Friday, December 30, 2011

The Ten Coolest Things of 2010

And finally... after 11 months and 29 days, here are the ten coolest things of 2010...

The 10th Coolest Thing of 2010:  "Toy Story 3"
Its a cartoon, right?  You keep telling yourself that, and remember that when you are wiping your eyes if not for the scene in the trash conveyor belt, then for the ending scene with Andy and Woody and little Bonnie.  "Toy Story 3" is one of the best overall films to come out in a long, long time, and probably one of the best 3rd parts to a trilogy ever.  And Lotso Huggin' Bear makes a great villain.

The 9th Coolest Thing of 2010:  "Hey Soul Sister" by Train
This song was everywhere... in commercials... in movies... on the radio... on television shows... and in my car too, via the iPod (44 plays in 2010).  And talk about a singable song!  Hey ay... hey ay ay ya ay... hey ay hey ya ay... With any luck, thats in your head right now.  My favorite song of the year.

The 8th Coolest Thing of 2010:  The GMAC Bowl
With his kids, and now with mine own child, time spent with my best buddy of 18 years is scarce.  We do try to make it happen with a dinner here and a lunch there and a hang-out time over a televised football game, but with life in general, it doesn't happen often.

So in December of 2009, when Wook Fu called me up and said, "Hey you silly Mexican, my Wookette got me a pair of GMAC Bowl tickets in January, with Troy playing Central Michigan (the Chippewas), so you up for it?  I want to take you, holmes."  Of course, I was like, "Si!  Si!"

I love me some college football, especially live and in person, and it was my 2nd bowl game.  My first was the Bowl some years back, but the GMAC was my first for overtime, and my first ever double overtime game.  Unfortunately, the Chips won 44-41 on a field goal at the far end of the field, which Wookiee and I couldn't see, but still.

Anyway, it was a great night, Wook Fu set us up at the glorious suites of the La Quinta Inn, and after the game, we drowned our sorrows in a big plate of Denny's.  And the next day, we spent most of the morning touring the USS Alabama battleship and just enjoying ourselves.  I took a ton of pics, but unfortunately, I can't find a single one of them.  I know, I know, bad friend.

Love my Best Mate Wookiee.

The 7th Coolest Thing of 2010:  Disney in December
Who doesn't love Walt Disney World at Christmastime?  We were honored to even be invited to stay with the Zarzaur family at the DVC rooms in Animal Kingdom Lodge, which were glorious.  We got to see the Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, we introduced the Z Family to Via Napoli, which is now one of their family favorites, see lots of characters, ride lots of rides and essentially, have an incredible time.

The 6th Coolest Thing of 2010:  "Inception"
Holy smokes, what a movie. I think there are two camps when it comes to "Inception"--those that love love love it (me) and those who hate hate hate it (not me)... there are very few people in the middle.

I don't even know how to explain this movie in a way that, if you haven't seen it, you will understand what an incredible ride the film takes you on.  Its all about dreams and stealing dreams and implanting ideas in your subconscious and there are incredible visuals and amazing effects and so on and so on... and for the first time perhaps ever for me, I saw Leo DiCaprio not as Jack Dawson on the Titanic, but as Dom, the leader of the literal Dream Team.  The excellent ensemble includes Tom Hardy, Ken Watanabe, Cillian Murphy, Ellen Page as Ariadne (who names their kid Ariadne?  Olive would be better than that!) and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Arthur, one of the coolest supporting characters in recent memory.  And the fight in the spinning hallway is one of my favorite scenes in any movie in all of 2010.

Someone commented on this YouTube clip that "don't ask me what's going on, I was too confused..."

Once it passes the minimum 2 year time period from release, which will be some time this summer, "Inception"  will find itself clearly planted in The Dave100, somewhere very, very high, like Top 30.  And that's big.

The 5th Coolest Thing of 2010:  My Big Screen
Not much I can say about this beyond... my big screen tv rules.  Though sometimes the remote signal doesn't reach as far as I'd like it to.  First world problem.

