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)...
"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 blog) and 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"
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...
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?!"
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...