Thursday, April 29, 2010

Cold Blooded (The Happiest Place Finale Part II)

I'd also like to note two things... first, this is the 600th Post on Clouds in My Coffee.  Second, sometime between this post and the next one, more than likely the 3rd and final part of the Happiest Place Finale, this page will hit 40,000 clicks.  And in about 6 weeks, Clouds in My Coffee will be celebrating five years in existence.  So, for giving me a reason to write 600 articles, for coming to this page 40,000 times and for making this at least popular enough to last five years... thank you, Coffee Drinker, thank you so, so very much. 

And it is also a credit to you that you've shared with me not only getting the job at The Happiest Place in the Mall, but also coming with me until the end... but more on that part next time.  For now, this is the 2nd of my 3 Part Happiest Place Finale... the first, entitled "Signs, Signs, Everywhere Signs" can be found by clicking here. 

As we wrap up, I thought I'd share with you a few stories from The Happiest Place...

I'm behind the box office counter with Bo Peep, I believe.  Two moms--I say moms because they look to be about their mid-30s, and they struck me as sisters--had just finished buying a whole lot of stuff.  Mom 1 had three bags worth of merchandise, Mom 2 had only one, but all bags were the large green bags, all full to the edges of stuff.

Mom 1 and Mom 2 were just as pleasant as they could be... and why not?  They had both just saved a bunch of money.  Not by switching to Geico, mind you, but by buying all their stuff at our then-25% off the entire store clearance sale.

Let me backtrack and explain one of our unwritten policies real quick... we don't hold merchandise.  Well, to be exact, as non-closing store, we can hold an unpurchased item for you if you are on your way, or will be to our store in 24 hours or less. Its really up to the manager, and usually, if you were nice to me, I'd be willing to hold it a little longer. 

After you purchase it though, its all yours.  I don't like to hold stuff that you've bought because you don't want to walk to your car--a host of reasons, really... namely, if something happens to it, we're on the hook for it.  If you don't come back that day, or forget about it, then we've got a bag of stuff that is paid for that we don't know what to do with.  Not to mention our store isn't all that big, so frankly, we just don't have the room for it.

I remember getting really irritated over Christmas, as some guests would ask us to hold stuff for, in their words, "just a few minutes while we run to the food court" or "let me run next door to take Junior to the bathroom" or "can you please just hold this for 30 minutes?" and... well, four hours later, we'd have it piled up behind our counter.

So now that our store is closing, we've taken the mentality of "If you don't buy it, someone else will."  That sounds horrible, I know, but with the chaos that overtook our store in our final weeks, we just did not have the space to hold bags for people. 

Back to our story.  Mom 1 and Mom 2 had their bags, M1 holding her three, M2 holding her one, when M1 looked at Bo Peep and said, "Would you mind holding this for us while we go shopping?"  Usually, they give us the "bathroom" or "meet someone" or "food court" line, but she was just straight up.  They wanted to leave their bags with us while they went shopping.  Bo Peep paused, then looked over at me with a "What should I tell them?" expression.

If I know there might be an issue, I usually try to step in early so if the guests get angry, they get angry at me, not my Cast Members, and this of course, is what happened.  "Ma'am," I said with a smile, "I'm sorry, we just aren't allowed to hold anything right now."

It was as if Mom1 had a split personality, and Unreasonable Mom stepped in for Happy Mom, in a matter of tenths of a second.  "I'm sorry?" she asked.  "You can't hold this for us?"

"No ma'am, I'm sorry.  We just don't have the room to hold purchased merchandise."
"BUT THIS IS YOUR MERCHANDISE!" she almost shouted.  What I wanted to say was, "Actually, its YOUR merchandise..." but I bit my tongue.
"I'm really sorry, but our policy doesn't allow us to hold merchandise right now.  Our store is closing and we just don't have the room to keep up with it."
"You mean to tell me I can't just set this behind your counter?" Mom 1 asked, lifting up the three bags with some strain.  Mom 2 stood silent, watching.
"Ma'am, we have about 180 boxes on our back dock at this moment, and nearly all of it will come to the floor.  Not only do we not have the room, we can't be responsible for it either."

Mom 1 turned to Mom 2.  "Well, we should just return all of this.  We could come back and buy it later."
Mom 2, who looked like she just wanted to leave, replied, "Yeah, I guess we could."
Mom 1 turned back to me.  "What if I just return all of this right here?"
I smiled, and in a really-not-being-sarcastic tone, said, "Yes ma'am, you could.  Bo Peep would be happy to do that for you, as I assume you have your receipt.  I would have to put it back on the shelves though."
Mom 1 gave me a very, very unkind scowl.  She turned to Mom 2, who said, "Well, Mom 1.  Do you want to return it?  I'm going to keep mine, but you can if you want."

Mom 1 turned around and started walking out, with Mom 2 behind her.  Then I heard Mom 1 say, "Terrible customer service.  Can you believe this?  You can tell we are in ALABAMA!"  Mom 2 added, "Well, this isn't the Magic Kingdom, ya know."

I looked at Bo Peep and she looked back and me.  I said, though not loud enough for WonderMoms to hear me, "Magic Kingdom wouldn't hold it either.  They'd send it to the front of the park.  Guess I could have volunteered to set it by the mall doors for them."  Bo Peep laughed.

It is funny to me when people haggle over a sale price.  Granted, I've done it before at like, Best Buy, on a high priced item, and sometimes it works--thanks Dave Ramsey!

But when the original price of something is $14.50 and you are getting it for $3.99, then taking an additional 40% off of that... there's not much I can do for you, really.  Thus the lady at the sweatshirts found out for herself.

On our table there were 2 different Cars sweatshirts.  One had just Lightnin McQueen, the other had McQueen and Mater on it.  The one with just Lightnin was a dollar less, as it was an older style.  Because we had neither the time nor resources to go and tag every sweatshirt, we put them all on the table with a $3.99 price point... if you picked up one that was red-tagged a little lower, than awesome for you. 

She stood, looking at the different styles, and said in broken English, "Why... why is different... why different shirts?"  I said slowly--not because she was stupid, but to articulate clearly--"Well, they are two different styles.  That one is a little older, so its a little less."

"You give me both for smaller price?"
"Say again?"
"You give me..." she picks up the higher priced shirt, "...this for same price as this..." she picks up older style.
"I'm sorry, I can't do that.  They are both on sale for a great price, one is just a dollar more than the other."
"So... you can no give me lower price on both?"
"No ma'am."

Another lady of what looked to be Middle Eastern descent came in a few days later, and went straight to the Power Rangers soccer balls.  Originally $12.50, they were on sale for $5.99, and then take an additional 25% off, making it $4.74 plus tax.   She looked at the price sign, then tapped me on the arm. 

"Excuse me," she said, "this is the price on these?"
I looked directly at the sign that said POWER RANGERS, then the white strip under it that read "$4.99", then directly at the tag on the sign that said, "TAKE AN ADD'L 25%!"  I then said, "Yes ma'am, its $4.99, then take an additional 25% off."
"I need four."
"Well, awesome," I smiled, pointing to the fixture by where she was standing. "There are five right there, you can get your four, and have an extra if you like."
"I have birthday party," she started, "and bought 3 last week at this price.  When will they go down in price?"
"I'm not really sure," I lied.  Truth was, I knew they'd go down to 40% off sometime in the next day or two, but I can't say that... if people heard that, no one would buy stuff now.  "I think it will be sometime in the next week, but I don't know for sure."
"Oh, okay" she gets a basket and puts 4 Power Ranger Soccer Balls in the basket.  She comes to the counter. 

"I pay this price for these balls last week.  You can give me better deal?"
"Better deal on... the soccer balls?  As in, take more off the price?"
"Yes!" she smiled, happy I understood her.  Her smile turned upside down, though when I spoke.
"No, I can't take any more off the price.  You're getting it at about 65 or 70% off the original price as it is."
"Oh, you can no lower the price?  Well, who can?"
I smiled, trying not to laugh, and then pointed at my name tag. "Well, I would be the one to ask, but I'm not authorized to take more money off."  Truth be told, I could... but I wasn't going to.  There was no reason to.

As seen in the previous post in this trilogy, just because there are signs everywhere doesn't mean they read them.  Didn't happen when we were a thriving, fully stocked store, and wasn't happening now. 

Two tall gangsta looking dudes--okay, they are black gangsta looking dudes... (why do we always feel so uncomfortable saying someone is black?) came in.  I smiled and greeted them, one waved back, the other gave a deep voiced, "Whas up?"

The two guys walked to the back of the store, they looked around and the Gangsta Lookin' Gangsta came up to me.  "Scuse me... man, my girl likes Mickey Mouse.  You got any Mickey Mouse?"   I shook my head.  "Dude, we've been sold out of Mickey Mouse for two weeks.  We do, however, have Minnie Mouse."
"Where the Minnie Mouse?"
"Right over there, buddy," I Disney pointed to a shelf loaded up with Minnie Mouse plush, all for $5.99 after discount.

Gangsta Lookin' Gangsta walked over and picked up a Minnie plush, seemingly satisfied.  Well Dressed Gangsta, however, is standing in the middle of the store just looking around.   After a few seconds, he says, "Man, my mama used to bring me up in here when I was a little kid, like all the time.  Man, I loved this place.  I feel like I'm a little kid again when I come in here."
I laughed and said, "I know the feeling.  Love working here too.  Feel like a kid too. Enjoy it while you can, man."
He looked at me.  "What do you mean?"
"Well, we're closing in a few weeks."
Well Dressed Gangsta paused, looked confused, then said, "You closing? What?!"
"Yep, unfortunately."
"Why you closing?"
"Its a leasing issue with the mall."
"For real?"
"For real."

