42 TV Shows That Mean Something To Me On My 42nd Birthday

Here we go again.

For the eighth year in a row I’m publishing a special birthday blog post on my birthday.

In the past I’ve written about the best things I ever created, lessons I’ve learned about life, and memories of the house I grew up in, and more (you can read all the previous posts here).

For this year’s post I found myself thinking about all the time I’ve spent watching TV over the years (it’s a LOT) and which shows have stuck with me. But rather than just list my favorite shows (which seemed kind of boring), instead I focused on which shows are most memorable to me.

These aren’t necessarily my favorite shows and they’re certainly not all the best shows I’ve seen, but they all resonated with me, inspired me, influenced me, and are memorable to me for one reason or another.

Here, in alphabetical order, are the 42 TV Shows that mean something to me on my 42nd birthday…

1. Action

This Jay Mohr series didn’t last long, but I loved it. When it came out in 1999 I was barely two years into a fledgling entertainment industry career and I couldn’t get enough of this over-the-top look at the movie business which I later discovered turned out to be surprisingly accurate.

It was Entourage before Entourage…if Entourage was actually good.

2. Arrested Development

The entire series was basically an inside joke that just kept building on itself which is probably why it was never able to grow its ratings despite its brilliance. It also became the basis of a million inside jokes between me and my hermano.

3. The Bozo Show

When I was real young – too young to fully remember – I attended my first live TV show taping in Chicago and it was the Bozo show. I think I’ve blocked out the memory because apparently when I wasn’t picked to play the bucket game I got more than a little upset.

4. Cheers

The greatest sitcom of all time (probably). There wasn’t a Thursday night growing up that my family wasn’t tuned in to NBC and Cheers was the highlight of the night. It also wasn’t a bad way to learn comedy.

5. The Cosby Show

Speaking of Thursday nights on NBC, The Cosby Show was a big enough deal that all the kids in the neighborhood would stop playing sports early to go home and make sure they didn’t miss it. Of course, back then none of us had any idea Dr. Huxtable was also busy distributing his own “medicine” to ladies in his personal life.

6. Curb Your Enthusiasm

There are two things Curb Your Enthusiasm contributed to my life. First, it made me realize Larry David was the real genius behind Seinfeld.

Second, it inspired the team name (“Crazy Eye Killaz”) for my rec basketball team that eventually won the championship in a 6’2″ and under Asian basketball league (90% of our team wasn’t Asian by the way, but that’s another story for another day).

7. Dallas

I don’t know when I started watching Dallas, but it had to be when I was around five or six years old. It’s tough to say exactly what influence that had on me, but it probably made for some interesting conversations around the elementary school lunch table.

8. Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives

We can all hate on Guy Fieri as much as we want but the bottom line is this show is responsible for inspiring thousands of meals I’ve eaten over the years. When I don’t know what I’m hungry for, this show’s always there to remind me I’m hungry for something that’s as delicious as it is terrible for me.

Plus, the show tipped me off to what might be my favorite Mexican restaurant.

9. Dukes of Hazzard

Growing up in Chicago I had no idea what life was like in some place like Hazzard County, but it sure seemed like a fun place filled with cars that could jump over things, dumb cops, crazy uncles, and (most importantly) Daisy Duke.

Combined with Dallas, it formed the first must-see TV night of my life and the only time must-see TV for me involved CBS.

10. Family Guy

In 1998, my roommate worked for an agent who represented a lot of animators. One of them was an unknown guy named Seth MacFarlane who had created a 7-minute pilot for a show that featured a talking dog and evil genius baby.

He brought home a copy which was one of the funniest things I’d ever seen – I remember bringing it home at Thanksgiving and showing it to family members and telling them it was going to be huge. Turns out I was right.

11. Friday Night Lights

I never watched it when it was on network TV, despite hearing how great it was. Then, years later, I got laid off from a job, signed up for Netflix, and it became the first show I ever binged. Turned out to be a great choice – clear eyes, full heart, can’t lose.

12. Game of Thrones

I’m not sure if it’s my favorite show of all time or the greatest show of all time, but I’m 100% sure it’s the most impressive show of all time. It took me a season and half to get to the point where I had any clue what the hell was going on (sometimes I’m still not sure I do), but it’s absolutely blown me away ever since and there’s no show I look forward to returning more than Thrones.

