Thursday, June 23, 2011

The 100 Coolest Things of 2010... #50 to 41

And we continue with the longest running list, not counting The Dave100, on this blog site... that being the 100 Coolest Things of 2010.  I won't bother with the recap just yet, you can find it to the right under archives...

50... Harry Finds a Hallow
After what I considered to be a disaster, though one I can still bear to watch, of the last movie (the post I wrote, by the way, "A Letter to Steve Kloves" is one of the most read posts on this here bloggy site), my expectations for "Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows Part I" were lower... but still slightly high, nonetheless.

Here's what I wrote on November 30th, 2010:

First and foremost, it holds a huge, huge advantage over any of the previous six films, and that is simply that this movie covers only half the book. The reason "Goblet of Fire" and "Order of the Phoenix" cut out almost half of their respective books is simply a time factor... you would have a six hour movie to cover everything ("Goblet of Fire" skipped the S.P.E.W. subplot, and was one of the few things I enjoyed about the movie versions over the books).

Essentially, the film version, at least Part I, of "The Deathly Hallows", is a little like a table of contents. You see a live action snippet of each scene that is fully fleshed out in the book itself, something is allowable because the 140 minutes of the movie covers only about 300 pages, not 500 pages.

You can read the full post here, but it continues to talk about the movie, first spoiler free, and then second, spoiler filled (though there are several alerts to tell you to stop reading if you haven't seen it).  I finished the post by saying, "Anyway, I really enjoyed the film, and have intentions on seeing it again. I said before my favorite movie character is Luna, but my favorite book character is Ginny Weasley... but I'm not sure I dig Bonnie Wright. I also think Fenrir Greybeck is fantastic in the book, but in the movie he's so marginalized and relegated to a second tier character.  Go see the movie, irregardless of whether you've read the book."

49... Via Napoli
Don't let the angle fool you.  This pizza is a monster, and this is taken
after four adults had just about had their fill...
What can I tell you about Epcot's newest restaurant?  Its in Italy, its authentic Italian, and its delicious.  I've eaten there twice, and its got some of the best pizza I've ever had, not to mention some of the best desserts I've eaten in a while.

Their food is a little pricey, but let's face it, its Disney, and all prices are a little higher than normal.  They ph-balance the water to match that of water found in Italy, as well as authenticate other ingredients to give you the freshest, purest form of Italian food... and their large pizza, $40 as it may be, will feed at least six people, if not more.  Its pretty awesome. 

48... Christians Like Stuff
So, Jon Acuff writes this blog, aptly titled Stuff Christians Like about being a Christian, and he asks tough questions like, what to do with the Christian version of "Freebird", or the problem with unrated movies on DVD... he's the author of several books, including one named after his website, and its a great read pretty much every day. 

47... Little Sister Ashley Gets a Ring
What can I say... my own adopted little sister (I got the looks in the family) got a ring on her finger from her hometown sweetheart, Brandon.  Apparently, he'd pined for her for years and years and years, and she gave him the cold shoulder... but one day, she woke up and said, "Whaaaa...?  I... like this guy!  No!  I love this guy!"

At top, its Brandon and Lil
Sister Ashley.  The bottom pic
features The Honorable Rev'rn
Ty "Sharpton" Coffey and Lori
Anne, bride to be.
She stopped by my store and flashed the ring, then I immediately commanded her to go to The Cabana and show The Lovely Steph Leann, which she did. 

And this past May, we were able to attend the wedding, which I'm sure you'll read about in The 100 Coolest Things of 2011... at this rate, some time around September 2013. 

Which leads me to...

46... Ty Gives a Ring
Here's another engagement that rocks, and gets the slight edge over Little Sister Ashley's big moment if only because I was involved in the proceedings...  The Honorable Rev'rn Ty Sharpton called me up and asked if I would participate in his little engagement get-together, which involved me taking the ring from him and setting it up in Samford's chapel. 

It was a little intimidating, holding a ring that cost more than Toni Rocki Honda, my little car at the time.  He asked me to not open it, not to look at it, he wanted Lori Anne to be the next one to see it, and I obliged.  I was to place it on the podium of the chapel at a certain time, then hide when Rev'rn Ty and his bride-to-be, Lori Anne, came in. 

While I was waiting for the word from Ty, people came in and out of the chapel--Samford had a football game going on in the stadium across the street at the same time--and I sat off to the side in a pew, probably looking like an old creeper.  I held the ring box tightly until I got the text that said, "In chapel yard".  I was nervous about letting the ring leave my sight, but I put it on the podium then slipped out a side door.

