Monday, December 29, 2008

Hello, 2009!

Phil Smith's Top 10
Favorite Things About 2008

10. My trip back east, the second week of June, 2008.

Going back east has always been a fun thing to do. But this last trip I took was extra special mainly due to the fact that I went during the Summer. The weather was just incredible. Many of you know that I love the Summer, more from living back in Delaware than living in Las Vegas. In that little space of time I was there from June 12-June 18, I had a great time. Got to see a bunch of friends from high school (BHS' class of 2004!), visit some old hangouts, and see just how much the old hometown has changed since I left there last back in December of 2007.

I still miss it. Being in Las Vegas is wonderful but as I said two years ago upon moving here, it'll be a long time 'til I call myself a Las Vegan after having lived 23 years on the east coast. I get many people asking me (you may be one of them, reader!) "When are you coming back, Phil?" At this point, I don't know. There's really no dire need for me to be returning back to the east coast anytime soon. Would I like to? Of course! But am I able to at this very moment?

Unfortunately, no. Friends, don't forget, you are always welcome out here! All of you! I know the economy's been in a huge slump for the last couple of months, but hopefully things turn around starting in the next couple of weeks. Here's to the next time we all meet!

9. CBS' Monday Night Lineup 8pm-9pm

It's been a long time since I watched television. Usually, I would go over to my parents house Sunday nights after having dinner with them to watch new episodes of Family Guy. But around mid-August of this year, I became interested in two great sitcoms that make up the first hour of CBS' Monday night lineup.

The Big Bang Theory at 8pm

and How I Met Your Mother at 8:30pm.

My friend and for all intensive purposes, fellow nerd, Paul was the one who really got me into 'Big Bang' by showing me the pilot episode which he got as a free iTunes download. We watched the episode at his house and I was immediately hooked. Thankfully, the complete 1st season arrived on DVD about a week after I watched the pilot episode and I proceded to immediately get it through Netflix and copy it.

The 2nd season picked up right where the last episode in season 1 left off and it has become even funnier! Plus, the addition of Sara Rue (ABC's Less Than Perfect, Gypsy 83, and Can't Hardly Wait) was just awesome since she is just a really quirky actress and a pretty one too! The show is simply put, a geek's biggest dream TV show!

How I Met You Mother came about simply by noticing how much I enjoyed to work of what I call the Apatow class. People who have starred in various productions from Judd Apatow; Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Paul Rudd, Samm Levine, and Jason Segel. Well, being a fan of Segel's work in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, I decided to give the 1st season of the show which had already been released on DVD a watch.

Can we say legen...wait for it, wait for it...DARY!!! It was terrific! For me, it was like the new Friends. Told from the future, a man telling his kids just how he did in fact meet their mother through a series of stories all involving his younger self and his friends. A great cast that included Jason Segel, Alyson Hannigan, Neil Patrick Harris, and newcomers Josh Radnor and Cobie Smulders. This show just made me smile so much when I watched it. The first season ended perfectly, and thankfully season 2 was available as well so I proceded to get it from my library and watch it.

Once again, it didn't let me down! Unfortunately, the 4th season made its premiere before the 3rd season was released to DVD so when I tuned in for the premiere, I was a bit lost. However thanks to a YouTube channel for the show, they actually did a 2 minute 'In case you missed last season' video! That pretty much cleared things up for me when I watched it! Subsequently, I did get to see HIMYM's 3rd season on DVD.

Again, I loved every minute of it!

For me, this is the greatest pair of sitcoms to come in a long while to CBS. For the longest time, I watched the majority of comedy programs on NBC or ABC. Now, my Monday nights are spent at the office watching these two shows and laughing at all the new funny hijinx that occur in them. They're definitely my two new staple shows that I'll be watching for a while!

8. Jeff Granstrom

When I got involved in 21st Century Audio Theater, it was just a cool little hobby I had on the side. Unpaid and basically 'on-call,' I'd get notified via cell phone from the organizer of the series, Thom Reese on when we'd be doing a new episode that he'd require my vocal talents with. I got to meet many people in the field of voice acting. Some were fun to talk to, others really just wanted to get the job done and over with. One of the people whom I had the pleasure of working with was a man named Jeff Granstrom. A mid-40s man employed by CBS here in Las Vegas who has a heavy background in stage acting! Much like me! Jeff and I really hit it off at a party at Thom's place in honor of our 1 year anniversary of being on the air.

Jeff and I talked about movies, TV, improv, plays, impressions, and other cool stuff. As usual, it was a conversation that could have easily lasted until 6 in the morning, but unfortunately we had to call it a night. Luckily, I managed to get both his phone number and email address to keep in touch with him. I subsequently gave him a call to see if he'd like to hang out and watch a few movies and do some movie shop-talk. We've essentially made it a Friday night ritual when I don't feel like going out to Barbecue Masters for karaoke. He's a lot like my college friend Trevor. They both have immense CD and DVD collections and both can talk to me for hours on end about movies. Jeff, like Trevor introduced me to a vast world of horror films I'd never watched along with some hilarious classic comedies. He's someone I can always hold a great conversation with and my knowledge of movie quotes and character actors constantly brings him to laughter. Many more movie nights sure to come in 2009!

