Sunday, January 28, 2007

100 Coolest Things... #10 - 6

10. Marvel Civil War
Sometimes something in the comic book world comes along and just sweeps me off of my feet. Unlike the previously mentioned disappointing “Infinite Crisis” from DC, “Civil War” from Marvel has blown me away.

Here’s the premise… in order to satisfy a need for publicity, a young, inexperienced and foolish superhero team, starring in a reality show, botch the capture of a criminal in Stamford, CT, and end up killing over 600 innocent people in the process. The public outrage is such that heroes are protested, and Johnny Storm, "The Human Torch" (from the Fantastic Four), is severly beaten into a coma by a mob of angry citizens. Tony Stark, Ironman, helps to lead a movement with the government, passing The Superhuman Registration Act, forcing all of those with any paranormal or superhuman abilities to register their identities and other information. To do otherwise would be a violation of the law.


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Who's side am I on? The side that gets me issue 7 the fastest.

Joining Ironman are various heroes, including Reed “Mr. Fantastic” Richards, She-Hulk, The Wasp, Sentry, and even Spiderman, who, in support of the Act, reveals to the world that he is Peter Parker. All does not bode well with Captain America, however, who sees this Act as a violation of civil liberties, and goes underground to lead a resistance. Following him are Daredevil, Falcon, Spider-Woman, Luke Cage and, in another shocking event, Sue “Invisible Woman” Richards, who leaves her husband Reed.

Except for Storm who joins the resistance, the X-Men sit back and watch, unsure of how to respond, agreeing with Captain America’s resistance, yet knowing how much it sucks to be scrutinized unfairly. Battles rage, Goliath is killed, Thing packs up and leaves the country, Daredevil and others are tossed in a Negative Zone prison, Captain America and Ironman throw down once, and the government authorizes a team of “reformed” villains like Elektra and Jack O’Lantern, who end up beating the crap out of Spiderman when he tries to join the resistance—Jack O’Lantern is then gunned down by The Punisher.

And it all leads to what will be the final issue in the series, issue 7, though the last page of issue 6 shows no fewer than 35 Marvel heroes and icons staring at each other, ready to get it on. And this, my friends, is why Marvel Civil War is one of the coolest things of 2006, or any year.

9. Paying Off the Car
Debt, debt, debt. Got the credit cards paid off, then it was all attention to the car… and in the early summer of 2005, Stephanie and I started paying almost 2 payments at a time in an effort to get the POS car to officially be my POS car. And in March of 2006, we paid off the final payment, a sum of several hundred dollars and its all mine. Student loan, here we come.

8. Emily “K-Swiss” Reynolds
Simply, I would haven’t had nearly the encouragement I had in NYC this past summer without the friendship of Emily Reynolds. The trick is, everyone on our mission trip was connected to someone, be it J-Bo & G-Ann, Mark & Cindy, Chuck and his son Daniel, Coach Tim and Anna Lynn… then there was me. And there was Emily, 16, junior in high school. Striking up an unlikely friendship, we connected in a great brother-sister type way. One night when things were really frustration, I just said, “I’m going to Starbucks” and just went on my way. A few seconds later, I heard behind me “Yeah, me too”, and she followed. We both vented for about twenty minutes. It was needed.


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One of my favorite pictures I've ever taken... and I'm not a good photographer, so I have to brag about something

On the way to Coney Island, she gave me her testimony… like me, I think she’s happy to talk about what God has done for her, but won’t just offer it up—you gotta ask the right questions. She was there with encouraging words when the trip got tiresome towards the end, and I was happy to be there for her, even just to listen for a minute, when her tears came. Since we’ve been back, different schedules, plus different lives altogether have been quite an obstacle in much communication, but for one week, she was my kid sister.

7. Harry Potter on Audio book
I had been downloading audio books onto my computer, a few at a time, when I stumbled across Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone. I smacked myself on the head, wondering why I had not thought of it to begin with, so I checked it out and loaded it on the computer, ready to load it on the iPod. I was not prepared for the remarkable journey I was about to take.

I love the Harry Potter books, I think they are marvelous, and sometimes I wonder why I didn’t think of such a simple story back in 1989 when I first started writing. That being said, I had missed my goal of reading them all once a year. So, I began to listen to the first Harry Potter on audio book, on the iPod, in November. Narrated by Jim Dale, a British stage actor, I was immediately drawn in by his pacing, his reading style and the great tones he put on each character. Within half the book, I didn’t even know Jim Dale was reading—I was listening to Hagrid’s rough growl, Malfoy’s slow drawl, Hermione’s feminine nagging and Harry’s simple, boyish voice. When I rode around town, to work, to the store, to church, I would turn on the books.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting No, I don't own a Harry Potter iPod. Yes, I would if it were available to me. You happy?

The most often heard response was “Oh, that’s not really reading, that’s just listening to someone read to you”, and I beg to differ. When I’m reading a book with my own eyes, I can have background noise, I can almost multi-task, I can read a page, glance up to change the channel and so on… but with an audio book, I’m glued. I have to listen to every single word, otherwise I’ll miss something. I would put in my earphones, do my housework (laundry, dishwashing, etc) all the while, hearing intently on the story.

All in all, there are right around 80 discs that were loaded, totaling about 95 hours and some change… and I finished Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince just last week, taking me three months to listen to them all—and I was riding down I-59 when Harry kissed Ginny, and it was like I was reading it all over again. If you love Harry like I do, pick up the audio books. Jim Dale is a master, and you’ll never read the books the same way again.

6. “Now I Can Die in Peace: How ESPN’s Sports Guy Found Salvation, with a Little Help from Nomar, Pedro, Shawshank and the 2004 Red Sox” by Bill Simmons
How can you not love this book? How can you not love The Sports Guy?

Bill Simmons, aka The Sports Guy, has a bi-weekly column on ESPN.com where he writes about what he knows best… the Celtics, the Red Sox, the Patriots, the NBA, pop culture and so on. His first book was written, or at least compiled, after he finally saw his beloved Sox capture the World Series in 2004. Really, it’s a series of columns he wrote leading up to the World Series, put together in chronological order to see the pain, strife, anxiety and nervousness of a Red Sox team who was down to its final out in a 3-0 game hole to the hated Yankees, only to come back and win the series 4-3, then trounce the Cardinals for its first title in 86 years.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Much of my own writing style comes from The Sports Guy, and I'm not ashamed to admit it.

The joy of the book, however, is in the footnotes. As The Sports Guy was able to go back and re-read all of his columns he was putting in the book, he added little notes updating what he said back then, or sometimes just spewing out random ideas… in one sentence, he writes a simple statement, “…something bad always seemed to be happening [to the Sox]… in the end, the season wasn’t that much fun.” And the footnote that goes with it? He answers the reader question “If the 2000 Red Sox season was an episode of Saved By the Bell, who would play Zack, Pedro or Nomar? What about Slater, Screech and Kelly?” After answering it well, he adds the next little bit:

Zack’s career actually turned out better than Nomar [Garciaparra, traded to the Cubs right in the middle of the season]—he ended up on NYPD Blue as Dennis Franz sidekick. Seriously, would you have rather been Nomar (Rookie of the Year, 2 Hall of Fame seasons, rapid decline by your early 30s) or Mark-Paul Gosselaar (the lead of the most memorably ridiculous show of the 90s, followed by a respectable stint on one of the most famous cop shows ever)? I’m going with the latter. Call me crazy.

