Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Thanks, Mario Kart

First... if you're on Facebook, and you aren't one of the 80 or so awesome people who have become fans of Clouds, then search Clouds in My Coffee on Facebook... and become a fan! And if you are on the regular page, on Blogspot, then consider becoming a follower... I mean, 51 million voted for He Who Must Not Be Re-Elected, and he's much more cult-like than I am! Ha!

Okay, okay, enough schilling about me... let's get to writing...

I don't do forwards. I've even told my kids at church that if they send me forwards after I warned them not to, they get cut from my address book. And I've cut a few out. That being said to, admittedly, there is some funny stuff out there that you want to share. In November 2006, I found a gem about what movies teach us, and had to share it with the world. Somewhere in the recesses of my laptop lies a document entitled "If I Were a Dark Overlord", which makes me roll everytime I read it.

But today, here's one I found on the Facebook page of my friend St. Francis. After doing a little Googling, I figured out its quite a list that has different variations and I'm not sure that anyone knows the source of it. Either way, its really, really funny. I cleaned it up for the audience, took out the ones that just weren't all that great, and here's what we have...

61 Thoughts That I Thought I Was the Only One Thinking...

1. Even under ideal conditions people have trouble locating their car keys in a pocket, tossing Q-tips into a bathroom trash can that’s right at their feet and Pinning the Tail on the Donkey – but I’d bet my anything that everyone can find and push the Snooze button from 3 feet away, in about 1.7 seconds, eyes closed, first time every time…

2. It really hacks me off when I want to read a story on CNN.com and the link takes me to a video instead of text.

3. I wonder if cops ever get mad at the fact that everyone they drive behind obeys the speed limit.

4. I keep some people’s phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when they call.

5. When I meet someone new, I’m terrified of mentioning something they haven’t already told me but that I have learned from some light Facebook stalking.

6. You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work when you’ve made up your mind that you just aren’t doing anything productive for the rest of the day.

7. Is it just me or do high school girls get sluttier & sluttier every year?

8. MapQuest really needs to start their directions on #5. Pretty sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood.

9. Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you how the person died.

10. I think part of a best friend’s job should be to immediately clear your computer history if you die. (I would like to think this isn't an issue... but just in case... Wookiee? Mikey? This means you)


11. The only time I look forward to a red light is when I’m trying to finish a text.

12. How in the world are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet?

13. More often than not, when someone is telling me a story all I can think about is that I can’t wait for them to finish so that I can tell my own story that’s not only better, but also more directly involves me.

14. Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you’re wrong.

15. Have you ever been walking down the street and realized that you’re going in the complete opposite direction of where you are supposed to be going? But instead of just turning a 180 and walking back in the direction from which you came, you have to first do something like check your watch or phone or make a grand arm gesture and mutter to yourself to ensure that no one in the surrounding area thinks you’re crazy by randomly switching directions on the sidewalk.

16. I wish Google Maps had an “Avoid Ghetto” routing option

17. Okay, okay… that’s enough, Nickelback.

18. I take back all those times I didn’t want to nap when I was younger

19. Is it just me, or are 80% of the people in the “people you may know” feature on Facebook people that I do in fact know, but I deliberately choose not to be friends with?

20. Do you remember when you were kids playing Nintendo and it wouldn’t work? You take the cartridge out, blow in it and that would magically fix the problem. Every kid in America did that, but how did we all know how to fix the problem? There was no internet or message boards or FAQ’s. We just figured it out. Today’s kids are soft.


21. There is a great need for sarcasm font.

22. Sometimes, I’ll watch a movie that I watched when I was younger and suddenly realize I had no idea what the crap was going on when I first saw it. (This should be titled "The Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory Theory". Have you seen that movie recently? Holy crap, that movie is bizarre. I mean, really, its so weird, but when I was a kid, I didn't... wait...)

(where was I? Oh yeah..)

23. I think everyone has a movie that they love so much it actually becomes stressful to watch it with other people. I’ll end up wasting 90 minutes shiftily glancing around to confirm that everyone’s laughing at the right parts, then making sure I laugh just a little bit harder (and a millisecond earlier) to prove that I’m still the only one who really, really gets it.

24. I would rather try to carry 10 plastic grocery bags in each hand than take 2 trips to bring my groceries in.

25. Was learning cursive really necessary? (Does anyone else have this blend of cursive and print letters that they use in their handwriting? Like no one ever uses a cursive "s" or that weird "I", but I've been known to loop my "l" or have my "d" connect to the next letter in the word... anyone? Um...)

26. “LOL” has gone from meaning, “laugh out loud” to “I have nothing else to say.”

27. I have a hard time deciphering the fine line between boredom and hunger.

28. Answering the same letter three times or more in a row on a Scantron test is absolutely petrifying.


29. I think a cool name for a sports team, a good one at least, would be The Step-Dads. Even if none of the guys on the team are actual step-dads, when asked about it, you'd say, "Cuz we beat you, and you hate us.”

30. Whenever someone says “I’m not book smart, but I’m street smart” all I hear is “I’m not real smart, but I’m imaginary smart.”

31. How many times is it appropriate to say “What?” before you just nod and smile because you still didn’t hear what they said?

32. I love the sense of camaraderie when an entire line of cars teams up to prevent a jerk from cutting in at the front. Stay strong, brothers!

33. Every time I have to spell a word over the phone using ‘as in’ examples, I will undoubtedly draw a blank and sound like a complete idiot. Today I had to spell my boss’s last name to an attorney and said “Yes that’s G as in…(10 second lapse)..ummm…Goonies.”

34. If you told all of us 10 years ago that the word Google would not only become a mainstream word, but one that we would use as a proper noun AND a verb, would we have believed it, or called you an idiot? I think the latter.

35. What would happen if I hired two private investigators to follow each other?

36. I find it hard to believe there are actually people who get in the shower first and THEN turn on the water.

37. I can’t remember the last time I wasn’t at least kind of tired.

38. Bad decisions make good stories. Even if your loving wife won't let you blog about them.

39. Whenever I’m Facebook stalking someone and I find out that their profile is public, I feel like a kid on Christmas morning who just got the Red Ryder BB gun that I always wanted. 546 pictures? Don’t mind if I do!

40. If Carmen San Diego and Waldo ever got together, their offspring would probably just be completely invisible.


41. Why is it that during an ice-breaker, when the whole room has to go around and say their name and where they are from, I get so incredibly nervous? Like I know my name, I know where I’m from. This shouldn’t be a problem….

42. Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after DVDs? I don’t want to have to restart my collection.

43. There’s no worse feeling than that millisecond you’re sure you are going to die after leaning your chair back a little too far.

44. I’m always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks me if I want to save any changes to my ten page research paper that I swear I did not make any changes to.

45. “Do not machine wash or tumble dry” means I will never wash this. Ever.

46. I hate being the one with the remote in a room full of people watching TV. There’s so much pressure. "I love this show, but will they judge me if I keep it on? I bet everyone is wishing we weren’t watching this. It’s only a matter of time before they all get up and leave the room. Will we still be friends after this?"

47. I hate when I just miss a call by the last ring (Hello? Hello? What the crap?!), but when I immediately call back, it rings nine times and goes to voicemail. What’d you do after I didn’t answer? Drop the phone and run away?

48. I hate leaving my house confident and looking good and then not seeing anyone of importance the entire day. What a waste.

49. I like all of the music in my iTunes, except when it’s on shuffle, then I like about one in every fifteen songs in my iTunes.

50. Why is a school zone 20 mph? That seems like the optimal cruising speed for pedophiles…

51. Sometimes I’ll look down at my watch 3 consecutive times and still not know what time it is. (when I read this for the first time, I felt as if someone had been following me around making notes on my actions)

52. Even if I knew your social security number, I wouldn’t know what do to with it.

53. Sheets. Sheets get dirty. Underwear. Underwear gets dirty. Pants? Pants never get dirty, and you can wear them forever.

54. I think the freezer deserves a light as well.

55. I disagree with Kay Jewelers. I would bet on any given Friday or Saturday night more kisses begin with Miller Lites than Kay.