The 4th Coolest Thing of 2010:  The Z Family
The Z's... Chris and Melanie in the back, Special K, The Zach Attack
and Jay-Z in the front
I speak of course of the Zarzaur Family.  The dad, Chris, who owns Chris Z's, drives a Daddy Caddy and grills like a motha.  Good guy, very loyal, very generous and has an uncommon (these days, anyway) high value of family.  The mom, Melanie, who I've mentioned alot here, and I'll get to in a minute.  There's Jay-Z, the oldest, probably the most like me (which is good.  and bad.  and good.  and bad.  let's move on) in his jokes, his mannerisms and what he spends his time enjoying.  He's like the "independent, do his own thing" kid.  When we all get to Disney World, he's just as happy touring the park from ride to ride on his own, could care less if anyone is with him.

Then there's Special K, the only girl, the middle child.  You can tell that when she grows up, she'll be very pretty, but right now, she's in that "not an grown up, but not really a kid stage".  She's very good at volleyball, and she's got this dry sense of humor that will sneak up on you.  Finally, there's The Zach Attack.  Whereas Jay-Z is a free bird and Special K is definitely a daddy's girl, The Zach Attack is by far and away his mama's child.  He's funny, he's random, he's pretty good at karate and he is a genius at Words with Friends.

Put them all together, and you have five close knit wonderful individuals that have been nothing short of amazingly giving and generous to my own family.  Whether being excellent company at Pablos or great traveling partners at our several Disney trips together.  You may have noticed that this family pops up alot over the 100 Coolest, and with good reason... the Z clan has become embedded in our lives, and now is beginning to be as such with Campbell Isaiah.  The Lovely Steph Leann and Chris are like kindred spirits, easy going, laid back, and at Disney, partners in slow walking crime, while Melanie and I... well, that's...

The 3rd Coolest Thing of 2010:  Melanie
...she's my friend.  If My Best Mate Wookiee is my best dude, then Melanie is my best chick.  I've talked about Melanie off and on randomly and for various reasons, but mostly because we, as people, tend to discuss what's important to us in our lives at that moment.  (Yes, yes, I know, I don't talk about my faith enough, and thats important, but that's an entirely different issue.)

Back to the point... here's what I wrote in a randomness blog in July:

At a Christmas gathering (I think...)
...I see Melanie an awful lot, most of that at work, but many times at family outings and such.  (seriously, we aren't stupid--its not like me and Melanie slumber parties at our respective homes or anything... its called boundaries, so stop your worrying) 

That being said, let me brag on Melanie for a second...  Well, she's awesome.  She's gorgeous and she's funny and she's a great mom and she's cool and she's hot and she's all those things... plus, she's one of my very best friends.  So yes, I do bring her up frequently on the blog site here, mostly because she's involved in half of my stories I have to tell.  

We do have our moments, mostly when in the midst of battle behind the counter in a busy coffee war, but overall, she is one of the most loyal and dependable people I know.  I know for a fact that I can count on her for anything.  Ask The Lovely Steph Leann--takes a lot to put up with me daily (heck, ask Wookiee, he'll tell you--he lived with me for the equivalent of about six years), but she does it in fine fashion.  What can I say?  I love me some Melanie.

Oh, and it doesn't hurt that she's hot.

The 2nd Coolest Thing of 2010:  My iPhone
Thaaaat's right... I freakin' love my phone.  No joke.  I love being able to check my email, or Facebook, or a score, or look up something on Wikipedia anytime I darn well please.  Its addicting, and its probably not good for me, but I love it.

Here's what I wrote in August of 2010 in a post entitled "Pawn Stars, iPhones, Roller Derbies and Cryptosporidium (and other random things)":

Finally got me an iPhone.  Not that I needed one... truly, who actually needs an iPhone?  I mean, if you think about it, do we really need portable phones?  I got by for 28 years without one, and sure, its nice to be able to call someone and say, "Hey, I'm on the way" or send a text really quickly to say, "Remind me again what time the movie is" or "Can you pick up some milk?" but really, do we need one?

The answer?  We do now.  Its become an integral part of life.  We'd survive without it, but why do we have to?  That's like saying, "Well, yeah, we'd get by if every Baha Burger or Chipotle closed its doors forever" but why would we want to do that?

Racing home, I found it sitting on the end table, as The Lovely Steph Leann was home for lunch while the FedEx guy stopped by.  I tore it open like a kid tearing into a Christmas gift, pulled out the box, opened it with my teeth and picked up my black 3GS iPhone... and plugged it in.