He goes on to address his hatred for the Yankees, the haunting of Fenway Park, Amityville Horror, several references to Andy and Red in Shawshank, U2, The Counting Crows, El Debarge, The Basketball Jesus, lots of Rocky mentions and in my favorite line in the book, he mentions his wife’s love of Albert Pujols… only because his name sounds like “Poo-Holes”. Then he says, smarmingly, “I didn’t know I was married to Beavis.”

It’s a fast read, and you don’t necessarily have to be a Red Sox fan to enjoy this book… its in paperback now
, for around $12.

And finally, tomorrow... the list comes to an end, as we reveal the coolest things of 2006... can you say "Everybody to the Limit?"

Friday, January 26, 2007

100 Coolest Things... #20 - 11

Making our way to the Top Ten Coolest Things of 2006...

20. Kourtney, Kandice & Jaci Graduate
Some of my past WalkAbout students have already graduated, like Scott, Lori, Jana, Laura and others, but in 2005, Lindsay Fine was the first person to send me a graduation invitation… unfortunately I couldn’t go. So when Kourtney and Kandice Kelley, and Jaci Gresham sent me invites to their graduation in 2006, I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. Three of the biggest stars I’d had in the teams history were, four years later, moving on to Carsen-Newman, Samford and Alabama, respectively, and I was so excited to watch them grab their diplomas. We even started a tradition, having former WalkAbout students over for dinner before graduation… this year, we look to have a full house because I’m seeing about six of my kids off… or at least, the ones who send me an invite. You can read the full graduation play-by-play, including the fun time I had with some of the names, here (including my fascination with Sammy Jane Funkhauser).

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Not only did I get to see Jaci, Kourtney & Kandice walk the graduation aisle, but who can forget Sammi Funk?

19. LeAnn Womack’s “I May Hate Myself in the Morning”
Yes, yes, everyone knows that colossal hit “I Hope You Dance”, the inspiring song that became wedding anthems and prom themes everywhere a few years back… but a few years later, country singer Lee Ann Womack, still riding that success, put out an album called “There’s More Where That Came From”, and on it, a little treasure called “I May Hate Myself in the Morning”. Sung atop a pickin' guitar and a double fiddle, it’s a melodic song about a woman, lamenting what to do with a man she shouldn’t want, but does. All the country marks are here—drinking, cheatin’, lovin’—as she talks to the guy on the phone, after a few shots, and thinks, “Once again we wind up in each others arms and pretend that it’s right… I may hate myself in the morning, but I’m gonna love you tonight.” She knows, “…its wrong, but it ain’t easy moving on.” Then she tries to justify herself by saying “Why can’t two friends remember the good times once again?” One of the finest, most underrated and underplayed songs to come out of Nashville in a long, long time.

18. “The Death of the WCW”
I’ll admit it. I’m a wrestling fan. I’ve been watching it since the heyday of Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat taking on a much younger Ric Flair in the first Clash of the Champions in 1988, free on TBS. Even before that, I was familiar with Hulk Hogan’s Rock & Wrestling, and names like Andre the Giant, Big John Studd, Bam Bam Bigelow and others. And as the NWA became the WCW, I got hooked, watching the newer guys like Sting emerge. Suddenly, wrestling became a huge event, as WCW and the WWF began to go head-to-head on Monday nights, and by 97, I watched in wonder as the WCW brought in Scott Hall & Kevin Nash, formed the nWo and ratings skyrocketed. By the time I moved to Birmingham and into The Deuce, we were getting the pay-per-view events… and watching the WCW fall apart and die. So enters this book, which I found this year and finally bought. Its fascinating, reading about the behind the scenes power struggle that took place, first to shoot the WCW through the roof, and then the bad decisions that led to its downfall (did you know that the WCW turned away Stone Cold Steve Austin?).

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Scott Hall, Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash... three guys who saved, and then helped to destroy, the WCW

RD Reynolds and Bryan Alvarez, who also churn out the newsletter “Figure Four Weekly”, write in an entertaining, sarcastic style, and don’t hold back discussing what an ego-maniac Hulk Hogan was, and what a bad business man Kevin Nash was, forgoing the new guys like Steve Austin and The Rock, but instead pushing over their buddies and partners. What’s more, it was great to read the hilarious take on events that I actually remember watching on TV years ago, everything from the ridiculous Stacy Keibler pregnancy storyline to the idiotic renaming of Booker T to “GI Bro”. He’s black. Get it? Good book, quick read, if you are into that kind of stuff.

17. “United 93”
Movies like “Saving Private Ryan” and “Schindler’s List” are so moving, so real, so heart wrenching, its hard to watch them more than once. I’m glad I’ve seen both of those films, I think both were incredible movie-making, but that said, I’m not sure I’ll watch them ever again. I’m trying to decide if I’ll ever see “United 93” again, because it cuts so deep. Here’s what I previously wrote about it:

Never has a movie pumped me up and ticked me off at the same time. This film is brilliant. I went to see it last April when it came out, all by myself, because I knew I couldn't watch it with anyone, not even Stephanie. It deals almost exclusively with United 93, and its passengers that took back the plane (crashing in Shanksville, PA), and the FAA. Some of the air traffic controllers and administrators actually play themselves, and even though you know the outcome, you are still just as shocked as everyone slowly discovers what is going on around them. And in one thing you've not seen, you see the terror in the terrorists eyes... they believe in what they are doing, but then again, they are still scared, especially when the passengers stage an uprising.

And in a funny moment, if you can find one, one single passengers begs the other passengers to just sit, and perhaps talk to the hijackers, to understand whats going on... a total "just sit back and they'll leave us along" mentality. The funny part? The guy is French.

16. WalkAbout
So, in 1999, we started a middle school drama team. Some of my kids on that team are now seniors in college. Kept going for a few years, took a year off, came back, and in the fall of 2005, I decided that I wanted to make the leap to high school. So, I did. And though it was fun, it felt almost unproductive, as obstacle after obstacle came at me in doing anything with the team. I took that as my cue to come back to middle school, and I’m glad I did… my kids are awesome, possibly the best team I’ve ever had, and there are two or three on the team that rival Kourtney, Andrea and Haley (three of my biggest stars) in talent. We’ll see.

15. Emily Taylor sings “Voice of Truth”
Emily is the wife of Jonathan, and both are in our Sunday Sch… er, Life Connection… class, and in our class, we have a number of great vocalists, including Emily, Meredith and my wife Steph. One particular Sunday morning, Emily sings. She doesn’t even feel that good, and her voice is a little strained, but she belts out “Voice of Truth” by Casting Crowns, with the Valleydale Church (an sbc fellowship) choir behind her, and its amazing. I sat, staring in wonder, mouth slightly open, transfixed by a voice that was perfect for the perfect song for that same voice. Out of all the songs I’ve heard, year after year, this will be one of the few that will stick out in my mind. Simply pure.

14. “White & Nerdy”
It happens every five to ten years… Weird Al hits a home run. Sure, he’s a funny guy, his music makes me laugh always, but every now and again, he’ll come up with something so brilliant, that not only are fans loving it, he creates a whole new group of fans because of it. The last time was Amish Paradise, back in the mid-90s… this year? “White & Nerdy”. The song is awesome, but video is not just great, its smart. Featuring cameos by Seth Green, looking at the “cherry action figures” and a dancing Donny Osmond, Al touches on all the nerdy topics—segueways, D&D, editing Wikipedia, MC Escher, fanny packs, soldering guns, names on underwear… and there’s even a few things to watch for.