7. Barack Obama's win

I've never been political. Ever. But starting in the winter of 2007, I knew that my word and my vote would mean something big in 2008. I became a registered voter in late 2007 and I knew that there was only one man best suited for the job of President come 2009.

Senator Barack Obama. I believed in him. What he stood for, what he planned to do for the American people, what his campaign was all about. Change. A change for the better. What we as Americans needed after 8 years of W. I knew that come November of this year, something huge would happen. After seeing endless SNL rips on Senator John McCain and Governor Sarah Palin, I knew even in all seriousness, there was no way the American people would make the same mistake twice. They couldn't, they wouldn't.

I became so politically active during this election that I actually wore Obama/Biden t-shirts, put an Obama/Biden magnet on the back of my car, and even put up some Obama/Biden signs on my apartment windows facing outward to all who passed by.

On the night of November 4, 2008 I was glued to the TV documenting the election results along with the online results. I wanted to stay longer at work to find out the final results, but I couldn't. The cleaning people had come and needed me to take off, so I frantically began searching the radio stations in my car for the results. It didn't take to long to receive texts from both Rusty and Lisa saying that "We did it! Obama won!!!"

I was wearing my 'CHANGE' tee that night and as I got to PTs for a night of karaoke, I vowed that I would start off the night by performing Kool & the Gang's 'Celebration' in honor of Obama's win. I did and everyone there at PTs was singing along, clapping, and dancing. It truly was a night to remember in America.

2009...change is coming!

6. Living in my own place.

On April 12, 2008 an event ocurred that could easily have made me say "This is the first day of the rest of my life..." The event was my moving into my own apartment after living 24 years under a roof owned by my parents. Some may say that I still tend to rely on my parents for some things, but recently I became the payer of my own credit card, which I rarely intend to use anymore. Pretty much that's just going to be for emergencies. But getting back to my apartment.
Dolce by the Lakes has been nice living at for almost 9 months, but they are some things that tended to bother me over the Summer and Fall. The pricey power bills I had to pay due to the immense heat, the lack of communication with the office staff, the outrageous price one has to pay for installation of new blinds (50 bucks per set!), and also the lack of security (people who don't have the gate remote and want to get in will literally stay parked off to the side of the entrance until a resident with a remote drives in to the entrance and opens the gate.), and the price of rent in general; $820.00 a month.

A place that is just almost too nice for me. I like it and everything, but 820 is just too much, especially right now with the fact that I won't have a job at Metro Networks anymore in June of 2009. I have very much considered going into a place with roommates so if you need one for a few months starting in April, let me know!

Otherwise, having my own place has just been a wonderful thing. Privacy, my own rules, my time, my schedule, my life. I love it!!!

5. Netflix

If you don't know what a big movie buff I am, then you don't know me at all!!! Netflix was something that like iPods I condoned with a passion. Why would I want to pay for movies through the mail? Why? How about due to the fact that Netflix has not only extremely rare hard-to-find titles that I love along with complete TV series on DVD, documentaries, and concert DVDs to boot??? That's what got me into it! The fact that all the movies I loved or wanted to watch for the first time were available thru Netflix! I've been a member ever since March of this year and I love it. I do a 3-at-a-time plan for about 18 bucks a month and basically get it, copy it, send it back in an effort to try and "beat the system" so that I can get as much out as I can within a month's time to save on my costs.

Money aside, Netflix really is an incredible thing to have in my life. It has brought my DVD collection up to and beyond 500! I've had the great fortune of now owning a bunch of some of my favorite classic TV shows on DVD like McHale's Navy, Inspector Gadget, and even contemporary shows like Undeclared and The Big Bang Theory.

I highly recommend getting a subscription to it!

4. Rock Band

Once again, like with Netflix and iPods, I initially condoned this videogame as just another item trying to make videogames like real life with stuff like Dance Dance Revolution, Silent Scope, and Guitar Hero. However, after receiving an invite through to come on out with some of my 80s meetup friends to do some Rock Band at a local bar, I thought, why not? At least I'll be with friends, right?

What I got was essentially, karaoke with instruments! Rock Band is an incredible game! You get to sing over popular songs and also play the instruments that go along with it! Drums, guitar, bass, and vocals. Only thing I would add would be a keyboard for synth and piano effects. You can create an entire band with interesting and uniquely designed characters that you personally create and then sing a wide variety of songs ranging from easy to expert.

But what really makes me happy is that some of my best friends own the game and I play it at their homes a lot during the week! My friends Paul and Corena are the two people I enjoy playing Rock Band with the most! It's essentially become a Sunday night ritual at Corena's and just about anytime I hang out with Paul now, I'm playing the game with him and his brother.

Rock Band...a staple of Phil Smith since 2008.

Long live rock!