13. G.I. Joe

My favorite cartoon as a kid – both to watch and to spawn action figures I could play with. Not sure why I loved it so much, but maybe it had something to do with guns that fired lasers, caused explosions, and somehow never actually killed anybody.

14. HBO Standup Specials/Bring The Pain

As a huge standup comedy fan I could just list all the HBO comedy specials, but instead I’ll highlight Chris Rock’s Bring The Pain, which is probably the best of the best. It was watching these specials that ultimately led me down a path to working in the comedy business.

15. Howard TV

There’s no single entertainer whose creations I’ve spent more time consuming than Howard Stern. I’ve been obsessed with his radio show for decades, and the various incarnations of that show that have surfaced on Channel 9 in New York, E!, and on demand have all been incredible.

16. In Living Color

Nothing makes me think of high school as much as this show. Besides being hilarious and a launchpad for an incredible collection of talent, as a huge hip hop fan back when that was unusual for a white kid, this show was one of the driving forces of hip hop culture’s takeover of the mainstream.

17. Jeopardy!

Anybody that thinks Jeopardy! is only for old people never saw me and my 20-something roommates competing against each other as we watched the show and ate cheap take-out chinese food every night.

18. The Jerry Springer and Jenny Jones Shows

If it was 1 pm on a weekday in 1994, here’s where you could find me: Sitting in a University of Maryland dorm room with friends eating a dining hall cheesesteak while watching the Jerry Springer show and the Jenny Jones show back to back.

It’s also worth nothing that meal was technically my “breakfast” since I had likely just woken up around noon to start my day.

19. Late Night with David Letterman

In his prime he was the best, he was a nightly watch for me, and was a huge influence on just about every comedian I’ve ever loved. No other late night host has come close.

20. Married with Children

I loved the show and remember how it (along with In Living Color) helped establish the FOX network.

But in a twist I never could have seen coming, the first house I lived in when I moved to Los Angeles was actually owned by the ex-wife of the show’s creator. So in some ways that show also paid for me to have an incredible entry into Los Angeles.

21. Masters of the Universe

I must have really liked this He-Man cartoon since my brother and I decided to name our pet cat after the female character on the show – Teela. Of course that was when we thought the cat was female (it wasn’t), but the name stuck so whatever.

22. MTV Video Music Awards

Growing up this was the most important awards show to me since I loved music so much and it was a LOT cooler than the Grammys.

I’d watch it, tape it, and watch it again and again. Never cared about who won since even then I realized that was meaningless, but I was in it for the performances and bizarre moments only the VMA’s could provide.

23. The Muppet Show

It was like an adult show for kids and there’s never been anything else like it. The theme song still puts a smile on my face every time I hear it and Statler and Waldorf have only gotten better with age.

24. New Year’s Rockin’ Eve

This has always been an awful show whether it was hosted by Dick Clark or Ryan Seacrest.

However, it’s been on a TV just about wherever I was every New Year’s Eve for most of my life so I guess technically it’s provided the background to some memorable moments.

Plus, growing up, if this show was on it meant there was a spread of excellent food prepared by Mom nearby as well.

25. Northern Exposure

The best show nobody ever talks about. Northern Exposure somehow managed to work philosophy into a broadcast TV show and was the kind of thing that nowadays would be a Netflix show the world would obsess over.

Back then, it was a just a show that I obsessed over and made me think about things in new ways – you know, like the role of technology in our lives:

26. NFL Red Zone Channel

This is a broadcasting innovation that has changed every Fall Sunday of my life – no biggie.

27. The Office

Not the British version, which I’ve never really watched. I’m talking about the American version, which might be my favorite sitcom of all time.

I loved it when it was on, watched re-runs all the time, and am now in the process of re-watching it all with my wife who had never seen it (and has now also become obsessed with it). Long live Dunder Mifflin.

28. The Oscars

I watched it every year growing up and then spent most of the past six years of my life working on it. It’s safe to say no TV show has had a bigger impact on my life than this one.

29. Pardon The Interruption

The only ESPN talking head show that’s actually good and that I’ve ever actually taped to watch.

Plus, Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon have always been like a bit of Washington that I was able to take with me when I moved to California.