He took a few steps, looked around, stopped, looked back and me and said, "Man... that's cold blooded."

I nodded appreciatively and replied, "Indeed."

When you're annoying, I am usually okay with it.  Heck, I'm annoying to many, and I appreciate the courtesy of putting up with me, so I do my best to extend the same to others.  And when you realize you're being annoying, all the better. 

Gardendale Blondie was a short woman from... well, Gardendale.  As noble as I would like to sound by saying I'll give her the name "Gardendale Blondie" to protect her real identity, its really more of a case of not remembering her name.

We have little blue baskets to put your merchandise in while you shop, but that doesn't stop many guests from just piling up their stuff on the counter.  They'll find a Donald Duck shirt or a Buzz Lightyear action figure or a Princess Vanity play set and just stack it on the counter... anyone who wants to actually check out there be darned.  Thus the case with Gardendale Blondie.  She. Had.  So.  Much.  Stuff.

Not only did she have a huge pile of Magic going on, when she finally got to the register, she was still undecided about what she wanted.  What happened in the next few minutes was me holding up one shirt after another, asking if she wanted it, followed by me holding up one toy after another, making sure she wanted it.  She apologized at first, telling me she was so sorry for being a hassle, which was nice... and then...

"I'm so sorry, I know you are so tired of me... okay, I want that shirt.  And that shirt.  Yeah, that shirt.  No, not that one.  I'm so sorry.  I'm sorry.  Okay, I'll take that shirt.  That one too.  I'm so sorry.  I know you are being so patient with me.  I'm sorry.  Yeah, that shirt and that one.  But not that one.  I'm so sorry, what's my total?  Okay, I will take that Princess thing there, and that one there, but you can put that shirt back.  I'm sorry.  Thank you for being patient with me... yeah, give me that shirt.  Can you hold that one up?  Hmm... put that one off to the side and I'll decide on that one.  I'm sorry about this, so sorry, thank you for being patient with me..."

As forgiving as I could be, I started moving faster to get Gardendale Blondie gone a little quicker.  Another five minutes of "I'm sorry", "I'm so sorry" and "Your so patient with me" before I finally gave her her $150+ total.  And then she pulls her checkbook out. 

"Ma'am, I'm sorry, we don't take checks."  I wished so badly that our "check" button worked, because I think I might have truly used it, even though we hadn't taken checks since the previous November.  And, of course, she felt bad.  "You don't take checks?   What?  I'm so sorry.  I'm sorry, thank you for being patient with me, I'm so sorry about this, let me find my credit card.  Sorry."

She was nice enough, though. 

The animation up top is not for sale  Nor is the stuff in the windows.  There are a couple of hand made signs that say such things, but that doesn't mean we aren't asked about it fifty or sixty times per day.

Mark the Realtor wouldn't say no for an answer.  I only know him as Mark the Realtor because I found his name was Mark, and he is a real estate agent.  Tall, bald, grayish black beard and glasses, he asked me about the animation in the window and up top.

"So, what about all the stuff up there?  And in the window?  How much is it?" Mark the Realtor asks.
"Sorry, sir, that stuff is not for sale." I replied, stocking coffee mugs on a nearby shelf, not really even looking up at him for this question.
"Well, what are they going to do with it?"
"It goes back to the company."
"If and win they decide to sell it, can I put my name on a list to be called?"
I tried not to laugh.  "Honestly, we don't have any list, because trust me, it won't be for sale."
"But if they do decide to sell it..."

Normally, I wouldn't cut someone off, but you can't tell the tone from my writing it out... it was about as arrogant a tone as you can possibly imagine.

"Trust me on this," I said. "I would bet the life of my own unborn children that Disney will not be selling any of the animation at the top and in the window."
Not being deterred one bit, he pulls out his business card and shoves it in my hand.
"Well, you know, if and when they decide to sell it, you have my card now."
"I gotta be honest with ya, buddy.  If the only reason you are giving me your card [which said Mark the Realtor on it] is for me to call you if they decide to sell the animation, then you are wasting your card because you won't be called.  Probably end up tossing your card."
Big smile. "That's a chance I'm willing to take.  Just know I'll give you a thousand dollars right now for everything in the window."

This almost caused me to bleed as I was biting my lip to keep from laughing out loud.  What I thought was, "Oh, wow, a thousand dollars, huh?  Man, why not make it a thousand and fifty, Mr. Moneybags?"  Never mind that each of those figures in the window could fetch at least a thousand each, if not more, Mark the Realtor will buy the whole thing for... a thousand dollars.  (On eBay, as I type this, there is a Rafiki figure for $1300 right now... and a Golden Mickey, very close to the one we had in our store, can be bought for about $900).

He walked out.  Still had his grand, got nothing from the window.  And when he turned the corner and disappeared, I smiled at Carlotta as I ripped the card in two and tossed it.

Had a guest walk in, look around, then smile at me saying, "Wow.  This definately is not the Emporium on Main Street.  That place has a lot more stuff.  Y'all don't have hardly anything."

I just said, "That's why they are the Magic Kingdom and we are The Galleria Mall."

Anyway... I do have some stories of people being awesome (I thought the Cold Blooded guy was great) but really, those aren't nearly as much fun.  The anecdotes of people being... well, unmagical, are always a little more entertaining.

Coming shortly... a farewell to The Happiest Place in the Mall.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

And Idol the Twain Shall Meet

American Idol. 

Season Nine.

The season that might--nay, is probable to--end Idol's dominance on network tv.  The buzz is gone.  No one is talking postively about this season, no one is excited about this year, and let's face it, as good as Crystal Bowersox is, and as good as Lee DeWyze or Siobhan Magnus might be, who out there is going to buy their CD?  I'm not.  

Yes, Idol has rebounded before... from Ruben Studdard in Season 2, we got Carrie Underwood a few years later. Taylor Hicks ended a down season, only to have David Cook roll through a few years later.  But this year?  The one-two-three-four punch of losing Paula to Kara the New Hotness (much, much hotter than Paula, but not nearly as entertaining) to the addition of America's Favorite Lesbian Ellen, who no one I know is seeing as a good addition, to the overall weak Top 12 (usually when there is a weak Top 12. there are at least three or four that generates some excitement--not this year) to Simon Cowell leaving next season...

Having said that, I do want to add on to last week's recap on Idol Gives Back.  I fast forwarded through most of the segments showing the places the funds are going not because I didn't want to see it, but for times sake.  Just didn't have the time to watch two and almost a half hours worth of montages.  I will say the segment showing Annie Lennox with the young girl who, a few years back, was barely clinging to life and now is healthy and looking great--that was a winner.

American Idol is to be commended for "Idol Gives Back".  Here's a show that, despite a ratings dip, still draws in what seems like a bajillion people very week, and using that platform they are able to reach those bajillion people and ask them for help.  It can be a bit silly, somewhat corny, but the video segments are great.  Not this year, but I've watched them in the past and they are great.  And no doubt, the good they have done is tremendous... last week's show raised $45,000,000, which is awesome.  And I'm sure that Fergie and Joss Stone and others are enjoying the exposure they get for being on the show, I also believe they want to help too, and donate their services. 

Its also worthy of note that American Idol doesn't do this every year... they don't want this to be a "Look at us!  Look at what we are going to do every April!" anymore than it already is, and though they could milk this as a "cash cow", they choose to do it every few years to make it special.  I jab at Idol, the judges, Seacrest and the overall show many times, but in all seriousness, I raise my coffee cup with clouds in it to Idol for the event. 

Alright... enough fluff...


Shania Twain is, along with Garth Brooks, the face of country music in the 1990s.  Her songs are catchy, memorable, and I don't know anyone who just "hates" Shania.  She's not my favorite, I don't own any of her CDs, and I don't know the words to most of her songs.. but when "Man, I Feel Like a Woman", or "That Don't Impress Me Much" or "Who's Bed Have Your Boots Been Under" I sing along.  I feel compelled to.  And you know what, so do you. 

She's classy, she's beautiful, she's from Canada and so on.  And her stupid husband Mutt left her for another woman, a move that would be like Jesse James cheating on Sandra Bullock with Bombshell McGee, or someone driving a brand new Mercedes M Class, and then trading it in for a 1990 Suburu.  Not a good move.   In perhaps the greatest bit of irony, Shania then went on to date the other woman's man. 

I mention this because not only was Shania a guest judge earlier this year, she is tonight's guest mentor, and tonight is the Music of Shania Twain. 

The Top Six perform!  Big Mike!  Siobhan the Glass Blower!  Aaron the High School Kid!  Crystal the Mama Sox!  Casey the Cindy Jo Dreamboat!  And Lee the... uh... well, that Lee Guy!

Lee DeWyze
He's singing "Still the One'.  I call upon someone I know on Facebook, that being Miss Ivey, the star of her own reality show called "Lee & Missi Ivey + Fivey" (premiering simultaneously on TLC, WE, Versus and SpikeTV in 2012), who said the following:

[I do] NOT understand the hype over Lee DeWyze. Am I the only one that hears how bad his pitch is? The best thing about his performance was me remembering singing that same song to [my husband] at a karaoke contest one time. Don't judge.

Randy the Dawg says this is one of his favorite songs of all time.  Really?  He kinda liked it.  Ellen DeG loved it.  Kara the New Hotness loved it.  Simon the Cowell said it was the perfect song.  For me, personally, I am somewhere between the judges loving it and Missi Ivey not digging it at all. 

Big Mike
This week he's singing "It Only Hurts When I'm Breathing", which is a lesser known Shania song... and hearing Shania speak, the Canada in her comes out via accent.  Kinda funny.

