Tuesday, January 08, 2008

The Coolest Things of 2007, #70 to 61

Here's the next ten coolest things of 2007, as ranked by me.

#70. Trinity defeats Millsaps, 28-24
I have no words to describe this, other watch this. I just found an even better quality video, an end zone angle.

Oh, it is fun to note former Alabama coach Mike Dubose coaches Millsap College.

#69. The 2007 College Football Season
What you just saw on #70 was really, according to the whole season, was just a blip on the radar. In one of the most amazing seasons ever, we teams ranked in the top five lose to unranked opponents 13 times, not the least of these being Stanford beating USC and Appy State taking out #5 Michigan. We saw the #1 team go down four times, the most in a season since 1990. We saw the #1 and #2 team lose on the same weekend (USC and Cal) for the first time since 1996. Then we saw it happen again later in the season. We saw no favorite as safe, no underdog without hope, and no game that didn't have the potential to become explosive.

lloyd carr
Poor Lloyd. Of course, he did wind up beating my beloved Gators in the Capital One Bowl, Lloyd's final game.

I mentioned it before, kudos to whoever the sports programming director is for the tiny network Versus, formerly the Outdoor Channel. Three weeks in a row I watched a game that, when it was booked, was probably insignificant, but when it aired was monumental.... Colorado beating Oklahoma and Stanford beating USC being two of them.

It added to a crazy, thrilling DFC VIII, in which Drew Morris emerged from the wreckage to become the DFC Champion just a few days ago. And last night, LSU proved once again that the Big 10 sucks, and the SEC rules. Because last night, the Big 10 sucked. And the SEC rules.

Which, in a sidenote, is promising for the future. Four of the six major BCS conferences are not only recommending and favoring a "Plus-One" championship style game, in which the top four teams are ranked in major bowls, and the winners go on to play for the title, but after this season, they are looking at calling it The Football Final Four, and even seeding and re-seeding.

The hold-outs? The Pac 10 and the Big 10, which are so bent on how special their Rose Bowl game is, they are resistant to any change, even though this college football nation and fanbase has evolved beyond caring that the Pac 10 champ and the Big 10 champ meet every single season. Some traditions are only important to those immediately involved, but unfortunately, those immediately involved are the ones who impede the path to a possible playoff, or at least a "plus one" format, which is a precursor to a playoff type atmosphere.

Of course, this season was almost crazy enough to make you forget the need for a playoff.


#68. Leading Financial Peace University
Someone early in the spring was goofy enough to ask Stephanie and I to help lead Financial Peace University at Valleydale Church (an sbc fellowship). Its a 13 week Dave Ramsey led course on financial responsibility, and we've been through it already.

As a "table leader", we did just that... lead a table full of couples, four to be exact. As we went through, week by week, Steph and I got to lead the discussions on where people are financially--some were doing great, others not so great, but thats okay, they were all in there to learn how to budget, how to save, how to get out of debt and how to give. With God's blessing and mercy, we've managed to learn how to do all of this, and are finishing up the debt part this spring.

How great it was to hear stories from people at our table, and in the big room, and know we were there just a few years ago, and I felt like we were able to say "hey, look where we are now... you can get here too, I promise."

With any luck, we'll get to lead again this summer... and if you haven't taken this course, then you are welcome to come through it. We invite you to do so.

#67. Adam Corolla on The Sports Guy Podcast
Every week, you can hear Bill Simmons, aka The Sports Guy, on iTunes, talking it up with sports figures, celebrities, or sometimes, just his buddies like Diehard Yankees Fan Jacko (who TSG called every week during the baseball season to ask "Are you worried about the Yankees yet?"), and his buddy Cousin Sal, who did NFL lines with him every week.

The Sports Guy used to work as a writer on The Jimmy Kimmel Show, and he would collaborate with Adam Corolla. Both Kimmel and Corolla used to work together on The Man Show. So, anyway, Corolla is on The Sports Guy Podcast this one particular show this past September, and he has some movie ideas...

Imagine the US Olympic Team, all sports, is practicing in Colorado and suddenly, terrorists take over. Well, what are these olympians to do? Except, the terrorists didn't anticipate the marathoner escaping, and running to get help, which is approximately 26.2 miles away. The bombs are rigged to go off in 2 hours, 5 minutes and 17 seconds... which would set a new Olympic record. They didn't anticipate the pole vaulter getting out of the large room they are trapped in, because the window is about fifteen feet up. They didn't anticipate their cameras, set 100 meters apart, switching angles every 9.8 seconds... which means for every Olympian to help escape, they set a new record. The title? "Rings of Honor", and the 2 "O's" in "honor" are the two rings in the Olympic Ring logo. Another title Deathcathalon.

The other one? The story of Rush Blitzer (the best possible football name ever), the best long snapper in NFL history, who is disgraced because he gets dazed in a play (and of course, you get the slow motion, foggy visual, where everyone's voices are unintelligible and slow), and long snaps the ball so hard it kills the flanker (his helmet explodes from impact). Living in the mountains in a cabin, drinking hard, full beard, a hound dog, he's approached by the coach from his old NFL team. After being suspended from the NFL for two years, Rush says he's not sure, then you see the montage where he's lost his touch, he loses the ball, the fumbles, he snaps it too high and knocks an airplane out of the sky, that kind of thing.

