Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The 100 Coolest Things of 2009... 50 to 41

First of all, thank you to everyone who has been visiting here either daily or at least every few days... I know for those of you who could care less about Idol--and let's face it, there hasn't been a lot to care about this season--its rather boring when all you see is idle Idol chatter when you come here looking for Happy Times stories, maybe a movie review, or even a mention or two of He Who Must Not Be Re-Elected's last week or so...  so, thank you.

Secondly... why aren't you a fan on Facebook, eh?  If you are reading this on Facebook, you need to go to Clouds to see any video that might be on the site, then search "Clouds in My Coffee" on Facebook and become a fan.  Its the right thing, nay, the cool thing to do. 

Third, we still aren't done with 2009 yet!  In case you missed it (and since I haven't done one of these in a month, you might have!), here's where we've been thusfar:

The 100th to 91st Coolest Things of 2009
The 90th to 81st Coolest Things of 2009
The 80th to 71st Coolest Things of 2009
The 70th to 61st Coolest Things of 2009
The 60th to 51st Coolest Things of 2009

And here we go with the next ten...

The 50th Coolest Thing of 2009... "Right Round" by Flo Rida
Yes, yes, I know the song is a few years old, and yes, I'd heard it before... but I'd never really taken to it until this year.  This year?  It's kinda catchy.  Silly, a little corny, somewhat stupid, partly annoying and all from a guy who's name is taken from a state with a space in between (I'm guessing "Ken Tucky" and "Oak LaHoma" were on the list.  What about Gior Juh?  Ha!  I got at least 46 more of these), but its use of the term "Benja-min Frank-ah-lins" alone makes me laugh.  Its a good work out song.  Not that I work out, but if I did...

The 49th Coolest Thing of 2009... "Mother Lover"
Well, this is a family show.  I keep it Rated PG, every now and again delving into a PG-13 territory, but for the most part, I keep it clean.  So, for this spot, I won't bother linking to it, I won't put up pictures, I won't do anything but give a nod to K-Dub and then say four words:

1) Mother
2) Lover
3) Timberlake
4) Hysterical

The 48th Coolest Thing of 2009... "The Rise and Fall of the WCW"
When I found out this video was coming out, I almost peed myself.  I was so friggin' excited, as I remember vividly the fabled "Monday Night Wars"--that being the battle between WWE on USA Network and World Championship Wrestling on Turner owned TBS.  I was a huge, huge WCW an, having watched it since 1986 or 87 as a kid, when it was called NWA (National Wrestling Alliance", a few years before WCW).

Anyway, I've always been fascinated by the downfall of the WCW in the late 90s, not just as a wrestling fan, but just from a business prospective.  You know how when someone gets straight zeroes in college (knew a guy) and you say, "Man, he had to work to fail that badly..."?  Well the guys running the WCW seriously had to work to fail this miserably.  This was chronicled in my pick for the 18th Coolest Thing of 2006, the book called "The Death of the WCW", and the DVD here is along the same lines.

Its a 3 Disc collection, with two discs devoted to classic WCW matches including stuff like Ric Flair vs. Magnum T.A. from 1985, the classic Flair vs Steamboat Chi-Town Rumble match from 1989, one of Sting's first matches, that being against Big Van Vader from 1992's Great American Bash, the unintentionally funny Bash at the Beach from 1998 with Diamond Dallas Page and Karl Malone against Hollywood Hogan and Dennis Rodman, a huge War Games match in 1996 with Sting, Lex Luger, Flair, Arn Anderson, Hollywood Hogan, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall and nWo fake Sting.  Yeah, exactly.

Oh, and its got a match from 1998's Halloween Havoc between Diamond Dallas Page and one of my favorite wrestlers ever, Goldberg.  Goldberg absolutely ruled.  Page lost the match after getting hit with a spear AND a jackhammer. 

How 'bout that's Michael Buffer ("leeet's get reeeeeeady to ruuuuuuumbuuuuulllll") in the ring, and Tony Schivione on announcing duties.  Awesome.  By the way, I wanted to do that entrance at my wedding, the one where Goldberg comes out to pyro, and the smoke, and I yell, breath out the smoke, throw the punches and slap myself in the head.  The Lovely Steph Leann said no.  Party pooper.

