4. Crystal Bowersox

5. Big Mike Lynche

6. Katie Stevens

7. Katelyn Epperly

8. Todrick Hall

9. Aaron Kelly

10. Lilly Scott

11. Michelle Delamor

12. Jermaine Sellers

13. Lacey Brown

14. Lee Dewyze

15. Tim Urban

16. Paige Miles

17. John Park

18. Siobhan Magnus

19. Haley Vaughn

20. Alex Lambert

What do YOU think about the 20 contestants remaining? Feel free to post your comments below!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

American Idol Recap: Top 12 Guys

ONCE AGAIN, this is how my recaps are going to work this season:

After the night(s) that the contestants perform, I’m going to review the performances in order and provide my personal thoughts. On the day after the results show each week, I’m going to post a quick recap of that show as well as a overall Weekly Power Ranking (that will be more performance/judges’ comments/popularity based than my own opinions – which ALWAYS seem to be in conflict with the reality of the show).

So what did we learn from the judges' comments about the guys last night? The more safe and generic you are, the better - but you can't be too safe and generic or they'll be all over you.

Here's how it went down:

Todrick HallSince You’ve Been Gone (Kelly Clarkson)
One of the only guys that didn’t look petrified going into the evening and he completely OWNED the stage. Forget what the judges said, that was an excellent performance and was exactly what American Idol is supposed to be about – unknown artists putting their own, original spin on something familiar in order to stand out. I already prefer his version of the song to Clarkson’s.

Aaron KellyHere Comes Goodbye (Rascal Flats)
A boring, generic performance of a boring, generic song that the judges and (and probably America) loved. I can’t tell you how different I felt about these first two contestants than the judges. Just absolute polar opposites.

Jermaine SellersGet Here (Oleta Adams)
One of the only ways I judge any contestant on Idol is (A) could I imagine hearing them on the radio ? And (B) would I stop to listen to it if they were? It would be a “yes” on both accounts for me in regards to Jermaine’s performance last night. PS – I wish the judges would stop trying to make everyone younger. There’s enough Neos and Maxwells, out there already, Randy. I personally prefer an older soul, thank you.

Tim UrbanApologize (One Republic)
Wow look at that: I compared Urban to former Idol winner Kris Allen after the Top 24 was announced and he didn’t even wait a week to do a song that Allen crushed during his run. Unfortunately for Urban, this song crushed him.

Joe MunozYou and I Both (Jason Mraz)
While I would never go to his concert or buy his album and I can’t dream of scenario where Ryan announces his name as the next American Idol, I have to admit that it was a pretty solid performance and a rock solid song choice.

Tyler GradyAmerican Woman (The Guess Who)
I have no way of being objective when it comes to Tyler. He’s going to skew my perspective as long as he is in the competition because I’m such a classic rock fan and he totally embodies that era. I agree with the judges that he needs to work on the vocals a bit, but I always enjoy him when he’s on the stage, and that’s all that matters to me.

Lee DewyzeChasing Cars (Snow Patrol)
That was the most amazing performance… if it was 2004. Really? Chasing Cars? You either have to go classic or a lot more modern for me. I’m really confused by the judges so far by the way. If Simon’s comments didn’t prove that he’s completely on cruise control for this season, then I don’t know what will.

John ParkGod Bless the Child (Billie Holliday)
I liked his sense of humor in the Shania Twain set-up piece and I will always appreciate a good jazz standard, but I actually did agree with Kara (for once tonight) in that the performance was a little on the “sleepy” side. I’m just not seeing him as a legit contender yet.

Big Mike LyncheThis Love (Maroon 5)
So far, he seems to be the perfect contestant for what America loves. Ultimately both Mike and the performance were pretty standard and predictable but he has just enough personality to mask it with some smoke and mirrors. We love our style and no substance characters that are easy to comprehend and put in our safe little mental boxes. Enjoy a nice long ride, Big Mike!

Alex LambertWhat a Wonderful World (James Morrison)
Alex made this easy on me by describing his own performance with lyrics from the song he sang: I've been down so low/People look at me and they know/They can tell something is wrong/Like I don't belong. Couldn’t have said it better myself, buddy.