Suddenly, the mob appears and tells him that he must throw the upcoming playoff game, or they'll kill his 15 year old daughter (who's really 26 in real life with full curves) and doesn't know what Rush Blitzer did. So the mobster guy tells her, while Rush is handcuffed, trying to get out, then the mobster guy does that super creepy guy thing where he runs his hand backwards on his cheek, and though the daughter hates her dad, Rush Blitzer, the whole time, she suddenly pops up and says "My father is a great man!"

So, in the Super Bowl, his team down by 2 with :01 left on the clock, ready to kick the winning field goal, Rush Blitzer must decide... as he looks between his legs ready to snap the ball, does he fumble the snap on purpose, fix the game, take the loss and save his daughters life, or does he long snap it like he knows he can, win the game, but cost his daughter's life? No, instead, Rush Blitzer, with an :18 hang time on his snap, fires it hard into the stands and drills it into the mobster's temple, killing him.

The title? "Snapper: The Rush Blitzer Story". Can't beat that, really. One of the funniest things I've ever heard... you can hear the entire podcast for free on iTunes.

#66. "Cosy in the Rocket" by Psapp.
Psapp is this English band, sort of electronica, that is sometime credited with inventing "toytronica", which is music through use of regular instruments as well as toy guitars, toy flutes and other sound making children's things. Pronounced "Puh Sap", they are known for using humor in their concerts, sometimes tossing stuffed, hand made cats into the audience. Anyway, it was this year that I discovered "Cosy in the Rocket".

Don't know this song? One listen and you will, or you will if you watch Grey's Anatomy. If you want to hear it, you can click here to see a Grey's Anatomy montage set to the song--there are a dozen of them, all kinda the same, none really that great, but at least you can hear the song.

#65. The Golden Compass Bombs.

"Hey, let's spend $180 million dollars on a movie based on an atheist-authored book that is based on the premise that God is the enemy, and that in the end of the book, God dies! I mean, we'll leave some of that stuff out, but the Christians in this country are too stupid to make the connection, so we'll get Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig and make a ton of money!"

At the time of this writing, The Golden Compass has cleared $65 million. And its been out for a while, so its not as if this will be making $100 million more in the near future. I wrote about this right before it came out, and I also told Stephanie before it came out "That movie is going to bomb".

This isn't like The Da Vinci Code, where the Catholics protested and honestly, the Christians in this country didnt care, mostly because the movie was terrible, this is about Christ-followers in this country refusing to let their children see a movie that is a slap in the face to all that their faith hold dear, and about a Hollywood society that doesn't understand why Passion of the Christ made over $300 million, why Narnia was such a monster success, why Lord of the Rings was so huge, but doesn't get it when it comes to anti-God and anti-Jesus. Because Hollywood is anti-God, so must the rest of the nation, right?

Again I say, Ha!!

#64. The Blake Lewis Beatbox
This is what I wrote on May 1st, 2007:

Blake Lewis, whom Ashley [Spell] just told me was amazing via text, is up next. He's going to be doing "You Give Love a Bad Name", which is huge, because that's one of those much beloved 80s songs that you don't mess around with, like "Pour Some Sugar On Me" or "Hungry Like the Wolf". Its immortal, really. And... apparently, he's going to be amazing in that he's doing a different interpretation on it, or "rolling the dice" as Jon Bon Jovi says to him.

Okay since the tape is in the other room, I watched the whole thing just now. Wow. Holy crap. Blake Lewis may not be the best singer on the show, and he may not, nay, probably won't win American Idol. But he is hands down, bar none absolutely the best performer on this show, and is the best that has been on it in a long, long time.

So he comes out, does a voice and physical imitation of a coin going in a jukebox, you hear the crackle of the "record" playing, and he launches into it... and the beatbox, for the first time in weeks, almost as if he were afraid to use it before, is in full effect. He sings great, beats great, then has a beatbox/percussion battle with the solo drummer right next to him for about 16 beats. That was amazing. THAT was not just someone singing well... that was a PERFORMANCE.

With good reason, all three judges liked it... all commented on the fact it was a huge risk (it was) and it paid off (it did). In fact, I might go watch it again.

I just watched it again, and that just cemented it as one of my favorite Idol performances of all time... along with George Huff's "Take Me to the Pilot", Amy Adams "Sin Wagon" and Ruben's "Kiss and Say Goodbye".

Read the whole blog from that night right here.

#63. Factor 7 Reunited (and it feels so good)
So, it was excited to see one of our favorite bands get back together... you know, like a reunion tour, some new tunes, mostly old stuff. Again, drawing on a previous blog, here's what I said in April of 2007:

So one of Birmingham's best kept secrets makes it's triumphant return on Saturday night. It's Factor 7, looking slightly different than they did when they played the first DeuceFest back in 2000. It's the final stop before they hit East Asia, on their first world tour, carrying rock and roll and God's love to all.

factor 7
A blurry shot of Factor 7 in one of their small venue concerts. Its great when a band, used to selling out 20,000 seat arenas, will play in a small room for a session.

