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...


  1. Spot-on with "The Hangover": much cooler than me. But I take offense with losing to a Kelly Clarkson song.

  2. oh brad... you know my life would suck wit... well, you get the idea.


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