I walked around the student break area until I finally got a text that said "ITS DONE"... upon my return, there was a big smile from Revr'n Ty, and a bigger smile from little Lori Anne, and the ring almost blinded me.   And I was also able to not just attend, but be a part of their wedding, which you'll probably see in The 100 Coolest Things of 2011 as well.

45... B.o.B. Professes His Love
By the summer of 2010, there weren't a ton of songs that had really piqued my interest, especially in hip-hop areas... cause really, they all kind of sound alike.  So, here comes "Nothin On You" by B.o.B. featuring Bruno Mars, with this profession of love for his boo, telling her that there are chicks all over the place, and that sure, they might be cute or he might say hello... but ain't none them ho's got nothin on you.  Nothing.

"Beautiful girls, all over the world, I could be chasin', but my time would be wasting, they got nothin on you baby (nuh nuh nuh nothin on you... nuh nuh nuh nothing on you)... they might say hi, I might say hey, but you shouldn't worry about what they say cause they got nothing on you, baby (nuh nuh nuh nothing on you... nuh nuh nuh nothing on you)... nothing on you baby..."

Keep in mind, this was the summer that both B.o.B. and Bruno Mars emerged, so I don't feel bad in telling you that for the longest time, I couldn't tell who was rapping and who was singing.  Perhaps I'm still not sure.

44... The Books Get Read
My love of audiobooks is well documented and deep, with probably 100 or more in my collection... I keep most of them, about 110 gbs worth, on an external portable hard drive, but on my iPod that I have with me about 97% of the waking hours of my day, I have at least 30 or 40 that I take with me, just in case I might want to jump into a random book, be it Kristen Chenoweth's biography (or Andre Agassi's) or maybe some Glenn Beck, or even a chick lit novel by Emily Giffen...

And then, I finally joined Audible dot com.  The way it works is, you pay one price per month and you are given "Credits".  Then, you can download audiobooks for a credit, or for larger audiobooks (like the Walt Disney biography I initially got, which was 35 hours--it was two credits, but I got it free for joining).  Every month, for $14.95, I get another credit...

Essentially, its buying an audiobook for $15 per month, but when you consider they are running anywhere from $25 to $50 per book, its a pretty good deal.  Also, for members, you get special discounts on books, sometimes half off, sometimes huge percentages off, sometimes free... I just downloaded "Go the Heck to Sleep" children's book (warning:  NOT Emmy Turnbow safe), narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, for no charge whatsoever...

And the selection is pretty great too.  I managed to get The Pixar Touch for less than $7, I got Patton Oswalt's comedic book for about $6 and downloaded "ESPN: Those Guys Have All the Fun" for May's selection for one single credit... regular price, $26. 

Randomly, just for thought, here's my current wish list, or, books I'll end up downloading or purchasing if they go cheap--in the order I'm going to get them:  "The Men Who Would Be King: An Almost Epic Tale of Moguls, Movies, and a Company Called Dreamworks" by Nicole LaPorte... "Decision Points" by Dubya... "Bossypants" by Tina Fey... "Without You: A Memoir of Love, Loss and the Musical Rent" by Anthony Rapp... "Your Only As Good As Your Next One: 100 Great Films, 100 Good Films and 100 Films For Which I Should Be Shot" by Michael Medavoy

And if you think this was just a reason to go all Ron Burgundy and say, "Hey everyone!  Come look at the cool stuff I've been reading!"... well, you may be right.  Though if anyone has thoughts on any of these books, then I'd love to hear them--besides the predictable recoil by Brad Latta, Atty at Law, at the mention of Glenn Beck or Dubya. 

43... A Dragon Gets Tamed
Here's what I wrote about "How To Train Your Dragon" on June 6th, 2010...

"How to Train Your Dragon" follows the story of Hiccup, who lives in a Viking village where the life of a Viking is to hung and kill dragons of every size--and they are aplenty in this movie. Hiccup is a loser that is made fun of by most of the clan, mostly because his heart is not into hunting anything, much less dragons, but to please his father--who happens to be village chief, no less--he does what he can.

Hiccup ends up taking down a rare Night Fury dragon, but upon finding it in the woods, cannot bring himself to finish him off... and there, the adventure takes flight, pun intended.

I loved it. I loved every single second of this movie. I loved the main character, Hiccup, I loved his love interest, a spry pixie named Astrid, I loved the dragons, including the main one nicknamed Toothless, I loved the setting, I loved the creativity, I loved the story... I thought this movie was brilliant. This was the first time I'd ever seen a non-Pixar animated movie and thought, "This should have been a Pixar film."

