#60. The Amazing Race All Stars
Back in the Spring, the pulled together the finest teams from The Amazing Race to... okay, did I say finest? Well, when you have a team that befits the best of the PG-13 nickname, "Team Bats***", plus teams that I nicknamed Eric & The Boob and Gay Miserables, and of course, Rob & Amber who are in a competition with Omarosa for the most reality shows ever, then you have one heck of an entertaining show.
I was rooting hard for Dustin & Kandice, two of my reality show hall of famers, but they only made it to third. Here was what I thought on February 20th:
I still love Dustin & Kandice. I can't tell them apart, but the fact that no one likes them because they are so competitive makes me root for them. I'm also pulling for Uchenna and Joyce, though I'm sure going on a trip around the world is the perfect solution for a troubled marriage due to infertility.
#59. "The Shining" by Stephen King
What a creepy book. I once said that this was the most frightening book I had ever read, and since I shot through several Stephen King books, both ones I'd read and ones I hadn't, I thought it a good time to get The Shining again. And I learned something... this book isn't that scary, or at least as frightening as I remember it. However, the book is about a hundred times better than I remember it being.
Its so easy to get influenced by the Stanley Kubrick version of the book, the one where Jack Nicholson plays the Overlook Hotel caretaker, Jack Torrence. This movie in itself is a great, creepy film, but it does so much gouging of the actual book--from leaving out the hedges to the fate of Dick Halloran to the true meaning of "The Shine"--it is not far removed from being a different film altogether.
At its heart, "The Shining" is a book about a father, Jack, who has been a failure all his life and will give up everything to succeed as caretaker, and his son, Danny, who loves and idolizes his father so much, it almost costs Danny his own life. Both Jack and Danny, and mother Wendy, and Dick Hallorann are so rich in character, its a marvel just to read their stories... and the other character is The Overlook, the sinister hotel high in the Colorado mountains. King writes The Overlook as if it had feelings, as if it had anger, love, emotion, jealousy and so on, because truthfully, it does. It comes alive to manipulate Jack into getting what it wants.
This is where the movie misses out. In the movie, its just a haunted hotel and a crazy man, but in the book, you watch the hotel slowly take over the Torrence family. In my favorite scene in the book, and one of the scariest in any book, the hedges slowly come alive to try and take Danny into the hotel's soul, and they try to take Jack as well.
I rented the mini-series that came out a few years ago, with Steven Weber and Rebecca DeMornay as Jack and Wendy and it... well, it was terrible. It was given a modern day feel, but still tried to use the verbage and language from the 70s, when it was written. It highlighted much more than Kubrick's "The Shining", including key parts like the croquet mallet, the furnace and the hedges, but its just acted so poorly.
Anyway, this was a great book, one that I highly recommend picking up over a weekend. Keep the lights on. Re-watch Kubrick's "The Shining" only after you've finished the book, and steer clear of the mini-series.
#58. MLK Weekend at the Beach
Spending the weekend at the beach is a great thing. Spending the weekend at a friend's house, when it doesn't cost you anything, is a better thing. Having a bunch of good friends with you is the best.
Because The Lovely Steph Leann never gets to see her BFFs, DeLisa, Lesley & Susie, from school, late in '06 we started planning (and yes, I was one of the initial developers of this great idea) to all get together for MLK three-day weekend. There was Suzie & Mike, who owned the house we'd be staying in... there was Lesley & Jason, who lives in Crestview, parents of twins (who stayed with grandparents)... there was DeLisa & Nick, who live here in town, but we never get to see because even when you live in Birmingham, its so big it might as well be another city... and there was Mike, one half of the Mike & Ken guy duo that hung out with them. Mike brought his fiance-now-wife Daphne... or perhaps it was his wife already. I don't remember...
In the back, Mike & Daphne, Jason & Leslie. In the front, there's Nick & DeLisa, me and The Lovely Steph Leann and in the bottom right corner, Susie and Mike.
Anyway, it was a good time. We just hung out, we went shopping the next day at San Destin, we grilled out, watched sports, and just had a good time. Mostly, it was good to see Stephanie reconnect with BFF Suzie, BFF DeLisa, BFF Lesley and BFF Mike. We were going to try to do it again this year, but that didn't work so well...