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When he's on his game, Weird Al is unstoppable

Al did a song called “You’re Pitiful”, a parody of James Blunt’s “You’re Beautiful”, and though Blunt was happy with it, Atlantic Records wouldn’t give Al the rights to release it. So, in the “White & Nerdy” video, that’s the Atlantic Records Wikipedia page he’s typing “YOU SUCK” on. If you look closely on myspace page featured, you’ll see Screech, Bill Gates, Napoleon Dynamite, Frodo, Mr. Peabody, Einstein, Pee Wee Herman, and of course, Tom. When he brags about being good at trivia, look closely and you’ll such amusing questions on the card like “FDR, was he faking it?”, “On what page does Harry Potter die in the next book?” and my favorite, “What’s the deal with Lindsay Lohan? I mean, seriously?”

Camillionaire, who did "Ridin' Dirty" from which this song parodies, actually posted "White & Nerdy" on his own MySpace page, and it got more downloads than the original did. Favorite part? Handing the gangsta the money in the alley, getting a package which contains… the Star Wars Christmas Special. That truly has me ROTFLOL.

13. The Hoover Public Library
Did you know that not only can you check out books, you can also check out DVDs, CDs and audiobooks? Like, no kidding! For free! I have added about 8 gigs of space on my iPod just from audio books alone. And if you lose a disc, its only $7 to replace it. I love the library.

12. The Rammer Jammer Blog
The Sporting News apparently had students from different colleges around the country submit blog postings, and Scott Latta did just that for the University of Alabama. And his blog became the most popular college sports blog in the country. It was a blog that ran for eight months or so, and ended up having over 275,000 hits (and mind you, this is the Sporting News, not Sports Illustrated or ESPN… I mean, I’m sure there were thousands of people like me that only went to the site just to read Scott’s blog). He has an irreverent style on things, both praising and criticizing his favorite teams in love (Dallas, the Braves and of course, the Crimson Tide) and it was always enjoyable to read. He even ended up on Finebaum once, with Finebaum saying “I’ve had dozens of listeners tell me to check this guy’s page out.”. Of course, he never gave my page a shout-out or anything, but I guess that’s understandable… anyway, the Rammer Jammer blog ended in August, taking with it one of the few blogs that I personally would check daily. Scott now writes for
Rolltide.com, and honestly, being an Auburn fan, I can’t say I followed him there, but it was fun while it lasted.

11. Paneling at Starbucks
To be a manager at Starbucks, you have to panel. Paneling is the interview in which you sit in front of three district managers and they ask you manager type questions to determine whether you, in fact, would be a good manager or not. Apparently, they liked me, as I passed, bringing it with the hope that within 12 months I’d have a store, a much bigger salary (I currently make well above what they were underpaying me at NBC), bonuses and more responsibility. And love it. The interview wasn’t that hard, but it was a little taxing preparing for it… plus, the first question they asked me? “Give us an example of a time when you failed to meet a customer expectation.” Um… I rock, so never? (that wasn’t my answer, by the way).


And finally... the Top Ten Coolest Things of 2006...

100 Coolest Things... #30 - 21

30. Leigh Nash’s “Blue on Blue”
Great album, great music, Leigh Nash has, in one project, left behind Sixpence None the Richer to start her own career. Buy it. Love it.

29. Katharine McPhee
Ah, My Girl McPhee. Looking back, she was a little arrogant, I think, and over the years, I feel I’m going to end up being a Pickles fan, but for four months, I was all about Katherine McPhee. Her rendition of “Black Horse & the Cherry Tree” made me happy, and she truly does have an incredible voice.

28. Reese Witherspoon’s “Wildwood Flower”
The movie “Walk the Line” is a great take on the life of Johnny Cash, with several Oscars going to it, including one to Reese Witherspoon (deservedly so). And the soundtrack is also a great piece of music, with Joaquin Phoenix, Reese and other cast members doing the songs they did in the film. And this particular take on June Carter Cash’s classic is simply amazing. Simple, warm, Reese is singing only with a guitar playing, and she sounds amazing. This ended up being the most played song on my iPod in 2006.

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We're so glad that Ashley and her pretty green eyes are here in Birmingham

27. Ashley Spell
She was dating Drew when we met her, then she wasn’t when we saw her the next few times. At Tommy & Amy’s housewarming party, we told her that if she ever needed a place to stay, we’d be happy to lend our extra bedroom out. She asked us later if she could stay a few days, to look for a job here in Birmingham, and we said “Yes!”. She found a job, so we offered her the room for a month or longer, to get on her feet here. After all God had given us, it was a blessing and pleasure to be hospitable. And it doesn’t hurt that she’s just really, really cool. Very blunt, she tells it like it is, willing to help, and fun to talk to for many reasons.

26. Dancing at a Greek Wedding
Our friends Nick & DeLisa got hitched in June, and seeing as Nick is Greek, it was a Greek wedding. You can read about Part 1, the wedding itself in Part 2 and the Greek dancing here.

25. Café Lalo
Here’s what I wrote when I visited last year, after spending the day in Manhattan with Emily Reynolds (Kid Sis), Jennifer Boutwell (J-Bo) and Georgia Ann (G-Ann):

Lalo is a little Upper West Side cafe between Amsterdam and Broadway, on 83rd Street. You'll know it by the trees in front with the lights on it. If you've ever seen the movie "You've Got Mail", then you will remember the scene where Kathleen Kelly (Meg Ryan) plans to meet her IM friend, MrNY152, which of course, she ends up meeting Joe Fox (Tom Hanks). Unbeknownst to Kathleen, but beknownst to us, MrNY152 and Joe are the same person. Anyway, this is the cafe they met in. In fact, its kinda fun to stand on the steps where Joe and Kevin (Dave Chappelle) discuss whether Joe should go in to meet Kathleen. Now I really want to see that movie again.

Walking into Lalo is a diabetic nightmare, and a sweet-tooth's dream. Desserts fill up a large glass case, tables are packed in like sardines, and cool artwork line the walls. We get seated immediately, and order our food based on the idea that we'll be moving the plates all over the table and eating each other's treats. I got a Key Lime Cheesecake, Kid Sis got some sort of Lemon Mousse pie and J-Bo hooked up on some sort of double-triple chocolate cake concoction that I ate one bite of and determined it too sweet to continue. G-Ann just ordered "coffee and a fork".

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Kid-Sis, Yours Truly and J-Bo in Lalo

Outside, Kid Sis had made the comment that there seemed to be a high population of people who played for the American League, and I made a similar joke about myself, sitting in Lalo with three women, enjoying cheesecake. G-Ann made the comment, "Well, David, if you were gay, you'd fit right in here." Kinda funny, mostly because it was Georgia Ann Boutwell saying it.

My Key Lime cheesecake was perhaps one of the best cheesecakes I've ever had. I also ordered Virgil's Root Beer, because both Steph & I are root beer afficianados. They actually brought me a Virgil's Root Beer instead, which was good, but I told them I had to try the root beer in the bottle. (They didn't charge me for the float, either). It was not as good as the root beer we had in Disney World's Liberty Tree Tavern, but darn it, it was good. (just found out that they sell it here in B'ham, at World Market. That's a stop after work). We ate the desserts, I had my Virgil's, J-Bo had a hot chocolate, Kid Sis had a mocha, G-Ann sipped on more coffee... all in all, it was a very, very good time.
(you can read the full day's blog here)

24. Wookiee & Gina Are Expecting
First it was the weddings… now it’s the babies. And when I got word that there would be a little Ewok, that Chris & Gina were going to have a child, it made me estatic. Big Wookiee is going to be a Big Wookiee Daddy. Sometime, I believe in March, we’ll welcome little Austin James to the world—its only fitting that Wookiee have a son. Perhaps God will load them with four daughters now, but a son was just natural.