Casey JamesHeaven (Bryan Adams)
All Casey had to do last night to ensure that he keeps moving on was to not create some sort of internationally offensive incident on stage. He played it safe for sure, but I gotta admit that he was solid nonetheless. By the way, the Casey-Kara love affair is getting borderline creepy. What is the ceiling for those two this season and aren’t we kinda there ALREADY?

Andrew GarciaSugar We’re Going Down (Fall Out Boy)
This is how much I love Andrew: I HATE that song (and Fall Out Boy for that matter) but I LOVED his performance. He sang the song with meaning and purpose and gave it a sweet, bluesy vibe. Very cool! I give him the nod over Todrick for originality on the night just because there was a little more depth.

MY TOP 3 OF THE NIGHT: (1) Andrew Garcia, (2) Todrick Hall, (3) Tyler Grady

MY BOTTOM 3 OF THE NIGHT: (1) Alex Lambert, (2) Tim Urban, (3) John Park

Who were your favorites? Who were your least favorites? Feel free to comment below!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

American Idol Recap: Top 12 Females

OK, this is how my recaps are going to work this season:

After the night(s) that the contestants perform, I'm going to review the performances in order and provide my personal thoughts. On the day after the results show each week, I'm going to post a quick recap of that show as well as a overall Weekly Power Ranking (that will be more performance/judges' comments/popularity based than my own opinions - which ALWAYS seem to be in conflict with the reality of the show).

I can't wait to hear your thoughts and opinions and, yes, I can easily be paid off.

The ladies kicked off season nine last night and here's how it went:

Paige MilesAll Right Now (Free)
Was her performance good or bad? I watched it three times and still can’t tell. I agreed with Simon in that her voice seemed pretty solid but the song felt kinda generic for her – and to be fair, I really like that song.

Ashley RodriguezHappy (Leona Lewis)
I know most people are picking A-Rod as an early front runner, but that was pretty rough to sit through. My biggest problem with her after Hollywood week was that she comes off as bland and generic and this less than stellar performance only confirmed that for me.

Janelle WheelerWhat About Love (Heart)
I’m pretty sure I saw the exact same performance at my local sports bar on karaoke night last week (only the sports bar performance was way better).

Lilly ScottFixing a Hole (The Beatles)
Just because of the uniqueness of her voice, I liked her the best of the first four contestants so far, but something still felt a little off. I would love to see a little more of her though and hope Denver voted strong because I think she could be just starting to come into her own if given another chance.

Katelyn EpperlyOh! Darling (The Beatles)
FINALLY! I was beginning to doubt my ears or the quality of the contestants but Katelyn reminded me what a legit contender can sound like. Loved the bluesy rasp to her voice and she came off as an original. Solid performance overall.

Haley VaughnI Wanna Hold Your Hand (The Beatles)
I was tough on Colorado native coming out of Hollywood and I’m a little conflicted after this performance. On one hand, I really liked the arrangement of the song but I really don’t like her voice – especially the way she pronounces the lyrics. I could see her sticking around and people getting behind her but I think she might lose me due to my fixation on her pronunciation.

Lacey BrownLandslide (Fleetwood Mac)
One of my favorite contestants doing one of my favorite songs of all time. No chance she sticks around after last night because I enjoyed it way too much. I loved it and that’s always bad news for any contestant. Sorry Lacey.

Michelle DelamorFallin (Alicia Keys)
I liked Michelle coming out of Hollywood week but was nervous when Ryan said she would be doing such a recognizable song from such a recognizable artist but somehow she delivered. For the first time tonight, I actually have to agree with Ellen in that the performance felt safe. Simon also nailed it in that there wasn’t a “wow” moment but the good news is that she didn’t screw it up – and that’s saying a lot for that song.

Didi BenamiThe Way I Am (Ingrid Michaelson)
Probably the most perfect song choice of the evening. Like I said after Hollywood week, if she can keep it all together she might the best of the bunch. Definitely agree with the judges in that we’re lacking the star quality from the contestants so far; it feels like everyone is just doing really good impressions up until now.

Siobhan MagnusWicked Game (Chris Isaak)
The Bull said it best: “Was that a dude or a chick?” Any time you have to ask that question, it’s not a good start to your American Idol run. She did a good job staying in control of her vocals on the chorus but she just started so low that it was too distracting. At the end of the day (and this is all it really comes down to), is there ANY chance she is still standing at the season finale as Ryan announces the winner? None.