56. The other night I ordered takeout and when I looked in the bag, saw they had included four sets of plastic silverware. In other words, someone at the restaurant packed my order, took a second to think about it, and then estimated that there must be at least four people eating to require such a large amount of food. Too bad I was eating by myself. There’s nothing like being made to feel like a big fat hog before dinner

57. As a driver I hate pedestrians, and as a pedestrian I hate drivers, but no matter what the mode of transportation, I always hate cyclists.

58. The letters T and G are very close to each other on a keyboard. This recently became all too apparent to me and consequently I will never be ending a work email with the phrase "Regards" again

59. It should probably be called Unplanned Parenthood.

60. While watching the Olympics, I find myself cheering equally for China and USA. No, I am not of Chinese descent, but I am fairly certain that when Chinese athletes don’t win, they are executed.

and finally... my favorite (and I think The Lovely Steph Leann's as well...)

61. While driving yesterday I saw a banana peel in the road and instinctively swerved to avoid it. Thanks, Mario Kart.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

T-Rex Tired

Yep, we got back from another Disney World weekend last weekend... myself, The Lovely Steph Leann, the Sis-in-Law Angie, niece Madeleine and nephew Benjamin flew down to Orlando on Thursday, and we flew back on Monday night.

It was a semi-quick trip (encompassing five days), but packed full of rides, food, laughs, exhaustion, sore feet, five hour sleep nights and of course, magic. Really, though, aren't all Disney trips full of those very things?

Before I tell my little story, I figure I'd sweep through the highlights...

  • It was supposed to rain the entire weekend. The Lovely Steph Leann & I had been following along with weather reports, and each full day--Friday, Saturday, Sunday--was nothing less than a 60% chance of rain. The only time I saw rain was on Monday afternoon, as we sat on the Magical Express bus on our way to Orlando's airport.
  • This worked to our advantage. While in line for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, I heard the announcement that "because of inclement weather, we may be closing this attraction for a limited time until the weather passes..." Much of the line, nay, much of the park cleared out. We rode Big Thunder three straight times with no more than a 5 minute wait.
  • We went to Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party on Friday night, and caught up with MZ and her family there. We had dinner all together at Casey's Corner on Main Street. We also ended up on that same Big Thunder together when the rain was supposedly coming.The crowds were minimal.
  • At 8:45 on Friday morning, as we prepared to go into Animal Kingdom, the lines were barely twenty, thirty people deep. Normally, the lines stretch from the opening gates far past the ticket kiosks and into the courtyard.
  • Because the crowds were minimal, we spent most of the day at Hollywood Studios on Saturday. I got to meet The Incredibles again, which I love, we got to get pics with Sully, the Green Army Men, and I got my picture with Sorcerer Mickey.
  • Toy Story Mania is one of those rides that I love taking people on for the first time. And, we got to take Sis-in-Law Angie, Madeleine and Benjamin on it for the first time. And like I knew they would, they loved it. They've got a Wii version of it out now, and you'd better believe its on my list for Santa Claus.
  • In Hollywood Studios, I watched the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular for the first time since The Lovely Steph Leann and I saw it on our honeymoon in 2004. This time, though, because I was so tired, I nodded off a little. It was still a good show.

Now... after Hollywood Studios, we took the ferry over to Epcot. Again, the crowds were minimal, so in the span of about 3 hours, we managed to knock out that stupid Figment ride(okay, they knocked it out--I went to get Fass Passes for Test Track and Soarin'), Spaceship Earth, Mission: Space, Ellen's Energy Adventure (which truly is a hidden gem, if for no other reason than the fact you get to sit in a dark, cool place for 37 minutes on a semi-interesting ride that allows you to snooze and relax without loud explosions, jerky movements or big noises), Test Track, and finally, on the last ride of the night for Soarin'.

What to do now? Well, we're pretty tired... we've got breakfast at the Grand Floridian at 8:10 the next morning, so we'll be up early. Our plan was originally to get to bed on this night, but we had been discussing most of the day how we would go to Downtown Disney... thus far, we had no chance, and we didn't anticipate Monday morning to be a good time to go either. So, we figured we'd go tonight.

Our plan was to leave Epcot, catch the bus to a resort (ended up being French Quarter) then catch another bus to Downtown Disney, maybe get there by 10:15 or so, go have appetizers at The T-Rex Restaurant, hopefully get out by 11, and have 30 minutes to go to The World of Disney (think The Happiest Place in the Mall on speed, heroin, steroids and PEDs) and The Lego Store (Benjamin had been clamoring for this all day) and whatever else we could find.

As it happens, and anyone who visits The World will attest, getting from one place to another ALWAYS takes longer than you anticipate. We got in line for Soarin' at about 8:55, we didn't' get done til 9:15, we didn't get out of the park until 9:40 (there's a long walk from the ride to the front of the park and then to the bus stop) and we didn't even get to Downtown Disney until at least 10:30 or beyond. The T-Rex Restaurant--which I really just wanted to go to because Benjamin loves dinosaurs, and this is really a cool place I wanted him to see--seated us pretty quickly, and our waitress, Lia, came over with a perky "gonna earn me another tip from the tourists" smile.

Now our story begins... perhaps its not as good as a restaurant tale of foreboding and woe as told on Lily Barnett's site, "Whachay'all Eatin?", but its worth a good spin.

We are scanning the menu, and already, I'm kinda sighing and hanging my head a little, because I was thinking of something to drink, something to nibble on, some pizza shooters, shrimp poppers or extreme fajitas... instead, its a bunch of stuff that is a little overpriced and none of it strikes me as something my 8 year old picky-eater nephew or my 11 year old pickier-eater niece Madeleine is going to like. Plus, add in the fact that I know Angie didn't want to spend alot and suddenly, its awwwwwkkkkwwarrrddd...

Keep in mind, we're all tired. Our feet hurt. We're starving. We've also got two very tired, very hungry kids that don't really want anything on the menu, and all in all, would probably just like a cheeseburger or some pizza (though we've already done pizza, so Angie has nixed that idea). Benjamin decides, with mom's help, on the spaghetti. Madeleine decides, again with mom's help, on the quesadillas as part of a Appetizer Sampler option on the menu. Only, the quesadilla has a bunch of stuff on it, and all this girl wants is chicken and cheese.. but its a quesadilla, right? As you prepare it, you put on only what you want, you leave off what you don't. Then you fold it. Right? Right?

Lia: Okay, you guys decided yet?
Yours Truly: I'm going to have the Footprints flatbread.
The Lovely Steph Leann: I'll take the Jurassic Salad, with ranch dressing please.
Angie: Okay, for Benjamin, just the kids spaghetti, and I think that Madeleine and I are going to split the Supersaurus Sampler, but let me ask you, can we get the quesadillas with just chicken and cheese?
Lia, without hesitation, without thought, without a single reservation: We can't do that.

I looked up at Lia, The Lovely Steph Leann looked across at Angie, and Angie just stared for a second. "You... you can't do that? What?"

Lia backpedaled for a moment, though not much, and said, "Well, I mean, I will have to ask, but I don't think the chef will do that."

I gazed at Lia, then at The Lovely Steph Leann, then at Angie bewildered. Angie paused, as if gathering her thoughts, then said, "Okay, its a quesadilla. You don't put on what you don't want on it. Its not that hard."

"Well, I just... I don't know they will do that or not...." she stammered.
"Okay, I've got two tired, hungry children here, I'm hungry and tired, and I'm just asking you to leave off the onions on a quesadilla. Work with me here, Lia."
"I'll... I will go check for you," she replied, and bounded off.

Angie looked at me and The Lovely Steph Leann sitting across the table. Steam began to ease out of her ears. "Okay, so, Randy [husband] was a waiter forever, and if there's one thing you DO NOT tell a customer, its that you can't do something, and you especially don't tell them that with an attitude like she gave me. Did you hear her?"

"Angie, why don't we pluck down a few bucks for the Cokes and such, and go to McDonalds right behind us?" I said.

Lia had not come back to our table to tell us if they would fix it as ordered or not. This is an important thing, because if they cannot do what we ordered, we need time to order something else...

"No! Its the principal of the whole thing! I want her to come back here and tell us that the cook can do it, because... its a quesadilla! Its right here in the pictures! Its folded over! You put on it what you want, then you fold it over!" And the more Angie talked, the more angry she became. Finally, she just tossed her napkin down and said, "I'm going to see a manager." With that, she got up and left.

