Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The 100 to 91st Coolest Things of 2011

Feels like we were just here, doesn't it?  I mean, with the coolest things of the year, right?  About a week or two ago, we learned how Melanie rules, my car is awesome, iLove my iPhone and "Inception" makes my head spin in a good way...but THAT was 2010.

We just passed 2011.  And in that year, cool things happen.  Which means its time to start our new list!  Now, perhaps we can finish it before December 29th of 2012, eh?

Quickly, though, for those of you who have never read this list before, its quite simply what I consider to be the coolest things of the past 12 months.  For the most part, stuff that has made this list before won't make the list again, because otherwise, I'd have a rolling list year after year that includes the same things like "Star Wars" and "Shawshank" and "Toy Story Mania" and My Darling Wife and so on;  rather, this is kind of "new things"--movies and shows I've never seen before this year, books I'd not read, experiences I'd not experienced, that sort of thing... and some of these things may have predated 2011, like a book that came out years ago, but it qualifies here if in fact I'd read it in 2011.

Enough chatter.  Here are The 100 Coolest Things of 2011, starting at the top:

#100... Auburn Wins the National Title
Perhaps that heading should actually say "Cam Newton" wins the national title.  There are two kinds of teams that win championships in college football... those with great teams, like the Alabama team that won it in 2009 (and subsequently, a few days ago for the 2011 season) and those with mediocre teams and one great, great player.  Auburn was the latter.  Cam Newton was electrifying... watching him run, watching him play was genius, probably a more trumped up version of watching a young Steve McNair at Alcorn State do magic in the air.   They were known as the Cardiac Cats, because they had this habit of falling behind early, many times to lesser opponents, then roaring back... and when they fell behind to a perhaps superior opponent, the Crimson Tide, they managed to get a score in at halftime--my bro-in-law Tyler was high fiving his dad, Big Daddy Ron, excited, celebrating and saying, "Yeah!  We are dominating!", while Ron simply smirked at the 20 point lead for the Tide saying, "This isn't enough.  I'm worried."  As well he should have been.

Anyway, it was kinda cool to see a program who hadn't won a title since '57 take it home, especially knowing its not likely to happen again.  See, while Alabama... and yes, The Go Gator Nation... build great teams, teams ready to sustain a few years of hug success separated by a year or two of so-so 9 win seasons, Auburn is awaiting its next great player.  Someday, perhaps.

Found on Twitter:  Its great that Alabama sandwiched its titles around Auburn's title.  Just like a good big brother should do.

#99... Got a "Pocket Full of Kryptonite", Ah...
The band is the Spin Doctors, the album is "Pocket Full of Kryponite", and the title is from a line in my favorite Spin Doctors tune, "Jimmy Olsen's Blues", one of my top 100 favorite songs of all time.  I owned this CD, though I don't exactly remember where I got it--what I do know is, it was completely scratched up, so much so that I'd never heard the entire CD because from Track 4 (a song called "Forty or Fifty") on, it would skip.

So during The Great CD Purge in the Summer of 2011, the scratched CD was one that hit the bricks.  I didn't mourn the loss of the album, yet I wish I had still owned it.  So, imagine my joy one day in late 2011 when I was touring 2nd and Charles, a used book/music/movie/electronic/everything/anything store, and I came across a copy, a like-new copy of "Pocket Full of Krytonite".  For like, $2.95.  Done and done.

Now that I own it, though, I must make an ironic confession... its really not that good of an album.  The two major singles, "Two Princes" (my senior cruise theme song) and "Little Miss Can't Be Wrong", plus the aforementioned "Jimmy Olsen's Blues", are the best part of the album by far.  Its not bad... but its not a great album.  But I do own it, and its the symbolism that counts, right?  Right.

#98... "Friends With Benefits"
Out of the three "friends who decided to hook up only as friends but somehow decided they liked each other" movies that came out within about 9 months of each other, this was by far and away my favorite.