Original guitarist David Mark Osborne has gone on, gotten married, and is currently helping to produce and write new material for Chris Daughtry's next album (slated for release in 2008). Its great how they convinced Brad Latta to come back from a moderately successful solo career (two albums later, of course--the first, self-titled album was obviously a trial run, but the second, "No Stone Unturned" was really, really good. The riffs on track 4, "Below My Mind" are out of this stinkin' world) and rejoin his brother Matt, and also their buddy Drew Morris.

You may remember Drew Morris, or at least his name, as he's been touring with All American Rejects, mostly as a "fill-in" guitarist, and sometimes as their opening act when they play small venues. He's also appeared next to Jason Mraz on some of those Vh1 "Best Week Ever" and "I Love the (fill in decade)" shows.

The new faces include Ashley Spell, a local rocker who's style and attitude have been described as "Fiona Apple mixed with classic Joan Jett", and is ready to hit the big time (personally, I think she'll stay with the band just long enough for her solo career to take off, a la Gwen Stefani...)

Meredith Watkins, fresh off of Broadway, also adds some female viewpoints to the group. I say Broadway, though I guess it's really just touring with Rent and Aida, but she did do a few bit roles in some Kevin Spacey play. Her Broadway cd, "Starlight" is also really good... not a fan of her take on "On My Own" but I do like her on "Over the Moon"... but thats just me.

Finally, turning Factor 7 into the 6 that now comprise the group is Scott Latta, younger brother to both Brad and Matt. He's a senior at the Univerity of Alabama, and has recently finished a book called "We Got 12 (Coaches): Why Stallings Was Right, Shula Was Wrong and Every Mistake In Between", discussing the turbulant Dubose/Fran/Price/Shula/Saban saga, one of the most troubling period in Alabama history. Oh yeah, he also plays guitar. He's actually dating Jessikuh Smisson... you know, the Italian model chick? Yeah, struggled to think of her too, cause they all kind of look alike.

Anyway, I got to see Factor 7 do a small jam session in a small arena right outside of the Verizon Amphitheater here in Birmingham. All I can say is, welcome back, Factor 7.

You can read this and get video links and such on the original blog.

FYI, the update: They did play to sold out arenas overseas, and the band reunion didn't last long, with Brad Latta embarking on a southeast tour to promote his latest album, Drew Morris going on to appear in Vh1's "I Love New York 3" (he didn't win, but he should be glad), Meredith is now appearing in Broadway's "Wick'd", Ashley is actually working on her first solo album while also singing lead in another group, The Rick Astley Overload, and Scott and Matt are doing shows together, currently opening for Paramore. David Mark avoided comment on this story. When I talked to Scott, inquiring about a full fledged US tour, he said, "We've discussed it, but it might be a while... our next album is called 'Japanese Democracy', and we've gotten several tracks for it, but there's not any release date in sight'".

And so we wait.

#63a. Scott Latta
Out of all the cool people in the original Factor 7, perhaps the one that has emerged into the coolest of the four is Scotty Latta. The youngest of the Latta brothers, he's a talented actor, musician, and we have kind of the same humor. And since I read his blog, The Rammer Jammer Blog (the blog that ended up #11 on the coolest things of 2006, the highest ranking blog ever on a Top 100 Coolest list), he reads mine. Good guy. Former WalkAbout student. Of course.

scott latta
If you think I only added a 63A to be able to post this picture of Les Miles... uh, Scott Latta, you'd be right (yes, yes, that's not my joke, its Scott's. But that's why he got a 63A, the first sub-ranking in the history of this Top 100)

#62. Colbie Caillat's "Coco"
I love this album. I've always been a fan of girls with guitars, and it seems like this was just recorded with a chick, sitting on a stool, playing her guitar and singing her songs. Everyone knows "Bubbly" and its "...starts in my toes, makes me crinkle my nose, wherever you go, I always know..." sweet lyrics, but the whole album is just a gem.

She's... 23, I think and I can see her becoming the female John Mayer in the fugure, with a dusky voice and guiding father, Ken Caillat (who helped produce Fleetwood Mac's "Rumours", which is one of the top three best selling albums... ever).

You can hear some of her stuff on the above link, which is the Amazon.com listing, or here on her MySpace page and the video to "Bubbly".

#61. Whataburger!
First had Whataburger! back in 2003, in Fort Walton Beach. Spent some time in the San Destin location a year or two later. Then, magically, one appeared in Alabaster, which caused me to make random trips down there to have lunch. Not many, mind you, because gas prices suck. But sometimes.

Then, they put one on 119. Ah... redemption. I love me some Whataburger!, and I don't know why. I'm not even sure they are all that good, to be honest, but just something about that place draws me in, calling me... "Dave... Dave... eat here! You'll say 'What a burger!'". So I eat there. I mean, what a burger!

Coming up...
One whacked out trailer... Team Bats*** reappears... The Lovely Steph Leann admires Lionel Richie... and Kdub

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