30. The Playboy Channel

In college I lived in a house with five guys who split the cable bill five ways. That meant the effective cost to each of us to add the Playboy Channel to our cable package was about $2 a month.

So, of course we did, and it aired on a loop on every TV in the house 24/7. Because…college.

31. Politically Incorrect

I always loved watching Bill Maher’s original ABC show, but when I moved to Los Angeles I discovered it was also a great show to attend live because it was entertaining and taped in real-time as opposed to sitcoms that are actually awful to watch live because they take forever.

It became the show I’d take everybody that visited me to go see.

32. Pump It Up

A syndicated show that aired late night on weekends, Pump It Up was hosted by Dee Barnes (most famous for allegedly getting punched by Dr. Dre) and featured hip hop music videos and interviews.

Nobody ever seems to have heard of it, but I loved it and it’s a big part of how I fell in love with hip hop.

33. Remote Control

Back before MTV knew what it was doing they put on a game show that featured Adam Sandler, Colin Quinn, and a bunch of assorted nonsense.

Plus, it was all about TV which in retrospect probably helped fuel my own TV obsession.

34. Saturday Night Live

The Oscars may be the show that’s had the most impact on my life since I’ve worked on it, but SNL has to be the show that’s influenced me the most without having actually worked on it.

Even as a kid I was obsessed with watching it – and reruns of it – over and over again. It taught me about comedy and the world, plus its sketches are the basis of an entire language of inside jokes I share with my brother and friends.

35. Seinfeld

It’s always on and it’s always worth watching – again. If you’re my age and don’t cite Seinfeld as a major influence on your life, you’re doing life wrong.

36. The Selection Sunday Show

For as long as I can remember, the March Madness brackets reveal show has been a great moment when anything seems possible (except for the couple years when my alma mater Maryland didn’t make the tournament in which case those Selection Sunday shows were REALLY depressing).

Plus, one year this show marked the beginning of a national championship run  for the Terps and another year it marked the beginning of me winning a bunch of cash in a huge NCAA tournament pool – which was kind of like my own personal national championship.

37. Sesame Street

Like most people my age, I watched it a lot growing up and probably underestimate how much it influenced the rest of my life.

38. Showtime at the Apollo

Another staple of my late night Saturday night viewing habits when I was in high school and college. This show had it all – Steve Harvey, a 13-year-old Lauryn Hill getting booed, the most ridiculous crowd on TV, and fun performances from some of my favorite musical acts at the time.

Plus, it had this Fugees performance.

39. The Simpsons

The longest running TV show in history has been there for me in every different phase of my life. In high school, it was there to teach people how to do the Bartman and inspire black Bart Simpson t-shirts, in college it was there to show how to create amazing ancillary characters and smart social commentary in a cartoon, and as an adult it’s been there to remind me some things can still be great even long after they’re taken for granted.

40. Voyagers

I’ve always been into time travel stories and that started with this short-lived NBC series that only ran from 1982-1983.

That means I was about 7-years-old when I was watching the main characters travel through history and ensure it unfolded the right way.

Based on this clip, I’m pretty sure it doesn’t hold up but I remember thinking it was great at the time!

41. The Wire

I have a complicated history with this one. I watched the first season when it aired, didn’t love it and bailed. Turns out, I bailed right before it got amazing.

Years later, I went back and watched it (and loved it), and then for some reason bailed again at the beginning of the last season. So, it’s still a work in progress for me and one that I’ll finish…some day.

42. Yo! MTV Raps

Turns out there are a lot more MTV shows on this list than I would have thought when I started to write this (and The Real World didn’t even make the cut!). But Yo! MTV Raps definitely deserves a spot as I watched it constantly after school and think the world would be a better place if it still existed.

Plus, what better way to end this epic post than with a video featuring this clip from the last episode of the show.


The 41 Best Things I Created Before My 41st Birthday

I’ve created a lot of things over the years.

Things for jobs, things for others, things for myself.

Smart things, dumb things, fun things, things that worked, things that failed, things that I knew why I was creating them and things that I didn’t know why I was creating them.

So I thought for this year’s birthday post (you can read my previous birthday posts here) I would compile a list of the 41 best things I’ve created in my life so far.