Sitting on the steps, Big Mike launches into the ballad.  The camera flashes to Shania in the audience, and she's smiling at the performance.

Randy the Dawg loved it.  America's Favorite Lesbian compared it to Luther Vandross (that is a huge compliment).  Kara the New Hotness loved the connection with the audience.  Simon the Cowell agrees with the Luthor comparison, though he didn't like the performance quite as much as the other judges.  He calls it "Wet" and the cannot explain what he means.  I thought it was great.

Sidebar... I'm not sure about "Furry Vengeance", but it looks like a disaster on par with Obamacare.  That bad. 

Casey James
The long haired superstar is singing "Don't", another one I'm not that familiar with.  CJ says he's extremely excited about this performance, as it will show his soft side.

Dude, I'm really digging this song and his version of it... I like this.  Makes me want to go to iTunes and look up the original.  This sounds like a song that could actually be on the radio today.

Randy loved it.  Ellen DeG loved it, comparing him to Bob Seger, another huge nod.  Kara the New Hotness says she loved it.  Simon the Cowell says that last week (in the Bottom Three) was a big wake up call for CJ, and this week he was great.  He suggests the CJ come down and hug Shania, and in the same way that I would be, he probably takes four steps at time to get there. 

Oh, stop it.  If you told The Lovely Steph Leann, "Hey, there's Colin Firth and he wants to give you a hug", it would take a matter of 0.04 seconds for her to be there.  It would be like the Road Runner cartoons where you'd see just a puff of smoke where she used to be.

Crystal Bowersox
C'Bosox admits she's been a fan since she was a kid.  Admitting its a hint to her boyfriend to "man up", she's singing "No One Needs to Know".  She's completely countrified the whole song, its twangy, its twingy, and it sounds great. 

Randy enjoyed C'Bosox's countrification of the song.  Ellen DeG loved it.  Kara the New Hotness liked it.  Simon the Cowell says it wasn't as good as before... but I liked it.  Better than Lee, actually.

Aaron Kelly
The youngling of Idol is doing "You've Got a Way", which immediately makes me think of the Billy Joel song... though that's "She's got a way.... about her... don't know what it is..."
It is worthy of note that the line "...its in the way we make love..." got changed to "...its in the way you show your love...", partly because this is a family show, and partly because no one will believe a 16 year old kid as precious as Aaron Kelly singing about getting it on. 

Randy the Dawg loved it.  Ellen DeG loved it.  Kara the New Hotness mentions the line change, and Aaron admits that he was singing to his mom.  Which means the original line would only work in Mississippi... oh!  Burn!  Simon the Cowell praised the song as well.

Siobhan Magnus
There are some songs in country music that come across as anthems.... I mean, you don't just sing 'em, you belt 'em out.  You go bonkers on them.  You do it loud, you do it proud and as a result of how the song must be properly performed, only certain people can really pull it off... "Ain't Going Down Til the Sun Comes Up" by Garth Brooks is one, "Redneck Woman" from Gretchen Wilson is another.

And "Any Man of Mine" is a third.  This is what Siobhan looks to sing, and good thing because her ballady slowness in the last few weeks has done her no favors.   I dig this song.

This is a song that you don't just sing, you perform it.  And Siobhan, for better or worse, is doing her best to perform it.  She's almost... almost... pulling it off.  She's gotten away from that screech note at the end lately, but she brings it back in full force.

Randy loved it.  Ellen DeG said "Way to pull the Shania Twain into the station".  For a pun master, that was terrible.  Just terrible.  Kara the new Hotness said, "Siobhan's back!!" and Simon thought it was fun, but didn't like that last note.

Tonight... Casey James... Big Mike... Crystal Bowersox... Siobhan Magnus Aaron Kelly... Lee DeWyze

Aaaaaaannnndddd... Results.

We're back... its a few hours later, since I saw the last episode, though 24 hours since the episode actually appeared... and, with one hand on the keyboard and another on the Fast Forward DVR button...




Seacrest informs us that Shakira and Rascal Flatts are here tonight, and performances from a few others, including Lady Antebellum... when The Lovely Steph Leann watches this, I have a feeling she'll be watching all the music tonight... well, maybe not Shakira...

Here's Rascal Flatts to kick the show off, with "Unstoppable"... too bad the song is not called "Unfastforwardable"... cause...

Fast Forward through Rascal Flatts

Watch Seacrest banter with Rascal Flatts

Fast Forward through commercials

Fast Forward through Ford Commercial

Fast Forward through Shrek promo

People think I don't like Shrek because its anti-Disney... and thats not really it... I don't like Shrek because aside from a few laughs here and there, I never found it funny.  The first one was clever, I admit, but the second and third one... just not so much.  Cameron Diaz and Antonia Banderas are on stage, now bantering with Seacrest.

Dude, Antonio is looking oooooold.  No joke.

Dim the lights!  Results time!  Usually, whoever you are standing by in the groups of 2 or 3 will tell you if you are in trouble or not... after last night though, not so much.  Last night was unusual, mostly because no one was really bad.  There was some good, there was some great, but nobody bad.

Siobhan Magnus stands up, and is directed to the far side of the stage.  Aaron Kelly is asked to go to the center of the stage.  Big Mike is asked to stand close to the Couches of Comfort, on stage left.  Lee stands up, and is sent to stand with Siobhan.  Casey James stands, and Seacrest asks him to stand with Big Mike.  Kara the New Hotness says, "I've always been a big fan of yours... but not because you are good looking."  Finally, Crystal Bowersox is asked to go stand with Aaron Kelly.

Seacrest then moves Siobhan to stand with Big Mike and Casey, then says, "This is your Bottom Three".  Sneaky, that Ryan Seacrest... this puts Aaron, Lee and Crystal as safe.

Fast Forward through commercials

Fast Forward through The Sons of Sylvia

Carrie Underwood sighting!  She introduces Sons of Sylvia.  Who remembers Sylvia from the early 80s?  She only had two hits, really, but her big one was called "Nobody"...  "Your Nobody called today, she hung up with I asked her name, well I wonder if she thinks she's being clever (clever... oh oh)... you say nobody's after you, if that is what you say is true, well I can love you like Nobody can.  Even better."  Awesome.

Fast Forward through Sons of Sylvia

Fast Forward through commercials

Seacrest is back, and introduces Lady Antebellum.  The Lovely Steph Leann loves, loves, lurves this group.  What can I say... I like 'em to.

Not fast forwarding through Lady Antebellum.

 "Its a quarter after one, I'm all alone and I need you now... said I wouldn't call, but I've lost all control, and I need you now... and I don't know how I can do without,  I just need you now... Its a quarter after one, and I'm a little drunk and I need you now"  Sounds like college for me, how 'bout you?  (I kid, I kid!)  Actually, kinda sounds like The Lovely Steph Leann when she was trying to win me over.  Drunk calling me in the middle of the night, I swear that woman was persistant.  Sheesh.

Fast Forwarding through commercials

Does anyone else think that Shakira looks like Cora, the singer chick from "Music and Lyrics"?  Anyway, she's performing with Rascal Flatts.  And no, that's not a typo.  I end up watching it out of morbid curiousity.  And I'm so glad I didn't fast forward, because I would have missed this exchange:

Seacrest:  Shakira, what advice can you give the remaining contestants?
Shakira:  Well, I can... I can think of the famous quote, its a beautiful quote by Roosevelt, its a quote that is beautiful and famous and it says 'Keep reaching for the stars but keep your feet on the ground', and thats what I would say to them
Seacrest:  I think Casey Kasem said that
Shakira:  Well, I didn't say it

That, my friends, is what as known in the bid-ness as "Comedic Gold".

Dim the Lights, let's kick someone out!  But first, let's send someone back to the Couches of Comfort.  And that someone is Big Mike.  And this is where Siobhan goes home.

Fast forward through commercials

Back with Seacrest... the person who goes home tonight is... Siobhan Magnus.  CALLED IT!  CALLED IT!  CAAAAALLLLEED IT!!!!

What can I say.  Did well, but too little too late.  And with less than half the competition left, this is when we start seeing the surprises go home.  I still predict that Bowersox goes home in the next three weeks, and Lee and Casey end up in the finals. 

Monday, April 26, 2010

Signs, Signs, Everywhere Signs (Happiest Place Finale Part I)

This is the first of a three part post on the final show at The Happiest Place in the Mall...

Part One is a few of the conversations I've had regarding the confusing, poorly worded signs we've had all over the place. 

Guest: "How much is the Minnie Mouse stuff on that wall?"
Yours Truly:  Um... its an additional 25% off
Guest:  "Oh, I didn't know.  I didn't see a sign anywhere."

Guest:  So, I see here that your hardware is for sale, but (pointing at bottom line on sign) is the animation stuff at the top and in the window for sale?
Yours Truly (puzzled, then reading): No sir, animation at top and in window unavailable for purchase
Guest:  Oh. That's too bad.

Guest:  How much is these bunnies?
Yours Truly:  Well, they're $2.99 after the 40% discount
Guest:  Oh, I see that now.  So is that $2.99, then you take 40% off of that?  How much is that going to be?
Yours Truly:  No, ma'am, its $2.99... that's after the discount is taken
Guest:  Oh, so that's the price after the 40% comes off
Yours Truly:  Yes ma'am.  Its $2.99... after the discount is taken
Guest:  Okay.  (pause)  How much is these dogs?