23. MySpace
Wow, what a wired world. As I've mentioned before, I only signed up so I could post a message on Amy Mc's page. Within a week, I had like, fifty friends. Some of them, like Jason Smith, I had not talked to since the night we graduated high school in May of 1993. Its how I reconnected with Launi (#40) and Jenni (#31), and randomly, I'll get an friend request from someone who I haven't talked to in, maybe 10 years... and I'll say "Wow... Michelle Kent has a baby now!".

22. James & Jessica Hawbaker
We love everyone in our Sunday School class, but perhaps we just feel a little closer to James & Jessica. Married only a month before we were (their anniversary is next week, on the 31st), they still live in an apartment (like us), they aren't rich but have a loving marraige (like us) and are just super-cool (like us). We've probably spent more time with these two than any other couple in the last year, and look foward to many more double dates to come.

21. "Twelve Angry Men"
This was one of my two Broadway Christmas presents... to go check out Richard Thomas and George Wendt in the stage rendition of Twelve Angry Men. The premise is a 12 man jury is set to decide the fate of an unseen defendant... and every bit of evidence seems to find the kid guilty of killing his father, from an old guy who saw the kid running away to the woman across the way who saw the murder. Or did she? Richard Thomas plays the lone juror who votes not guilty, simply because "we're making a decision on a man's life, I think we owe him a little more than one vote." The original movie was good, though, to me, Showtime's version several years ago starring Edward James Olmos, a strangely weak William Petersen, Hume Cronyn and an-actually-really-acting Tony Danza. This show was fantastic, though...

Top 20 Coming Up!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Ten More Things About 2006

After posting it three times... here's a list of stuff about 2006 worth mentioning...

Ten Crappy Things About 2006
10. Bad Readers on Audiobooks
nothing ruins the experience of listening to a great book being read aloud than a crappy reader doing it. Mundane voices, muffled tones, uncaring speaking will immediately kick the shins of any great book you might want to hear. Because, believe me, the only thing worse than a bad book, is a bad audio book reader destroying a GOOD book.
9. K-Fed, Britney and TomKat… do we really care?
8. Nancy Grace how did she get so popular? She’s like a train wreck. I’m sure she’s a fine lawyer, but if she were defending me, it would drive me mad just listening to her drone on and on, sounding like she’s reading from an unintelligible cue card
7. Fergie Holy crap. Obnxious. Skanky. Freakalicious. Freakanauseating. She’s so cool on her own self, she’s indulged in two different songs, “London Bridge” and “Fergalicious”, that have to do with how hot she is.
6. DC's Infinite Crisis... They almost had me leaving Marvel Comics, really. In 2004, "Identity Crisis" set the tone... put forth a B-level character, Elongated Man (exactly), and make him a star by having his wife, Sue, raped and brutally murdered. Then, watched the Justice League fall apart from the revelation that Batman had been betrayed by his friends when he had been "mindwiped", or had his memories altered. Absolutely stunning... however, they followed this series with "Infinate Crisis", which ended in 2006. It broke apart the Justice League in stunning fashin, but then went downhill quickly after tossing in alternate Earths, old and young Supermen, Super Boys and Lex Luthors from various universes and parallels and so on, plus spreading the stoy into countless titles and new series that you had to read to follow the story... thats why, still, I make mine Marvel, especially now with the brilliance of Civil War.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting It started out so well, but Infinite Crisis ended as a complex, convoluted mess. Kinda like the elections for the Republicans.

5. The Fact That I like Fergie… I will now go have Adam Vinatieri kick me in the face.
4. The Da Vinci Code Wow did this movie suck. I couldn’t even read the book, for fear that it might resemble the dead chicken that is this movie. Yes, yes, I’m sure its better, but eessh… its not even the subject matter, the whole Christ was actually married and so forth, that bugged me… it was just how terrible the whole thing is. And there is more chemistry between myself and Nancy Pelosi than there is between Tom Hanks, Tom’s hair and Audrey Tautou.

Sidebar... there is a hysterical site that trashes the movie and book, which I'm not going to link because of language... but if you really want to read it, Google "da vinci code sucked" and try the top link. Its on you.
3. My Computer Crashing… let’s not even talk about this miserable few weeks when I was forced to blog in the library and check my email only every five days.
2. The Dixie Chicks’ New Album I was truly looking forward to hearing their new stuff. I mean, yes, “Not Ready To Make Nice” was their way of not apologizing for their anti-Bush sentiment (which frankly, I don’t care either way their political views), but I was truly looking forward to hearing the new stuff that I just knew was going to supplant “Home”, their last album, as my ultimate Chicks experience. And it didn’t happen. I don’t even own it. I heard it a few times in Starbucks, and was just unhappy with the whole thing… the songs all sound mostly alike, and it seems like they were so absorbed with making everyone see how politically rebellious they were, and how they were media darlings now, they forgot to make good music.

Oh, “Sin Wagon”, where hast thou gone?
1. The Republicans… I campaigned for you. I supported you. I blogged about your goodness, your greatness, I foolishly excused your compromising as perhaps the only way to get anything done with Democrats… then I watched, appalled, as you catered to Democrats whims, I stood horror-struck as you, time after time, let Pelosi and Dean and Kerry and The Breck Girl have their way with you, in some sort of Brokeback Washington way, all the while you stood idly by. Then I shook my head in shame, with knowledge that should you, would you, WHEN you lose the election, the Democrats would kick you all the to curb, all previous concessions forgotten. I voted for you, Republicans. And you screwed me. You all screwed me.

Ten Things I Found Myself Disappointed In
10. The Rammer Jammer Blog ends…
you can read more about this later on in the 100 Coolest Things countdown
9. “Chaotic Resolve” from Plumb I personally think that “Candycoatedwaterdrops” from Plumb is not only one of the finest Christian Rock albums ever, but one of the best ever. Its got everything. Her first, self titled album was a great intro to Tiffany Arbuckle, now Plumb, and her third CD, “Beautiful Lumps of Coal” was even more refined than “Candycoated…” But this one? Just not the same. Not as good. I liked it, but still, found myself disappointed.
8. Jennifer Knapp’s Outed… Sigh. “Kansas”, an album that perhaps changed my Christian walk forever, sung my a raspy Midwestern girl who had felt my pain and sung my life. And now? She’s living in England with her life-partner. Sigh.
7. Lost… Sawyer, Jack, Kate, Claire… have you lost your way? After feasting on the show for two years, I found myself almost disconnected, almost forced to watch it only because I’ve invested so much in it. But here’s hoping it will find it’s power soon.
6. Bernard Goldberg's “100 People Who Are Screwing Up America (and Al Franken is #37)” it’s a decent book, I guess. I was just hoping for more.
5. Watermark Breaks Up Nathan and Christy Nockel, who wrote and sang the title and main song in the upcoming “Welcome to Delaware: A Soundtrack for a Dave Life”, have called it quits. Yeah, I’m sure its God telling them so, but still? Jennifer Knapp and Watermark in the same year? I’m dying here.
4. George W. Bush… Prez, you’re killing me. Its becoming harder and harder to defend you, brother. Yes, I believe we were right to topple Saddam, yes, I think he should have gotten a great hanging, and yes, I support our troops. But, where are we going with it now? Give me something to work with here.
3. KT Tunstall’s “Eye to the Telescope” You, the blog reader, know my love for “Black Horse & the Cherry Tree”. And I was hoping against hope the rest of the CD would be just as great… perhaps my expectations were a little high. Because its just okay. Not great. Truly the best is Black Horse, while the song you hear in fifty different shows, “Suddenly I See” is pretty okay… but the rest? Eh.
2. “Superman Returns” I don’t even know what I was hoping for. I just wanted something more. Spacey as Luthor was awesome, but I felt that Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane was totally miscast, like Jessica Alba as Sue Storm in the Fantastic Four.
1. “Lady in the Water” looking back, it wasn’t a great movie. It was okay, but just not what I was hoping from M. Night Shamalamannamaman. Of course, I did realize I have the hots for Opie Taylor's daughter, so that's a positive.