I’ve listed them in (roughly) chronological order. I should also point out that for most of these things I was not the only person involved in their creation – there are tons of talented people (and some not-so-talented) who helped me create most of them.

Now, on to the list…

1. A Fake Note For A Teacher

In elementary school, I got in trouble for throwing some clay at a teacher (long story). For my punishment, the teacher ordered me to bring her an apology note signed by my parents the next day.

I assumed my parents would view throwing clay at a teacher as a relatively inexcusable act, so I told them instead that I had gotten in trouble for talking in class.

Then I wrote an apology note, had them sign it, and took it to school. On my way to school, I tore off the part of the note that said what I was actually apologizing for and handed the teacher nothing but my parents’ signature on a torn sheet of paper.

Somehow, I got away with it. Pretty sure it taught me the wrong lesson in the long run.

2. The “You Ate It Last” Rule

I’m lazy. My brother’s lazy. We both like to eat snacks. We both hate to have to get up off the couch and return those snacks to the pantry when we’re done with them.

And thus, the “You ate it last” rule was born.

At some point in our childhood we agreed that whoever last took a chip from the bag would be responsible for returning it to the cabinet. It solved what probably would have been decades of arguments and added a strategic element to all snacking decisions.

3. My High School Basketball Career

I didn’t try out for my junior high team because I knew I had no chance of making it. I tried out for my high school Freshmen team and got cut. I made the junior varsity team my sophomore year. Made the varsity my junior year. Started and was a captain on the team my senior year.

After graduation, while working at his basketball camp, my former coach introduced me as the most improved player he had ever seen in 30 years of coaching.

What I’m saying is I had a good high school basketball career, but it was certainly one I created.

4. The Ocean City Tape

The summer before I went to college (at least I think that’s when it was – it’s all a little hazy) I went on a trip to Ocean City, Maryland with a bunch of friends. Drinks were had, things happened, and all of it was captured on an infamous video tape by yours truly who was wielding one of those 10-pound VHS cameras that people used to use before everybody had a video camera in their pocket.

The tape featured drunken friends trying to roll down car windows of doors that weren’t there, weird dramatic reactions to stubbed toes, and assorted other things I’ll leave out of this description.

It became a legendary tape amongst my friends…until the guy whose camera it was taped over it to record an episode of Jerry Springer or whatever dumb show he wanted to make sure he didn’t miss.

5. The Morning Woodies

It didn’t last long because waking up and getting to my college radio station in time to do an 8 a.m. morning radio show a couple times a week proved to be an impossible task for me, but the radio show I hosted with a friend dubbed “The Morning Woodies” was sure a lot of fun while it lasted.

6. A Letter From A Fake College Magazine

When I was in college music wasn’t yet available on the Internet (because I’m 41, remember?). But I loved music, and I especially loved free music.

So, I used to find the addresses of record labels on the back of CDs and send them letters on fake letterhead I created claiming to be a music reviewer for a fictional college magazine (I think I called it the “College Park Scene”) and asking them to send me copies of new albums for me to review.

Sure enough, I started getting a steady stream of CDs and press kits from a bunch of random bands.

7. The Arms-Out Bet

In college, my friends and I liked to gamble a lot. We bet on just about everything, but one of our regular go-to bets was on Sega Genesis sports games.

Of course, some of us were better players than others so certain people consistently won (or lost). The most consistent loser of the bunch also happened to have the biggest gambling problem – not a great recipe for him.

Eventually, he got down a few hundred bucks to another friend of mine and was furious about it. He needed a way to make his money back because there was no way he was going to win it back playing video games.

That’s when I had a brilliant idea.

I said he needed to make a bet that was based on willpower because he would likely be willing to endure more pain than the other guy – after all, he needed to win back his money more than the other guy needed to double his winnings.

I suggested the two of them stand facing each other in their dorm room, extend their hands straight out in front of them, and the first person to drop their hands would lose the bet. Essentially, it was a test of willpower.

He loved the idea and challenged the guy he owed money to with a double-or-nothing bet. At that point, the guy who was already up a couple hundred bucks quickly agreed and declared, “I have an insane pain tolerance. You have no chance of beating me.”

It was odd bravado, but he’s an odd guy.

The bet commenced and while it only lasted a few minutes (turns out it’s harder to hold your arms out than you think), it might have been the most entertaining minutes of my life.