#57. Tyler Graduates
I've always talked about Tyler, the Sexy Beast of the Clouds in My Coffee Blog, in a great way, cause he's really a good kid. He's my brother in law, The Lovely Steph Leann's youngest brother, and truly fun to be around.
So, naturally, it was a good time when we got to see him graduate, along with my other friends Stephen Hunt, Trey Cartledge and Garrett Cheney... and of course, like last year's graduation with Kourtney Kelley & Kandice Kelley (which ranked #20 on the Coolest Things of 2006), it was a good time to have fun with some of the names.... names like Robert Alan "Case of" Heinke, Elijah "Soy" Chai Ngaruiya, Zack Bedgood and Rizwan Poonwalla (the new Chest Rockwell and Brock Landers), and of course, The Gurley Man and the Priddy Boy.
You can go back and read the entire graduation blog here.
#56. The Lovely Steph Leann's One Liners
Sometimes, perhaps more often than not, Steph Leann is really, really funny. For whatever reason, she waited until this year to start popping off the one liners...
Me, sitting at Purple Onion, listening overhead: Is that Lional Richie I hear? At a Greek restaurant?
Steph Leann: Hey, Lionel Richie is universal.
(you can read the full story here)
Me, watching some show with Elvis on it: Elvis was really a pimp
Steph Leann: Honey... Elvis invented pimp
Me: (I don't remember what I said)
Steph Leann: There are not dust bunnies in my belly button!!!
You get the idea. Funny, funny stuff. (I'm going to regret that last one)
What a great show. We saw it in December with Andy & Kristy Murry, who'd never seen it before (this was my fourth time). It's always great to see it with people who haven't.
Anyway, STOMP! is the percussion show where the cast makes great music with advanced instruments like brooms, dowels, rods, balloons, plastic sacks, newspapers, trash cans, trash can lids, keys and everything else you can imagine. Its a marvelous show that obviously takes a long time to prepare for... totally worth the cost.
You know, what kills me is when I was in 6th grade, I had the chance to join the band. I thought about playing drums, which would have been cool, but I waited, picking up alto sax in 9th grade. But what if I would have started on the drums in 6th grade, then in 8th grade, turn to my fellow drummers, saying "Hey, why don't we get some brooms and such, and make some music? It might be cool." I'd be a freakin' millionaire. I chalk this right under Build-a-Bear in the "why the heck didn't I think of that??" catagory.
I would highly recommend getting Stomp Out Loud on dvd. Its a tv version of the show, lasting about an hour, and there's some stuff in it that you only see on tv.
#54. "Salem's Lot" by Stephen King
Unlike "The Shining", I had never read "Salem's Lot", and unlike "Cell", I didn't know what Salem's Lot was about... well, except for vampires.
Alongside "The Shining", "The Stand" and "It", "Salem's Lot" is considered one of Stephen King's masterpieces. Written in 1975, it tells the story of Jerusalem's Lot, or 'Salem's Lot, Maine, a town that is slowly dying--or, disappearing, rather. Ben Mears, a writer, moves back into town after his wife dies, strikes up a friendship with local doctor Matt Burke and sparks a relationship with old friend Susan Norton.
He's back to write a book on The Marsten House, the local "haunted house" (because every small town has one) that gave him nightmares as a child. Things are not well at The Marsten House, which of course, why would they be--this is, after all, a true horror story.
The build-up is fantastic... you don't even know its a vampire story until at least halfway through the book. The payoff is even better, as lots of people start dying, lots of vampires start attacking and lots of goose bumps start bumping. You can even read the "bookends" of the novel, two short stories that appear in Stephen King's "Night Shift", with "Jerusalem's Lot" set before "Salem's Lot", and "One for the Road" set after.
I've never seen the original movie adaptation, but I will say like "The Shining", steer clear of the Rob Lowe starring made-for-tv adaption. Its just terrible.
We all loved the afternoon cartoon, and some of us remember the guilty pleasure that was and is the mid-80s animated Transformers movie, the one where Optimus Prime not only curses, but dies. So, we were pretty excited when we heard that Michael Bay (the director) and Steven Spielberg (the producer) would be involved in a 2007 update of the great kid toy line.