Ten Videos That Dominated My iPod (complete with links to watch the videos)
10. “Hazard” by Richard Marx
Was so excited when I could finally get it downloaded. Richard Marx’ most brilliant music ever.
9. “Remember the Time” by Michael Jackson the King of Pop at his video finest, right before he went White & Pedophilly…
8. “I’m Gonna Miss Her” by Brad Paisley starring his hot wife Kimberly Williams, it takes a Dan Patrick cameo to send this over the top. Read the scrolls at the bottom as well… Kimberly 1, Brad 0. Been there.
7. “As Good As I Once Was” by Toby Keith Song that describes how I feel most of the time, really, the video is hysterical, topped off by his rage at spilling the beer.
6. “Bad Day” by Daniel Powter a little sweet, but still imaginative, as two people find love on a subway wall, and a song finds itself overplayed.
5. “Black Horse & the Cherry Tree” by KT Tunstall just to see her perform makes the video worth it.
4. “My Humps” by The Black Eyed Peas I will now scream “Roll Tide” and a get a “We Got 12” tattoo on my thigh.
3. “Feel Good Inc” by The Gorillaz this is one of the coolest videos ever, as the cartoon band Gorillaz sing and play their way through some Dali-like scenery.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingIt is a cool song & video, even though I don't know what "Feel Good Inc" means... and neither do you.

2. “Hey Ya” by OutKast this IS the coolest video ever, and there isn’t an argument about it.
1. “White & Nerdy” by Weird Al Yankovic I’ve seen it a dozen times, I’ve shown it a dozen more, and frankly, it doesn’t get old.

Ten Things I’m Looking Forward to in 2007
10. “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer”
how can the trailer not excite you?
9. Reading, Finally… I’ve made myself a promise that I will get through most of the books I have stacked up, including Anthony Rapp’s “Without You”, Shawn Michaels’ “Heartbreak & Triumph”, Truman Capote’s “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and Chris Willman’s “Rednecks & Bluenecks”.
8. "Spider-Man 3" Okay, so Topher Grace casted as Venom takes cajones… but I think its brilliant. And its got Opie Taylor's daughter as Gwen Stacy.
7. The DFC VIII... Eight years. And still going.

6. Getting My Own Starbucks Store… after over a year of waiting, the time has finally come when I'll have a store to call my own, be it a new or a taken store, it will be mine to make successful. I, and my checking account, are ready.
5. WalkAbout Dinner Theater… in June, my kids are going to shine. This will be, barnone, the best dinner theater ever.
4. Headed Back to NYC… Sometime this summer, I’m awaiting the date, I’m going back to do more missions in New York City. It might be my favorite place in the world, aside from the area next to wherever Stephanie is sitting
3. Disney World this fall, we’ll go back. Steph loves it, I love it, how can you not be enchanted by the happiest place on earth?
2. Paying Off the Student Loan… sometime this year, probably October, maybe November. Perhaps December, I will be debt free. No credit cards, no car payments, no student loans. The loan is the last bastion of financial bindings I have, and my incredible wife and I have been working to get it done. And this year, for the first time in 14 years, I’ll owe no one a thing.

1. "Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix"... July 13th,2007. The trailer alone makes me frantic.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting I'm planning on take the day off work to catch this film when it opens. I wish I were kidding.

Other Cool Things in 2006 Worth Mentioning
Tanya Stephens… Nall Wall & Rocky… Nina Simone’s “Feelin’ Good”Nikki Brown… Tebe & Tiff & Jason & Liz… Hannah Pruitt... Amanda Laughlin... Jericho… Jenny RossSports Illustrated... Paula Maddox... Kingdom Comics... KidStuf... Starbucks Vestavia… Dale’s Southern Grill… Jim’n Nick’s… Landon Reesor… The Soup... Formaggio's... Lauri Huff... YouTube... Haley Heckman... Jennifer Love Hewitt's "BareNaked" CD... Rutgers' Football season... Tom Johnson... The Missions Game at Valleydale Church (an sbc fellowship)... Wade Morris

Monday, January 22, 2007

100 Coolest Things... #40 - 31

The countdown continues... and will culminate with the #1 Coolest Thing About 2006 this week... but for now...

40. Launi Larrabee
So, I got on MySpace in July, mostly because I wanted to leave a comment for Amy McLeod, but couldn’t without an account. So, I set up an account. And I was hooked. And in my random searching, who did I find but Launi Larrabee, a girl that I first met at Troy State’s orientation back in 1996, and who lived across the street from me, The Wookiee and creepy Michael Brunson (and eventually his chick Jill Taylor, but that’s another story). No, we never went out, but we were friends, and in another MySpace reconnection tale, we were able to chat again, catch up on fun and frivolity, life, love, loss and Jesus. She’s great.

39. The Purple Onion
Chick In a Sack… its chicken, with some sort of freakish Greek sauce, rolled up with cheesey something in a gyro wrap. Dip it in ranch dressing, and eat it with the seasoned fries that come with it… and it rocks my face off. Steph always gets the beef-kabob, with the hummus… open 24 hours, including Christmas (where ya think we actually ate dinner on Christmas night?) and Canadian Boxing Day, the Purple Onion makes for a great snack.

38. Carmike 10’s $1 Movies
“Lady in the Water”… “The Lakehouse”… “The Marine”… “The Da Vinci Code”… these movies and more were made worth the price of admission in that the admission was only a single dollar bill. The popcorn, regular price, was stale. The Cokes are flat. The seats are terrible, and sometimes rock when they aren’t supposed to. The screen occasionally doesn’t even line up with the picture. But it’s a dollar. Only a dollar. I’ve taken Steph on tons of movie dates now… my fear is that they’ll close it, much like they did when the Colinnade went from a respectable theater to a buck, but its still open thusfar.

37. Texas Wins the National Championship
Could you ask for a better game? In a precursor really to what happened this year, big and bad USC rolls in with all the expectations of rolling out with a national title, and Vince Young has the freakin’ game of a lifetime. The Texas Longhorns defeat the USC Trojans 41-38, in a game that seemed closer than that even. Vince ran for 200 yards, passed for over 265, and ran in the go-ahead game winning touchdown himself, as if to say “Yeah, this is my game, Msrs. Leinart and Bush.”

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The Wookiee. King Kong. Triple H. Vince Young. All beasts.

36. Reconnection
Be it Facebook, MySpace, AOL or whatever, this was the year I was able to reconnect with scores of people—be it people from past jobs like Lisa or Brooke, or people I knew long ago like my buddies Jason and Chris... heck, I even found the daughter of Mrs. Rials, my high school typing teacher. Somehow, she went from 7 to hot in 17 years. The power of the web is to unite people who haven’t seen each other in years, and strike up conversations like it was last week when they last met. Oh, and working at Starbucks hasn’t hurt either, being able to see Amanda Laughlin on a regular basis, as well as other girls and guys that frankly, I would never ever see otherwise. Good times, good times.

35. The Geico Caveman
“Its everywhere I go… there’s always something to remind me… of another place and time…” as we watch the Caveman, duffle on shoulder with a random old school tennis racket sticking out of it, stand on the moving sidewalk, passing a sign that says “Geico: So Easy a Caveman Could Do It”. He disappears out of the frame, and then reappears, with a look of utter disdain and contempt. Its priceless. True story… I was shopping in Ross’ Dress for Less, and “Remind Me” by Royksopp actually played overhead. Its was one of the most random, surreal moments ever.

