Monday, May 17, 2010

The Top Five Coolest Things of 2009

Here we are!  Finally!

Okay, okay, I know its mid-May.  I know I'm just now finishing up a recap of a year that finished almost five full months ago.  I've been busy, sue me.

Seriously, I hate that its taken this long to finish this list--my true objective is to have the entire 100 list finished by the end of that following January, and only once have I actually accomplished it.  But, as LOST would say, "What happened, happened."

Let's recap this year's list first...

#100 thru 91... Pixar's wish... "Fireflies"... a real high school musical... "The Hammer"... Steak Tartare... "Gran Torino"... "Empire State of Mind"... Tracy Jones... "Blue Harvest"... Slapchop Rap
#90 thru 81... Dairy Queen Real Deals... Stuff you missed in history class... Toy Story double feature... Alissa & Joey... Smiley Face... Joe Wilson... Paepcke gets told... "Men of a Certain Age"... "Paul Blart: Mall Cop"... The Amazing Race
#80 thru 71... Kate Winslet gets an Oscar... Pickles!... Jon Thompson... Hank Azaria's Pharoah... The Muppets and Queen... "Hey"... "High School Musical"... "Hoedown Throwdown"... "30 for 30"... Shankapotomus
#70 thru 61... Pastor Calvin... "My Life in Ruins"... Chipotle... "Tropic Thunder"... "Breakthrough"... ESPN College Football... Christian Brothers Auto... "Native Tongue"... "I Love You Man"... Kris Allen's "Heartless"
#60 thru 51... Ellijay Thanksgiving... "The Proposal"... "Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince" Mindy DA & KT Baby... Swamp Lunch... Baha Burger... "State of Play"... "Fearless"... "Julie and Julia"... Lenning on Idol... The DFC X
#50 thru 41... "Right Round"... "Mother Lover"... "The Rise & Fall of the WCW"... Lunch With... "The Princess & the Frog"... JT Wins Survivor... "Party in the USA" (oh shut up)... "The Blind Side"... Walt Disney World July... New kicks
#40 thru 31... "Sweet Thing"... "Taken"... "John Adams"... "Fallin' for You"... Debating Brad Latta... That great picture... "Star Trek"... Pardon the Interruption... "Avatar"... Ruminations
#30 thru 21...  Tyler's wake up... "The Hangover"... "The Hurt Locker"... Rebecca Jourdan Samuelson... "My Life Would Suck Without U"... Dave and Amanda Tuck... Disney with Family... Justin Fisher... "It"... Go Gators...
#20 thru 11... Where We Eatin'?... "Sunshine Cleaning"... Adam Carolla... "Relator"... "The Book of Basketball"... "Rather Unimpressive Illegitimate Children"... MZ Gets a Starbucks... Inside the Magic... Disney With The Lovely Steph Leann... Bad Movies with Mikey
#10 thru 5...  "B.O.B."... "Up"... Class reunion... The Rays... Disney with the Rays...

Alrighty, now that we are all caught up, let's get on with the five coolest things of all of 2009...

The Fifth Coolest Thing of 2009... "You Belong With Me" by Taylor Swift
What can I say.... I dig this song.  Its off her latest CD, "Fearless", the 54th coolest thing of 2009, and its everything you want in a teenage country pop song... teen angst, puppy love, jealousy, a "cheer captain, I'm on the bleachers" rivalry...

But what does it for me?  The video.  My favorite video of the entire year matches the favorite song of the entire year... call me a wuss (Wookiee likes to), call me a softie, I'm a sucker for a well played love story, which is why "Notting Hill" is in my top 20 movies all time, and its why this video makes me happy...

My favorite part?  From memory... "Oh I remember you driving to my house in the middle of the night, I'm the one who makes you laugh when you know you're about to cry, I know your favorite songs and you tell me about your dreams, I think I know where you belong. I think I know it's with me..."

Thank you.  Here all week.

The Fourth Coolest Thing of 2009... "Up in the Air"
Sometimes you just know that you're going to enjoy a movie.  That's how it was with "Up in the Air"... I almost couldn't fathom not liking this movie... but the end of the year was approaching quickly, and since I knew this film would find its way on the 100 Coolest of 2009 list (wasn't sure how high... here we are), I had to see it before the year was out.

Smashcut to New Year's Eve, 10pm, The Lovely Steph Leann and I sitting in the Lee Branch movie theater with NBC's Andrea Lindenberg.  Finally wrote my review of the film, and our experience with Andrea, in a post titled "So, Vera Farmiga" on February 20th... said this:

I loved this film, every single minute of it, and though its rare for me to feel this way, I would have been happy with a few more minutes.