Crystal BowersoxHand in My Pocket (Alanis Morissette)
I now feel like I can completely get behind Crystal. It was another great song choice that suited the performer perfectly. Make some room because I’m officially on the Bowersox bandwagon!

Katie StevensFeeling Good (Michael Bublé)
I got a lot of heat for listing her as my number one female after Hollywood week, but I have to stand by it ONLY because she is the only one singing with a big voice so far. It might not be the “best” voice but in a contest with a lot of soft, indie singers she will stick around just because she is an alternative to everyone else.

MY TOP 3 OF THE NIGHT: Lacey Brown was my absolute favorite but since I know she's going home, I'm going to go with (1) Bowersox, (2) Epperly, and (3) Stevens

MY BOTTOM 3 OF THE NIGHT: (1) Magnus, (2) Vaughn, and (3) Wheeler

Who were your favorites? Who were your least favorites? Feel free to comment below!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

INDenverTimes Pop Culture Podcast: 2/23/2010

INDenverTimes columnist Josh Mahler and broadcast partner Gray Brothers weigh in on Tiger Woods' nationally televised apology and Team USA's hockey upset over Canada.

In Take It or Leave It, the guys break down the first weekend success of Shutter Island and the Top 24 contestants on American Idol, among other hot topics!

Listen here:

Monday, February 22, 2010

Trivia Wars 2 - Revenge of Suit Up!

In the midst of all the wall-to-wall Winter Olympic coverage, I don't know if you happened to catch one of the more inspirational interviews with NBC analyst Bob Costas this past Friday morning, recapping one of the biggest moments that's happened during the course of the games so far.

Just over a month ago, I wrote a column about how my trivia team Suit Up! had never won and how we always lost to our biggest rivals, The No Talent A-- Clowns (or "The Clown Show" as I like to call them). That dubious streak finally ended this past Thursday night and while all the other media outlets were trying to land a few minutes with American heroes like Shani Davis, Lindsey Vonn, and Shaun White, Costas sat down with yours truly to break down our team's first ever victory.

In case you did miss the interview, I was able to get a copy of the transcription and have posted it here:

BOB: Welcome back to NBC's coverage of the 2010 Winter Olympics. I'm here with Josh Mahler from team Suit Up! who won their first ever game of bar trivia last night. Josh, Suit Up! finally took down The Clown Show, so my first question has to be how does it feel?

ME: Well, Bob, it actually somehow feels better than I had ever imagined. It feels like a giant weight has been lifted off our shoulders and I can finally breathe. Just the greatest.

BOB: This has been a long time coming for Suit Up! Over the past year, you were the only regular team that had not finished in first place so what does it mean for you to finally get over that proverbial hump?

ME: It means a lot. We’ve had a good, friendly rivalry with all of the other teams that usually come out, including The Clown Show, but we all knew something was missing – that we weren’t all equals yet. To finally get this win feels like we’ve been invited to join an exclusive club of champions. We’re no longer on the outside looking in.

BOB: But the win didn’t come without some bumps along the way. Walk us through the night.

ME: In typical Suit Up! fashion, we got a quick start out of the gate. We got every single answer correct in the first round, but missed the two-parter to end the opening round. Also in typical Suit Up! fashion, we all thought the night was beginning to derail when we missed the first FOUR questions of the second round. Everyone chipped in down the stretch and we didn’t answer incorrectly again until the final question… of course.

BOB: The end of the second round and the entire third round were one of the more impressive stretches in Suit Up! trivia history. How did you all put it together?

ME: It was a total team effort. Laura got a Nicole Kidman question right, Heather was all over a Good Will Hunting answer, Christa knew St. Christopher as the patron saint of travelers, Greg and Kevin figured out how many minutes it takes the earth to turn one degree, The Bull and I rolled the dice on Sweden over Russia on an critical Olympic hockey question. I also have to note that we did not miss a single question after my Wife got to the bar after work. She was our good luck charm and turned our luck around.

BOB: Good Will Hunting, huh? So you were able to redeem the Dazed and Confused debacle with another Ben Affleck movie?

ME: Uhh… we still don’t talk about that, Bob.