I'll be honest with you... there's nothing about this movie I didn't like. As in, I liked EVERYTHING about this flick. There's not a throwaway line, there's not a wasted scene, even Bumblebee going from old school VW Bug to a classic Camero didn't bother me like I thought it would. The Year of Shia LaBeouf continues as he's perfectly cast, while Megan Fox lives up to her surname. And of course, you have the Autobots and Decepticons, which every guy--and some girls--were so jazzed about because it took us all back to when we were 8, raging the battle of Cybertron on our front lawn.
The ending battle through the city is phenomenal, as is just about everything about the movie.
#52. Seth Rogan
Wow this guy is funny. Who knew? Althought I saw "Knocked Up" first, I can see where his reputation started to build after "40 Year Old Virgin". And then, in "Superbad", with the crazy 'stache, as a moron cop, he's hilarious too.
I'm so diggin' the Fu stache. I'm trying to convince The Lovely Steph Leann to let me grow on.
I'll end up having to put "Freaks & Geeks" on my Blockbuster Queue, where he started on TV.
MySpace used to be the place to go, until they opened up Facebook to the world, instead of just college students and business networks. I know, I know, there are some who wanted to keep it only for college students and businesses, but I, for one, am glad they opened it.
I mean, how else can I keep up with my friends Katy Boo, Leslie Ailsworth, Sam Allison, Amy Anderson, Blair and Matt Andress, Hannah Armstrong, Andrew Atkinson, Bobbi Jo, Shawn Baxley, Lauren Beam, Fish, BCM Brad, Binkley, Curtis Black, My Little Perfect Daughter, Jana Blackwell, Shelby, Katie Bolt, Tyler Bolton, Malinda Nichols, J-Bo, Meredith Brazzell, Wendy Brobst, Crush, Nikki Brown, Mike Brunson, David Bullock, Rob, Jessica & Kathy Compton, Sister Golden Hair, Cara Caillouet, All the Gfeller girls, Shiloh, Chad & Ashley Campbell, Tyler, Michelle Carr, Jamie & Trey Cartledge, All the Long Girls, Big Ben Caver, Karen Chapman, Lacey Chappell, Christi Chastain, Garrett Cheney, Paige Cheney, The Clark Girls, My Little College Freshman, Carol Anne, Marcus Clement, Jason & Andrea, Ty & Donette, Megan Bryan "was almost Dollar" Collins, Jordan Craddock, Jonathan & Amanda Cranston, Steph Crisp, Logan Crook, Shelley Streed, Josh Crosby, Brittany & Chris Croyle, Brooke Culpepper, Cassidy Curles, Jeremy Davis, Tama Davis, Tobi Davis, Wendi Deckermiller, Laura DeGH, Jeff Dickey, Sharon Dobbins, Ellen Donze, Luthor, J-Dotson, Beverly Earman, Liz Beth Earman, Clint Ellis, Adam Ellis, Deena Emaish, Jenn Ersnt, Lindsay Mims, Aaryn Figert, Joanna Finch, Jared Fincher, All the Fine Kids (minus Aaron), Kelly Fisher, Stacey Francis, Susie Franks, Caroline Franks, Wook Fu, Sammi Funk, Chase Garner, Mollie Garrigan, Louie Giglio, Lane Gilmore, Courtney Glicken, Abbey Gore, Emily Lovinggood, Kim Graham, both Zack and Kara Graves, Devan Grayson, Katie Green, Stephen Greer, Little Jaci, Matt Grimes, Tony Griffies, Jordan Grubb, the elder two Guthrie children, Alyssa Guy, Lora Haghighi, Ashton Hale, The Hall, Steph Halpert, Leah Hamel, Kyle Hanson, Anna