The Lovely Steph Leann loved it too. As the credits began to roll, she piped up and said, "Wow. DreamWorks finally got it right." (full review is found here)

By the way, I watched this movie a few days ago on cable... it is just as good, great even, as the first time I watched it.  And that is a true test of a good movie.

42... A Town Gets Covered
Wow this is a big book.  Perhaps Stephen King likes to release a 1000 page behemoth every year, or maybe I just tend to read one--in 2009, it was "It"... and in 2010, it was "Under the Dome".

In the fall of some year after 2012, Dale Barbara, known as "Barbie", is trying to leave the small town of Chester's Mill.  Before he can get very far, however, something odd happens.  An invisible, indestructible barrier--a dome, per se--is dropped over the town, keeping everyone who's out of town out of the town, and everyone who is in the town, in the town.

Big Jim Rennie, second selectman, takes over the town, appointing his corrupt friends and sick, twisted son Junior as town officials, and does his best to try and contain the opposition, which includes Barbie and newspaper editor Julia Shumway.   Slowly but surely, the town's government falls apart as Big Jim's rule becomes more and more stern, and as his ego--and paranoia of losing control--spiral out of control.

Efforts to destroy the Dome fail one after the other, and everything from civility to law to just common sense begins to fall apart, piece by piece, little by little... its not a slippery slope so much as a straight up and down cliff. 

While the Dome is the central key to the novel, it is what happens to the town that becomes the book's plot.  The breakdown in civilization, the loss of respect and democracy... that's the book's central storyline.  When Big Jim realizes that not everyone sees it his way, its then that he begins doing whatever, and I mean whatever, is necessary to ensure his own rule is followed. 

King stated in an interview that he thought of Dubya when he was writing the character of Big Jim, but honestly, all I could think of was He Who Must Not Be Re-Elected... who gives a rip how it affects anyone, this is what I think is best, so this is the way we are doing it. 

Anyway, its a huge book, but I'd rank it up there as one of King's modern classics, and one I'll probably read again in the next year or two (it stays on my iPod just in case...)

41... Z's Serves the Burgers
Sometimes the best food you can find is in a nondescript hole in the wall place you've passed by a thousand times but never noticed its existence... and that would be Chris Z's to a tee

Nestled on a corner near St. Vincent's hospital, sharing the same block, if not the same wall, with the empty building that used to be Golden Rule BBQ (take a left off of Red Mt Expressway/Hwy 31 as you are facing St. Vincents), it doesn't have very much parking, and in fact, the best way to get to it is to drive past it, turn left at the light and come around the entire structure.

Walking in, you can see immediately that its family owned and operated... covering the walls in almost every space are frames, frames with single pictures of family, frames with duo photos of more family, large frames with collages of a dozen or more pictures of family and friends.  Being my close friend Melanie's husband, you'll see pictures of Melanie and Chris together.  You'll see the Z kids, Jay Z, Special K and The Zach Attack.  You'll see lots of people that sort of look like their family, and you'll see friends that you might recognize... or not.  

The cafe itself is set with not more than a dozen tables, mostly because there is no room.  Come at lunch time, you'll be hard pressed to find an open chair, but if you are an experienced Chris Z eater, you'll know this and will plan for it--either come earlier or later, or get it to go, or just stand and eat like many patrons do.

The menu is typed out in a familiar Comic Sans font, with some scribble with a marker and some tape over certain things, those manual corrections that the owner doesn't have time to make in the form of a new menu... no, there is too much food to make.  And the food is aplenty.

Hot dogs cooked to perfection, topped with everything or nothing at all, your request.  And the cheeseburgers are fantastic... my personal favorite is a Chris Z burger with mayo, mustard and ketchup, and cheese splashed all over the fries.  The Chris Z burger was actually recently named by a local magazine to the be the best burger in town, and its a well deserved distinction.

And then there is dessert... a family owned recipe for cheesecake pie.  That piece of pie kinda deserves its own ranking among the coolest things of the year, almost like a #40 1/2 spot... its amazing.  I've had cheesecake in six different states, ranging everywhere from the Carnegie Deli in Manhattan to the Baltimore Harbor... and its the best cheesecake I've ever had.

Anyway, if you are in the St. Vincents area, and you find yourself hungry--or even if you just want to find something new, check 'em out.  They also serve breakfast, which is excellent too... and that's not to mention their Middle Eastern menu they have the first Friday of every month.  Its good, good stuff.  (you can click here for more info)

Coming up... Hide yo' kids!  Hide yo' wife!  Its more of the best of 2010, now that 2011 is half over!  Yeah!  More Disney!  A DFC Champion!  And startin' fires...
The Summer of Blogging, Day Twenty Two

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