BOB: Oh, sorry. So after the third round, you looked up at the scoreboard and for only the second time in team history, you were going into the final question in first place. Your team was nursing a slim six points over your dreaded rivals, The Clown Show when the final question comes up on the screen: Name the Top 4 best selling Girl Scout cookies? What was the discussion process like at your table?

ME: All I know about Girl Scout cookies is that I like the coconut one and the mint one, so I knew right off the bat that I wasn’t going to be any help. I just slunk back in my chair and accepted defeat, but the girls instantly huddled around each other and I think Greg and Kendall got involved as well. Everyone pretty much agreed on Thin Mints, Samoas, Tagalongs and the girls thought the final answer was Trefoils and Kendall thought it was Do-si-dos. Since the girls had the majority, we put down Trefoils, turned in our answer sheet, and slowly awaited our fate.

BOB: And the correct answers were?

ME: Thin Mints, Samoas, Tagalongs and… Do-si-dos.

BOB: Oh, no!

ME: Exactly. (Sigh) For the 436th time in team history we had gotten three out of the final four answers right. Fortunately there were no premature celebrations this time; the table just went quiet because we knew there was no way The Clown Show missed it. They had gotten us again.

BOB: Last time, trivia host Moe faked your team out with answer, this time there was a mix-up with the scoreboard?

ME: Yeah, even in our greatest moment there had to be some controversy. The final results were posted on the screen and we were still listed in first place. We were all confused because our score was still the same as it was before the final question. We thought for sure Moe had done that on purpose to tease us AGAIN! He even congratulated us over the microphone, so we called him over for a clarification. He realized that he had posted the wrong screen but the standings were correct! Even though we had missed the right answer, somehow every other team did too – including The Clown Show! We had finally done it. We had finally won!

BOB: And even though your victory was the trivia equivalent of the Rams winning a regular season football game, your team celebrated as if the Bills had won the Super Bowl.

ME: You never know when you’re going to be in that moment again so you have to savor the flavor. As soon as the correct score flashed on the screen, we all went nuts. Moe played Bon Jovi’s Living on a Prayer, which has become our team theme song and followed it up with We Are the Champions by Queen. I’m sure everyone else in the bar hated us as we sang every word at the top of our lungs, but we didn’t care. Championship hats and t-shirts are being printed as we speak.

BOB: Final question: was this just a one hit wonder or the start of a dynasty?

ME: We obviously want to stay competitive on a weekly basis and prove that this wasn’t a fluke. But we have decided that from now on, whenever we don’t know an answer we’re just going to write “It doesn’t matter, we already won.”

Thursday, February 18, 2010

American Idol Recap: Ranking the Top 24


We finally made it to the Top 24, boys and girls.

Overall, I have to say that I'm really impressed with the judges' choices and I'm looking forward to the main course portion of the American Idol feast. And to get things started, I decided to do my personal rankings of the Top 12 guys and the Top 12 girls.

My rankings are a blend of personal opinion and who I legitimately think could win the show based on talent and personality. These rankings aren't necessarily reflective of who I believe will win the show, just where I think they stand going into the actual competition part of the contest.

I can't wait to hear from you though! Who do you think should have made it? Who do you think should NOT have made it? And who do you like to win it all?

Let the season officially begin...


NA Siobhan Magnus – Who? I just don’t remember her at all.

11. Haeley Vaughn – I would never pay money to see her in concert or purchase her album.

10. Paige Miles – No way she was better than Angela Martin. NO WAY.

9. Ashley Rodriguez – A little too boring and bland for me which means she will probably wind up winning it all.

8. Janell Wheeler – Has a good look and could definitely make a run as the American sweetheart if she can keep her emotions in check and get a little more comfortable with the Idol machine.

7.Crystal Bowersox – Like her voice but I just can’t get past her teeth. I know it shouldn’t matter, but when you have to sit there and watch someone’s mouth, it’s becomes a real issue. In such an image-driven country, I just can’t see her sticking around too long if she doesn’t get that fixed ASAP.

6.Katelyn Epperly – Cute enough to be a legit dark horse, but she has to tap into that star persona quickly because she can’t last very long on her voice alone.

5. Didi Benami – She is the Donovan McNabb of American Idol contestants. When she’s calm and collected, there may not be anyone better, but when she lets her emotions get the best of her, she can easily derail.