Lia had not come back to our table still.

I looked over at The Lovely Steph Leann, who looked back at me and shrugged. Madeleine looked at both of us and said, "I think she's really tired." The Lovely Steph Leann said, "We all are." I replied, "You know, Angie has a point... I waited tables for 7 years, and I know you don't tell anyone 'We can't do it', even if you know you can't. You always try to find out, or at least give the impression you are going to find out, unless it specifically says so on the menu."

Angie finally came back. Seems like she had a chat with the manager--now understand, Angie wasn't going to make a scene. Its not in her nature to cause trouble, and she had no intention of getting Lia in hot water, but she wanted a manager to know that we, a paying group of customers, had been given an attitude by a 19 year old waitress who seemingly refused to check on something as simple as the construction of a Mexican standard.

Lia had not come back to our table.

A few minutes went by, and the manager stopped by the table. "Wanted to let you know that its not a problem to fix the quesadillas like you wanted," she said. "Let me know if I can do anything else."
Angie leaned over, "Listen... I didn't want to cause trouble..."
Manager cuts her off, "No, no, you didn't. I want to know this kind of stuff. Your food will be out soon. Has Lia come back here?"
Angie half-smiled, "No, we still have not seen her."

Lia finally reappeared a few minutes later. She squatted next to Angie, and simply said, "I didn't mean to offend you, ma'am..." to which Angie said, "You didn't offend me. You just told me straight up that you couldn't do something that I knew you could easily do, and that bothered me." Lia replied, "Well, I... I... uh... I said I would check for you..." and Angie said quickly, "Only after I pressed you on it." Lia said she was sorry, and left.

I offered to take Benjamin to the Lego Store before our meal got to our table, and before the Lego Store closed. He bought him a Bionicle, which, by the way, I never had when I was a kid. This bugs me. Bionicles look cool.

By the time we came back, the food was there on our table. And it was great. I chowed down on warm flatbread topped with cheddar, mozzarella, parmesan and goat cheese, rotisserie chicken and carmelized onions, drizzled with a balsamic glaze. I stopped a few times, telling myself I wasn't going to eat it all, and did anyway.

The Lovely Steph Leann enjoyed her salad, Benjamin nibbled on his spaghetti while gazing in wide wonder at all the dinosaurs in the place, and Madeleine got her quesadillas with just chicken and cheese, and she loved them. Lia had apparently filled Angie's glass two or three times, though mine was never touched. As a matter of fact, I don't think Lia paid any attention to anyone else except Angie, who she waited on eagerly.

I noticed Lia throughout the cafe, looking downtrodden and melancholy while talking to other members of the wait staff. About what, you ask? Well, having worked in a couple of restaurants and almost 7 years at Starbucks, I suspect that Lia was telling the other people that "this witch with a B from H-E-Double Hockey Sticks is getting me in trouble, and telling me off and being very rude to me, when I told her I'd ask the kitchen about her weird request for her bratty kids..." I'm sure that according to her, and the story the staff heard, we were the worst people in the history of the world, ever. Cause that's how it works.

The end of the meal came, we are all stuffed to the gills with food that was very good, if not a little too pricey, and Angie noticed half of Madeleine's quesadilla on the plate. She laughed, and said, "I need to take that with me, I don't want anyone to see it left after the trouble I made!" I took care of it, however, in a few bites.

Finally, as we were about to leave, The Lovely Steph Leann took Madeleine down the street to The World of Disney shop, and Angie took Benjamin to the other parts of the restaurant to take pictures. As I was walking out, I spotted Lia wiping a table. I walked up beside her and said, "Don't let it ruin your night."

Lia: Its okay. I won't.
Me: Just remember... short of someone requesting crap on a pizza, don't ever tell someone that you can't do something. That's just bad serving.
Lia, kinda grinning: Okay. I won't.

And I left.

In case you were wondering, yes we did leave her a tip, which flew in the face of everything I believe in when it come to tipping. Why? Maybe I felt bad for her. Hell hath no fury like a exhausted, weary, fatigued mom of two exhausted, weary, fatigued, fussy children under 12 who just wants quesadillas with meat and cheese on them. I think that's in Proverbs.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

News of the World

Well, once again, its time for The Lovely Steph Leann and I to head to the Most Magical Place on Earth... we'll bug out tomorrow afternoon, leaving on a jet plane, don't do know when we'll be back again...

I wanted to blog something really quickly, so the Death of Swayze wouldn't be all you see for an entire week, and I actually have something on a word document that I was going to post last week, and I ended up discussing 9/11, then on Monday, I was going to post it, and then I found out of the passing of Patrick Swayze. Then, tonight, before I could sit down, do a simple copy and paste and say, "See ya soon", I heard/read some great information about Disney, Walt Disney World and so on, mostly news coming from the D23 Expo, with D23 being the Disney Fan Club and the Expo being a huge convention held this past weekend in Anaheim, California.

So, for the WDW fans out there, and for the Disney-in-General fan, here's some great information to chew on...

--Apparently, there have been leaked blueprints online already about the expansion of Fantasyland in the coming years. I found the prints here, and I'm not sure of the exact validity of the plans, but I can tell you this... Toontown goes away.

--Toontown will be wiped out, taken over by the Fantasyland Expansion. Apparently, most of the princesses--Aurora, Belle, Cindy, etc--will get their own interactive Meet-n-Greet areas, and there will be a Beast's Castle themed restaurant put in as well. Hopefully, they'll have Roast Beast.

--The Toontown Barnstormer will remain, but it will be re-named and re-themed. The Toontown Train Station will become the Fantasyland Train Station, and Mickey & Minnie's houses will be re-located, though they haven't released where.

--Dumbo will be getting a remake as well. They are going to try and eliminate the hot queue that wraps around the Dumbo Flying Circle ride (that The Lovely Steph Leann insists we ride every time we go, which means Friday morning, I'll be riding Dumob) by making Dumbo into a bigger ride, and they have said that there will be a waiting queue room where guests will experience an "interactive circus type atmosphere", whatever that means. John Lasseter has said, "The smallest guests stand in the longest lines for the shortest rides", so there ya go.

--The Little Mermaid Ride that is in Disneyland will also be replicated in Fantasyland in Disney World.

--The construction starts in 2010, and should be completed by 2012, except for the new, expanded Pixie Hollow, which should be finished in 2013.

--Pirates 4 is a go! Johnny Depp made a surprise, unannounced (repetitive, repeating statement?) visit to D23 Expo to tell the world that Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, will be shooting next year, and will be released the Summer of 2011.

--Also coming the summer of 2011? National Treasure 3... personally, I think the first Natty Treasure is one of the best movies of this decade (I think I'll make that list later this year, since its the last three months of the entire decade, and NO ONE is talking about this!) but the second one left something to be desired.

--Nic Cage, who along with Samuel L. Jackson, has never seen an action script he didn't like, is also starring in a flick called "The Sorcerer's Apprentice", which has walking brooms and that famous hat, but beyond that, nothing really to do with "Fantasia".

--Winnie the Pooh is coming back to theaters... but Pooh is coming back, John Lasseter-style. Lasseter, CCO of Disney Animation, was one of the co-founders of Pixar, and says that he is bothered by the fact that the classic, beloved character of Pooh has been railroaded into a "toddler and infant" character, and feels that Winnie the Pooh should be brought back for all ages. The movie, tentatively released in 2011, will be done with classic 2-D animation and watercolors, throwing away the tripe that filled "Piglet's Big Movie" and "The Heffalump Movie" and such.

--"Rapunzel", on the other hand, is done in CG animation, and will be premiering in 3-D from Disney... I know, I know, this brings thoughts of "Chicken Little", which was good enough, but not classic like we were hoping... however, the early buzz is, despite the CG aspect, its going to be a very good film. Its styled like all the other Princess films, and Rapunzel will likely be pushed as a Disney Princess, sitting alongside Belle and Ariel.

Rapunzel will be voiced by Mandy Moore.

--Early reports on "The Princess & the Frog" are fantastic. Word is, this makes you think of the Disney Renaissance that took place from "The Little Mermaid" to "Tarzan" in the late 80s and 90s.