Here's what I wrote on July 31st:

In my own (un)humble opinion, the far superior of the three films.  The script is funny and light, and more real than the rest (the hilarity of the first hook up is a great example), the jokes are funny, and there is great on-screen chemistry between Mila and JT.  You end up liking both characters a lot, and by the time you find out Dylan's story--father with the beginning stages of Alzheimers--it doesn't feel like a ploy to get you to like him because you already do.  Jenna Elfman shows up as Dylan's sister and plays the part great (and cameos from Emma Stone, Andy Sandburg, Rashida Jones and Jason Segel are great too) and the whole romance is entirely believable this time around.  I liked this film alot, and will probably be the only one of the three to appear on The 100 Coolest Things of 2011...

See... I knew.

Ladies and gentlemen, the President of The Colin Firth Club, The Lovely
Steph Leann's Hollywood Boyfriend himself, Colin Firth.
#97... Colin Firth Wins the Oscar
Not much to say here, except that its always great when an actor who you know deserves to win an Oscar once in his career actually wins one, and its even greater when that Oscar is not considered by the masses to be a "lifetime" award, but a win for an actual singular performance... hence, Colin Firth wins Best Actor for his portrayal of the king in "The King's Speech", a great, great film.

Much like my excitement when my dear Kate Winslet won her award a few years back, The Lovely Steph Leann was beside herself when her man, Colin First, the president and namesake of The Colin Firth Club, took home the ultimate acting prize.  Now, if only Amy Adams would win one for me, and Hugh Jackman for The Lovely Steph Leann.

#96... "My Strange Addiction"
Holy crap, have you seen this show?  What a weird show.

Its one of those shows that the title gives you all you need to know... it documents real people who have real, strange addictions... like the chick who carries the urn with her late husbands ashes in it, everywhere she goes.  Oh, and she likes to eat the ashes by licking her finger, sticking it in the urn, and licking them again.

Eating is a big deal... there's the chick who drinks bleach... and the chick who eats foam cushions... and the chick who is addicted to eating toilet paper.... and the chick who not only pulls her hair out, but eats the follicles... and the chick who eats dryer sheets.  Lest you think that just the chicks have issues, which they do, there is the guy who likes to eat glass.

And of course, there is the dude who lives his private life as a baby, complete with diaper and giant crib... and the girl who wears a bunny suit everywhere she goes.... the chick who sleeps with her hair dryer... the list goes on.

What a weird show... weird, and yet a fascinating look at the human condition.

#95... Edge Bows Out 
When my best mate Wookiee, Big Tom and myself ventured to Atlanta in April, we witnessed something that you will find ranking high, high on this list, that being WrestleMania.  And in that event, we were able to see a legend wrestle in the opening match, successfully defending his World Heavyweight Title against Alberto del Rio.  The match was decent, nothing to spectacular, but was cool to see the Rated R Superstar, the Ultimate Opportunist, that being Edge himself, take the squared circle.

We didn't know it would be his last match.  Ever.

A week later, the following Monday, I'm at home in The Cabana, watching WWE Raw as I'm known each week, and Edge comes out.  Typically, the guys come out and do a trash-talk routine, or discuss who they are feuding with and so on, maybe even call out someone from the back and do a one-on-one confrontation that always ends in them punching each other and knocking over a table.  However, Edge took a different tone.  He started out discussing the realities of wrestling, the dangers and the real-life toll it takes on people.  He told us about the seriousness of a previous neck injury which resulted in the fusing of his cervical vertebrae, and the numbness he'd been feeling in the last few months.  Then, he told us of the MRI he recently had and how he had, in the last week, been diagnosed with cervical spinal stenosis.  And finally, he said the real-life doctors would now no longer clear him to compete, as an injury to his spine at this point could result in partial- or full-paralysis... or even death.

You think you know me.  Thank you, Edge.