Guest:  I was looking for the snowglobes.  Where are they now?
Yours Truly:  Well, all we have left (doing Disney point to the end of store) is on that fixture.  We're completely out of Belle, though we do have Aurora and Ariel left.
Guest: Oh, I already got Belle and those others.  Any Cinderella?
Yours Truly: No ma'am, we don't have anymore of those.  Sold out.
Guest:  When will you be getting any in?
Yours Truly:  Well, at this point, probably never.
Guest: Never?  Do you guys not carry snowglobes now?
Yours Truly:  No ma'am, and I'd say in about two weeks, we won't be carrying anything any more.
Guest:  Why not?  You guys just selling everything before you get new stuff in?
Yours Truly:  No, we're closing our store.
Guest: Closing?  Closing!  Really?!
Yours Truly:  Yes ma'am.  April 24th.
Guest:  Wow. Too bad.  Have you guys got anything on sale?

Guest:  I bought this Piglet, and my granddaughter already has it.  Can't I just get a refund?
Yours Truly:  Sir, I'm sorry.  All sales are final at this point.
Guest: What?  Why?
Yours Truly: Well, sir, we're closing and we...
Guest: Closing?  Really?  So I can't get a refund on this?  I mean, I don't need it.
Yours Truly:  I'm sorry, we can't take anything back right now.  All sales are final.
Guest:  No one told me that.


Guest, after stopping and staring at this particular sign for 45 seconds, then turning to me:  Are you closing?

And of course,

Guest:  So, tell me why you are closing
Yours Truly:  Its a leasing issue with the mall
Guest:  That's really terrible, I hate that.  When is your last day?
Yours Truly:  April 24th.  Indeed.
Another Guest, who was standing almost right beside me hearing this entire conversation:  You're closing?


Friday, April 23, 2010

The Atheist Bible Studies


I have a tough time with my Bible reading.  Right now, it sits on my table, along side some bills that have been paid but are not filed away yet, a bunch of Disney pins that I haven't sorted through, and a few other various things.

In fact, to make it worse, there are two Bibles there.  One is the one I use for church, the other is my copy of The Message, which is great for just reading.  And neither have been opened in about two weeks.  I'm a sad, sad Christian boy, but I'm guessing I'm not alone.

The Lovely Steph Leann and I have always struggled with this, and its hard to encourage each other when we don't do it ourselves. 

So tonight, I'm goofing around on the interweb, some program on Investigative Discovery is on, I'm debating on whether to open up Roller Coaster Tycoon and kill a good three hour block of time, and I end up surfind headlines.  I shoot through ESPN, then, then Sports Illustrated online, then Fox News, then Drudge, then Entertainment Weekly, and finally CNN online.  Amongst the headlines I looked at, I clicked on one that read "Blogger:  Test Theory With Boobquake"   Why?  Because I don't have a clue what this story is even about, and I'm curious.  It takes me a story of a Purdue coed who has a blog, and is calling for... well, it doesn't matter.

What caught my attention was that she is "a liberal, geeky, nerdy, scientific, perverted atheist feminist trapped in Indiana." Or so sayeth her profile.  Her site is well done, if a little sad because of how passionate she is about the fact that she is an atheist... and then I see her links and I end up following the trail.

And it leads me to a site called Reading and Critically Reviewing the Bible in 365 Days.  One glance at their posts lets me know that they are committed to this project, as there is at least one post for every day so far this year.  Their own profile says, "I'm a Computer Science major at Purdue University. I'm an atheist, skeptic, humanist, oh and by the way, I read the bible every day."

Oh and by the way, I read the bible every day.

That line just cut me.  Seriously.  I mean, for whatever reason (though I'm sure I could come up with reasons) as I'm sitting here, that line just tore at my own heart.

Oh and by the way,  I read the bible every day.  I'm an atheist, and I read the bible to prove it wrong, and I'll bet I know it better than you do, dear Christ following friends. 

There's a link on that page that takes you to the One Year Skeptic, a site that does the same thing.  The author, who is named Erika, says she is an atheist who wants to read the Bible in one year. 

Perhaps both authors are being led to read the Word, perhaps both will find some truth, some undeniable Truth in those red letters, but there is a little snarkiness and much skepticism in their words.  Both authors take each verse on its own, without context of any verses around it, and rip it apart, asking rhetorical questions... every verse I see as Truth and approach it as such, they see as a jumbled mess and also approach it from their perspective.

And because there are at least two people out there--and I'm sure there are many, many more--who know more about God's written Word than I do, because they disbelief its truthiness as much as I believe it, that makes me... well, it makes me sad.

The commitment to blindness is so much stronger than my own commitment to the Light so apparent before me.  And that makes me sad too.

I just thought I'd share.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Idol Inspires... and Gives Back

Here I am, its a Wednesday night.  Idol Gives Back is already on, but I haven't seen the performance show.  Its 10 after 7, and I planned it that way.  I'm about to pick up the remote, and watch the performances... then immediately go to the Idol Gives Back show, though I'm not sure we'll see any results this time... when they did this a few years back, they didn't eliminate anyone, they just combined that weeks votes with the following week and dropped 2 people. 

I want to be able to fast forward through some of these performances if desired... so its easier while watching it on DVR.  I have the power, oh yes, I have... the power. 





Its "Inspirational Song" week here on Idol, but don't think you'll be hearing stuff from Amy Grant or Third Day or Stevie Curt Chapman... no, this is when you just pick songs that... well, inspire you.  Personally, if I were a singer and on Idol, I do one of two songs:

"Standing Outside the Fire." by Garth Brooks.  I think its the video of the Downs kid running on the track team that does it for me.  Oh, and Garth just looks cool with fire all around him.


"Unwritten" by Natasha Bedingfield.  I do this one only if I were a chick.  Which I'm not.  Digressing....

Its our Top Seven singing this week... Big Mike, C'Bosox, Tim-may, Aaron, CJ, Lee De and Siobhan.  And mentoring them this week?  Alicia Keys.  Okay, so, have you ever heard the song "Falling"?  I'm sure you have... it was every other song on the radio some years back... and don't get me wrong, her voice is absolutely beautiful and haunting... but "Falling" is a terribly written song.  Just my two cents.  Who said "Fergalicious?"  Shut up.

CJ is up first.  Your first clue that this week is not "Inspirational" but "Songs That Make You Feel Good" is that Casey James is doing "Don't Stop", the classic by Fleetwood Mac.  This is one of my least favorite Fleetwood Mac songs... personally, I'm a big fan of "Gypsy", "Rhiannon" and "Say You Love Me"... though who doesn't love "Go Your Own Way", especially because of the bitterness behind it--let's face it, everyone slept with everyone in that group.

Randy says the song was good, but not the best.  Cindy Jo disagrees.  She would vocalize it, except for the drooling.  America's Favorite Lesbian Ellen DeGeneres busts out a real critique... "You have to be great, and I don't think anyone is going to remember that tomorrow".  Kara the New Hotness is frustrated because he's better than that.  Simon the Cowell says he wasn't inspired at all.  And I can agree with that.

Lee DeWyze is doing Simon & Garfunkel's "The Boxer", which you'd know because it goes "Li la li... (crash) li la li li li la la la la li (crash).  I like that song, but for me, you can't beat "Sounds of Silence" and "Hazy Shade of Winter" (though I prefer The Bangles 1987 version from the Andrew McCarthy/Jami Gertz/RDJr masterpiece of drugginess, "Less Than Zero").  Yes, yes, "Mrs Robinson" is good too.

What is this song about?  Its about overcoming loneliness and poverty in New York City.  So sez Wikipedia.

Randy the Dawg really liked it.  Ellen DeG says it was great, the best of the night so far.  Kara the New Hotness says Lee has his moment tonight.  Simon says that two performances in, it was the best of the night... and then says it was sincere, emotional and inspirational.

Timmy Urban is doing "Better Days" by The Goo Goo Dolls, one of those bands that, almost 20 years later, they keep putting out likable songs.  My personal favorite?  "Black Balloon", though I've admitted that I haven't a clue what its about... didn't stop me from ranking it as one of the saddest songs ever

"Slide", however, is a great, great driving song.

Tim-may Urban is having, shall we say, pitch problems.  Randy says it was just so-so.  Ellen DeG compares him to soup that sometimes she likes and sometimes she doesn't... and tonight, she didn't.  Kara the New Hotness didn't like it.  Simon the Cowell is finding it difficult to believe in him, and thinks it was a step back.

Oh dear.  Oh dear, oh dear... "I Believe I Can Fly" by R. Kelly is what Aaron Kelly chose.  Directly from the soundtrack to the groundbreaking motion picture "Space Jam".  You know how some people have said they've never seen Star Wars?  Well, I've never seen "Space Jam".  I'm okay with that.

You know which song I like by R. Kelly?  "Ignition (remix)".  That song rules.  Especially when I start singing to The Lovely Steph Leann, "No I'm not tryin to be rude, but hey pretty girl I'm feelin you the way you do the things you do, remind me of my Lexus coup..." though by the time I get five words into it, she's already given me a stern look. 

Aaron Kelly's version was terrible.  I don't know what Randy the Dawg is hearing, liking it, but wow.  That was dreadful.  Ellen DeG believes Aaron can fly.  Kara the New Hotness loved it.  Simon the Cowell admires the guts to take on that song, but didn't like the performance at all. 

Do you want to know Whitney Houston's worst song?  And Mariah Carey's worst song ever?  Its the same song.  And Siobhan Magnus is doing it tonight... from "The Prince of Egypt", its "When You Believe".  I hate this song, I really do.  I really, really do.

Okay, I'll say this... she's got a great voice.  She sings the song decent enough. But this song... is just terrible.  Just terrible.  I miss the Siobhan from the early weeks of the show... its like she listened to her own hype and wanted to morph into something more "radio friendly", and by doing so, lost what made her awesome. 

Randy the Dawg didn't like it all that much.  Ellen DeG loved it.  Kara the New Hotness said "Technically, it was good.  But it was theatrical".  Simon didn't like it either. 