The guy who was already in the hole wound up losing again – turns out the other guy did have a high pain tolerance (or the losing guy didn’t have all that much willpower). Either way, he owed him double the money and I felt like ultimately I was the big winner.

8. Monthly Mixtapes

Just about every month since I was in college I’ve recorded a new mixtape featuring songs I’m enjoying at that time. It started with actual tapes, then CDs, then iTunes playlists and now Spotify playlists.

The methods have changed, but the habit has not. And it’s turned into an incredible collection of the music I love (or in some cases used to love) throughout my life.

9. A Game Show Network Press Release

My first job in Los Angeles after college was at a small PR agency where I actually worked as the receptionist. If you know me at all, you know how hilarious that is considering that job requires all of the things I hate doing.

After being there a couple months, I was given an opportunity to write a press release for some show on the Game Show Network.

For reasons I can’t quite explain, I decided to have fun with it and push the envelope a bit. I don’t remember the show, but I remember the headline I wrote was some play on the idea of “Lions and Tigers and Bears Oh My!”

Whatever it was, it was different than what people typically do and it got me noticed. Within a couple weeks, a senior publicist at the firm got me moved off the reception desk and made me a junior publicist working for her (and writing all her press releases).

10. The Timekiller

In 2003, when most people still thought blogging was just a dumb word, I started my first blog. It was called The Timekiller, it was written under a fake name (“I.B. Bored”), and it was launched in an era before you could easily post photos to the web so it was mainly text.

Here’s how I described it at the time:

The Timekiller is the brainchild of a guy with too much time on his hands. It consists of random ramblings about random topics, written in random intervals and with a random degree of entertainment value.

In retrospect, it also might be the most important thing I ever created.

11. The Crazy Eye Killaz Videos

In the early 2000s I played with some friends on a recreation basketball team (named the Crazy Eye Killaz after this guy) in a league for guys 6’2″ and under that featured almost entirely Asian teams – except for us.

It was a lot of fun, and each year at the end of the season I’d spend hours cutting together elaborate highlight reel videos, complete with music, graphics, and whatever other bells and whistles I could come up with using my limited iMovie skills.

Then we’d watch those videos at an end-of-season party. They were amazing, people loved them, and I loved creating them. Especially the one from the year we won the championship.

12. Sullivan Screenplay

Once upon a time I thought I was going to be a screenwriter. So I taught myself how to write screenplays and wrote a biopic about legendary bare knuckle boxer John L. Sullivan. It was good enough to get me an agent to shop it around town.

But then Cinderella Man came out, another period boxing biopic that starred Russell Crowe and still tanked at the box office. That spelled doom for my script and ultimately the end of my screenwriting career. Then again, I’ve still got that screenplay sitting around so you never know…

13. Whip It Out Comedy

During the MySpace era I started to work in comedy and realized many of the up and coming comedians I worked with were starting to write blogs and post videos on MySpace and YouTube. I decided to launch a blog to feature some of the funniest stuff I discovered online.

That blog was called Whip It Out Comedy and it ultimately led me to a job running Comedy.com, which also acquired Whip It Out Comedy.

14. Whip It Out Comedy Videos

As Whip It Out Comedy and the Internet evolved, I wound up producing my first ever original comedy videos for the site. While the videos weren’t all winners, some were good and it was an amazing experience – another one which would ultimately lead to much bigger things and essentially function as my own personal film school.

15. The High Times Comedy Tour

This is probably a subject best explored in a blog post all its own, but a partnership with High Times magazine led me into the world of producing live comedy shows and then taking those shows on the road. It was a pretty amazing experience right from the start – including a debut show that featured Sarah Silverman, Jeff Ross, Doug Benson, and Jim Norton.

16. The Vivid Comedy Party

After some “success” (I have a loose definition of that term) with the High Times show, I expanded into producing another vice-themed comedy show with porn adult film company Vivid Entertainment. It led to some insane adventures with comics, porn stars, and fans of both in places like Columbia, Missouri.

It even led to Zach Galifianakis interviewing a porn star. Again, this is probably a story better told in a separate blog post (like this one).