3. Charlie's Birthday Party @ The Riviera

In the Summer of 2008, Ho, one of the karaoke DJs at Barbecue Masters came up with a great idea. 'Meet & Greet Karaoke,' a night where everyone who showed up to Barbecue Masters would get a nametag to wear in hopes of meeting and or befriending new people. I wound up meeting a guy who'd been going there a little longer than I had named Charlie. Charlie was a pretty cool guy. Usually the quiet type around people he didn't know but that night, he decided to come up to me and introduce himself. He and I got along instantly and began to chat more and more throughout the evening. Eventually, I wound up getting an invitation to his birthday party which he would be having at the casino he worked at, The Riviera!

Charlie managed to rent out a penthouse suite at the hotel for all his friends to come and enjoy themselves at! It was awesome. It was at the tail end of August so the view outside the giant windows was breathtaking. Even the helicopter tours were coming in fairly close to the suite! I got to meet a lot more people who were essentially "Barbecue Master regulars" that I'd never really met before. I served as a bartender later into the night which I was completely new at, yet everyone seemed to enjoy what I was making them!

Meeting new friends, watching Charlie try and finish 'Das Boot,' people attempting to ride Charlie lil' bike, and staying til around 2 in the morning when I'd originally planned on leaving around 9 or 10...there's never been a better birthday party had!

2. Lisa, my Lady L

"And there she was..."

Having been single for the bulk of the Summer, I felt ready to date again around the start of October. I made my Myspace profile public for the first time in over a year and a half. "I'd been browsing almost 80 pages of profiles of Vegas men, and then I found you. You looked so cute and fit everything I was looking for..." she told me. From that point, I knew that this was going to be something wonderful.

I brought Lisa out here for Thanksgiving where we had 10 whole days together getting to know each other. Even now as she's living here exclusively having spent her life previously living in Ohio and Michigan, we're still learning more and more about each other every day. But I love her. She loves me.

We took a road trip across America from Toledo to Las Vegas in helping her move out here. It was definitely an experience. Seeing how the only big road trips I've ever taken from the East to West coast have been with my parents. But we made it. We got caught up in a bit of a blizzard around Flagstaff, Arizona, but we made it, safe and sound.

We're engaged...I never thought something like this could happen, but it has. She wants to make me happy, she wants me to feel like I can tell her anything and everything. She wants to make all the bad feelings I have had about my past completely disappear from my mind.

She's still just getting settled here in Las Vegas after only living here about a week, but all I can say is that 2009 is looking like it'll be a very good year for the both of us. She's even joined some of the Meetup groups which is great! I've never been much of an optimist, but lo and behold, Lisa also gave me that kind of hope to become that way.

It may be a long and bumpy road out there for us, but we know that we'll both make it, and make it together, no matter what happens.

I love you, Lady L!!!

1. The Everything 80s Meetup Group

I've always tried having a broad social circle, at least since I got into high school back in 1998. During the Summer of 2008, I'd recently gotten back into using a social networking site called

You can enter in a series of keywords relating to your interests and where in town you're located, then the site will find as many groups related to your interests close to you. I found one group dedicated to people who love the 1980s called 'Everything 80s.'

Looking at the pictures alone was enough to make me instantly join! The very first meetup I attended was back in August at the South Point casino where an old 80s tribute band I'd seen perform back in the Summer of 2006 was playing, The Spazmatics!

It was a lot of fun, but the next event was something I was looking forward to more than anything! An in-house movie theme party for the movie 'The Princess Bride'! I dressed up as the Grandfather much like I had when I played in him my friend Zach's summer production of it in the Summer of 2002. How 'bout that? Six years later, I'm playing the Grandfather once again! I got to meet a lot of cool and interesting people like 'Wild Child' Jen, Lola, Adam (one of many we have in our group), Corena, Brett, Steph, and Bob.

These people just have (to quote one of my 80s faves) a "certain zest for living!" We've had movie nights, themed house parties, trips to Ren Faires, picnics and games at Sunset Park, and more! I've never had so much fun in my life! It's like being back in college again, except you can get away with a lot more :-D.

Everyone I've had the pleasure of meeting in this group has been so nice to me and welcomed my unique brand of humor and wit. Plus, since I do the local traffic reports for Las Vegas, many have written or told me "Hey, I was listening to the radio and your voice came on and I was like, I know him!!!" That's always great to hear. We all just have a great time when we get together even if it's just something small like karaoke night at PTs. It just really helped me broaden my social horizons, and my social calendar as well! It's always funny when I get together Sunday nights with my parents for dinner and they say, "So what're you up to this week?" and I then get my cell out to read off my calendar of events!

The group itself has been active for almost a full year now. I wish I'd joined much earlier since the bulk of the really fun events like the E80s prom and Pirate weekend occurred mainly in the late Spring, mid-Summer time. But hey, that just means that I'll be able to do it in 2009, right? Right!

If you have a love for the 80s and just want to have a fun time with some really cool people here in Las Vegas, then I highly recommend joining and finding the Everything 80s group! As I've said on my old college radio show, it's all about good times and amazing memories!
I love you guys and gals!!! Thanks for making these past five months of my life the best times I've ever had! You all rock!!!

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