Big Mike is doing "Hero" by Chad Kroeger.  Once again, from a movie, this time from "Spiderman".  Is this "Song That Make You Feel Good" or "Songs That Come From Movies But Also Make You Feel Good" Week?

Not a huge fan, but after this night, its the almost the best of the junk.

Randy the Dawg liked it.   Ellen DeG liked it.  Kara the New Hotness didn't like it.  Simon the Cowell said it was sung well, and comments that it was from Spiderman.

And in the pimp spot. Crystal Bowersox is ready to blow us all away. I heard she was doing "People Get Ready", and immediately I thought of Crystal Lewis Rapture-Jam, "People Get Ready (Jesus is coming)" and I was all pumped.

Well, this is actually the version from the 60s by The Impressions.  The first verse is sung acapella and Oh Em Gee.  Wow.  Wow.  Wow wow wow.

Sans instrument for the first time, she just blows it away.  And she ends up crying at the end.  And it was so freaking awesome, I'm doing something that I haven't done all year... I'm rewinding it to watch it again. 

Sometimes you see a performance that is just... well, magical.  Amazing.  Unbelievable.  And tonight, Crystal Bowersox just did one of those, one that will be tossed into the ranks when they do those "Best Idol Performances Ever" lists. 

Randy the Dawg says "That was unbelievable" and gives her a standing O.  Ellen DeG says she's beautiful and loved the song.  And DVR cuts out before I hear Kara the New Hotness and Simon speak, but I can only assume they went nuts too.  I just did. 

Tonight...  Crystal Bowersox.  Everyone else didn't matter.

Coming quickly... watching Idol Gives Back...

And here we go...

To give us a heading of how great this show is going to be, its He Who Must Not Be Re-Elected and The First Lady, Michelle.   I just threw up in my mouth.



I wonder when He Who Must Not Be Re-Elected will start giving back... taxes, maybe?  Personal freedoms?  Government control?  I'll stop before I start kicking things around The Cabana living area.

Seacrest reminds us we can make a difference.  I'm wondering what the over/under is on how many times i'm going to fast forward tonight?  Plus 400? 

Seacrest is hosting, but Queen Latifah is co-hosting over in Pasadena.  I used to totally dig her talk show when it was on.  Tonight... the Black Eyed Peas!  Carrie Underwood!  Joss Stone!  Annie Lennox!  More!  Yeah!

The time is 8:30, so I wonder how fast I'll shoot through this 2 hour show.  Mary J. Blige and Alicia Keys are here tonight too!

Fast forward through the Top 12 reunited (and it feels so good) group song

Fast forward through Jennifer Garner's report on what Idol Gives Back has done for Kentucky

Fast forward through Posh Spice and Seacrest

Fast forward through commercials

Fast forward through Capt Sulley's pleading for Idol Gives Back

Seacrest banters with Jonah Hill and Russell Brand.  Not a funny bit.

The Top Seven sit on the Couch of Anxiety, all dressed in white as per usual Idol Gives Back dress code.  Siobhan Magnus isn't used to such bright happiness.

Back over to Queen Latifah, who introduces The Black Eyed Peas.  I'm completely alone in my chair, and out loud I just said "What the freak is Fergie wearing?"  This song is a prime example of artists who sound great on the radio and in studio but onstage... uh... not really...

Fast forward through The Black Eyed Peas rockin' that body

Todd Bridges is in the audience.  How did he get there?  Shouldn't he be parking cars?

Fast forward through Malaria's greatest hits

Fast forward through commercials

Finally... some results.  I thought they might push back an elimination until next week, but nay nay.  And in another only slightly funny bit, George Lopez is onstage.  Let's dim the lights. 

Lopez then walks to the judges, as if one of them is getting voted off.  He then takes some great shots at both Randy and Kara the New Hotness... Lopez then takes another shot at Kara's affections for Casey James, which then the camera pans to CJ, who grimaces.  He didn't like that at all. 

Seacrest then introduces Lopez as "Erik Estrada", which made me laugh out loud.

Fast forward through the Ford commercial

Now, really dim the lights.  CJ and Crystal Bowersox join Seacrest in the middle of the stage.  CJ looks grim, he knows he's in the Bottom Three or Two or whatever they'll do.  He's standing next to C'Bosox.  And in shocking news, Casey James heads to the Silver Stools of Shame, Crystal Bowersox lives to fight another day.

Aaron Kelly and Lee DeWyze come to the middle... which puts Aaron Kelly in the Bottom Three.  By the way, I called that while Seacrest was still talking.   Aaron heads to the Silver Stools of Shame.

Back to Queen Latifah, lets hear...

No, Fast forward through Jeff Beck and Joss Stone

Fast forward through dying mothers in Africa

Fast forward through commercials and Ban Ki-Moon, the Sect General of the U.N.  Yeah, thats how you get me to donate.  Put the U.N. support behind it.  You could have gotten Bernie Madoff and I would have given it more creedence.

And now, Morgan Freeman.  Can I just tell ya, I think he grand kids must have the absolute best time during story hour with Grandpa.   

Fast forward through Mississippi's poverty kids

Fast forward through Alicia Keys

Fast forward through commercials

Seacrest banters again with Russell Brand and Jonah Hill.  Jim Carrey makes an appearance... and seriously, he looks OLD.  And why break up with Jenny McCarthy?  Wow.

Queen Latifah introduces Carrie Underwood, singing the song "Change".  This strikes me as a song that is going to inspire me, and they'll probably show video of kids.  She looks ravishing... but...

Fast forward through Carrie Underwood.  No background montages of kids, I'm guessing Carrie is too big of a star to have the camera not on her now.

Fast forward through Hungry People montage

Fast forward through a bunch of poverty stricken kids in church

Fast forward through commercials

Fast forward through Bill and Melinda Gates

Fast forward through who I consider one of the least funny people in America, Wanda Sykes

Back to results.  Siobhan, Timmy and Big Mike join Seacrest in the center of the stage.  One will head to the Silver Stools of Shame.  Siobhan is safe.  She goes back to the Couch of Safety.  Big Mike is safe.  Timmy Urban goes over to the Silver Stools of Shame, joining Aaron Kelly and CJ

Fast forward through David Cook

Fast forward through poor kids in Ethiopia

Fast forward through commercials

Fast forward through Annie Lennox in Africa

Fast forward through Annie Lennox, still in Africa

Fast forward through Annie Lennox singing.  She might still be in Africa, who knows.   Her song, "No More I Love You"... one of the Top Ten Worst Songs in the History of the World, in my opinion.  Just saying.

Fast forward through commercials

And we're back.  Its 9:07, and I've gone through 1:52 in just over 30 minutes... back to Queen Latifah and a bunch of others singing "Stairway to Heaven"

Fast forward through Queen Latifah and a bunch of others singing "Stairway to Heaven"

And I fast forwarded right to the end of the DVR recording.  Its 9:09, and I quickly go to Fox 6 to see who gets kicked off... and the show is still going.  Queen Latifah is standing with Sir Elton John, who doesn't look much older than Jim Carrey that we saw early.

Elton John sits to sing "Your Song"

Fast forward through... wait... crap.  I'm watching this live.

Tis okay, though... I can handle this one.  I dig early Elton, before we all knew he was singing to a guy.  I do like that Elton John is on the show, even though he called the show "incredibly racist" after a Season Three Bottom Three featured black contestants Jennifer Hudson, LaToya London and Fantasia (Jennifer Hudson went home).

And a commercial shows that Kristin Chenoweth to be coming back to "Glee" soon.  Looks like I might be watching "Glee" again.  If Kristin Chenoweth was on a show called "An Hour of Watching Leaves Dry", I'd watch it. 

Aaron Kelly is safe, by the way.  I think Timmy Urban is done for the season.

And.... as usual, I'm right. 

Because they were pressed for time, I'm sure, as its now 9:24, they don't even let Tim Urban sing the final song.  They show his "journey" clips, and then cut out.  And thats it for Idol Gives Back.

Okay, okay, here's the number to donate if you want... 1-877-IDOL AID and here's the link if you want to donate.

The 100 Coolest Things of 2009... #20 to 11

One step closer to revealing what is the absolute, bar none, most awesome, Coolest Thing of 2009... but first, we have nineteen more things to discuss.  And here's ten more, starting with...

The 20th Coolest Thing of 2009... "Where We Eatin', Y'all?"
On my blogroll on the right, there are over 20 blogs listed.  My rule usually is that if you don't update your blog in two months or so, I take it off the blogroll... of course, I'm still expecting to be on theirs, so its a hard double standard line to toe.

There are several who do update on a regular, or semi-regular basis, which include:

Happy Harper Stories... Married mom of two, Jaime, shares stories of family and kids, but mostly I like to wander aimlessly around her blog--her set up is much better than mine.
B&W Daily Photos... Former Deucemate and Pimpalicious Shawn Sharp simply takes a photo each day.  Sounds simple enough, and it is, but its a fun little site showcasing some great talent.
Life's Random Happenings... One of my kids, Betsy, has this fun little random site she writes on, and I'm actually enjoying her list of things to accomplish before she dies. 

And then there's this little beauty... its got this ridiculously clunky title, almost too long to remember, but long enough that you'll remember enough of it, called, "Where To Go Eat Or Not Go Eat... And Why", and its not so much about restaurant reviews as it is about the legendary Barnett Curse.

When its $10, $20, maybe $30 bucks for Amarilys By Morning (up from san antone), her husband Hurricane Rhett and their daughter Raspberry Vinaigrette to eat, they do okay.  Mostly.  The Lovely Steph Leann and I had dinner with them the other night, things went swimmingly.