4. Lilly Scott – I’m not trying to be a homer, but I really like Lilly from Littleton! I’m always a fan of a unique voice and unique personality and will be cheering for her as far as she can go.

3. Michelle Delamor – My Wife and I both agreed that she looks like a young Whitney, now the question becomes if can she sound like a young Whitney.

2. Lacey Brown – Another distinctly unique voice and am happy for her that she gets a shot at redemption after being bounced at the same point in the show last season.

1. Katie Stevens – I’m not necessarily comfortable calling her the favorite from the females but she has a likable personality and possesses one of the few power voices in the field which could help her stand out a bit..


12. Joe Munoz – He made it? Really? He just doesn’t even LOOK like a singer or entertainer, let alone an American Idol. Really?

11. Alex Lambert – A little too young and green to be considered a serious contender at this point.

10. Aaron Kelly – Not as talented (or even attractive) as David Archuleta. I was actually kinda surprised he made the cut, especially with forgetting the lyrics so often. I guess he was the best option to fill the role of the clean-cut wholesome kid.

9.Lee Dewyze – I don’t remember him AT ALL from the auditions or any part of Hollywood week. He was the guy I thought for sure was going home but he slipped through and maybe I just need to see more from him because he seems to have a decent voice and appears to be a good guy. Just can’t see someone named “Dewyze” as the American Idol though. Can’t escape that.

8. “Big Mike” Lynche – I like his style and vibe a lot, but was not impressed with his Jason Mraz cover during Hollywood week. I’m just never going to be a fan of safe and generic.

7.John Park – All the other Idol bloggers and recappers that I read already want to anoint John as the early favorite, but I just don’t see it or get it yet.

6. Tim Urban – Being cut right from the Kris Allen cloth is great news for him and bad news for us.

5. Casey James – I don’t think I would have liked Casey a few years ago (remember Ace Young?), but maybe I’m getting soft in my old age because I could really dig this guy as long as he doesn’t let the success go to his head and turn into a tool (remember Ace Young?).

4. Jermaine Sellers – One of my favorites from the auditions but made me a little nervous when he threw the band under the bus during Hollywood week.

3.Tyler Grady – Being a classic rock fan, he’s already one of my personal favorites in Top 24. I’m trying so hard not to get too attached because that’s always the kiss of death for the contestants I like.

2. Todrick Hall – He’s one of the few that already seems to have some semblance of a superstar personality. He’s so comfortable on the stage and could eventually prove to be a legitimate entertainer. I’m not totally sold on the vocals yet but he has enough of the Idol package already to let that slide… for now.

1. Andrew Garcia – Man, you hate to be this hot this early but this is his show to lose right now.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Josh & Ross on Lost Podcast: 2/17/2010

The guys chime in with different opinions about the latest episode of LOST. Where was Jack? What's up with Claire? Who is this "faux John Locke" and what's up with the names on the ceiling of the cave? Still so many questions, so little time remaining. Let us know what you thought about what was revealed and where you think the final season of the hit series is headed.

Monday, February 15, 2010

INDenverTimes Pop Culture Podcast: 2/16/2010

INDenverTimes columnist Josh Mahler and broadcast partner Gray Brothers discuss their thoughts on the Olympics (and they want yours too!) and weigh in on the rumored titles for the next James Bond film.

In Take It or Leave It, the guys debate the new Valentine's Day movie, CBS picking up a sitcom from a couple of Borat writers, Kevin Smith getting kicked off of a plane for being "too fat" and Quentin Tarantino's announcement that he'd like to do his own version of a western.

We wanna hear your thoughts as well. Feel free to comment below on any of these topics - or any thing else going on in the entertainment industry!

The Triple Date

*I'm sorry for running another archived column today but between all the birthday and Valentine's Day celebrating this past week AND getting ready for our trip to Vegas this coming weekend, I didn't have enough "Josh's Genius Time" to produce the quality type column that you deserve. So, here is one of my favorites that I originally wrote in January of 2008. I honestly haven't been on a Triple Date since but if and when it ever happens again, I can only hope it goes down as smoothly as this experience! I'll be back next week with a brand new column and don't forget to check out our Pop Culture podcast tomorrow, the LOST recap podcast on Wednesday, and my American Idol recap on Thursday. See, I always make it up to you.