It tells the story of Ryan Bingham, played by also-nominated George Clooney, who's job is to travel all over the country and be the mediator when a company wants to lay people off. Natalie (Anna Kendrick) is a new recruit who's developed a system of eliminating the travel--firing via satellite. Bingham convinces their boss (a great Jason Bateman) that Natalie needs to learn how its really done, so she's sent with him across the country to teach her how to do it face-to-face.

Along the way, Ryan keeps running into Alex (Vermiga), who is another frequent flier, and they develop a relationship in hotel rooms and where ever they can find a place... but of course, there might be real feelings there after a while. Jason Reitman, director of "Juno", wrote and directed this flick.

[The movie] does have language, and one scene where you see a nude woman's back, but that's it... and yeah, I loved it. I am eager to see it again when it hopefully comes to the Ghetto Theater here in town. Not only did it have airplanes and airports, which I strangely am fascinated with, it had George Clooney, who like Brad Pitt, I contend if given the right material is a phenomenal actor, it had the cutie-patootie Anna Kendrick, who was the only thing that kept me alive during the movie "Twilight", it had great writing, it had likable, if not sympathetic characters, it featured appearances from the cool voiced Sam Elliott, the comedic Danny McBride, the always awesome JK Simmons, "The Hangover"'s Zach Galifianakis and the I-am-strangely-enthralled-with Melanie Lynskey, and... it had Vera Farmiga.

Just a note... I still have my own list of The Dave100, my choices for my favorite 100 movies of all time.  One of my rules has always been that a movie cannot make this list unless it is at least three years old--I think its silly to declare a favorite "anything" when it comes to movies or music because of something that is so fresh and new.  Having said that, a short list of movies that I think might be on the 2015 edition of The Dave100 include "Up", "Iron Man", "Sunshine Cleaning", "The Dark Knight" and yes, "Up in the Air".

The Third Coolest Thing of 2009... Toy Story Mania
On June 23rd, I did Part I of "Top Ten Disney Must-Dos", and a day later, I did Part II... and not to spoil it for you, but the top spot?  The top Disney Must-Do?  A little ride in Hollywood Studios called Toy Story Mania".  Here's what I wrote about it...

You will have more fun on this ride than possibly any other ride in the park. The Rockin' Roller Coaster is faster. The Tower of Terror will kick you in the stomach harder. Small World is more classic. Everest is bigger. But Toy Story Midway Mania appeals to anyone who's ever had fun throwing rings or tossing balls or trying to win at skee ball or trying to get those stupid little red tickets in an arcade... because "arcade" barely covers it.

You get in your little car, behind a goofy gun with a pull string. You put on the 3-D glasses, and then are whirled around to a screen where Jessie & Woody greet you, asking you to practice. You pull the string and... a little paintball appears on the screen, splattering a plate Woody is holding with red paint.

You are whisked away to five areas, breaking plates, popping balloons, tossing rings and more... your score is kept via your little digital readout, and the entire time, you are eager to beat the person next to you, and laughing all the way. Its awesome. The Lovely Steph Leann and I did it five times last February, and though we could only do it once, this is a ride that is on a short list of "we have to ride this every time we go. Every. Time." kind of attractions

The Second Coolest Thing of 2009... My New iPod
Here's what I wrote on the 30th of December in a post called "Its 3am, I Must Be Lonely"...

The Lovely Steph Leann did well this year.... she usually does, but this year especially. I got some great stuff, like some books, my "Mountain Soul II" CD by Patty Loveless that I was hoping for, a cute little Mickey Mouse tie, Super Mario for the Wii, and in my stocking, I pulled out some candy (Reese's Peanut Butter Cups are the best, aren't they?), some weird little "put them in water and they grow!" animals that The Lovely Steph Leann got a big kick out of and at the bottom... an iPod Touch.

I held it, I looked at her, looked back at it, then looked back at her smiling face. "You... you got me... got me... an iPod Touch?" I stuttered. Very little leaves me stammering, but this did the trick. She smiled, and told me that she won it at work in some sort of contest... she was quick to point out that, "Had I not won this, you wouldn't have gotten it. Just so you know."

I had kinda been wanting an iPhone, but my issue with that was the phone bill per month would be higher... not necessarily the actual phone plan, but the cost of all the bells and whistles that went with it. An iPod Touch is basically the same thing, just without that pesky phone part. I can connect to the interweb, download applications, load contact info and so on... in fact, I'm not even sure what I'm capable of with it. Tomorrow, I'm going to try to launch a cupcake business and tap into the space shuttle interface.