34. Giving My Financial Testimony
Dave Ramsey is a hero to me and Stephanie and many others who have found themselves (or in Steph’s case, found herself married to someone) in financial straits… and after taking Financial Peace classes in 2005, I was able to actually give a video testimony on tithing… how major it is, how important it is and, like my loving wife sees it, shouldn’t even be a question of “Should we?” but “Why wouldn’t we?” Course, I forgot to tell Steph I was doing it, so when someone from the service told me “good job” as we were walking into the service, she was a little upset, but she got over it. And it felt good to share.

33. Margie & Gary Eubanks
I’ve known Margie a while as the chick who runs the adult drama team in church that I never get to be a part of. I knew Gary as her husband. But this summer, headed to NYC and Connecticut, I got to know them both very well, and realized how cool they both truly are. Especially Gary, whom I now affectionately call “The Idol”, though perhaps “affectionately” isn’t the right word. Anyway, I want be a drama teacher like Margie and a husband like Gary. Lofty goals.

32. Finding Out My Fraternity Formal Date is a Freakin’ Actress Chick Now
At 22, I went to my 1996 FarmHouse Fraternity Formal with a then-26 year old named Ambre Lake. I was the man, with the hottest chick in the place, not to mention she was the older woman. We had a good time, we danced, and even though I’m kinda convinced she ended up hooking up with Scott Sarich, I still rocked. And now? Ambre Lake is a film and tv actress, having been in several small films, and bit parts in larger films (Sweet Home Alabama, anyone?)… and I danced with her at formal. So there.

31. Jenni from NYC
Jenni from NYC is Jennifer Dunivant, a girl who went to school with me at Troy State, and had always admired and enjoyed. Well, through the wonderous power of the MySpace world (yes, yes, its on the list, see #23) I caught up with her again. And she might be one of the most fun, coolest people I’ve ever met. Her blogs are great, our emails are really funny and random, and being a Florida Gator fan makes her cool too. Oh, and her song on her page is “Steppin’ Out” by Joe Jackson… I’d like to think that’s my influence.

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New York City can't stop Jenni... it can only hope to contain her

Next... Ten Other Things...

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

100 Coolest Things... #50 - 41

Yes, yes, American Idol started last night, and continues tonight, and no doubt some of you--Scott Latta, at least--might be interested in my thoughts... and I'll share them in due time. Right now, just enjoy the badness that is the first few episodes. Oh, and on with the Top 100 Coolest Things of 2006:

#100 - 91... 90 - 81... 80 - 71... 70 - 61... 60 - 51...

50. Andrew Mann
He’s the leader of Graffiti 2 in the hard area of The Bronx. Graffiti 2 is a youth organization that does everything from basketball and drama classes to helping kids read better, in an area that isn’t ideal for anyone to grow up. Expecting a six foot black man, imagine my surprise to see a 5’7 stocky redheaded guy named Andrew. But he’s amazing with the kids, dealing with fights, language, problems and parents. His job is unenviable, but he’s got a heart for Christ and I daresay his missions rivals that of many overseas... you can read about the ministry and the Mann in my day's review here.

49. Brooke Smith
My pal from NBC 13, we have lunch about once per month to catch up. I let her know what’s happening with Starbucks and my upcoming store, and she fills me in on the moves and shakes at the news station, my former employer. She’s sweet, she’s fun and though she never talks about her Bachelor days, we still have lots to talk about. She’s no Stephanie (who is, really?) but I enjoy my monthly Brooke luncheons all the same.

48. Attacktix Tournaments
Starting last January, we boys got together to do what boys do… talk about girls, watch sports and play a stupid boy game called Attacktix. Its not Dungeons and Dragons, there’s no role playing, its simply “knock the other guys figures down, and you win”. In the summer, we started giving the monthly events names, like Attacktix Backlash, Attacktix Great American Bash, and of course, the controversial ending to Attacktix Royal Rumble. I’m going to go write my name in my underwear now.


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I daresay that Steph loves me in spite of... nay, because I'm a big nerd

47. Deuce Babies!
People in and around the Deuce family started having kids!  Yay!

46. J-BoJennifer Boutwell was one of my kids in WalkAbout, circa 2001. Didn’t really talk to her much after that (wasn’t my fault—never saw her much) but lo and behold, she’s coming on the NYC trip in July. And it was awesome. She’s so sweet, so cute and when you get her finally opening up, she’s pretty funny. Her mom, Georgia Ann, came as well, and you can see where J-Bo gets her personality from.


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J-Bo and I riding home after we and K-Swiss and G-Ann had spent the day in Manhattan.

45. Tommy & Amy Get a HouseFirst, we were all getting’ married. Tommy & Amy, Tom & Jill, Mikey & Ashley, Yours Truly & Stephanie Leann, and so on. Then, we were all gettin’ houses… Tommy & Amy, Tom & Jill, Mikey & Ashley, Yours Tru… waaaaiiittt… not yet. But still, it was great to see Tommy & Amy finally get a home to call their own, one that doesn’t include the words “apart” and “ment”.

44. Mackey & the Boyz
Got to know Josh Blackburn on WalkAbout, and then his little bro Brandon, in NYC and then subsequent Attacktix nights. Knew their mom Paula from church, and got to know Ken Mackey, their dad, over the last year. Seems that Ken married Paula, and took on the boys as his own, being one big happy Mackey clan… well, it became an official Mackey clan when the adoption of Josh & Brandon, by Ken, became official this year. Extremely heartening, very cool and just great. Congrats.
43. The Coney Island CycloneYes, yes, this was the coolest thing about 2005. Its dropped 43 spaces—not that its not cool, but I’ve done it already now. I rode it, oh, about four times this summer, and even lost my sunglasses, and managed to get footage on my small ghetto camera. Its still cool, but I’m done with it.

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A view from the top. I rode it in the front, the back, the middle, eyes open, eyes closed and all...

42. Brad McGuffey
He fixed our computer for very little money. For that, Brad, a former KidStuf’er and very soon to be a dad with Julie, gets a spot at the 100 seat table of Coolest in ’06.

41. Sarah McLachlan’s “Wintersong”
Very rarely do I enjoy Christmas CDs in their entirety. Usually, it’s a track or two, but the rest are rehashed versions of hymns and carols I’ve heard a thousand times… but this one is awesome. Sarah’s voice lifts what could even be the most overdone songs, like “Silent Night” and “The First Noel” and definitely does justice to the Charlie Brown special classic “Christmas Time Is Here”. Of course, the jewel for me is “River”, a great sentimental song about just wanting to go home.


Coming in the Top 40... NYC's Jenni... McPhee... Reese... Auburn... Lee Ann.. K-Swiss... The Sports Guy... and much more..

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

100 Coolest Things... #60 - 51

100 Coolest Things About 2006
#100 - 91
#90 - 81
#80 - 71
#70 - 61

60. McPhee’s Black Horse & the Cherry Tree
In keeping up with American Idol last season, my favorites were Kellie Pickler (Pickles), Taylor Hicks and Katharine McPhee. And my favorite song of the year is KT Tunstall’s “Black Horse & the Cherry Tree”. So imagine my delight when McPhee and Black Horse joined forces on May 2nd. Here’s what I wrote about it…

59. John C. Reilly in “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby”
Along with “Lady in the Water” and “Superman Returns”, Will Ferrill’s “Talladega Nights” will go down as a movie that I enjoyed, but wasn’t raving about. Hence, none of the three are in my 100 Coolest list this year. However, it did have its moments and funny quotes, but the saving grace of this movie belongs to John C. Reilly. His Cal Naughton, the forever second-fiddle to Ricky Bobby, was played to stupid perfection, half of Shake-n-Bake and finally, The Magic Man. To see a usually straight man upstage the comedian is shades of Jeff Daniels’ brilliant role (yes, I said brilliant) in “Dumb & Dumber”, overshadowing Jim Carrey.