17. The Blerds Talent Showcase

When I was on the road with the High Times Comedy Tour, we went to Chicago where I discovered an insanely talented collection of comedians and a filmmaker who went by the name of Blerds (It stood for “Blog Nerds” – the mid-2000s were a simpler time).

I instantly believed the group was going to be incredibly successful and wound up working with them as a producer and briefly as a manager for some of them.

As they all started to move from Chicago to Los Angeles, I helped set up some showcases at the UCB Theater. Those showcases led many of them to get signed by agents and opened doors that have led them to some huge success.

By no means am I taking credit for their success – guys like TJ Miller, Kyle Kinane, Kumail Nanjiani, and Jordan Vogt-Roberts were destined for big things no matter what I did, but I’d like to think I helped speed up the process for them at least a bit.

18. SubPar

One of the deals I got for Blerds was to produce a web series for Comedy.com that was essentially the adventures of a group of off characters at a charity golf tournament. We produced an epic pilot that was hilarious, but ultimately the guy with the money to bankroll more (not me) didn’t quite get it.

That’s a shame because it was great and had the potential to be amazing. Instead, it was one and done and never released to the public.

19. Dinner at Sheilas

For years I told my Mom she should have a blog about her cooking (which is fantastic by the way). In 2010, she finally agreed to do it and I set up Dinner at Sheila’s for her.

She took it from there and has posted regularly ever since, creating a great ongoing archive of her recipes and life.

20. A Thanksgiving Reddit Post

About a year after my Mom had been blogging, I was home for Thanksgiving and decided to do something for her.

Late Thanksgiving night, I posted a link on Reddit explaining that my Mom had been working on her blog for a year, had just cooked yet another amazing Thanksgiving meal, and asking Redditors to show her some love by checking out her video slideshow about it.

I posted the link, went to sleep, and woke up in the morning to discover that thousands of people had checked it out and left amazing comments complimenting my Mom on her work.

21. One Thing To See

In 2010, I launched a blog with a simple purpose – to share one thing each day that I thought people should see. While it only lasted for about nine months, it was successful, attracted a nice audience, and heavily influenced some of my later creations.

22. A Taiwanese Bank Commercial

I didn’t create this commercial, but I found it somewhere and posted it on this blog in 2011. It’s a great commercial, but I never could have imagined what would happen with it.

It spread – mainly among older people and motorcycle enthusiasts – and continued to spread for years. At this point, it’s driven almost 3 million (!!!) people to this site and inspired them all.

23. Connected Comedy

A comedy marketing blog that turned into a consulting business, that turned into a community, that turned into a membership site. It proved I could build my own business, support myself without having a “traditional” job, and still may be the single thing I’m most proud of creating in my life.

24. The Connected Comedy Podcast

A spinoff of Connected Comedy that was only possible thanks to the urging and help of members of the community that formed around my site, we produced 63 episodes over the course of a couple years with (maybe?) more to come.

25. JoshSpector.com

I had a lot of different blogs over the years, but in 2009 I finally got up enough courage to launch a personal blog under my actual name – this site you’re reading today. I’ve stuck with it ever since, and thousands of posts later it continues to evolve.

26. The Father’s Day T-Shirts

I don’t remember when exactly it started, but several years ago my brother and I came up with a new gift idea for our father – a series of custom t-shirts each featuring various phrases or inside jokes we’ve shared with him over the years.

They weren’t always complimentary (usually, they were the opposite), but they were good and I’m sure my Dad appreciated the humor at his expense.

27. The Academy’s Social Voice

The Academy had a couple social media accounts and 400,000 people following them when I took the job as its first ever head of digital media in 2011. My first task was to develop and implement a “voice” for the Academy on social media that would represent the organization and grow its following.

Almost five years later, I’m proud of what we’ve created and the 9.2 million people who now follow the Academy on social media.

28. Oscar Roadtrip

In 2013, I created a unique social media stunt as part of our Oscars campaign where we sent a couple comedians in a car across the country with an Oscar statue over the course of 30 days. It almost killed me, but it turned out to be pretty incredible.

29. #MyOscarPhoto

In 2014, I had an idea that it would be cool to give fans at home a chance to get a photo of themselves with a celebrity on the red carpet at the Oscars. With a little help from Twitter, we created #MyOscarPhoto and gave thousands of people the opportunity to do just that.