After I found out about my new job last Friday, my Girlfriend and I decided we needed to celebrate with dinner and a movie that evening; With how tight things have been for us lately, this was like chartering a plane to Paris just for a light dinner on a Tuesday night.

So yeah, we were excited.

Originally it was just going to be the two of us going to dinner and then we were planning to meet our friends Liz and Dave later to see the new movie 27 Dresses starring Katherine Heigl. As luck would have it, we found out that our good friends Chris and Michelle were planning on going to see that movie at the same time anyways, so we decided to all go together. And then there we were – three couples going to the movies.

The six of us were trying to pull off the rare Triple Date.

And, just for an added degree of difficulty, we were faced with the toughest issue that comes with Triple Date Goes to the Movies: the seating arrangements while in the theater.

Seriously, how do you do it? On the far more common Double Date, the group always sits boy-girl-girl-boy (unless of course the girls don’t know each other or are mortal enemies), but when you throw in another boy and another girl, the whole thing gets more convoluted than an Oliver Stone plot.

The way I see it, here are your only options:

Boy-girl-girl-boy-girl-boy. This doesn’t work because the girls will all inevitably want to sit together.

Girl-girl-girl-boy-boy-boy. This doesn’t work either because now you have two couple separated (in some cases, that’s probably a good idea).

Suddenly, I had an idea - no, a dream - and even though I knew there was no way the girls were going to go for it, I had to try. Ever so casually, I suggested having all the ladies sit together in one Girl Row and all the guys sit together in a Boy Row behind them.

As a man going to a chick flick, you have to understand the vision of getting to sit with two other guys during a girly movie and being able to go all Mystery Science Theater 3000 on it with no repercussions.

I would go down in history as a pioneer.

Now there is one fundamental problem to all of this and that is that girls actually LIKE to sit next to their guys during romantic movies just so that they can hold hands, or lay their heads on your shoulder during the mushy parts of the movie.

And when it’s just the two of you, that's not the worst thing in the world.

But it is common knowledge that on a Double or Triple Date, the girls are so excited to be together that the guys are always left to fend for themselves, so I knew that I had an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make chick flicks a little bit better for every guy every where, and I took it.

Imagine my surprise when the girls not only didn’t devour me when I tossed out my revolutionary idea but actually kind of liked it as well (see, I told you they all want to sit next to each other).

And I have to admit that despite the scary levels of estrogen in the room, the whole experience really wasn’t that bad. Having our own Boy Row was amazing (and apparently disturbing to the rest of the theater as no one else tried to sit in our row), the films’ lead actresses Heigl and Malin Akerman were both easy on the eyes, and we finally got a romantic comedy where the male lead (in this case, James Marsden) wasn't a way-too-perfect, way-too-sensitive tool.

I’m talking to you Matthew McConaughey.

What was even more surprising than the girls allowing the Boy Row and the Girl Row was their reaction after the movie. I guess since the film was so girly, they actually felt bad for us for having to sit through it. So basically, we got to watch a half-decent movie filled with beautiful woman, sit in our row and make fun of it during the sappy parts, AND we came off looking like troopers for “suffering through” such an estrogen-induced romp.

I am a pioneer indeed.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Josh & Ross on Lost

INDenverTimes columnist Josh Mahler is embarrassed to admit that he had never seen the hit TV series Lost until this, the final season. To try and figure out exactly what's going on, Josh brings in his buddy (and diehard Lost fan) Ross Costanza for a new weekly podcast.

Just press play...

Monday, February 8, 2010

In Denver Times Pop Culture Podcast: Episode 1

INDenverTimes columnist Josh Mahler and broadcast partner Gray Brothers discuss Super Bowl XLIV's historic ratings as well as The Who halftime show in the new weekly pop culture podcast (and they need YOUR help on halftime topic!).

The guys also debate Jay Leno showing up on Dave Letterman's commercial, Twilight's Taylor Lautner's next project, MacGyver vs. MacGruber, and FX's new cartoon series, Archer.

All I want for my 30th birthday

This Wednesday will be my 30th birthday.