And right there, Edge retired.  Winner of a record 31 championships in his career, and it was all over... and it wasn't like he could come out of retirement and do a match here or there, like Kevin Nash or Booker T, or even do his patented moves randomly, like Shawn Michaels does with his Sweet Chin Music... no, for Edge, its over.  He has made appearances here and there, but knowing that one missed fall, or one single move that didn't go quite right could kill you?  Done.

I tip my hat to Adam Copeland... you haven't always been my favorite, but its been a joy watching you be a heel all these years.

#94... "Fast Five"
What an absolute piece of crap movie.  A piece of crap movie that I love, one that months after I saw it, I pondered on how ridiculously stupid it was... but if ever there was a movie that lined up with the word "Craptacular", then this piece of glorious poop would be it.

I think we will look back in a few years at the crap that has come out, and rank "Fast Five" along side of "Con Air", "The Expendables" and "Armageddon" as the most beloved, improbable crap of our age.  And its a darn sight better than The Rock's other movie this year, "Faster".  Yeesh.

#93... "50/50"
I'm a fan of Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogan, but I was still surprised about how good this movie was--and how great Seth Rogan is as Jo-Go-Lev's best buddy, when Jo-Go-Lev's Adam gets cancer and has to learn to deal with it.  And the appearance of Anna Kendrick doesn't hurt in the least.

Here's what I had to say:

Joseph Gordon-Levitt, in a fair world, would be sniffing an Oscar nomination, at the least a Golden Globe nod, because his performance is awesome.  I love this guy in "Inception", as his character is one of the coolest cats out there, but he tops himself in "50/50".  I enjoy Seth Rogen being goofy in any number of movies, but his semi-serious turn that he couldn't nail in "Funny People" is nailed here.  Bryce Dallas Howard doesn't have a huge role, but does it right, while Anna Kendrick shines as Katherine, just like she does as Natalie in "Up In the Air", a movie which is quickly becoming one of my all time favorites. (note:  "Up in the Air" currently ranks as my 14th favorite film of all time--d$)

Loved this film, one of the best I've seen this year... however, this movie is not for kids, as the language flows pervasive and free flowing, and there is a few uses of the Mary Jane plant... there is one sex scene, though you really don't see anything, and it ends a little different than you would think, almost in a sympathetic fashion.  Its about an hour forty-five or so, maybe a little less, but it is paced really well and honestly, its one of those rare movies that I didn't want to end.

Read the entire review from September 29th by clicking here.

#92... The Aladdin Stage Show
Its no secret that one of my very favorite attractions at Walt Disney World is the "Finding Nemo: The Musical" show at Disney Animal Kingdom.  Being fans of Broadway style shows, "Disney's Aladdin: A Musical Spectacular" was circled on our list of things to do when The Lovely Steph Leann and I went to Disneyland this past May.

Located in California Adventure, it takes place in the 2000 seat Hyperion Theater at the end of Hollywood Boulevard.  The show itself is only similar to "Finding Nemo" in that its a musical stage show, but its great nonetheless.  In the 45 minute show, many of the classic scenes and songs from the movie are recreated onstage, and they even move some of the action into the audience, like Aladdin's arrival in the song "Prince Ali". There are flying carpets, magic lamps, great special effects, a lovely Jasmine, a handsome Aladdin and a convincingly evil Jafar... but the crown jewel of the show, like the movie, is The Genie.  Whether he's like that always, I cannot speak, but in the show we watched, the actor portraying Genie was brilliant.

If you are ever in the area and have a chance to check out Disneyland, or at least California Adventure, make this a must-do.  We loved it.

#91... "Something Borrowed"
Yes, yes, its a total chick flick, and yes, it was blasted by critics, and yes, the heroine of the movie is the chick who actually does the home wrecking and man-stealing in the movie, but you know what?  I liked it.  Sue me.

Coming up:  Getting the Help... Needing a dollar, dollar... and Gods of Thunder... and later, one of the best documentaries of the year is about... a coffee burn?

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