Sunday, February 14, 2010

The 100 Coolest Things of 2009... 70 to 61

It's been a few days weeks since I last worked on this particular list, but since its now officially mid-February, I figured I'd better get a move on.  Here's the next ten on The 100 Coolest Things of 2009...

70... Pastor Calvin
I've been attending Valleydale Church (an sbc fellowship) since 1998.  I first went to service at the Larnelle Harris Christmas Concert, and then soon after, in January of 1999, I was baptized.  It was this time frame that I got to meet Pastor Calvin Kelly, who, this past fall, celebrated 25 years at the church.

Through the going on 12 years I've been attending the church, I've seen people come and go (and come back), I've seen staff members come and go (and come back), I've watched my WalkAbout kids come into middle school, get to high school, graduate and even get married, and I've seen the entire church uproot and move a mile down the road.  I've seen both of Pastor Calvin's daughters graduate (and even went out with one of them once) and get married, and watched my dear Valleydale Church (an sbc fellowship) through its ups and downs.  Through it all, there has been one main earthly constant, and that's the pastor of the church.

I haven't always agreed with our church.  Sometimes I question its direction, and even go so far as to... well, you know, ask.  Imagine that.  But I know that there is a backbone of Godly staff behind our church, and at its helm, our pastor.  And in that, I rest my hope in our church.  Thanks Pastor Calvin.

69... "My Life in Ruins"
What a silly little movie, really. 

Starring Nia Vardalos, my favorite Greek born actress... well, okay, she was born in Canada, but go with this, okay?  Anyway, in the years since "My Big Fat Greek Wedding", a movie high in The Dave100, she's not fared so well with her career.  She only managed 7 episodes of "My Big Fat Greek Life" on CBS before it was pulled, and then co-starred with Toni Collette in the what-seemed-disasterous "Connie & Carla" (I say "seemed" because I have never seen it, and don't intend to change that) and managed a few guest spots in the TBS series "My Boys".  She even had a bomb, her directorial debut, called "I Hate Valentine's Day", not to be confused with the current "Valentine's Day" film.

And then came her latest film, "My Life in Ruins", which I saw in June of 2009.  And really, it kinda bombed too, so her losing streak continues... but here's what I had to say about this movie when I wrote about it last summer...

I had a feeling this would be a movie I would enjoy, but I didn’t realize I would like it as much as I did. I loved it. It’s not perfect, its flawed, and let’s be honest, this is a blip on the radar screen of the summer movies. It spent about two weeks in the big theaters, and I saw it today on the dollar screen…

Nia plays Georgia, a tour guide for a small company that gives week long tours in Greece. She loves the history, she loves the architecture and she loves Greece, but she struggles with being entertaining to a group of tourists, some American, some British, some Australian and some just old and annoying. Her co-worker, Niko, does everything he can to appeal not only to his group, but Georgia’s group as well, being funny, buying them food, skipping the boring history to go shopping and so on.

The movie is about a week in Georgia’s life, and how she figures it out… through a number of sources, including an excellent Richard Dreyfuss playing the typically loudmouth funny old guy, “Irv” and a bus driver who takes a liking to her--a bus driver who's name is pronounced "Poopy Cacas"

The movie is a bit long, and towards the end I was hoping it would come to a conclusion… and finally, it does. “My Life in Ruins” is light, its breezy, its fun and Nia Vardalos is her beautiful, real self.

The Lovely Steph Leann and I watched it again the other night, via Netflix, and I think I enjoyed it more, and entered the "I'm probably going to buy that movie once it goes down to like, $9.99 or less, because I know it will" phase in my mind.  Loved it.

68... The Chipotle Mexican Grill
This one finished 38th on last year's list, but don't let the drop of 30 spots make you think I enjoy it any less.  Perhaps I enjoy it more, and because of that, it was worth a second mention...

I always get the same thing--thats how I am, I like something, I go with it, because I don't want to spend good money on something I'm not sure I'd like when I could have spent that money on something I know I'd like.  Hence, getting the carnitas on January 25th, 2009, the last time I deviated from my beloved three soft tacos, no salsa, extra cheese, extra sour cream, bag o'chips and a small Pibb Xtra.  Mmm Mmm Mmm.

67... "Tropic Thunder"
Yeah, yeah, I know, this movie came out in 2008, but I didn't get to see it until April 2009, via the Netflix.   With actors Ben Stiller, Jack Black, Nick NolteBill Hader, a terrific Robert Downey Jr and a riotous Tom Cruise all on screen, the chemistry is top notch.

Simply put, a group of actors are filming a war film, and are unwittingly dropped into the jungle to be filmed in "real life", but there is so much more to this movie.  Its raw, its bawdy and the language is terrible.  But the movie is hysterical.

Probably the most memorable parts are RDJ as Kirk Lazarus, an actor so devoted to method-acting he has "pigment alteration" to darken his skin in order to more effectively portray a black character--and he never breaks character, taking in a very un-PC accent.  The other is Tom Cruise, now at that point in his career when he can take roles like this--he wears a fat suit and is Les Grossman, a foul-mouthed, comb over bald studio exec that steals every scene he's in.  Its Rated R for obvious reasons (language). 