--"Cars 2" comes out in 2011, and has McQueen competing in a huge international race in Europe, taking with him all of his friends--we know Mater, but I'm guessing Sally, Ramone and a few others will join him. New character Fin McMissle, a car double agent, has been announced, and though casting has not been released, rumors are they are going after Sean Connery

--Star Tours is being redone... FINALLY! That ride, while in concept is awesome, is just... well, old. And not as fun as you want it to be. But its coming, and its coming in 3-D.

--The MuppetVision 3-D is also getting a refurbishment, and again I say... FINALLY. I love the Muppet attraction in Hollywood Studios, but you can see the film itself and see how grainy, dated and old the movie is. Even in the end, when the "walls crash and you can see outside", the people just look like they are from 1993. And they might be. I didn't see word on when either of these will be renovated.

--And speaking of Muppets, there is a new Muppet movie in the works. The title? "The Cheapest Muppet Movie Ever Made". The title is a re-work of an old Jim Henson concept of Gonzo blowing the movie budget on the opening credits resulting in the remainder of the feature film being shot in the same back lot, clumsily redressed to look like different locations from around the world... report are that comedic writer/actor Jason Segel ("Forgetting Sarah Marshall") will be penning the script, and probably won't follow Henson's concept.

--First, don't forget Toy Story 1 & Toy Story 2 come back to theaters on October 2nd, as a double feature, in 3-D. Its a two week engagement, so make sure you catch it quickly.

--"Toy Story 3" basic plotline is that Andy has grown up, and is off to college. He leaves his toys at an adoption home, where Woody, Buzz, Potato Head, Rex, Hamm, Slinky and the gang are routinely abused by the children... and so they escape. And that's all I know.

And finally, for anyone my age who drools and almost wets themselves at the term "Light Cycle", there's this...
See you in a few.

Monday, September 14, 2009

And I Owe It All To You

Sorry 'bout the distruption, folks. But I always do the last dance of the season. This year, somebody told me not to. So this year, I'm gonna do my kind of dancin' with a great partner, who's not only a terrific dancer; somebody who's taught me that there are people willing to stand up for other people no matter what it costs them; somebody who's taught me about the kind of person I wanna be.

I just got home from The Happiest Place in the Mall, after a hard night of providing magic and pixie dust to the masses, and sat down to do my usual flip-through on the interweb.

Typically, here's my routine... I check my email, then go through my bookmark buttons on my Google Toolbar--that being, sites I have saved... ESPN... Fox News... The Drudge Report... The He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Re-Elected Channel... Entertainment Weekly... E-Wrestling News (I kid not)... then finally, flip on over to Facebook, which I save for last because I typically leave the tab up for a while as I do other stuff on the interweb.

Tonight, for whatever reason, I just went to Facebook. And saw that Erin the Marine Wife had said something about "Patrick" and how she hates cancer. Well, she's had someone near and dear to her pass away from the dreaded Big C (even help start a foundation... check out the site), so I thought "hmm... she must know a Patrick who died. Sad."

Then, as I scrolled down the page, I figured out what was going on... the great Patrick Swayze, the great Bodhie, the great Sam Wheat, the great Dalton had lost his battle with pancreatic cancer. And I know it sounds stupid, I know it sounds idiotic... but somewhere down deep inside of me, a little piece of my heart died too.

Patrick Swayze is in an elite group of actors that define my youth. My youth, in this context, starts in about 1984 when I was 9, just about old enough to remember most things I'd seen and heard, until about 1990, when the 80s where over, and I was not quite driving, but at least riding with my friends who could drive.

When I was little, I had a television in my room starting around 1986, an old Sears clunker that you had to actually set the channels on the television by flipping a little dial. The remote had three buttons... two of them turned the channels, the third was a larger square that raised the volume three times then turned it off. Push it again, it turns on at a low volume.

The next year, I got a VCR, and since we had HBO and Sho-time, and since I wasn't the most popular kid in the school and stayed home most weekends, void of party invitations, I watched movies. And listened to Open House Party on WKMX. And watched more movies. I learned how the VCR worked, and learned that if you tape it just right, you could put 3 full length films on a single tape under Lengthened Play. This allowed me to collect over 100 films in my little library.

Films of my youth, films that I watched over and over and loved and remembered (and perhaps I watch now and wince, but then in my naivety and easy-to-please-ness) include "Wall Street", and "Working Girl" and "Full Metal Jacket" and "Coming to America" and "Ghost" and "Next of Kin" and "Red Dawn" and had actors like Harrison Ford and Lea Thompson and Michael Douglas and Elizabeth Shue and... Patrick Swazye.

He was married to the same woman, Lisa Niemi for about 34 years, an unheard of amount of time compared to today's standards. I daresay you could take all the marriages of Britney, Angelina, Leann Rimes and anything Lindsay and Paris will ever do, put them all together and you'd probably never get the length and happiness that Patrick and Lisa probably had. 34 years.

He had his share of troubles to be sure, most Hollywood stars do... he did a stint for alcohol abuse, and he watched his career dry up in the 90s, forced to do silly things like "Waking Up In Reno" and guest spots on "Whoopi"... but you never, ever saw a news story where he was caught in the act with a hooker, or was found with five pounds of blow on him or was accused of assault or rape or decided that at age 57, he was going to get an earring in his ear, divorce his wife and hook up with a piece of re-bar with boobies (hello, Harrison Ford).

No, he kept at it. And he spent the last part of his life doing "The Beast" on A&E, and was such a professional that he refused painkillers when filming so as not to affect his work. It didn't garner huge ratings but, you know, it was enough for renewal--but it wasn't renewed, because A&E had to make the business decision based on the fact that... well, the end was coming. They knew it. I think Swayze knew it. For anyone who was paying attention, we all knew it. But we weren't ready for it.

I wasn't.

My Nine Favorite Patrick Swayze Performances...
I was going to do 10, but looking at his IMDB page, I actually struggled to find 10. I kinda struggled to find 5. I mean, let's face it, the man was not DeNiro or Cary Grant... he really did some crappy stuff... but he good stuff he did was really, really good. And its not necessarily Oscar caliber stuff--but its entertaining, re-watchable, flippin' channels and wow, there it is okay i'm putting down the remote good. And that's really all we need from most movies, ain't it?

9. "To Wong Fu, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar"
Dressed in drag, Swayze has a blast as Vida Bohemme, teamed with a young Wesley Snipes (who plays the wonderfully named Noxeema Jackson), ending up stranded in the conservative, well-to-do town of Snydersville.

8. "Red Dawn"
He plays a smaller part in this film, but I had to mention it.

7. "Next of Kin"
If you had Swayze play Truman Gates, toss in Bill Paxton as his younger brother, toss in Liam Neeson as his older brother Briar, add some Chicago mafia, put in death-by-compound-bow and mix in some very very young and very, very unintentionally hilarious Ben Stiller, what do you think you would end up with? The glory known as "Next of Kin".

6. "Saturday Night Live"
Sadly, both the main stars in this are now gone... to use a cliche, too soon.

5. "Black Dog"
There is nothing about this movie I don't like. I couldn't bear to list it any higher than five on this list, only because I want some credibility, but really, Patrick Swayze driving a big rig, on the run from a Scripture quoting Meat Loaf... you just have to like it. You do. I do. Its on TheDave 100.

4. "Road House"
You don't watch "Road House". You experience "Road House". Experience it for all its glory, for all its bad acting, for all of its terrible plot, for Kelly Lynch and the fact that when you were a kid she was a total babe but you look at her now and think "Really?", for old school cool Sam Elliot, for The Jeff Healey Band singing "Angel Eyes" back when it was a great song (still is), for the fact the director's first name is Rowdy, for the fact the main character is a bouncer who does Tai Chi and smokes cigerettes and... for the fact its James Dalton.
"Do you enjoy pain?" the doc asks.
"Pain don't hurt," Dalton smiles.

Dalton takes out the trash

3. "Ghost"
Man I love this movie. I'm not kidding. I love everything about this movie. Demi Moore is totally gorgeous, but in a girl-next-door sort of way, Whoopi Goldberg is likeable for one of the few times in her career, and Patrick Swayze is just cool. Even that creepy scene where you see the image of Sam Wheat making out with Molly, but if you think about it, its actually Swazye's ghost in Oda Mae Brown's body, which means that Oda Mae is making out with Molly and... eew. I'll stop before I move this movie down the list.