But the real gem on this disc is the documentary that follows the origins of the WCW, from the beginning with Jim Crockett Promotions to the infamous "Black Saturday".  It took off when Hulk Hogan joined, turning heel (bad guy) for the first time in his career, and the fact that one of the chapters on the DVD menu is titled 'Mistakes Begin', followed by "Vince Russo" says it all.  If there is to be any criticism, it would be on the matches themselves... there should have been a little more surrounding each match, perhaps teh lead up to, and the aftermath, not just from bell-ring to pinfall.  And really, did we need to see a match between Lance Storm and Booker T?  To emphasize how badly things were going for the WCW, they took Booker T, a great wrestler and renamed him "GI Bro".  No kidding.

Great DVD. 

The 47th Coolest Thing of 2009... Lunch With...
It was a good year for reunions.  Lunch with Stan McDuffie in the spring of 2009 was great.  We graduated together, and hadn't seen the guy since the Samson High reunion of 2002.  We met at a BBQ joint in Homewood, and just shared life stories, our pain of what had then-recently happened in Samson and more.  It was awesome.

Not to long after that, I met up with Drew Roe, a fraternity brother of mine who also lives here in town.  That's the crazy thing about Birmingham... I share a city with so many people that I would love to see more of, but never do.  Anyway, we had some lunch, caught up, laughed, did some reminiscing, and had a good time.  Promised each other we'd do it again, and hopefully we will.

 Met up with Barrow, one of the coolest guys I've ever met, and the perfect name for one of my characters in the book I might eventually write.  Saw Tiffany Abbott at a Chick-fila.  Met with both Dayla Ellison and Rebecca Jourdan Samuelson (we'll get to her later) over lunch, two dear, dear friends that I was so excited to see again. 

This Spring's goal?  To have lunch or dinner with Chris McCall.  I'm planning on heading home for a day or two at the end of April, when The Happiest Place in the Mall is finally The Emptiest Place in the Mall, and I'm going to make it a point to find this guy. 

The 46th Coolest Thing of 2009... "The Princess & the Frog"
There's not much more I could add to what I felt about this movie when I wrote about it in December 2009, so here's some thoughts from that post...

Plot in a nutshell, its a Disney twist on the story of The Frog Prince, the story that has a girl kissing a frog who turns into a handsome prince. In this tale, however, Naveen, the handsome prince, has been turned into a frog by the voo-doo man, Dr. Facilier, and when he convinced our heroine Tiana to kiss him, she turns into a frog herself. Hijinx, hilarity and romance ensue as they, along with Ray the Cajun Firefly and Louis the jazz playing crocodile, try to find Mama Odie to help them turn back into humans again.

The animation is stunning. The film is beautifully drawn, and to its credit, its done so much so that there's no way this film could have been a computer animated feature--it would have lost most, if not all, of its charm. Tiana is a heroine who is working hard for her dreams to happen, not waiting around for someday, her prince will come, and that is to be admired. Much has been made about Tiana being the "first black princess", and yes, that's true, but this film definately takes liberties with history--she's best friends with a rich debutante named Charlotte, which alone is an impractical thought in the time period this film is set in. I didn't get caught up in that, though, and you shouldn't either.

One thing to be aware of when watching this film... you are witnessing the birth of a classic. This is a movie that, no matter how successful it will end up--and it will end up successful--that Campbell Isaiah and Lorelei Addison will watch, and their children will watch as well in 2040 on whatever home video format we're up to then. This is a movie that will be released in Blu-Ray and DVD in April of 2010, and will disappear into The Vault in June of 2011 or so, not to be available for 7 to 10 years.

This is the birth of a true Disney Princess, one that we'll be seeing with the likes of Cinderella, Belle, Ariel and Aurora for a long, long time. The last time we saw a true Disney Princess emerge? Mulan. The last time we saw a true Disney classic not-named-Pixar unfold before our eyes? Yep. "The Lion King". That was the last movie heralded and beloved enough to go into The Vault (well, "Fantasia 2000" also is in The Vault, coupled with "Fantasia", but that's kinda another story)... For me, and perhaps I'm the odd case, this is exciting. I'm thrilled that Disney has finally broken through the ceiling they put on themselves with "Dinosaur" and "Brother Bear".