30. The Selfie

The same year that I thought #MyOscarPhoto was going to make social media history, it turned out that something else would.

The infamous Ellen selfie became the most retweeted tweet in history (and still is today). I obviously can’t take sole credit for the selfie’s success, but I had a lot to do with its creation behind-the-scenes. Again, that’s another story for another day.

31. The Post-Selfie Tweet

The Ellen selfie turned out to be so big that it actually broke Twitter. And in that moment, as I realized what had happened and that our tweet was responsible for it, I took a screenshot of the Twitter fail screen so that I could post this tweet from the Academy account as soon as Twitter got back up and running.

It’s still one of my favorite tweets I’ve ever posted for the Academy.

32. The Oscars Thank You Video

In 2014, we had the opportunity to do something with Google Glass (remember when that seemed like a cool thing?) around the show. We came up with the idea to have various people who work on the show wear the glasses while they were prepping for the show and cut together a video thanking them for their hard work.

It’s one of my favorite videos that we’ve made.

33. Oscars.org

I had built a lot of personal blogs before and even overseen the launch of a couple larger websites, but never anything on the scale of the Academy’s new website that launched in 2014.

34. Academy Originals

In 2014 we also launched the Academy’s first original video series – Academy Originals. I essentially function as executive producer on them and we’ve put out a new one just about every week since we launched.

I’m incredibly proud of them – you can see them all here.

35. #LiamNeesonsSalad

Here’s another one of my favorite tweets we’ve posted since I worked at the Academy. It was at the 2014 Governors Awards and was a simple photo of Liam Neeson’s salad with an accompanying hashtag.

It was silly. People dug it. It kinda went viral.

36. Oscar Creators

I know this is a lot of Oscars stuff on this list, but what can I say? I create a lot of stuff in that day job of mine.

In 2015, we invited a group of talented artists from various social platforms to come to the Oscars and gave them access to share with the world what Oscar Week is like through their unique perspectives. The results were very cool.

37. A Person You Should Know

This past July I launched a blog/newsletter designed to profile a new person each day that I think is smart, creative, inspiring, and worth being known by more people.

I’ve featured 172 people on the site already (complete list here) and it’s been an amazing project that has attracted a big following.

38. My Movie Year

For this year’s Oscars we created a Facebook-powered game that allowed people to track how many movies they saw this year and see how they rank as a movie fan compared to other fans around the world. It was very successful with 75,000 people participating.

39. A Fun, Supportive, Loving Relationship

This one technically started back in 2008, but it continues every day so I’m going to place it here. I’ve been lucky to have met an incredible woman who loves me almost as much as I love her.

I certainly am not the only one that can take credit for “creating” our relationship, but I think I deserve at least 49% of the credit for it. Speaking of which, it also led to…

40. The Proposal Proposal

A few months ago I proposed to that lucky (?) lady with a “proposal proposal.” Since our first ever lunch ended with her whipping out a proposal and trying to sell me some advertising (I declined), I decided to bring it full circle years later.

I took her back to that same restaurant and presented her with a proposal of my own – but this time the proposal was designed to convince her to say yes when I asked her to marry me and she didn’t decline.

Long story short, the salesperson got sold. Here’s a glimpse at her reading the proposal, since I don’t think I’ve actually posted it on this site before and it certainly deserves to be here.


41. This Post

Writing this post has taken longer than I expected it would, but it’s been worth it. Writing these birthday posts each year has become a cool tradition for me and a good chance to look back at where my life has been and forward to where it’s going.

This post, and all of my birthday posts for that matter, are certainly among the best things I’ve ever created and I look forward to writing more of them in the future. Thanks for reading.


40 Things People I Admire Accomplished After Their 40th Birthday

Time flies.

It’s hard for me to believe it, but another year has passed and it’s time for another birthday post on this blog. For those of you that are new here, I’ve marked each of my last six birthdays on this site with a special birthday-related post.

When I turned 35, I shared 35 Songs That Meant Something To Me.

When I turned 36, I shared 36 Photos of Places That Meant Something To Me.

At 37, I made 37 Donations.

At 38, I shared 38 Memories Of The House I Grew Up In.

And last year, I wrote about 39 Lessons I’ve Learned.

That brings us to today – my 40th birthday.