More comical now, back then, hell's demons were absolutely terrifying. Seriously.

2. "Point Break"
As I sat here and stared at the words "Point" and "Break", I laughed out loud. I mean, where to even begin? This movie is terrible. Every thing about it is just terrible... but thats why I'm not a professional movie critic, I'm an average d$ who loves movies, and I love this film. When you have Swayze playing a surfer named Bodhi who robs banks using masks of presidents as a cover, how can it get any better? Well, I'll tell you... you throw in Keanu Reeves, in this "I want more serious roles! I'm more than just Ted and those stupid adventures!" phase of his career, and you name him Johnny Utah, and you make him say, "I AM A EFF BEE EYE AY-GENT!!!" That's how you make it better.

1. "Dirty Dancing"
This isn't one of my favorite films. Oh, I like it, no question, but I'd probably watch "Point Break", "Black Dog" or "Road House" before I watched this... but you cannot deny the impact that this movie had on cinematic history. Its colossal, and as the years go by, it will only grow in stature. From Jennifer Grey's weird face that still looked hot, to the awesome soundtrack full of old and new classics (and "She's Like the Wind... through my trees... she rides the night... next to me...") to the infamous Lift to that song that no one admits liking but EVERYONE likes, "I've Had the Time of My Life" to "Nobody puts baby in a corner"... its classic. And not just that, but its a really good film. The acting is stellar, the storyline is great, the music is fantastic, and Swayze had possibly--and Grey had definately--never been better before or since.

And that part where he's dancing in the aisle, and he does the side-to-side step with all of his entourage dancing behind him? That looks soooooo easy to do, doesn't it? And you can't do it. I never could. Looked like a total moron. No joke. That's the Magic of Swayze.


By the way, I went to about fifteen different links on YouTube to find the last scene, and the links have all been removed. So click here and see the full "Had the Time of My Life" scene. You know you want to. You know you do. I just did. And it made me smile.

I tip my hat to you, Patrick Swayze. I know not your beliefs, but if you are walking the streets of gold showing Ruth and Mary Magdelene the Lift, then rest in peace, my friend.


Friday, September 11, 2009

September 11th, 2001 As It Happened

Facebook users... this post is heavy on video, which you will not see if you are viewing this in Facebook. Please click over to http://broadwaydave.blogspot.com to see the entire blogpost.

To see previous thoughts, essays and recommended September 11th material, click here (or scroll down a few posts)

And friends of the blog and/or mine--The Official Clouds In My Coffee Ombudsman Brad Latta, Erin the Marine Wife and Kris "Buble" Dekker--gave me their thoughts and experiences on 9/11, so scroll to the next post, or click here, to read those. My intent was to inter-sparse their writings with what I was doing here on this column, but it didn't flow well, and I didn't want to edit what they had to say, so I made them their own post.


Alright, after a week or so of trying to decide exactly what I wanted to do with today's post, because I knew I wanted to do something for today (September 11th) and the 8th anniversary of the attacks, I thought the best thing to do was just... well, go through the morning. I hate using the phrase "the best thing to do" because really, its not pleasant. Its not comfortable. It's really not fun. But its is important.

I'm steering clear of any political rhetoric (and I ask you do the same) and I'm hoping you don't find this particular blog as an exploitative veering towards such a thing--its not intended to be. Its just intending to give you--and me--a reminder of what happened that morning, as it happened.

None of the videos that have been posted are set to music, or have encouraging and faith filled songs in the background--I've disabled the music playlist (you're welcome, Lily) and only put Alan Jackson's "Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning" on the list itself--you'll have to scroll down and click to hear it. Why? Because I like that song, that's why.

Don't worry, I'm not becoming all serious and such--on Monday, the regular Clouds banner will return, and I'll probably have a Billy Ocean/Billie Jean/Corey Squared-less playlist to post but for the weekend, this is my nod and paid respects to everything that happened.

Some of the video you'll see is hard to watch, so use your best judgement. Also, just a note, all times mentioned are Eastern times, and much of the text is taken from CNN's timeline.

Tuesday September 11th.


9:03 a.m.:

The video at the 6:29 mark is incomprehensible and will give you goosebumps. Next, at the 6:51 mark. Jean Cochran is speaking for NPR in a typical NPR monotone, unemotional voice. When the second plane hits, she screams and suddenly becomes filled with the emotional we all shared at that very second.

Also, this very moment is the moment when four words come to mind... "This is no accident"
9:17 a.m.: The Federal Aviation Administration shuts down all New York City area airports.

9:21 a.m.: The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey orders all bridges and tunnels in the New York area closed.

Sometime during the morning

9:30 a.m.: President Bush, speaking in Sarasota, Florida, says the country has suffered an "apparent terrorist attack."

9:40 a.m.: The FAA halts all flight operations at U.S. airports, the first time in U.S. history that air traffic nationwide has been halted.

9:43 a.m.:

9:45 a.m.: The White House evacuates.

9:57 a.m.: Bush departs from Florida.

10:05 a.m.:

Peter Jennings asks, “We now have… what do we have?” He has to ask several times about whats going on, even though the reporter is speaking very plainly... Jennings, like us, cannot even fathom the idea that the entire building... just came down.

A view from the street

10:08 a.m.: Secret Service agents armed with automatic rifles are deployed into Lafayette Park across from the White House.

10:10 a.m.:

10:10 a.m.:

10:13 a.m.: The United Nations building evacuates, including 4,700 people from the headquarters building and 7,000 total from UNICEF and U.N. development programs.

10:22 a.m.: In Washington, the State and Justice departments are evacuated, along with the World Bank.

10:24 a.m.: The FAA reports that all inbound transatlantic aircraft flying into the United States are being diverted to Canada.

10:28 a.m.:

10:45 a.m.: All federal office buildings in Washington are evacuated.

10.46 a.m.: U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell cuts short his trip to Latin America to return to the United States.

10.48 a.m.:

10:53 a.m.: New York's primary elections, scheduled for Tuesday, are postponed.

10:57 a.m.: New York Gov. George Pataki says all state government offices are closed.

11:02 a.m.: New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani urges New Yorkers to stay at home and orders an evacuation of the area south of Canal Street.

11:18 a.m.: American Airlines reports it has lost two aircraft. American Flight 11, a Boeing 767 flying from Boston to Los Angeles, had 81 passengers and 11 crew aboard. Flight 77, a Boeing 757 en route from Washington's Dulles International Airport to Los Angeles, had 58 passengers and six crew members aboard. Flight 11 slammed into the north tower of the World Trade Center. Flight 77 hit the Pentagon.

11:26 a.m.: United Airlines reports that United Flight 93, en route from Newark, New Jersey, to San Francisco, California, has crashed in Pennsylvania. The airline also says that it is "deeply concerned" about United Flight 175.

12:04 p.m.: Los Angeles International Airport, the destination of three of the crashed airplanes, is evacuated.

12:15 p.m: San Francisco International Airport is evacuated and shut down. The airport was the destination of United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed in Pennsylvania.

12:30 p.m.: The FAA says 50 flights are in U.S. airspace, but none are reporting any problems.

1:04 p.m.: Bush, speaking from Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana, says that all appropriate security measures are being taken, including putting the U.S. military on high alert worldwide. He asks for prayers for those killed or wounded in the attacks and says, "Make no mistake, the United States will hunt down and punish those responsible for these cowardly acts."

1:27 p.m.: A state of emergency is declared by the city of Washington.

1:44 p.m.: The Pentagon says five warships and two aircraft carriers will leave the U.S. Naval Station in Norfolk, Virginia, to protect the East Coast from further attack and to reduce the number of ships in port. The two carriers, the USS George Washington and the USS John F. Kennedy, are headed for the New York coast. The other ships headed to sea are frigates and guided missile destroyers capable of shooting down aircraft.

1:48 p.m.: Bush leaves Barksdale Air Force Base aboard Air Force One and flies to an Air Force base in Nebraska.

2:30 p.m.: The FAA announces there will be no U.S. commercial air traffic until noon EDT Wednesday at the earliest.