The 45th Coolest Thing of 2009... JT Wins Survivor
Someone sent me a message last year and said, "Hey, so there's a guy from Samson on Survivor.  Do you know him?"  Up until then, the only notoriety Samson had recieved was the terrible massacre from... well, I'm not going to say his name, he doesn't deserve a mention.  So I did some checking up on Survivor, and what do you know, James Thomas was going to be on the show... James, the little brother of Tammy Thomas, who was a friend of mine in high school and who graduated with me, the same Tammy who scolded me for not snatching up this pretty girl named Stephanie, my friend, who I had brought with me to the 10 year reunion. 

And with the country accent, the sly look and the aww-shucks personality, what the heck--JT won the whole shebang.  Seriously.  Like, holy crap, the kid in whatever elementary school grade when I was a senior won a million bucks on Survivor.  I have his picture in my yearbooks! 

Anyway, it was a fantastic season of Survivor, and I'm excited that JT is on the equally as stellar current season, the Heroes vs Villians Survivor.  And if he wins, or comes close to winning, I'm already planning on going to Samson for the Survivor party this year. 

The 44th Coolest Thing of 2009... "Party in the USA"
Oh shut up. 

The 43th Coolest Thing of 2009... "The Blind Side"
Just like "The Proposal", this is a movie that the more I thought about it, the more I liked it.  I thought "The Blind Side" was great when I walked out of the theater, and somewhere down deep, I knew iI was going to like it more and more as time when on.

Here's what I said in December of 2009 when I reviewed it for the first time:

Its full of laughs and heartwarming moments, but its never preachy or manipulative. The movie's intent it never to make you feel like you have to cry, and it doesn't seem like its showing you the "Hallmark" moments just for the awwwww factor... its part of the story. In movies with this "helping each other out" theme, there's always an uncomfortable moment when the kids hate the new person, only to have this togetherness scene that brings them together--"The Blind Side" never has that. SJ and Collins are nothing but loving and supportive of Michael, and it even enhances Michael's rebuilding of his life.

The movie is excellent... its feel good, its warm, its funny, its everything a family movie should be, one that pokes at you to say "awwww" without demanding you tear up or feel sympathy and guilt. After the movie was over, I leaned over to The Lovely Steph Leann, and in my most politically incorrect tone said, "We should go to Ensley and adopt a black child." She frowned at me, then rolled her eyes and got up to leave. She's good at that.

The 42st Coolest Thing of 2009... Walt Disney World with Ty & The McLeods
Talk about a whirlwind trip... I had a few days on my own, as The Lovely Steph Leann was out of town.  I thought, hey, why not go to Disney World?  The Lovely Steph Leann wasn't too keen on my going all alone, so I recruited The Honorable Rev'rn Ty Sharpton and Tommy Mc and Amy McL to come with (that's us, there, after being soaked in the Backlot Tour)

We left midday, got there at something like 1am, checked in, slept for just a little while, spent the full day at Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and Epcot, then the next day, walked around Downtown Disney before coming back.  Wow it was fast.  And tons of fun, because Disney is always better with friends.

The 41nd Coolest Thing of 2009... New Shoes
Shoes are those things that you use, but don't realize how good they can be until you find a pair that fits you exactly right.  Thus, this:

During our trip to The Most Magical Place on Earth in June, my feet were getting blistered. The Lovely Steph Leann chalked it up to my Lugz that, while comfortable, were just not made for the walking, standing, running and walking more that we were doing for 14 hours per day, four days in a row--the Skecher tennis shoes weren't doing any better. After watching her to go New Balance and spend over a $110 on a pair of shoes (which, all these years in marriage later is almost still unfathomable), I decided it was finally time to get myself a good pair of sneakers. We discussed it, and, still coming to grips about the fact that I might have to spend that much to fit my wide feet into some comfy shoes, I went to a local shop called The Trak Shak.

The guy there wasn't old... but he knew how to size a foot. I told him what I was looking for--a pair of tennis shoes that could be used for three things--running, walking and if needed, playing tennis, if I ever decided to get my chunky tail up and do something. I told him that my problem was my feet were wide, and it was hard to find a good pair of shoes that I liked. He listened, he asked me to walk around and he told me that he could tell from my walk that I tended to walk inward, probably due to lack of good footwear. Long story short (too late?) I came out with a pair of Nikes that fit... perfectly. What size? 9 1/2. I call them my Trailer Shoes. Why? Cause they are "Double wide".

The whole story can be found here.

Up next... A "Sweet Thing"... Going where no man, save for over a dozen movies and at least three TV shows, have gone before... and later, more Disney... and even more Disney...

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