When they fork over the $100 for dinner at the fancy schmancy places, they do okay, like you usually do when you are paying that much for dinner.

But when it gets between $30 and say, $70... all bets are off.  Everything from waiters making racial jokes to time lapses of more than a few hours from arrival to departure.   They wreak havoc on restaurants when they show up, not on purpose... but the Bad Service Fairy hovers over the place from the time the Barnetts walk in to the time they leave.  And it makes for a great blog.

And the restaurants they've cursed include... The Egg and I... Wendy's... Red Lobster... and my favorite still, where The Barnett Curse perhaps began... The Cheesecake Factory.

The 19th Coolest Thing of 2009... "Sunshine Cleaning"
From April 2009 (written a year ago today, which tells you how far behind I am on getting this Top 100 finished)...

A couple of days ago we saw "Sunshine Cleaning". This was one I had been waiting on, as the previews looked wonderful and it helps that I'm in love with Amy Adams. Amy plays Rose Lorkowski, a 30 something woman who's life hasn't turned out like she hoped. Rose is not making much money, her son is a problem child, and she's having an affair with a guy that she knows down deep will never leave his wife. She's a maid for a maid service, and realizes that her life has really hit a wall when she ends up cleaning a house for someone she went to high school with.

I loved this movie in every possible way. It was charming, it was fun and there aren't a thousand subplots to try and tie up at the end. Some of the cliched stuff that you think would happen in a movie like this never does, which was refreshing, and Rose is such a lovable character that you root for her the entire time--and its heartbreaking when the major "event" happens that seems to ruin everything late in the movie. You even end up really liking Norah, despite some of the stupid things she does. What I also loved about this movie is it doesn't' feel the need to resolve every little issue with a Hollywood happy ending. Some things are... well, just done when they are done. Rated R for language and some Amy Adams underwear shots.

The 18th Coolest Thing of 2009... The Adam Carolla Podcast
In the years leading up to 2009, namely 2005, 2006 and 2007, I knew only of Adam Carolla from "The Man Show"--no, I never watched it, I just know it was on Comedy Central and Spike TV for a while--and as a co-host of MTV's "Loveline", another show that I never watched, but knew about.

In 2008, Bill "The Sports Guy" Simmons started having Adam come on his own podcast from time to time, and they were always podcasts I thoroughly enjoyed.  Adam would usually pitch a "movie idea", and it was always something to laugh at... my favorite is the idea for a movie called "Long Snapper", about a disgraced NFL longsnapper named Rush Blitzer... and in it, he'd throw every cliche that movies present, from the cutaways to birds leaving the trees when something traumatic is going on to that weird double take look when someone sees something that surprised them.

I found out in early 2009 that Carolla was getting his own podcast, so I checked it out... and I've been listening ever since.  Now, Adam Carolla is not Emmy Turnbow safe by any means--he uses foul langauge, he discusses topics that are not necessarily meant to be discussed at the dinner table, and he is seldom politcally correct... but he's hysterical.  And practical.  He doesn't pull any punches, he says it like it is, and he makes fun of himself to the extreme sometimes.  Its randy but never disgusting, its Rated R but not NC-17... he also has guests in the studio (which in the early shows constituted his couch in his home, and now is a couch in a warehouse) and its fun to watch them let loose and discuss.

He's anchored by his friend Donnie, who he's dubbed "The Weaz", who helps produce the show, and will also feature his friends Bald Bryan and Teresa Strasser, who used to co-host "What Not to Wear" (and has her own funny blogand many times, depending on the guest, its the first show out of the gate I listen to when I'm scrolling through my podcasts, even beating out Rush.  (don't worry--I am now and forever will be a Rush fan until someone can not only convince me he's wrong, but prove it... hasn't happened yet...)

The 17th Coolest Thing of 2009... "Relator"
The movie theater isn't the most likely place to discover music you like... but The Lovely Steph Leann and I were sitting, chitchatting away in the dim light, awaiting whatever movie to start to... well, start.  The familiar voice of That Guy who does that Movie Tunes broadcast says something like, "Here's the new one from Ingrid Michelson!" and Ingrid Michelson starts out her song "Everyone".  You know, "everyone, everyone wants to love, everyone everyone wants to be loved, oh whoa whoa... oh whoa whoa..."

I thought it was cool.  I got out my phone and texted "Ingrid M Everyone" to myself.  Wanted to do that so I would remember to listen to it, and possibly download later.

And then, after "Everyone" had finished, the same guy rambled on about something or another, possibly telling me I should go get a refreshing Coke for like, $8.75, at the refreshment stand.  Then he says something strange--"Here's a new tune from Pete Yorn and Scarlett Johansson".

Exsqueeze me?  Bakin' powder?  When did ScarJo become a singer?  What did I miss?

And here comes this raspy voice, a voice that I struggled to place with ScarJo... "When I met you... I didn't know what to do... I was hungry, I was tired, I fight..."

And once again, I grabbed my phone, texting "ScarJo P Yorn Relate" to myself.  All I've got is this tune in my head, "you don't... relate... to me... no no..." and when I finally get home, I Google the lyrics and it comes up with "Relator", by Scarlet Johansson and Pete Yorn, from their duet (!) album "Break Up".  I've listened to most of the tunes on the whole album, and they are alright enough, but "Relator" is the gem.  Its a great, great driving song.


The 16th Coolest Thing of 2009... "The Book of Basketball"
Anyone who knows me knows I have an affinity for The Sports Guy.  He's a columnist on, a former writer for ESPN The Magazine, and the author of the book that was the 6th Coolest Thing of 2006.  His latest book is a must-read for anyone who has ever enjoyed anything about the NBA... its almost NBA overload. 

In this 700+ page behemoth of a book, The Sports Guy tackles the Top Ten Greatest Seasons of All Time... He looks back and retroactively awards MVP titles to those who should have gotten them, as opposed to who did get them (many times not the same thing) and his love of the Boston Celtics and the National Basketball Association shines through when he devotes hundreds of pages to the best players of all time, ranked from great to greatest in his attempt to revamp the Basketball Hall of Fame.

There are tons of statistics and names dropped, a few shots taken at players like Vince Carter, Kareem and Kobe, and lots of basketball history--the man did his homework--but what sets him apart from other columnists I enjoy is his pop culture knowledge.  Being a pop culture afficinado myself, I not only appreciate, but revel in the jabs and jokes that come along, sometimes making me feel a little special because I know some of his references are harder to identify, and only a few of us can do so.  Cause we rock.

Because of time contraints, it took me a solid two months to plow through this book (and I'm actually going back and re-reading my favorite chapters because the start time to finish time was so lengthy), and after his baseball book, and now The Book of Basketball, it makes me wonder if a football opus is around the corner at some point.

The 15th Coolest Thing of 2009... "Rather Unimpressive Illegitimate Children"
From a post written on August 23rd, 2009...  You know, I take pride in the fact that I'm pretty good with films. I've seen thousands of movies over the years, and many of them are the same, or at least the same type, and you can kind of predict patterns, kind of see where a movie will go, sometimes have a good clue as to "whodunit" before the blood dries on the ground...

however comma

I have to be honest in saying that this film went in a COMPLETELY different direction than what I was thinking it would. The trailer, which was very cleverly uninforming by Tarantino, tells you nothing of what this movie holds and where its going to go.

The Basterds, as they are called, is a group led by Lt. Aldo Raines, played by Brad Pitt, and he wants to kill Nah-zees.

Aldo Raines recruits a group of soldiers to do just that very thing, but along the way, we also see the story (and backstory) of Shoshanna (a wonderful--and gorgeous--Melanie Laurent), who's entire Jewish family is butchered by infamous Jew Hunter, Col. Hans Landa. Landa is played by Austrian actor Christoph Waltz(who ended up winning an Oscar in March of 2010--d$) and the character is played to unsympathetic perfection. You want to absolutely hate Landa for who he is and what he does, but you almost find yourself liking him just because he is so "I'm just doing the job they asked me to do, and I'm going to do it well" blaise about it. Only the job isn't tiling a bathroom or fixing a transmission, its hunting and killing Jews in France.

Anyway, I enjoyed it quite a bit. On QT's movie rankings, I'd still ranking Dogs as my favorite, followed closely by "Pulp Fiction"... and then this one. I look forward to watching it again, enjoying all of Tarantino's eccentricities that he dashes throughout his films

The 14th Coolest Thing of 2009... MZ Gets a Starbucks
Its always good when your friends succeed.

When I went to The Happiest Place in the Mall in July of 2008, I stepped down as a manager at Starbucks, and went just part time at a store in Homewood, AL.  It was a store that had scheduled to close, and at that time I was almost at 6 years with the company, and I was asked to help the store close down.  When it finally did, I was transferred over to the Starbucks on 280, right next to Hwy 119.

Working there?  My friend MZ that I had known when she was a customer ordering her Grande Raspberry Mocha on a daily basis.  She became a barista, then a shift... and when the long term manager left for another career, she was promoted, much to the chagrin of some who thought she was "too new" and they were next in line. 

She was very "new", but she was experience enough to know what she was doing, and humble enough to know she was in over her head.  When I found The Happiest Place would become The Emptiest Place in the Mall, I asked her if I could come on full time... and though we were friends, she took a professional stance and actually thought about it and about what would be best for the business.  She agreed, and when my job ends, I'll once again be doing Starbucks 40 hours per week.

Its been about a year or so now, and she's learned alot... and I've learned alot from her.  I'm excited about working for, and with, MZ, because I've watched her already.  People respond to her leadership, which is built on relationships and a fever to help each person do their best in whatever they are doing--that in turn will be best for the business.  Maybe she's "new", but she's already miles ahead of many managers who had been doing this for a long, long time.