2:49 p.m.: At a news conference, Giuliani says that subway and bus service are partially restored in New York City. Asked about the number of people killed, Giuliani says, "I don't think we want to speculate about that -- more than any of us can bear."

4:10 p.m.: Building 7 of the World Trade Center complex is reported on fire.

5:20 p.m.:

7:02 p.m.: CNN's Paula Zahn reports the Marriott Hotel near the World Trade Center is on the verge of collapse and says some New York bridges are now open to outbound traffic.

7:45 p.m.: The New York Police Department says that at least 78 officers are missing. The city also says that as many as half of the first 400 firefighters on the scene were killed.

8:30 p.m.: President Bush addresses the nation, saying "thousands of lives were suddenly ended by evil" and asks for prayers for the families and friends of Tuesday's victims. "These acts shattered steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve," he says. The president says the U.S. government will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed the acts and those who harbor them. He adds that government offices in Washington are reopening for essential personnel Tuesday night and for all workers Wednesday.

9:22 p.m.: CNN's McIntyre reports the fire at the Pentagon is still burning and is considered contained but not under control.

Thank you for indulging me. And here's how I want to end:


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Where They Were

As I've done in years past, I've asked a few readers and friends to chime in and tell me about their September 11th memory and experiences. With apologies to all three, I changed the format at the last minute.... I had intended on inserting these in the midst of the planned-9/11 column I was going to do (and will do next) but after reading these, I think they deserved their own column so they can remain uncut. Had they known that, they may have written more, so I hope they are okay with what will be.

The following is unedited, with the exception of the first non-essential sentence of the first write-up.

I was at Alabama on 9/11/01, rooming with Drew [Morris]. We had undoubtedly stayed up late the night before playing Ken Griffey Jr.'s baseball game (well, not HIS game, but the game he is featured on...) and so, as college students, the 8-9:00 hours were just not something we were terribly interested in. I remember my mom calling my cell and telling me to turn on the TV, that something was going on in New York. At that time, reports were coming in that a plane had hit one of the towers, and so everyone thought it was a tragic mistake, pilot error, one of those twin-props that fly around and hit stuff. I stood there for probably 30 minutes as me and the newscasters all started to realize that the flaming hole in the building was much larger than a twin-prop plane, and that no respectable commercial pilot could ever, or would ever, land a plane into an occupied building. I think it was at this point that I woke Drew up, and we stood in silence as we watched the second plane hit. We were still half-asleep and groggy, but just sort of looked at each other, silently understanding the magnitude of what we were seeing.

The rest of the day is a blur. Phone calls to family members, getting gas because of the shortage we thought would come, finding out if classes were canceled, making plans. I remember sitting on my apartment steps and talking to Matt, at Lee, and we compared stories and just were family for a while. I told him that I didn't want to go to war. The sun rose the next day and life went back to the new normal we were all subject to.

Eight years later, so much has changed, but one truth remains: America is a great place, and Americans endure. Through fire and death, torture and heartbreak, families missing parents, bodies never recovered, and flags on cars, we got through it, and every day forward is another step in the process of recovery. --Brad Latta

Brad is considered "the Ombudsman" of the Clouds in My Coffee website, usually offering up great counterpoints to my political ideology and opinions. A practicing attorney, you can find his information here.


On the morning of 9/11/2001, I arrived as usual at Briarwood Christian School where I was a band director. I was there early enough that the events in Manhattan had not yet begun to unfold. I continued my prep and setup for my first class, pretty much sheltered off in the band room from news and information. As the first kids started filing in, a couple of them asked if I had heard the news about the airplane crashing into the World Trade Center. At the time, of course, it sounded like some bizarre accident from an old made for TV “Airport ‘77” kind of movie. The information had little context and came in the form of a fairly casual question from the student, so I assumed there was not much to it and proceeded to teach my class.

After that first class, I had time to go to my computer and try to get more information. By that time, two planes had crashed into the towers, and they were jet liners (not little private planes as I had assumed). “Terrorist attack” was now being bandied about as an explanation.

I had to commute to another campus for more classes, listening to the radio and stopping in the teachers’ lounge where a TV was on. I was now seeing actual video for the first time, and I think that is when it began to sink in. Still, it kind of felt a bit sterile to me, a little bit distant, a little bit forensic in all of its surrealism. The video was not yet personal, the news coverage seemed cautious, and it was something everyone seemed reluctant to process.

I think it finally hit home with me when they started showing video of people leaping from the towers, choosing to throw themselves to certain death rather than deal with the terror of the fires and the inescapability of their circumstance. I could not imagine the choice. I could not imagine the final calls home. It was then that I started putting actual people in the seats of those jets, actual people in the towers as they collapsed, actual people committing heinous acts so far outside of the realm of humanity that it could not be believed. It was no longer forensic and distant. It was real, and it grabbed me.

I have since been to the site of the WTC. New construction has begun; life has moved on – as it must and as it should. Still, I don’t think I can forget that day. I hope none of us do. -- Kris Dekker

Kris is the music minister at Valleydale Church (an sbc fellowship) and choir director, and is skilled at over 153 different musical instruments. Or seems that way. His website is called The Left Brained Artist.


There are a few moments in America’s history that I remember with vivid detail. I recall watching the Challenger explode on National TV at a babysitters home when I was a young girl. I remember hearing the news that the Gulf War had begun as my parents drove me home from taking high school band pictures. And even though it was 8 years ago, I will never be able to erase the memories from 9/11. It was the day that I can honestly say my role as a military wife changed forever. It was the day that I realized we were no longer just a family that would have to deal with training exercises, frequent moves and military protocol. We now would have to face the grim reality of war. A war that would induce stress and worry that none of the young military wives I knew had ever experienced. A war that would take our husbands away from our children, so they could fight a battle that none of us really understood, but feared with great intensity.

On September 11, 2001 my daughter was just 3 months old and we were in Alabama on her first vacation. That morning we left very early to go fishing at a remote location. It was a beautiful morning with Daddy, Mommy, Papa and Morgan on her very first fishing trip. After piling into the car, my husband turned on a CD and we began our travel down the dirt road to town. My father-in-law pulled us over frantically and implored us to please turn on the radio. What we heard was hard to comprehend as the news radio tried to explain to its listeners what the rest of the world was watching unfold on TV. Still in a state of confusion, none of the events really registered with me until we got to the house and joined the rest of the family watching those horrifying images on TV. I wept and shook as I watched the planes slam into the buildings over and over again. As I imagined the fate of those people on the planes and in the buildings I sobbed violently. And then as the initial shock wore off, I was crushed by what I knew this meant for our family. President Bush had not announced it yet, but I knew that America was going to fight back, and my husband would be going to war.

War. For the generation before 9/11 we didn’t really understand what that word meant. Sure, there was the Gulf War, but that was short compared to anything in our countries history. And we had all seen images of Vietnam, Pearl Harbor, World and Civil Wars. But in an age where Hollywood controlled most of those images, it was easy to let ourselves be lulled into a sense of security. Certainly those things were in our past, not our future. Even as a military wife, I never really thought twice about my husband’s safety because most of his job was spent in the states or on occasion in countries such as Spain where they simply participated in training exercises. But on September 11th I understood that war was in our future, and while I had no idea what to expect, I was scared out of my mind.

We returned to base after our period of leave and I was shocked at the changes at the Air Station. Our base housing was actually not on the physical base and therefore had never been guarded, but as we drove up to our neighborhood we noticed that the streets were barricaded and there were Marines carrying M-16’s at the newly erected gates that now safeguarded the families. Those kids didn’t look a day over 17. I was used to the image on young men in uniform, even to seeing weapons and tanks on base. But this show of force took my breath away. On base, you could no longer park your car anywhere near a building and it took forever to get through the gates. They stopped many cars, Marines, wives and children waiting while military police randomly searched their vehicles. Even though it was an adjustment and a shock, I was proud of The Marine Corps for making these changes in such a short period of time. It gave me a strange sense of comfort.