Its been a learning curve, using both iPods on the same iTunes... yeah, yeah, I know, poor me, pity me and so on. I'm just telling you how it is. The Touch is great, though... the screen is really wide, so I've enjoyed watching music videos and TV shows on it... on a weekend trip to Tullahoma, TN, last weekend, I managed to take in Family Guy's "Blue Harvest" and the first episode of "Mad Men", a show I have a feeling I'm about to plunge headfirst into.

(I plunged headfirst into "Blue Harvest", and it ended up being the 92nd coolest thing of 2009... and I've dug into half of the first season of "Mad Men", and its awesome)

The Coolest Thing of 2009... Disney World with the Guys
So, at some point in late July, I had just gotten back from a quick three day venture to The Happiest Place on Earth with Rev'rn Ty, Amy Mc and Tommy Mc. I was sitting with Tyler, The Lovely Steph Leann's younger brother and by law, my brother-in-law, and we were discussing said trip to Orlando, and he mentioned something about Fall Break at The University of Alabama.

Trey, enjoying an apple the first morning.  We had arrived about three hours prior to this, we were all dead tired, and when Trey stands up here, he trips backwards over his chair.

I, out of the blue, half joking, kinda serious, said, "You want to go to Disney on Fall Break?" He stared at me, and said, "Are you serious?" I replied, "Sure. I mean, I'll have to ask The Lovely Steph Leann what she thinks about it, but yeah, why not. Bring the roomdudes."

Tyler texted his roommates (Trey's response?  "Balls yes"), and within a few days, it all came together. On Wednesday, we would leave out around 8 or 830pm, drive all night, arrive at All Star Movies (where five of us would stay in a four person room) and hit the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom for three full days, and some on Sunday before heading back.

Tyler and Jonathan trying on new hats in Tomorrowland

I had two conditions... 1) I didn't drive a vehicle that is parked at The Cabana. This is not to say I wouldn't drive at all, but Toni Rocki Honda wasn't built for five--its barely built for three--and I knew darn tootin' well that The Lovely Steph Leann was not about to let me take her car to Orlando. 2) I got a bed. I figured I'd sleep next to one of the guys, and I did, but I wasn't doing the floor. I'm too old to do such things. Other than that, let the magic reign.  (from October 15th, 2009)

And the magic did reign.  This was just about the perfect trip.  Five guys who get along well, one of them (me), knowing exactly how to attack Walt Disney World for maximum fun, how to work the crowds and when to (and when not to) ride rides, see shows and eat at certain places.  It was as if all the other trips I had been on up until this time was God preparing me for this very trip... and I was ready.

Jon and Jonathan on the teacups in Fantasyland.  Trey sat out because he just can't handle the spin.

In early October, it was myself, Tyler Campbell, who had been a couple of times in years past, Trey Cartledge, who had also been some years ago, Jonathan Lenning (who was the focus of the 52nd coolest thing of 2009), who had also been way back, and Jon Thompson (the 78th coolest thing of 2009), who had never, ever been.

We ate a Biergarten in Germany, we ate at The T-Rex cafe, one guy was the focal point of what I like to call The Smoky Bus Affair, we saw Fantasmic, we saw Finding Nemo: The Musical, we enjoyed funnel cake while watching Wishes, we rode everything from Soarin' to Peter Pan's Flight, we napped on the train, we enjoyed Dole Whip in Adventureland, we saw one of the guys on the Idol Experience stage, the four guys got to participate in the Backlot Movie Tour, we searched for Hidden Mickeys, we met Princesses,

Jonathan, myself, Trey and Jon, buckling up for a flight across California, via Soarin'

The Lovely Steph Leann had a hard time with this trip being number one.  She wondered why our anniversary trip didn't make the top spot, and my main reason?  She got sick.  Talked about that when it our trip was declared the 12th Coolest Thing of 2009 earlier.  And it almost ended up number two, as getting that iPod Touch was a strong contender for the top spot... and had this list been completed in January, it might have been a Disney with the Guys at #2, iPod Touch #1 finish, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that this was just about the perfect trip.  The weather was perfect, the cost was minimal, the food was awesome, the company was fantastic--seriously, I cannot say enough about how amazing, Spirit filled and "good clean fun" natured these guys are--and The Most Magical Place on the Earth was ours for the four days we were there.

Thanks guys for making this trip the absolute coolest thing of 2009.

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