Banana, Tamara Harper, Sarah Hasha, Philip Hasha, Drew Hataway, Haley's Comet, Jessica Hawbaker, Kelcie & Danielle Hicks, Jeff Herring, Annaka Hindman, Joey Hinson, Jess Hodges, Aleicia Hornsby, Julie Howell, Dan Howard, Whitney Huff, Stephen Hunt, Ink Hwangpo, Rachel & Sarah Jacks, Molly, Jill, Marie & Sybil Johnson, Joy JohnsTon, Megan, Chris and Jeremy Jones, Gabe & Giselle Josef, Stefanie & Stacy Jovanioviahnivhich, Andrew Kallus, Cari Kates, the Entire Kelley Family, Alissa Kelly, Lara Kolmetz, Gretchen Krisher (wait... who? Oh yeah, Gretchie!), Launi Larrabee, All three Latta boys and their women, Manda Laughlin, Kelsie Lawson, Alyssa Lehr, Jon Lenning, Ann Marie, My Little Muffinhead, My Little Muffinhead's bro Brad, Laran Lofton, Ashley Lovell, Deb Lowe, The Mackeys, Mama P, Erin Magonigal, Eazy E, Jonathan and Jennifer Marbutt, Morgan Marks, Paige Martin, Josh Martin, Crystal Martin, Meredith May, Ryan Mays, Chris McCall, Kasey McCarver, Keri McLendon, Jennifer McShea, Big Eddy Mac, Little Eddy Mac, Krista Mac, Jesalyn McCurry, Shannon Megan, Vicki McGee, Courtney McGough, Bradley McGuffey, Jonathan McKenzie, Tommy, Amy & Bruce McLeod, Paul McRae, Chad McRee, Mateo and Cherene, Karina, Steph and Kellen Miller, The Downeaster Alexa, John Milton, Jennifer Mims, Super Dana, Kelly Mize, Amanda Abbott, Drew Morris, Justin Moseley, Porcia, Andy Murry, Mikey Nipp, Katie & Alyce Noland, My Twinkie Adrianne, Trey O'Neal, Angie Mark Pilgrim Osborne, all three Osborne kids, Kelli Parks, Christy & Ricky Parvin, Rick Paschal, Andrea Payton, Leigh Pegg, Tina Pilgrim, Pinky, Bradley Pinkerton, Laura Parker Posey, Kevin Price, Hannah Pruitt, McQ, Rebe Raffini, Dave Ramsey, Jeremiah Rastegar, Matt & Steph Rector, Mary Reed, Alan Renfroe, K-Swiss, Amanda Rials, Ashley Rials, Destiny Richards, Jessica Rogers, Jenny Ross, Heather Rowland, Kevin Sanders, Melinda Schauland, Petey & Jenn, Kasie Secrest, Audrey Senkbeil, Beth Sentell, Shawnifer, Rene Sheppard, LP Sherman (42 Wallaby Way), Brain Sherrell, Christine Shores, Whitney Shores, Shrop, Kristi Simmons, Cindy Skipworth, Tallahassee, Shawn Smallwood, Steve, Justin and Jason Smith, My Little Sister, Rocky, Butters, Savannah Stamps, Beth Stanley, Gweer Stanton, Dave Stephens, Sgt Stone, Paulie Sutton, Kat Switzer, Ginny Temple, Saratara, Katytara, Lolo, Joey Thomason, Julia Thomason, Abby... excuse me, Abigail Thomason, Joey Thornell, Diva Trent, Courtney Trippe, Trinity Tucker, Haley Turnage, Jennifer Mullins Turpin, Amy Valdmanis, Julie Vance, Todd & Brooke Veleber, Luke Vogel, Nick Wade, Jessica Walker, K-Dub, Kyriae Warner, Sarah Warren, Michael Warren, The Wasyluka, Meredith Watkins, My Little Bobblehead, Maisha Watson, Weaver, Derek Weeks, Ashley Wehunt, Kelley Whatley, Erin Whidden, Molly White, Sierra Wiginton, Jordan Willcox, Jessica Williams, Leah Williams, Chase Williams, So Very Kari Wilson, Theresa Wilson, Alisa Worley, Angela Wren, Devon Yarbrough, PauYau! and Claire Young?
It would be impossible, really.
Coming up... the Top 50 Coolest Things of 2007, including Weird Al's Latest video, the war in Disney, Fergalicious and, at last, K-Dub.