Friends who were actually on base when the country was attacked talk of being beside themselves as they rushed to remove children from schools. Living on base was terrifying because rumors were flying about military bases being the next to be attacked. Many Marines were not in contact with their families for hours as they were called upon to enact emergency security measures. Wives huddled together in each other’s living rooms, holding on to the only other people who could understand the chaos that was all around them. They struggled to explain what was happening to small children, and to ease the growing fears of older kids as they too realized the Nation would soon be involved in a fight that would certainly involve their beloved parent.

For months, no one knew what, when and where our military would be called into action but we all knew it was just a matter of time. Families did not have much communication with commands who were busy with the important task of preparing their Marines for battle. Rumors of chemical weapon attacks coupled with the new gear that was now sitting in our living room gave me a sense of dread I will never forget. We were told that when the Marines did deploy to never send them religious material, for if they were captured, being a Christian could be a death sentence. Every day that passed became more anxious as we awaited news of a now almost certain deployment to war. And when that phone call came, in the middle of a steak dinner, my husband was told to get his gear together, he would be leaving in days. As the steak sat uneaten on the table, we started the packing process. My daughter was just 7 months old.

On the day that my husband boarded that bus, the families all gathered at the unit. None of us knew what to expect and not many of us could pry ourselves away from that parking lot until the buses were out of our sight. Small children cried and I remember a little boy clutching his father’s leg screaming “I don’t want my Daddy to die”! It was simply horrible. As we got in the car to leave, the radio was playing a song with the lyrics “I’m gonna get through this” but I honestly had no idea how. No war had started yet and no troops were in Iraq…my husband would be with the first group to enter the country.

I will not divulge the entire story of that deployment today, but will tell you that there were days when I was glued to the news hoping for any information about my husband’s unit because we had no contact with them for 40+ days. I will tell you that my sister Marine wives got me through that deployment which started out as a 3 month separation and turned into 8 very long and scary months. And I will tell you that when my husband got home he was safe, along with everyone else in his unit…even though they all were terribly thin, very tired and worn.

To date my husband’s unit has still not suffered any casualties, despite being the most deployed unit in the Marine Corps. And the conditions of deployment have improved greatly since that first time. But we will never again be able to go back to that feeling of security that we had on September 10, 2001. War is a harsh reality in my community now and is expected to be for many years to come. It is one that none of us like, but many of us realize as a necessity so that we will never have an attack on precious American soil…ever again. -- Erin Coates Whitehead

Erin, aka Erin the Marine Wife, is frequent mentioned on the Clouds site, and is a proud wife to a proud and brave Marine husband. Her site, Many Kind Regards, is one of my favorites, and she's also just started a website for The Brendon Scott Coates Foundation for children with cancer.

September 10th

September 11th has been important to me since 2001. And perhaps it always will be. I, for one, can take D-Day, Pearl Harbor, even Vietnam a little more lightly, because my only recollection of such events are from movies, television specials on the History Channel and in books, which I seldom see because I'm not a fan of war fiction or non-fiction, unless its the Civil War or the Revelutionary War.

What makes 9/11 more gripping for me, though, and I'm sure many will agree, is that I was there when it happened. Well, I wasn't there in NYC, or Washington, or in Shanksville, but I was... well, there. Old enough to remember. Old enough to see, in my mind in vivid detail, report after report after report, old enough to stay glued to the television, old enough to remember trying to log on to MSNBC.com and have it say across the top "due to extreme, this site may become slower" until it was nothing more than just a splash page with no links, bearing the title "America Attacks". CNN.com did the same thing. I remember ESPN.com going from a little box on the right side saying, "Breaking News: World Trade Center on Fire" to a somewhat bigger box saying, "Both World Trade Center Towers Hit By Airplanes" to the entire site saying something like both MSNBC and CNN had done.

This I remember. And I choose not to forget. I choose not to block out those memories, as horrible as they are, as uncomfortable as they may, as terrible as they might have been. I don't want to forget, because forgetting means that it is pushed back in my mind, like those memories of earlier conflicts and sad days in American history.

Tomorrow is 9 years. Here on this site, I've tried to do or say something each year on 9/11, if only to help me remember--and you too, if you want to remember. Tomorrow, the music playlist will be disabled through the weekend. Tomorrow, I will be doing a special "video based" post on 9/11, walking you through the entire morning. I invite you to come back, take a little more time than you might usually do here, and remember. I don't want to say "enjoy", because I'm hoping you won't. I'm hoping you just remember.

Here are my previous posts on 9/11, if you want some more reading:

From 2005:
Thoughts on 9/11 Part I
Thoughts on 9/11 Part II

From 2006:
Five Years Later: Today's Thoughts
Five Years Later: Where Some of You Were

From 2008:
September 11th Links & Thoughts (its a recap of some of the links I just posted)

Join us tomorrow here on The Clouds...

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

The Legend of Billie Jean, Billy Ocean & Two Coreys

Okay, two things... first, Facebook! Find the Clouds in My Coffee page and become a fan! My goal is 100!

Secondly, this blog was intended to only be about the music list... however, I have found myself going everywhere--Billy Ocean, "The Legend of Billie Jean", Pat Benatar, Corey Haim, Corey Feldman and more... so don't be surprised when I just trains of thought rapidly.

The Lovely Steph Leann and I were sitting at Dale's Southern Grill tonight, the one over on Hwy 280, having dinner... this is one of our favorite places to eat, with much apologies to Hurricane Rhett and his wife Lily, who seem to have miserable experiences about 84% of the time when they eat out. Lily has told me she's visited the location over on Vestavia, but I think thats the Red Headed Stepchild of the Dale's world, so I'm hoping she ventures to the other two... then again, maybe not.

Anyway, the song "When the Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going" comes on overhead, and we're both kinda quietly singing along... leading to this exchange:

Me: She brushed by me in faded ol' jeans
The Lovely Steph Leann: Um, I think that's "painted on" jeans
Me: Whatever

It got me thinking of the artist, Billy Ocean... he's one of those now-obscure 80s artists that no one under the age of say, 24, has ever even heard of. For example, I just asked Lily, "What's your favorite Billy Ocean song?" and immediately, she answered, "Get Out of My Dreams". Then I asked the same question to my somewhat younger friend Amanda Tuck, who then replied,"I don't know who Billy Ocean is!"

There is a select group of artists that you think to yourself, "Yeah, I think I like one of their songs..." Like, Simple Minds--"Don't Forget About Me" is everyone's standard, and a much smaller minority (like myself) also enjoys, "Alive & Kicking", but beyond that, you got nothing. Maybe The Pet Shop Boys, and beyond "West End Girls" and perhaps that duet with Dusty Springfield, "What Have I Done to Deserve This", and that's it.

But Billy Ocean? You'd be surprised at how many songs by this guy you know, and probably like. I have the same issue with Pat Benatar... its like, "Yeah, I like 'Heartbreaker'... wait, she did 'We Belong', right? Yeah, I like that one too. Oh yeah, I forgot about that 'Legend of Billie Jean' song, I really like that!

SIDEBAR... When you were a kid, was there a cooler movie than "The Legend of Billie Jean"? Let's not fool ourselves--this is a pretty bad film. Helen Slater is this chick who gets in trouble in a situtation that is not her fault, and she and her brother Binx (Christian Slater, in his first movie role, and is actually NOT related to Helen Slater) go on the lam with their friend Putter (Yeardley Smith, who is the voice of Lisa Simpson) and become these heroes to millions of young people everywhere and yell "Fair is Fair!" a whole lot and... well, its crap. But its awesome crap.

The first 3 minutes of "The Legend of Billie Jean"... Its not even available on DVD, so if you ever see it come on USA or Spike or MyNetworkTV on a random Tuesday afternoon, DVR it.

Here are my favorites...

"When the Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going"... its featured in the Michael Douglas/Kathleen Turner flick "The Jewel of the Nile", and as you can see from the video, which I'm sure you will enjoy, it features Douglas, Turner and Danny DeVito as background singers...

"There'll Be Sad Songs"... when I put a song on the Clouds site, I try to listen to the whole song first to make sure its an acceptable copy. Legal? Who knows. Quality? Of course. Anyway, when the music started, and then Billy started singing, I, without even thinking, sang aloud, "Sometimes I wonder by the look in your eyes, when I'm standing beside you, there's a fever burning deep inside..." I haven't heard this song in about 15 years, until tonight.