It’s not so much the turning 30 that bothers me as much as the fact that I can’t stop it from happening. Fortunately, I don’t feel like what I thought you are supposed to at the Dirty Thirty. When you’re a kid and you hear that someone has passed their twenties, they might as well be dead.

I feel as if I’m just now beginning to live my life.

As I mentioned back at Christmas, I will freely admit that I’ve gotten a more difficult to shop for as I’ve grown older. Regardless, I knew I had to find something big for the big Three-Oh. Even though a bunch of us have planned a trip to Vegas in a couple of weeks (and I’m sure that will be big enough), I recently stumbled across the only thing I really want for my birthday.

Andy’s banjo.

A couple of weeks ago, I was on Twitter and saw the following tweet from @theofficenbc:

“Last day to help choose the tokens for MONOPOLY: The Office Collector's Edition. Vote as many times as u want” (and there was also an Internet link provided).

Could it be?

Could the fates really be combing two of my favorite things in the world in the Monopoly board game and The Office TV show AND I have the chance to help choose the game pieces? I clicked on the link and it took me to a magical webpage with both the Monopoly and The Office logos. It had to be like the first time they put ice cream in root beer or the day Chris Farley and David Spade met.

It took me a moment to soak in the grandeur, but once I got my bearings, I scanned over the Office related game pieces that you could choose from.

There were 11 pieces total and the rules at the top of the page stated that the top six choices would be included in the game. From first glance, I wasn’t that surprised at most of the options available. There was Michael’s “World’s Best Boss” mug, Dwight’s bobblehead, Pam’s candy dish, an Office Olympics gold medal yogurt lid (the only obvious omission was a Dundie award).

I couldn’t help but notice a couple of weak entries, however. Such as Michael’s bacon grill and the stupid Princess Unicorn doll that Dwight was selling off in last year’s Christmas episode. Who would ever chose to play with one of those pieces?

That's like getting stuck with the iron or the thimble.

But somehow in my first look, I missed the greatest Monopoly piece ever created: Andy Bernard’s banjo.

You have to understand that Andy and his banjo have provided two of my favorite Office moments of all time. (1) Andy serenading Pam with Kermit the Frog’s Rainbow Connection in his falsetto voice… IN PIG LATIN and (2) Andy and Dwight fighting over new girl Erin with their dueling Country Roads performance.

The banjo has much more of a reoccurring, lasting impact on the show than the bacon grill or the Princess Unicorn.

Without hesitation, I cast my vote and the current voting results were instantly returned.

1. Dwight’s bobblehead: 32% (no surprise)
2. Michael’s mug: 19% (fine with that one too)
3. Pam’s candy dish: 8% (I would never play with that piece, but I get why it’s there)
4. Dwight’s beet: 7% (really? We already have one Dwight related piece in the running!)
5. Michael’s bacon grill: 7% (Um…What?)
6. Princess Unicorn: 7% (Whaaaaaat????)
7. Andy’s Banjo: 6%


Not only is the one piece I care about just barely out of the running, it is right behind the two worst pieces available. I would take the gold medal yogurt lid, or the can of tuna, or the rabid bat over those two losers in a heartbeat.

And why couldn’t the banjo be in ninth place or even dead last just to put me out of my misery. In typical story-of-my-life fashion, it had to be right there in seventh, making me feel like it still had a chance.

I’m not going to lie. I snapped.

29 years of living just outside the winner’s circle had finally gotten to me, so I spent the rest of that day voting for the banjo over and over again. This had become so much more than a board game playing piece. This was going to be my opening round punch to turning 30; I was going to start this next chapter of my life with a win.

I don’t know exactly how many times I actually voted that day (lost count after a couple hundred) but the results never changed. I became infuriated at the thought that while I was voting for the banjo, there was some yahoo in Kansas repeatedly voting for the Princess Unicorn.

Even though the original Office tweet said that had been the last day of voting, I kept checking into the site for the next couple of days and was able to keep voting for the banjo until a startling revelation started sinking into my brain. Maybe I had missed the voting period completely and the results that kept returning were not the updated results, but the FINAL results.

Sure enough, I went to the site one last time this past weekend and you no longer had the opportunity to vote. The final results were posted with the banjo sitting just on the outside in seventh place (and somehow the bacon grill and Princess Unicorn have even passed the beet just for a little more insult to injury). The game is set to be released in August and I would love to belive that I'm strong enough not to purchase it. But, being the fan I am of both entities, I probably will and I'll resent that Princess Unicorn game piece every time I see it.