It would seem obvious to take a milestone birthday like this one and look back at some memories or wax poetic about what it means to be four decades old – but that’s not really my style. While admittedly, it’s a little tough to wrap my head around being 40, I feel like I’m really just getting started and so I decided to look at 40 from a different perspective.

Rather than seeing it as an end of something, I see it as a beginning and feel like I’ve got a foundation in place to do some amazing things with the rest of my life. In thinking about that, I got curious about what other people I admire have done with their lives after 40, and what I found was pretty inspiring.

So, I decided to compile some examples of things that people I admire have done AFTER their 40th birthday. Each of the people on this list have inspired me in various ways over the years and, to be honest, writing this post has changed my perspective a bit on what 40 means.

The accomplishments listed below are certainly not all of their successes, and in some cases they may not be what most people consider their best work. But each of them are things that have inspired or impressed me personally.

Here, in alphabetical order, is a look at what 40 people I admire have accomplished after they celebrated their 40th birthday…

Chris Anderson acquired the TED conference, shifted its mission to “ideas worth spreading,” and began posting its presentations online attracting billions of views.

Anthony Bourdain had never written a book or appeared on television before he turned 40.

Mel Brooks made Blazing Saddles, History of the World, and Spaceballs among other movies – he had never made a movie before he turned 40.

Louis C.K. launched his career-changing FX television series and established a new direct-to-fan paradigm for the comedy business.

Steve Carell landed his starring role in The Office.

George Carlin had never done an HBO special before he was 40.

Pete Carroll got hired by USC and won a national championship. Then he got hired by the Seattle Seahawks and won an NFL championship.

Johnny Cash recorded with Rick Rubin and U2. He also became the youngest person ever inducted to the Country Music Hall of Fame.

David Chase created The Sopranos.

Cameron Crowe wrote and directed Almost Famous.

Mark Cuban sold Broadcast.com to Yahoo, made a fortune, used that to buy the Dallas Mavericks, won an NBA championship, and became a TV star on Shark Tank.

Rodney Dangerfield effectively re-launched his comedy career, made movies like Caddyshack and Back To School, and gave comics like Sam Kinison their big break.

Larry David created Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Alexander Dumas wrote The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers.

Benjamin Franklin hadn’t begun to experiment with electricity and had no involvement with politics before he was 40.

Seth Godin published several books that have been incredibly influential on my career and life including Tribes and Linchpin.

William Goldman wrote The Princess Bride.

Dave Grohl produced a pair of documentaries including Sound City and the amazing Sonic Highways.

Phil Jackson had never had an NBA head coaching job until after he turned 40.

Jay Z teamed up with Kanye West for Watch The Throne, launched the Made In America music festival, and launched his own sports agency.

Steve Jobs returned to Apple, led the company back from the brink of death, and developed the iMac, iPhone, iPod, iPad, and so much more.

Kevin Kelly was hired to become editor of Wired magazine and published his 1,000 True Fans theory.

Tony Kornheiser launched Pardon The Interruption and had a stint as a Monday Night Football announcer.

Marc Maron launched his WTF podcast and transformed his career.

Steve Martin made movies like Three Amigos and Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, and hosted The Oscars.

Lorne Michaels produced Wayne’s World and Tommy Boy. Oh, he also produced 30+ seasons of Saturday Night Live after turning 40.

Barack Obama had just lost a Congressional election when he turned 40.

Joan Rivers made her first appearance on The Tonight Show.

Sir Ken Robinson delivered the most viewed TED talk of all time.

Garry Shandling created The Larry Sanders Show.

Bill Simmons launched Grantland and the 30 for 30 ESPN documentary series.

David Simon created The Wire.

Bob and Sheila Spector (my parents) sold their house and moved across the country where they built a new house, moved to a beautiful town where they knew nobody, and created an amazing new life for themselves – much closer to their sons (but not too close).

Steven Spielberg made Jurassic Park and Schindler’s List among almost 20 films released since his 40th birthday.

Bruce Springsteen reunited the E Street Band.

Howard Stern left terrestrial radio and attracted millions of listeners to his show on satellite radio.

Quentin Tarantino made Kill Bill, Inglourious Basterds, and Django Unchained.

Matthew Weiner created Mad Men.

Pharrell Williams released the songs Happy and Get Lucky.