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Will Ferrill is funny, but in this flick, John C. Reilly holds his own quite well.

58. X-Men: The Last Stand
You know I can dig on the X-Men. I’ve got 100s of X-Men comics, and so I was pretty pumped when this one came out. The director, Brett Ratner, comes fresh off of Rush Hour fame, so I knew the movie would give up some story and heart for more action and bang… and it did just that. I enjoyed it all the same, as Beast and Angel joins the fray, Jean Grey goes bad and the Juggernaut destroyed things. The ending left some to be desired, especially the dues ex machina way some of the bad guys died, but yet, I did leave the theater having enjoyed what I had seen.

57. Wendy Garner
I heart Wendy


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56. Facebook
After my discovery of MySpace, I got an email that Facebook was suddenly available to everyone as well. Before, you could only get on if you had an school, or at least, alumni email, but now, its open to the world. Within two hours of having a profile, I already had 20+ friends (with the addition of the Lacey Formerly Known as Chavez, now I have 93) and its helped me keep up with my church kids, and Valleydale Church (an sbc fellowship) old friends like Leslie Cordellsworth, Laura Posey, Ric Paschal and beyond. And, I can keep up with Saratara, who’s currently in Bangladesh.

55. Lisa Taylor
I spend three years at Parisian Corporate, some of which was the next cube over from a mom of two named Lisa, who ended up being one of my closest friends at work. She was my peer in the next men’s buying office over, and this year, we were able to re-connect, meet for lunch and catch up. And she’s still just as charming and fun as always. Plus, she keeps me up to date on the collapse of the Parisian company (of which I’m happy I got out of five years ago)

54. Hem’s “Half Acre”
Have you seen the commercial? A baby drops her toy, and a guy bends over to hand it to her. The mom smiles, then later, saving a guy’s cup of coffee from spilling. Well, the guy in the window sees this, then later helps a fallen passer-by. Someone who sees this ends up holding the elevator for someone… and so on. Anyway, the lullaby you hear in the background is by a band called Hem, and the song is called “Half-Acre”, from the album “Rabbit Songs”. I’m not clear exactly what the song means, but it’s still haunting and awesome. The YouTube link shows an
entire 3 ½ minute commercial/video.

53. Pickles
Kellie Pickler! Ah, Pickles was great and stupid at the same time, fun to watch and airheaded enough to smack equally. From Albemarle, NC, she made it to #6 in this season’s American Idol, and honestly, I think she might have a better future than My Girl McPhee. Her album is already out, and I look forward to hearing it.

52. Cars
So, make a movie for me that will keep me interested, and it has to be talking cars, with mouths on the grills and eyes in the windshields… and you know that Disney Pixar would do it. And they did. Cars was extremely entertaining, not only due to the quirky animation, but to the great voices of Owen Wilson, Bonnie Hunt (who is great in anything) and especially Larry the Cable Guy who steals the show as Mater.

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John Cena... You don't see me


51.
John Cena & “The Marine”
When this movie came out, Michael Nipp emailed me and asked me to go see it. I told him to wait until it came to the $1 theater… so we did. And it was one of the most craptastic movies I’ve ever seen.
John Cena is currently the WWE Champion, having just beaten Umaga in WWE’s New Years Revolution on Sunday, and though I don’t have a man-crush on John Cena as I do The Rock (though I still can’t get past Gridiron Gang…. Yeesh…) Cena is still my boy in WWE. So naturally, I’d go see The Marine. The great thing about this flick is that the violence isn’t overtly bad and Robert Patrick is mailing in his performance (which is just perfect for his character). Oh yeah, and Kelly Carlson (you might recognize her as Charlie Soda in Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation)

Coming Up:
Top Ten Disappointments of 2006... Top Ten Things I Can't For In 2007... and the Top 50 Coolest Things of 2006

Friday, January 05, 2007

100 Coolest Things... #70 - 61

100 Coolest Things of 2006
#100 - 91
#90 - 81

#80 - 71

70. Grey’s Anatomy
It started as a simple little midseason show in March of 2005, replacing “Boston Legal” on Sunday nights just for a few weeks… and ended up forcing Boston Legal out of its own time slot. Consistently one of the top five shows of the week, including beating CSI regularly, Grey’s Anatomy is everything you want in a guilty pleasure. Set in the Seattle Grace Hospital, we watch the live and love of Meredith Grey, as she loves and hates McDreamy, we watch Christina and Burke on-again, off-again, Stephanie loves watching George and Bailey, while mine own eyes remain fixed upon Izzie. Its just addicting.

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Burke, Meredith, McDreamy, Addison, Alex, George, Bailey, the important hospital guy, and in front, my favorites Christina and Izzie

69. Survivor Cook Islands
Survivor is truly hit or miss now… when it misses, it misses big, being just plain boring sometimes. But when it hits… watch out. And it hit this season, on the Cook Islands. Initially it was four tribes divided by race, black, white, Asian and Hispanic, but it seemed like CBS bowed to pressure after two episodes, merging the tribes almost immediately. Looks like they gave in. Then… the mutiny happened, when Jonathan and Candice betrayed their tribe… then Jonathan betrayed his new tribe… Ozzy climbed everything and outperformed everyone… Parvati looked like she had a smile the size of my left front tire… Becky rode coattails… and all the while, Yul, one of the coolest players to come along in a while, calculated and watched… and won. Good times.

68. Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip
Stephanie loved The West Wing, and even though I tried to watch it, I just couldn’t get past the flamin’ liberal part of it. And Studio 60 has been called “The Television West Wing”… (its about the behind the scenes at a SNLesque type show) and perhaps it is. But it’s new to me, and I love it. Its fun to watch Matthew Perry actually do something besides Chandler Bing, while Steph loves watching Bradley Whitford (he sits as the vice –president of Stephanie’s Colin Firth Memorial of Good Lookin’ Men, who claims such members like Pierce Brosnan and McDreamy himself). But Sarah Paulson is also a marvel to watch… she plays Harriet, a Christian actress who’s on-again-off-again relationship with Matt (Perry) is gossip for the show. Its actually refreshing to watch a Christian character be played with spunk, instead of the dork of the group. Of course, Sarah Paulson has her own un-believing style, but we’ll take the win. Reportedly, the character is based on Kristin Chenoweth, a real life singer/actress, and Believer, who had a one time relationship with Aaron Sorkin, creator of West Wing and Studio 60.

67. Zaxby’s
Just had the Wings N Things meal, with chicken wings, chicken fingers, fries and toast. I feel like I’m going to throw up. I love it.

66. The DFC VII
Just like he did twice in years past, Tad Roose took home the Brook DeRamus Championship Plate again. He also walked away with the hardware for the Most Valuable Player, along with the South Central Division title. But this season was still fun, despite Tad’s dominance, watching a whole crop of rookies like Gary “The Idol” Eubanks and Zack Graves try to make the playoffs (they did), and watching Michael Nipp try to return to form and Tyler Campbell try to make the postseason for the first time (they didn’t). Next stop… Deuce Madness ’07, then onto DFC VIII!