Went to church, as we came back, turned it on, no service.  Figured we'd go by the AT&T store, get it solved.  Well, the store closed at 7pm.  And its 754pm.  Called AT&T, and was told that I had to go back to the store upon which I purchased the phone.  So, at 9am, I have to go.  Until then, no service.  No phone.

I did end up getting service, the very next day... and never looked back.  Rock on.

And finally...

The Coolest Thing of 2010 is.... RED ROBIN

From November 21st, 2010, in "Just Don't Tell Dave Ramsey"...

I ask to test drive the KIA Soul.  He goes and gets the keys, and we pull out of the lot, a car with 31 miles on it.  Its... its just cool.  Its just fun.  Its bright red, a color that I usually associate with 21 year old guys in Mustangs or convertibles to pick up chicks, and higher insurance rates, so I ask about other colors, and am assured that if I want this car, they'll get me whatever color I want.  Of course they will, its a car dealership.

I've already done some research on the KIA Soul, and have liked what I'd seen... its quite safe, it holds appreciation well, its sporty, its not too expensive, its roomier than most cars of its kind and so on.  And in driving it... its fun.  I like this car.  And this is not good, because this thing is brand new!   This thing is costly!  There's no way we're going to be driving away with a KIA Soul.  The Lovely Steph Leann won't allow such a mockery of Dave Ramsey Justice!  Right?  Right?

I noticed something as we walked around a little afterwards... the KIA Rio is about $1200 more than the KIA Soul.  So... if we wanted to get the Rio, which The Lovely Steph Leann liked, then... wouldn't the Soul make more sense?  Its bigger... and cheaper?

Smashcut to a half hour later... we are sitting in Gene's little cubicle and he's in front of us, hands clasped, elbows on table, telling us that he wants us to drive off the lot in a new car.  Of course he does.  This is a car dealership.

The Lovely Steph Leann and I listen to his pitch, and both simply tell him, "No".  It was too much.  Too much down, too much in car payments, car payments that we were trying to avoid all together.  He had written down the details on a piece of paper, and they only would pay $500 for Toni Rocki Honda, which was a travesty in my own mind.  Sure, she needs a $1000 repair in air conditioning, but I am pretty sure I could get a grand for her on Craigslist or even the paper, but $500?

And I watch the car salesmen tricks unfold... "Okay, what if I do this?  What if [crossing out the number 500 and writing in pen] we give you a $1000 [writing the number 1-0-0-0] for your Honda?"  We say "No".  "Okay, well what if I say you don't have to put this much down [crosses out the amount down] and you only put this much down [writes down another number] and we say "No".

He says, "Okay, let me go run some more numbers", and runs off to do a credit check, leaving The Lovely Steph Leann and I alone.  We start chatting quietly about what we are going to do, and suddenly, getting a new car, the bright red KIA Soul, is a distinct possibility.  A real possibility.

The Lovely Steph Leann is the budgeter in our family, the "Nerd", is Ramsey speak.  I am the "Free Spirit", the one who spends a little more than he should, so I'm leaning on her, my wife, heavily to help me through this (isn't that the way it should be, really?).  She says one single "No way, we can't do this", then I'm not going to fight her for it.  I tell her straight up that there is a certain threshold of savings I want to keep in there, and no matter what, we don't go below that.  She tells me what the reality is of our budget.  

Gene comes back with another set of details and agreements.  I smile and simply say, "Okay, man, listen... this is a great deal.  We have talked about it, and we agree this is a great deal, but we just don't think we can do it.  We weren't looking for car payments, we don't want to kill our savings and really, if we have to say yes or no at this very moment, we'd have to say 'no'."  Gene tells us, "I understand.  But let me just tell ya, we haven't sold a car today.  I'm going to do what it takes to get you into this car."  He gets up and runs out.

Gene comes back in, with the same piece of paper, folded over, with words written in Sharpie at the top, saying "XMAS COMES EARLY HO HO HO", with some details on the bottom. And the details are... (read how it unfolds by clicking here)

So there ya go.  The 100 Coolest Things of 2010, about a year late.  What say we do The 100 Coolest Things of 2011 list a little quicker this time, eh?  

Oh yeah... honorable mention...

Brad Latta

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