The 13th Coolest Thing of 2009... Inside the Magic
I love audiobooks (I'm right in the middle of a 30 disc narration of "Under the Dome" by Stephen King... which I'll talk about when I finish, because its marvelous) but when I listen to an audiobook (like said 30 disc novel), I always have to play catch up on my podcasts... such as the 1:45 it takes to listen to a complete, commercial free Rush Limbaugh show.  Or the 45 minutes to an hour it takes me to listen to either Carolla's podcast or The BS Report with The Sports Guy.  Or the 30 minute weekly show called ESPNU College Football, which comes on every other week in the offseason.

And last January or so, I decided I wanted to jump into a few Disney podcasts... I listened to a few, and found some to be either long winded or too random, but one stuck.  I listened to "Inside the Magic" again the following week... and the following week.. and the following week... and sometime would go online to watch the videos that host Ricky Brigante would post, various openings of stores, or coverage of a press event or so on.

Each show starts with a "Trip... around the world", with Ricky, an Orlando resident and frequent visitor of the parks, giving news from not only Walt Disney World, but also Disneyland, sometimes parks overseas if the news is big enough, various news and rumors from other Disney areas like movies and music, and even sometimes news and such from other Orlando area attractions like Sea World and Universal.

Ricky's got this odd voice that you think will grate on you, yet in a short time it becomes an easy voice to listen to even for long period of time (his Ear in Review show?  Four hours) and his wit comes through as he's not afraid to take a jab at Disney... he's a fan just as much as we are, and with that comes the good and the bad.

Says Ricky:  "In the next bit of news, I don't know why I didn't lead with this... huge news for everyone... its officlal.  Joe Jonas and Demi Lovato... are dating.  You heard it here."

The show sometimes features movie reviews, music reviews and restaurant reviews, many times has interviews with people from the Disney universe, and will often feature a segment called "Cruisin' the World", with Skipper Ben, a former Jungle Cruise skipper who lives in Dallas, TX, but has never lost the Disney bug.

The show has been a valuable source of information for me in my time at The Happiest Place in the Mall, many times hearing rumors and news, getting release dates of certain things like DVDs and such, even before the company let us at the store level know.  If you are looking for a weekly podcast, you can find Inside the Magic in the iTunes store, or on their new website, but will also add to the Disney links on the right.  Back to yooooooooooou Ricky.

The 12th Coolest Thing of 2009... Disney with The Lovely Steph Leann
Once again, for our anniversary, The Lovely Steph Leann and I headed to Orlando, FL, to spend 9 days amongst The Most Magical Place on Earth--that being Walt Disney World.

Now, you may wonder "Why is a vacation with your wife only ranking 12th?  Shouldn't that be the most important and coolest thing?  What kind of man are you?!"

To that, I answer that yes, this trip was very cool.  Any trip with The Lovely Steph Leann is a good trip.  A cool trip.  But the two reasons that this trip ranks 12th and not 1st are simply... 1) We went with my mother-in-law and aunt.  Now, this wasn't inherently a bad thing, it was enjoyable, and Mama Ruthless actually paid for several meals and took care of us through the trip.  We hung out with them some, and split up from them some... but the fact that our anniversary vacation was taken with a mother-in-law and an aunt... just sayin'.

And 2) The Lovely Steph Leann got sick.  I mean, sick.  I mean, sick sick.  It started in the middle of the trip, and perhaps began when I didn't feel good.  I went through a day or so of stomach issues, with my immune system, usually built like a tank, fighting off the stomach flu. But as the old saying goes, "That which does not kill us goes after The Lovely Steph Leann and makes her sick."  And the stomach flu did just that very thing, knocking her completely out of action for one full day and bits and pieces of days after that.  She's said it was one of the worst, darkest days of her life. 

So the stomach flu was the big hindrance to this trip being 12th and not 1st... but for a few notes from the trip, you can click to the one post I wrote concerning the trip

The 11th Coolest Thing of 2009... Movies With Mikey
There's a road that runs through the little town of Hoover, and on that road--Lorna, to be exact--there's a little shopping center... I say shopping center, but there really is no shopping... maybe its a business area.  There's a club there that has been through about fifteen different names, including Frogger's and Roper's, and I think its Bumper's now. 

Next to it is a small movie theater that I'm sure in its heyday, back when Ace of Base ruled the charts and perhaps the Dallas Cowboys were beginning a dynasty, was a clamour of activity and profit.  You know its an older theater when you walk in and you realize you don't have to climb any steps to get to your seat.  Nay, you have to walk down a slight incline and choose your row.

We take for granted stadium seating and you young fellas and gals probably don't remember a time when all seats were on the same level, save for a ramp that took you a little lower the closer to the screen you got.

This is why Mikey and I love this theater... and this is why Mikey and I make it a habit to get together a few times a month for a movie there.  Oh, and the fact that its a single dollar to get in.  If you've ever walked out of a theater you've paid $9.75 to get into thinking "Man, that movie was terrible... I hate that I wasted a Zaxby's meal and a Chick-fila Cookies-n-Cream milkshake worth to see that." 

That's the idea behind The d$ and Mikey Crappy Movie Series.  We go see movies that we kinda want to see but don't dare pay $10 for, because we aren't sure we'll even like it. Sometimes we make it a point to go see the worst of the worst.  Someitmes we are pleasantly surprised at how much we like a movie.  We always have a good time.

Some of the movies we have seen this past year include... "Observe and Report", one of the worst films I've ever seen... "Land of the Lost", a pretty bad Will Ferrell flick... "Men Who Stare At Goats", which I'm still trying to figure out the plotline... "I Love You Man", solidifying my love of Paul Rudd... "Year One", funny at times but only here and there... and "The Goods: Live Hard Sell Hard", pushing hard to be worth the one dollar we spent...  talk about your epic, award winning films.  All were preceeded with a burger at Baha or some other find eating establishment, and all included great conversation with one of my best mates. 

Here's to another year full of crappy, terrible one dollar movies.

And finally... here comes the top ten.. two movies, eight people, two songs, a gathering, a toy and a toy ride... the Top Ten Coolest Things of 2009...

Monday, April 19, 2010

100 Coolest Things of 2009... #30 to 21

Continuing our list of the absolute 100 coolest things of all 2009...

The 30th Coolest Thing of 2009... Tyler Gets Woked Up
See, now would be a good time to, if you are on Facebook, click over to Clouds in My Coffee so you can see this video.  Its absolutely out of your mind hysterical.  That's Tyler, my brother in law, as the main victim of this senseless travesty of sleep deprivation.

By the way, they set up the entire drumset in the bedroom, all while Tyler was completely asleep.  If there's one thing I've learned from The Lovely Steph Leann, its that those Campbells can sleep anywhere and through anything.

The 29th Coolest Thing of 2009... "The Hangover"
In a post entitled "Not Emmy Turnbow Safe" from June 27th, 2009, I explain quite simply at how this movie is... well, not Emmy Turnbow safe. 

From that post:  Simple premise is, three guys take their buddy for a night stay in Vegas for a bachelor party… all three have distinctly different personalities, all three are played to the hilt, and all three react differently when they wake up in their now-trashed hotel room the next morning, a tiger in the bathroom, a baby in the closet, one guy missing a tooth and the groom completely disappeared. None of them can remember a thing about the night, but they start backtracking their steps to find out what happened, and why Mike Tyson ends up in their hotel room. And where the tiger came from. And why one of them is missing a tooth. And why there is a baby in the closet. And why... come to think of it, this sounds like The Lovely Steph Leann's bachelorette party.

This movie had me rolling... I'm not proud of saying that, but there it is. 

The 28th Coolest Thing of 2009... "The Hurt Locker"
From December 7th, where you can also read about what might be the greatest year in film history... "The Hurt Locker" is about a group of solders in Iraq that disarm Improvised Explosive Devices, or IEDs, which are really just like they sound--simply made bombs that are triggered by tripwires, or remotes or whatever, made to kill people, namely American soliders.

There are three main reasons why I thought this film was brilliant... first, the lack of superstars helps this movie quite a bit.  Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie and Brian Geraghty have been in other stuff, but you likely won't remember much of it. Taking away this stardom almost makes this feel like its a documentary more than anything else, like what you are seeing on screen is actually happening 5,000 miles and a half-dozen time zones away--maybe because it is.

Secondly, its not preachy. Anyone who has read this site enough will know I'm not into being preached at by films that are supposed to entertain. It doesn't dive into politics, into why we are there, why we are or are not winning or losing the war, or anything else. It just tells its story.

Finally... its just a really good movie. Its a movie about war, so none of the language is Emmy Turnbow Safe, and it does have its bloody moments, but its paced well, it doesn't veer into subplots (much... there is one small one, but it resolves itself quickly) and after its over, you just nod your head and say, "That's a good movie."

The 27th Coolest Thing of 2009... Rebecca Jourdan Samuelson
I think I've told this story before, but I'll tell it again as a reminder.  Back in 1998, I moved to Birmingham.  Back in 1998, I didn't have alot of... well, I really didn't have any friends.  I had begun attending Valleydale Church (an sbc fellowship) and had a few people here and there I had met.  People that, in a dire emergency, I'm sure I could have called upon and expected an answer, though probably more out of Christian fellowshippy obligation than loyalty to me.

Back in October of '98, I worked at Parisian Corporate, back when Parisian still existed and was owned by Saks Fifth Avenue.  Back then, they owned McRae's, Bergners, Yonkers and a few other places, and were a booming department store chain.  Anyway, I worked in the Home Department buying office at the time, and this chick I had met at church was working a few departments down.  Rebecca Jourdan.  We struck up an unlikely friendship, and she, for lack of a better word, "took me under her wing", almost becoming this Big Sister type that I needed.