66... "Breakthrough" by Colbie Caillat
Its her second album, following 2007's "Coco", (one of the coolest things of 2007) which spawned the hit single "Bubbly"--you know, "it starts from my toes, makes me crinkle my nose--and to me, this CD is superior in every way. 

From the opening song, "I Won't" to the final track, "Breakin' at the Cracks", and everything in between, its like you can imagine Colbie just strumming on a guitar, sitting on a stool, singing her songs.  I almost feel like she could have performed at The Deuce back in the day (though I guess in 2001 she might have been underaged... hmm...). 

Her biggest hit from the album has been "Fallin' For You", which is such a fun song to hear and sing along to.  The video?  I ranked it as my 20th favorite video in the as yet unfinished Top 20 Videos of the Decade. 

65... ESPN College Football
I love college football.  I get all in a tizzy and like a little schoolboy when it finally comes on in August, and I grieve like I lost my puppy when it ends in January. 

I worked on my 2009 Coolest List for a few months, adding stuff to it all along, and somehow, this was ranked 65th.  I'm not sure if there is a specific reason, or just in general... but yay for college football and especially ESPN College Football Gameday!

64... Christian Brothers Auto
Here's what I know about this particular mechanic shop... its owned/operated by a guy named Brandon, who goes to Valleydale Church (an sbc fellowship),  they have a Honda specialist that owns some of his own Honda equipment (which works for me with Toni Rocki Honda and The Lovely Steph Leann with Isadora, her own Honda Accord), they are reasonably priced and they have the word "Christian" in the name.

Car trouble is something I'm pretty familiar with, and finding a good mechanic that you can talk to and trust is like finding someone to get your hair did... once you find them, you do your best to stay there.   Let's be real... just because the word "Christian" is in the name doesn't automatically make them great mechanics--but by putting that word in their name, they suddenly have something to live up to, almost purposely putting themselves under a higher standard to meet.  You get bad service at Mr. Goodwrench, you complain and go elsewhere.  You get bad service at Christian Brothers Auto, and you not only complain, you say things like, "Well, they are supposed to be a 'Christian' place, I see how that is," which is pretty devestating to a witness.

Either way, they've been great to me thusfar, they are always packed out, and when I can get in, its the source for all my oil repairs and major fixes.  You can visit their website here, or give them a call at 205-987-6620.  Oh, and their courtesy shuttle is a sweet, sweet ride.

63... "Native Tongue" by Carl Hiassen
Sez me on November 13th:  And finally, here's one I just finished. "Native Tongue" by Carl Hiaasen doesn't deviate, plot set-up anyway, from most of his other books. Hiaasen has lots of colorful characters he spreads out through the book, and you know somehow, someway, they are all going to cross paths at one point or another in a crucial plot point. And, like just about all of his other books (might be all of them--I have only read four), the story takes place in Florida.

This one actually takes place close to Key Largo, at a Disney rip-off called The Amazing Kingdom of Thrills, and it involves steroid taking security guards, gun shooting baboons, mafia witnesses, mob hits, a professional golfer, a chick who plays Robby Raccoon, a former governor of Florida living in the woods wearing a panther tracking collar, a chick who writes poetry for a phone sex line, and a protagonist who was hired because he writes great press releases. Oh, and it centers around two rat-like creatures who may or may not be extinct--or actually exist, stolen by two burglers who may or may not be complete fools. The book is funny, its fast paced, it does have lots of language, and was a breezy read.

62... "I Love You, Man"
Sez me on May 28th:  As for "I Love You Man", it was funny enough. Not awesome, not terrible, but good for some good laughs. Great moments, Paul Rudd's delivery is solid as always, and Jason Segel is someone I could get used to laughing at. The appearance of Jon Favreau was a welcome sight, too, as it always is. And somehow, the character playing Zoe, Paul Rudd's fiance, got hotter as the movie went on. Found out later it was Rashida Jones, the daughter of Quincy Jones. Not a clue.

Upon seeing it again, I can honestly say Paul Rudd is becoming one of my favorite actors, and this movie is downright funny.  Rated R for language.

61... "Heartless" by Kris Allen
Once again, one of those Idol performances that I'll remember for a very, very long time.  Sez me on May 12th:   The Lovely Steph Leann's Next American Idol Kris Allen is singing Kanye West's "Heartless". This should be a hoot...

Now THIS... rocks. Strumming with the guitar, it reminds me of a John Mayer cover of a hip hop song... or when Derrick Harris covered "Baby One More Time" on guitar at A Very Deuce Christmas Party in 2000... I think Factor 7 performed too, but don't remember, but seriously... this is awesome.

And this will do what few songs will do... make me go to iTunes and download the song. And I might, tomorrow, do what I've NEVER done in all these years of Idol blogging... go and download the performance version. I didn't do that with Ruben, nor McPheever, nor Pickles (I love Pickles!) nor Carrie nor anyone else. But I just might with this one.

By the way.. I did.  While the acoustic version is better, its still great.

Coming up... Eating a lamb burger... Timberlake loves his mother... and later, the best picture of the entire year...

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