"Carribean Queen (no more love on the run)"... it was a #1 smash in 1984, and all these years later, a song you can still hear on the radio. There are some songs that are hugely popular in their time ("Better Than You" by Lisa Keith in 1994 comes to mind) that after the initial year or two of radio play, you never hear again. Like tonight at Dale's Southern Grill, this is one you can hear over and over.

"Get Out of My Dreams (get into my car)"... Back when I was growing up in Samson, AL, not only did we have HBO and Sho-time, I had HBO and Sho-time in my room, with a tv and VCR, so I was able to record movies. I had at least 100 movies recorded, each tape holding 3 on Lengthened Play. And yes, I had "The Legend of Billie Jean" recorded. And I also had this Corey Haim/Corey Feldman classic flick, "License to Drive".

It was this silly little comedy about Les (a pre-drug, pre-life has fallen completely apart Corey Haim) failing his drivers test, but lying to his parents and sneaking out to go out with the hottest chick in school, Mercedes (Heather Graham, who's poofy hair alone is worth the price of admission). Who names their kid Mercedes? Seriously? Anyway, "...what could go wrong?"

Of course, a lot goes wrong, and Dean (a pre-drug, pre-life has fallen completely apart Corey Feldman) joins up and they have the proverbial night of their lives. Its a stupid movie. Stupid and totally re-watchable, stupid and totally enjoyable, stupid and totally fun. This is on DVD, so I recommend getting this one.

Oh, Careers of Corey & Corey, where for art thou gone to?

SIDEBAR... While we are on the subject, much is made of the joke that has become Corey Feldman. From Surreal Life to A&E's "The Two Coreys", with Corey Haim, his life has spiraled off course in so many ways. But I gotta tell ya, I was reviewing his IMDB page, and from 1981 to 1989, he had like a Murderer's Row of awesome movies...
In 1981, he was the voice of Copper in "The Fox & the Hound" for Disney, not one of their best, but still considered one of the Disney Classics. (It also featured Keith Coogan, who starred in another one of my favorite films as a kid, "Adventures in Babysitting", but that's an entirely different post) He had a misstep in 1984 with a "Friday the 13th" sequel, but bounced back that same year with "Gremlins". He did another crappy "Friday the 13th" movie, but then, hid his stride... in 1985, he became the envy of every 80s kid when he became a "Goonie", then was in the absolute classic "Stand By Me" in 1986. The next year, he did a vampire film before "Twilight" was even an overrated gleam in Stephanie Meyer's eye, that being "The Lost Boys". In 1988, he did "License to Drive", and then finished his run in 1989 with the underrated Tom Hanks comedy "The 'burbs".
Later in 1989, he also did "Dream a Little Dream" with Corey Haim, at the height of the "Switcheroo Movies" like "Big" and "18 Again" (discussed this phenomenon in my review of "17 Again" in "Jennifer Garner & the McGriddle Effect"). It was a movie not seen by many, but I still really liked it. Anyway, if you take out the two Friday the 13th movies, I dare you to find a string of movies that tops the scale on guilty pleasure and re-watchability.

Where was I?

Ah yes, the songs of Billy Ocean.

"Suddenly"... threw that on the end because its one of his classics.

"Invincible" by Pat Benatar... figured I'd put this on the playlist too. I've heard that at Benatar concerts, when she goes into this song, she says, "Here's one from the worst movie ever made". She apparently wasn't a fan of "The Legend of Billie Jean" like I was.

"Don't You (forget about me)" and "Alive & Kicking" by Simple Minds... also classics, and figured since we were on an 80s tear, I'd add them too.

And if you aren't a fan of The Ocean, or the other 80s stuff I've put up this time, though I can't imagine why, never fear. I'll change it up in a few days...

Monday, September 07, 2009

Funny People

I went and watched "Funny People" the other day... partly because it is a Judd Apatow movie, and Judd does some funny stuff. Partly because I like Adam Sandler in smart films. Partly because I think Seth Rogen is really funny, and even funnier when you throw in Jonah Hill. And partly because I am crushin' on Leslie Mann.


When the movie was over, after the 2:30 running time, I wasn't sure if I thought the movie was great, or the movie was terrible. It was one of the few movies that had the McGriddle Effect--where you either loved it or hated it, but there is no in-between, sort of like a McDonald's McGriddle....

It took me a few days to piece it together, but here's the gist of the film...

George Simmons (Adam Sandler, who can be really great in the right semi-serious roles) is a popular actor and stand up comic who gets a diagnosis that he is dying, due to a rare blood disease. He ends up hiring fledgling stand up comic Ira (Seth Rogen) to be his assistant and right hand man, confidante and eventually, friend.

The trailer to the movie... the line "The ones where you try to kill Bruce Willis" slays me in the the trailer, but it not in the final cut of the film.

Ira leaps at the chance, as both of his other roommates are having much more success in their own careers, like Leo (Jonah Hill) as a writer and comic and Mark (Jason Scwartzman) as an actor on a terrible sitcom, "Yo Teach" and a bagger of hot chicks.

Two thirds of the film is the relationship between George and Ira, as George deals with his upcoming death, and finally, Laura, aka "The One that Got Away" (Leslie Mann) is introduced. She's moved on, she's successful in her own right, with two great kids and a hunky Austrailian husband Clarke (Eric Bana).

The last third of the film comes with George and Laura renewing their relationship, in the midst of a troubled marriage between she and Clarke. And Ira is in there too.

A couple of things about this film... first, I liked it. It took me a few days to determine whether I did or not, but I did. Secondly, this movie has more F-bombs and sexual terms than "District 9" (which rhymed their F-bombs with "duke", not "cluck") and Tarantino's "Rather Unimpressive Illegitimate Children" combined. I mean, alot. I mean, alot alot. If you pop this one in the DVD player, be prepared... though if you've seen "Knocked Up" and "The 40 Year-Old Virgin", you won't be surprised.

Okay, so you know when you have a group of friends in a room, and you are watching a movie that you liked, and you aren't sure they will like it, and so as the movie progresses, you kind of watch the crowd and have this sense of guilt if you feel like they aren't enjoying the movie--even if you didn't pick it out, but especially if you DID pick it out--and you are nervous because you wonder why they aren't laughing at the parts that you think they should laugh at, or you are a little irritated because they get distracted with a phone call or text or something, and when you try to pause it, they wave you off and mouth, "don't pause it, I'll be back" or something like that, and when they come back, you know they missed some of the best parts, but because they aren't interested in rewinding it or knowing what just happened, you know that they really aren't enjoying it and now you feel really guilty and stupid for making them watch it...

...that's how I'll feel if and when I watch "Funny People" in a room full of friends. Though I'm not sure if I'll watch it again.

Bottom line is... be committed to this film. Don't pop it in just as background noise. If you want to see it, watch it. You now know what to expect.

And Leslie Mann is glorious.

Ya know, she's no The Lovely Steph Leann (who is?) and she's not Amy Adams, whom I'm in love with, but she is quite striking

And to finish the post, I was going list my favorite Adam Sandler films, but really, looking at my list, its the same as everyone else's...


"Happy Gilmore"... The Bob Barker bit is one of the funniest cinema moments ever
"The Waterboy"... Just a classic guilty pleasure. Silly, stupid fun.
"Billy Madison"... whatever happened to Bridgette Wilson-Sampras, eh?
"The Wedding Singer"... the music makes this one hilarious
and if I had to pick a fifth one, I'd probably say "Bedtime Stories", just because it was fun. And yeah, I'll admit, I kinda dug "50 First Dates", mostly because I adore Drew Barrymore.

Beyond that? Really... most of his work has been... well, crap. Let's call a spade a spade, though not David Spade, because anything without Farley is crap too. "The Longest Yard" was a terrible remake... "Eight Crazy Nights" was a decent attempt at something different, but a terrible movie... "Zohan", "Click", "Little Nicky", "Mr. Deeds", "Anger Management"... he's done some pretty bad films.

Anyway, there's my thoughts on "Funny People" and in a sidebar, Adam Sandler. If you like Apatow films, and you want to make sure you see all of them, watch it. If you are expecting hilarity like "The 40 Year Old Virgin" then this is not the movie for you. And if you want to go more than 40 seconds without hearing a dirty word, then, this is DEFINITELY not the movie for you.