When my car broke down--and this happened alot--she would drive from Cahaba Heights to Lorna Road (no, not GuadalaHoover, it was closer to the 65 side) to pick me up.  We shared a meal or two, and she'd always buy.  I got behind on rent, she gathered the Sunday School class she'd invited me to, and gotten me to attend, and collected enough money to pay my rent once. 

She was my friend, and I hers.  She even drove me to and from the dentist when I got my wisdom teeth pulled... I think in my possible delirium of being high on Novacaine (or whatever they use) I told her I loved her... or maybe that she loved me... or that I was hungry... or who knows. I was drooling.  And she walked me and helped me pass out on the couch--helping you walk to a couch while your mouth is full of cotton and your shirt is soaked with dripping saliva is a sign of a true friend.

Time went by, and she got closer to the guy she was seeing... and she married... and then moved to Mississippi.  It wasn't like she just up and left and didn't tell anyone, but in a way, that's kind of what happened.  By that time, I had met the guys who would eventually join me in The Deuce, had gotten more involved in Valleydale Church (an sbc fellowship) and our friendship, at least for that season, had kind of run its course. 

Through the years, I asked a few people that knew both of us what had happened to Rebecca... and always got the same answer:  "I dunno".  But one day, the same thing that has happened to a thousand people across the country happened to me--I found her on Facebook.  And emailed her immediately.  She emailed back, and we had re-connected.  We agreed to meet for lunch at Roly Poly, a place I'm not a huge fan of, but if Rebecca had said, "Meet me for lunch at the Dog Poop Cafe", I'd had been there.

I saw her, gave her a huge, huge, huuuuge hug and was so happy I had my friend back.  We chatted over lunch and I was able to tell her truly how God had used her my life,  We talk back and forth every now and again, but I know how to find her now, which I didn't for something like 8 years... thanks Rebecca.  You truly are an angel.

The 26th Coolest Thing of 2009... "My Live Would Suck Without U"
Leave it to Kelly Clarkson to toss out a tune that blows me away.  Not only was she was the 6th coolest thing of 2005, but her song "Behind These Hazel Eyes" was the 25th coolest thing of that same year. 

And this year, she releases a song from her fourth album, "All I Ever Wanted"... and its loud, its booming, its up tempo and its so easy to sing when you are driving 85 down the interstate... "becaaaaause we beeeelooooong tooooogeeethaaaaa now, yeah, forever uniiiiiiiited here somehow, yeah... you got a piece of me... and honestly... my life (MY LIFE!) would suck (WOULD SUCK!) without you...!!!"

Be honest.  You are singing it now, aren't ya?   And like 2005, Kelly Clarkson has the... second... coolest song of the year.

The 25th Coolest Thing of 2009... David & Amanda Tuck
One of the things that The Lovely Steph Leann and I do alot, perhaps well, is socialize.  We love meeting new people and we love "double dates" with othe couples.  We've reached out and established great relationships with people like KT & J Rob (though sadly we don't get to see them nearly as much as we used to, since they moved 42 miles out of town).

We were all in one big class, led by Emmy Turnbow and her hubby Jason, and we ended up meeting David and Amanda Tuck, this 20something couple that hadn't been married too long.  He's kinda country, she's kinda country, they are both down to earth fun people.  You know those kind of couples that are so darn cute, its almost irritating, but you can't be irritated with them at all because they not only are cute, they are so darn sweet?  Yeah, thats the Tucks.

Well, the class got really big... and at one point, the class split like some church classes do.  We moved to the new class, the Tucks remained, so like some other couples that we enjoy (back to KT and J Rob again), we only see them in passing at church... though when we do see them, great hugs and big handshakes ensue.

The Tucks are on our list of couples to spend more time with.   

The 24th Coolest Thing of 2009... Disney With the Family
One of the benefits of The Happiest Place in the Mall is the Most Magical Benefits on Earth.  That means as a cast member, I get to go to Disney World for free... well, free admission, and half-off on stays at the resorts.  One of our great joys is to be able to take people with us as well, and last September, we were able to take The Lovely Steph Leann's sister Angie, and Nephew Benny and Niece Maddie.

As many trips as I have taken to Disney World, I don't end up talking a whole lot about them on the blog, mostly because it might be the same ol, same ol after a while... we rode this, we rode that, we ate here, it was good, and so on.  Much like a billion pictures on Facebook all kind of run together.

This was a special trip, though, because in taking the Sis and kids, we were able to take with us a family that wouldn't normally be able to go, mostly because of the cost.  Let's face it, if it weren't for the benefits of the job, The Lovely Steph Leann and I would only go once a year, maybe once per 18 month period. 

You should check out the trip report, though, from September 27th, called "T-Rex Tired", if for no other reason than to read about an exasperated mother of two do battle with an incomptent waitress...  I wrote:  In case you were wondering, yes we did leave her a tip, which flew in the face of everything I believe in when it comes 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.

The 23rd Coolest Thing of 2009... Justin Fisher
This guy is just awesome.  First time I remember having a conversation with him, though we might have spoken in passing previous to this, was about the first time I had a real conversation with Hurricane Rhett. 

Several years back, at the wedding of Rad-a-Tad Roose and his wife Gina, The Lovely Steph Leann and I were sitting at a downstairs table at the reception, along with Hurrican Rhett and his wife, Amarylis By Morning (up from San Antone) and JustFish, with his wife Kelly.  The conversation went something like this.

Me: I like that dress (referring to Amarylis By Morning (up from San Antone))
Hurricane Rhett:  I like it too.  Though I like it better when its draped over my headboard.
JustFish (looking at his own wife): Agreed.

Through that exchange, I knew I had found some guys I could relate to. 

JustFish is one of the leaders of our Sunday School Life Connection class that I referred to earlier when discussing The Tucks, and not to slight the other guys that lead, but JustFish is pretty amazing when he's teaching.  He's a teacher of economics by profession (when I want to know some law stuff, I talk to the Clouds in My Coffee Ombudsman Brad Latta... when I want some economic stuff, I go to JustFish) so he's got the lecture skills down. 

He's got a brilliant spiritual mind and is one of those approachable guys you feel like you could sit with and chit chat about light stuff like, "So, pre-destination?  Was I ordained to ask that?" or "Revelation. We win.  But how?"

Anyway, 2009 was really the year I got to know this guy fully, and am pleased and proud to call him my friend. 

The 22nd Coolest Thing of 2009... "It" by Stephen King
I read this book when I was about 15 years old.  "It" was released in 1986, and was a behemoth of a book to tackle.  I vaguely remember it taking me a good week or two to finish it, but I do remember devouring it.  It was a good 1000+ pages, had a ton of characters, but it had something that I liked in books... kids that were close to my age, and I was able to relate.

"It" is the story of a group of kids in the 50s, dubbed "The Losers Club" for their outcast status, who confront a monster, and evil entity that has suddenly (re)awakened under the town of Derry, Maine.  The book also parallels the same kids as grown ups in the 80s, scattered across the globe, all being drawn back to Derry because of the promise they'd make--if it came back, they would too.  And It does.  And they do.  And it has one of the scariest interpretations of a clown, ever.  Pennywise.  Not a fan.  Well, "It" is more of a spirit being, but the clown is the form it takes... I'm sure that makes you feel better.

There's a good lesson to be learned here--never trust anyone who lives in a sewer, especially if its a clown. 

They made a mini-series in 1990, starring John Boy, Jack Tripper, Judge Harry Stone and Seth Green, among others, and if you ever watch it, just remember the first part is awesome, the second part not so much.  Tim Curry plays Pennywise, though, and he, pardon the pun, kills it. 

The Lovely Steph Leann had purchased a hardcover copy of the book for Christmas one year, a gift that I was very pleased with.  The problem was, this book is huge... and heavy.  So I went out and bought a paperback copy of it, one that I could bend up a little, and wouldn't mind if it was a little ragged after I was done.  And I dove right in... and realized how much I had forgotten in the almost 20 years it had been since I'd read "It". 

Because my time is so limited for just sitting and reading, it was hard to get through quickly--it took a month.  I would read the paperback at work, or on the road (I finished in in June, on the way to Disney World while sitting in the passenger seat of St'ray's SUV), but while at home, I would pick up the hardcover, find where I left off and get through a chapter or two before going to sleep. 

"It" is brilliant.  The book tells the story of the kids in the 50s and adults in the 80s side-by-side, one chapter happening then, another happening now.  You gain real empathy for the heroes in the story, while you really hate the bad guys, which go beyond just a creepy clown... and unlike the mini-series, the ending of the book is satisfying, if not making you feel like it ended where it should, without carrying on a little too far. 

There are a select number of books that are consider "masterpieces" by Stephen King--one would be "The Stand", almost a magnus opus.  Another would be "The Dark Tower", though thats a series of seven books that I've heard are both awesome and uneven.  "The Shining" and "'Salem's Lot" are also considered with high regard as early novels.  But there are many books I've flipped through that discuss Kings work, and almost all of them consider "It" to be his overall best work. 

Me?  I considered this to be my favorite of King's work... and still do, though admittedly, having read "'Salem's Lot" three times in three years, its getting close.

(oh, and after I finished writing this post, I was adding links, and I found out that "It" is coming to audiobook in May.  Who's excited?  MeMeMe!!!)

The 21st Coolest Thing of 2009... The Gators Win the Title
Go Gators!  Go Gators!  Go Gators!  Go Gators!  Go Gators!!

Coming up... my favorite blog of the year... my favorite podcast of the year... my favorite Starbucks manager of the year... my favorite book of the year... and more...