Just a stellar start to another year on life’s merry-go-round.

Happy birthday, indeed.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

INDenverTimes Pop Culture Podcast

INDenverTimes columnist Josh Mahler and broadcast partner Gray Brothers break down the Oscar nominations in the new weekly pop culture podcast.

The guys also discuss Jay Leno's recent appearance on Oprah, the final season of Lost, Taylor Swift's success at the Grammy's, and the announcement that the cast of Jersey Shore will return for a second season.

Just press play.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Movin' Out (Josh's Story)

Don’t you just love it when a friend asks you, “Got any plans this weekend?”

They’re not asking because they all of a sudden care about your personal life. T
hey’re asking because they have something that they want you to do for them.

If you say “No, I don’t have any plans”, it’s never a good follow-up to the original question. They never say, “Oh good, because I have an extra court side seat to a basketball game,” or “I know this girl who looks exactly like Scarlett Johansson that would be perfect for you,” or “I found a tree that grows money, wanna go help me pick a few bushels?”.

Instead, it’s always something terrible that you do not want to do.

You’re lucky if it’s only “Would you be able to babysit?” or “Can you help me fix the sink in my house?” but we all dread the king “got any plans this weekend” question:

“Will you help us move?”

Unfortunately I recently had to propose that very question to a few of our new friends as my Wife and I moved to a new apartment this past weekend. What made me nervous about this particular move is that since we haven't been in the area that long, we don’t really have that many friends yet and can’t afford to lose any to “will you help us move?”. I’ve moved many times in my life and I’ve noticed that you lose roughly 3 percent of your existing relationships in the process.

I can’t help but think that our friends are judging us and resenting our possessions as I force them to lug our junk around town. When you think about it, helping someone else move essentially means losing a day out of your existence to physically beat yourself up as you move someone else’s stuff from one residential location to another.

And all you get out of it is a couple slices of pizza.

How did pizza become the socially accepted standard of payment for helping a friend move anyhow? I’m with the guys from The Big Bang Theory; it should be your choice of a video game system or a mountain bike.

At the very least.

On the other hand, moving is no pizza picnic if you’re the ones actually having to make the move. Besides providing food for all of your friends that now hate you, it costs a small fortune to get from one door to the other.

Sure the price of renting a truck may only be $19.95, but that’s before you add insurance, pay $0.79 a mile, and have to fill the truck up with gas before returning it.

That $19.95 gets to $50 faster than NBC can take The Tonight Show away from you.

Then there are your utilities and other bills. Not only do you have to contact all of them to change your mailing address but now they charge you for changing addresses. One of my utility companies calls it a "transition fee" and is charging me 15 bucks to keep using a service I already have to keep using.

Thanks... I guess?

Thankfully, most of our regular trivia team came out bright and early on Saturday to help my Wife and I move to our new place. Everything was going surprisingly smooth until The Bull and I were loading our box springs mattress up on the truck. We were carrying the mattress a little too high as we were going up the ramp and the high corner of the box spring hit the top of the truck and rocket launched back into my face.

It must have knocked some sense into me because as the cartoon birdies were circling around my head, I suddenly realized two very important things.

First of all, I had completely underestimated how strong my friends are, which caused me to underestimate how long the moving process would take. Since I base everything on my own level of strength (or lack thereof), I just assumed it would take two guys to carry every piece of furniture. But these guys were carrying the big ticket items all by themselves. I’m even pretty sure that at one point, my buddy Jesse had our coffee table under one arm, a bookcase under the other, and a small horse on his shoulder.

Second, and more importantly, as much as my Wife and I have held many pity parties over the past year about not having good friends out here in our new homeland, here we were completely surrounded by people… helping us move!

In my book, that’s one of the basic definitions of friendship.

After everyone left, we crashed on the couch and surveyed the damage. We were exhausted, broke, and surrounded by boxes that I can only hope will all be unpacked by Easter. But we know we are genuinely blessed and the new apartment already feels like a home.

So, got any plans for this coming weekend? We have a lot of boxes to unpack.

There’s plenty of pizza left.