65. The Rozerem Sleeping Ad
Guy dreams that he walks into a kitchen, only to be met by Abraham Lincoln and a Beaver, eating pie, sitting there talking to him, asking him to play cards. The Beaver says, pointing to Lincoln, “He cheats”. Lincoln looks appalled, retorting “Uh, hello! Honest Abe!” and the Beaver rolls his eyes, muttering dryly, “Whatever.” And of course, the deep sea diver in the background is just there. I love it. Cracks me up.

64. The Fray
Maybe their songs do kinda sound alike, but heck, so does Nickelback and they sold, what, four million albums? I don’t know anyone who owns one, but still… anyway, “How to Save a Live” and “Over My Head” are two fine songs on my iPod, and any songs that pleases me to get stuck in my head is okay in my book. Its good, solid rock music, not too heavy, not to Boltonish, just enough scratch in the voice to make it worthwhile.

63. Sandra Oh
Its been fun watching her career. I think it took Grey’s Anatomy, though, for me to appreciate the fact I really like Sandra Oh. Don’t ask me why. My pal Jenni D in NYC basically asked me, “Really?” in a “what the heck?” tone of email. Dunno. Anyway, I’ve seen her in countless movies (The Princess Diaries, Under the Tuscan Sun, and even Arli$$) and I just thought it was time to recognize that yes, Sandra Oh, you are cool in my book.

62. Monster House
How much fun was this movie?! Stephanie and I saw it at the $1 theater nearby, and though it boasts a host of famous voices (Jason Lee, my dear Maggie, Napoleon Dynamite), the three main characters—DJ, Jenny and an absolutely hysterical Chowder--are no-names, which is just fantastic—you don’t have to worry about getting caught up in Robin Williams’ frantic pace or anything. The story is that two buddies are wary of a house across the street, one house owned by Old Man Nebbercracker. You don’t step on Nebbercracker’s lawn for fear of being eaten… by the house. When the old man croaks as a result of DJ’s and Chowder’s goofing around, the house isn’t happy. Well, it’s a Monster House. And it makes for a very, very cool, underrated movie.

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Take a bottle of Coca-Cola Classic, add some coffee and what do you have? McGriddle Magic.

61. Coke BlaK
I call it “The McGriddle Effect”. Ever had a McDonald’s McGriddle? Its weird. You can distinctly taste both the pancake syrup and the sausage at the same time, its like there is no melding of flavors. Almost as if parts of your mouth are chewing something totally different. The same with Coke BlaK… you taste coffee. You taste Coke. You don’t taste coffeecoke or Coke Coffee… and like the McGriddle, its either the worst thing I’ve ever had, or the most delicious discovery in a long while. Of course, I haven’t had a McGriddle in years, but I drink Coke BlaK every time I see it available.

Up Next... We close in on the Top 50

Thursday, January 04, 2007

100 Coolest Things... #s80 - 71

100 - 91... including Michelle Malkin, The Brand New Heavies and Casino Royale
90 - 81... including Jo Dee Messina, Wordjong and Howie Mandel


80. Courtney the Stairstep Child
Up in Stamford, CT, we had the chance to work with Landon Reesor, pastor of Encounter Church. Working for/with him was Alan, who had his family, including Courtney. She was 15, a bundle of fun and I thought she was just great… I hope little Lorelei turns out like this. Here’s to you, Stairstep.

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Courtney and her three younger brothes are all a few years apart, as well as a few inches apart... hence, the name "Stairstep"

79. Little Black Book
This is a little seen romantic comedy from XXXX, starring Brittany Murphy, who I still can’t help but identify as the big chick from “Clueless”. Stumbled upon this silly little movie, also starring Holly Hunter and Kathy Bates (both Oscar winners, mind you) and Peter Gibbons from Office Space, and was just transfixed. The plot is goofy, the acting is eh, but its just fun. I actually bought it on dvd for what, four bucks? And, it helped me decide on #75 below.

78. Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor
For me, Superman Returns wasn’t all that. Perhaps I wanted more, perhaps I expected better, I dunno… either way, Brandon Routh just didn’t cut it for me as Clark or Supes. But Spacey? Marvelous. Absolutely brilliant… you can tell in every scene he’s just chewing up his scenes in a “I’m having more fun with this than anyone intended” kinda way. Watching Kal Penn and Parker Posey have nothing to do is kinda fun too, but Kevin Spacey rocks.

77. Evan Mallard
Work with her at Starbucks, and all I can say is, I ell oh vee eee this chick.

76. Cingular “Dropped Call” Ads
Here’s the set up… someone is having a very important conversation, like a guy talking to his chick. Something crucial is said, like “I’m just glad I’m the only man in your world”, and then everything goes silent, leading the guy to say “I am the only man in your world, right? (pause) Is it Earl?” It’s an ad for Cingular and how they have the fewest dropped calls of any service, but the best part is at the end, when he says “Cat got your tongue? Earl got your tongue?” Cracks me up.

75. Carly Simon
Little Black Book, listed above as the 79th coolest thing about 2006, featured music almost entirely by Carly Simon, a very popular artist in the 70s, and a semi-popular artist in the 80s. Now she’s filed away with Simon & Garfunkel, the Carpenters, Bread and the like as singers & bands who had some good stuff that you listen to when you’re feeling a bit nostalgic. But I decided, on a whim, to check out a Carly Simon Greatest Hits cd from the Hoover Public Library… and loved it. “You’re So Vain” has always been a classic, but “Anticipation”, “You Belong to Me” and even “Coming Around Again” just make me happy in a “I’m too old to care what you think about me, so there” kind of way.

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Wide mouth and all, does a liking for Carly Simon qualify as a "Guilty Pleasure"?

74. Maggie Gyllenhaal
Sister of Jake Gyllenhaal, I didn’t know much about her and had never really paid much attention to her until “Stranger than Fiction”. She was feisty, she had a goofy tattoo on her arm and she was fun, beaming onscreen and making the movie worthwhile. And I realized, I really like her. I really do. I thought back to other movies she had been in, including an underrated role in "World Trade Center" and a voice in "Monster House", and honestly, I liked her in everything I’ve seen.

73. Dustin & Kandice from the Amazing Race
On the surface, you’d think “oh, you like ‘em cause their hot”, and honestly, no. Didn’t really think they were all that attractive, to tell you the truth—I liked them because they were competitive, and mostly because no one else liked them… and the reasons others gave for no one liking them? “They won’t quit!” “They keep coming at you!” “They play so hard!” How can you not like someone because they won’t let you win? That’s just silly.

72. “Night at the Museum”
What a fun movie! We got to see it on Christmas Day, at the Rave, and I enjoyed every minute of it. Ben Stiller is a dad who can’t hold a job for anything, and is forced to take a low-end security job at an art museum to prove he’s fit enough to see his son. At night, however, strange things happen in the museum… like Teddy Roosevelt riding through the halls, a T-Rex skeleton who wants to play fetch, and a hilarious war that keeps breaking out between the Old West Cowboy Exhibit and the Roman Empire Exhibit. Not too preachy, just silly enough to be fun, I highly recommend this flick as a great way to munch popcorn and kill an afternoon.

71. Valleydale’s Dinner Theater
For three days at the end of November, Valleydale Church (an sbc fellowship) held court in the upstairs theater, featuring three skits and a short musical presentation, and I got to be part of it. It was great to get to know some different people in the church, it was awesome watching the talents of others, and it was fun watching Larry Waters as grandpa, who truly had some of the best lines in the entire thing. Oh, and Meredith Watkins voice? The only word I can find is “pure”. The show was great and I was happy with my ten lines.

Up next... #70 thru 61