Thursday, March 22, 2012

The 100 Coolest Things of 2011... #90 to 81

Let's continue our list of the Coolest 100 Things of the previous year... we've already looked at the 100th to 91st Coolest, so let's get to the next ten!

#90... Coin Dozer
What a colossal waste of time!  And I love it!

You know those time and money consuming carnival games where there is a pile of quarters sitting in front of a little wall that moves back and forth, and your job is to drop the quarter into the pile in the hopes that you place it in just such a way where the wall will push the quarters over the edge into the spot where you can reach in and grab them?

That's what this game is.  As a matter of fact, that's all this game is.  You are given a certain amount of coins, you aim and tap the screen, hoping the moving wall will knock more coins into your "prize pocket".  Also, prizes randomly drop, like sunglasses and teddy bears and dice and plush puppies and so on... got a few minutes?  Try Coin Dozer.  I've made it to over 100 levels and... wait, should I admit this?

This guy is the real deal.  And he's actually kinda
cool, at least with his intentions.
#89... "Superheroes"
What a great, bizarre documentary.  From IMDB:

'Superheroes' will introduce us to several of the country's most famous masked heroes including, Mr. Xtreme, a 33-year-old security guard officer by day, but a goon's worst nightmare by night. We'll follow Mr. Xtreme on his nightly patrols through the streets of San Diego, as he tries to stop evildoers and protect the innocent. We'll also meet the New York Initiative, a fantastic foursome of real life superheroes living together that tackle crime fighting, one Brooklyn borough at a time. Lead by Zimmer, we'll watch as they take to the streets and try to lure criminals out of hiding with their controversial Bait-Patrols. With over 300 registered superheroes in the United States, we'll definitively uncover the 'Real-Life Superhero' cultural phenomenon and discover what inspired these everyday citizens to take the law in to their own hands as they try to make the world a better and safer place for all.

In watching this movie, I just couldn't help being fascinated by these real-life superheroes.  Even going into the film, I wanted to openly mock some of these guys, especially the guy living with his mother, but by the end of the movie, I was rooting for them, and thought it was awesome that these men and women saw a problem--crime in their area--and wanted to do something about it.   And the documentary itself doesn't make fun of any of them... it simply tells their stories, letting them do much of the talking.  Great, fun movie.  And check out while you are at it.

88... "The Rainmaker" by John Grisham
From 1995, back hen John Grisham was consistently good (The Firm, The Pelican Brief, A Time to Kill, etc) and before Grisham became a tool (or at least a known tool... did you know he hates fan mail?  He hates people writing to him, and refuses to read anything, ever), "The Rainmaker" is a pretty good novel.

Rudy Baylor is a young lawyer who is on the verge of graduating law school, and the book chronicles first his efforts to find a law firm--there are issues with one after the other and his employment... second, an abused wife he meets and falls for in a hospital cafeteria... third, a case involving an old lady who becomes his landlord, and her will, plus the money grubbing family that wants it... and finally, making up the crux of the novel, a massive lawsuit against an insurance company, one that failed to provide health care to a family that resulted in the son becoming terminally ill--and eventually dying.

If it sounds like there are multiple subplots in this story, that's because there are.  Grisham has a habit of unfurling a few stories at a time, locked around a major one, sometimes intertwining, sometimes not, but this one seems to work.  There are a few loose ends that either he doesn't tie up satisfactorily, or even at all, but overall, it makes for a solid read.  The characters are worth investing in, and though some of it was a little predictable, it still came together quite nicely.

The movie, however, not so much.  After reading the book, I went out to Best Buy and found "The Rainmaker" on DVD in the $4.99 bin, and thought, "What the hey... why not?" and bought it.   Released in 1997, it stars Matt Damon as the lawyer Rudy Baylor, Claire Danes as the embattled wife Kelly, Jon Voight as the defending attorney Leo Drummond, and Danny DeVito as Rudy's partner, Deck.  Other names in the film include Mickey Rourke, Danny Glover, Virginia Madsen and Andy Shue.

I guess had I not finished the book the day before I watched the movie, it wouldn't have been so bad, but I was able to quickly figure out all the parts cut from the movie... heck, I was wondering how someone who hadn't read the book would even understand how one scene correlated to the next one as so many of the parts are tightly connected by stuff that didn't make the film.

It was well acted, but to me, not that great.  There are a hundred good courtroom dramas out there that you can rely on rather than this one... even the movie adaptations of the books I mentioned above are much better.

#87... "I Need a Dollar" by Aloe Blacc
You may have seen it on HBO's "How to Make It In America"... or maybe on the Boost Wireless commercial... or Conan or Jimmy Fallon's shows... or maybe heard it in a Starbucks... truthfully, I don't know where I heard it... but its addicting.

I need a dollar, dollar, dollar's what I need... I need a dollar, dollar, dollar's what I need (hey hey).

Check it out on iTunes and see if you like it.

#86... "Zookeeper"
Okay, I'll admit... this is an incredibly stupid, dopey movie.  The script is hokey... the acting is subpar... some of the jokes are flat... its got talking animals... its got talking animals... Sly Stallone IS a talking lion... but guess what?  I enjoyed it.

I went into this movie with very low expectations, and those expectations were completely met, even surpassed.  Understand--this is a fairly crappy movie.  Its stupid.  Its really stupid.  So why is it on this list?

It has "guilty pleasure" potential.  As in, I can imagine flipping through Starz in Black in March, and choosing between this and "The Departed" over on HBO, and since I am tired and just want something to be background noise, or just want something unencumbered by the thought process, then Kevin James wins. Try it out. If you let yourself, you might find yourself laughing a few times.

#85... Mr. Toad's Wild Ride
Taken as we walked into the attraction building
In our trip to Disneyland in May, we knew there were several rides in Anaheim that we've never seen in Lake Buena Vista, Florida... that is, in Disney World.  They've got the Alice in Wonderland ride out there, and the Nemo's Undersea Voyage and Autopia and California Screamin' (at California Adventure), all which were great... and then, there was one attraction that used to be at Disney World, but is no longer, yet is located in Fantasyland in Magic Kingdom.

That would be Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, the attraction based on the movie "The Adventures of Ichabod & Mr. Toad", and its a rollicking "dark ride" where you board a little car and then tour through the Toad Hall, Winkie's Pub, town hall and then, naturally, Hell. 

At Magic Kingdom, the attraction closed in 1998 and was replaced by The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.  Despite the many protests and calls for its return, the Disney Imagineers answered those calls... by placing a Mr. Toad gravestone statue in the pet cemetary outside of the Haunted Mansion.  And in the Pooh ride itself, one of the opening scenes shows Mr. Toad handing a deed over to Owl.

Not one of my all time favorite rides, but I liked it nonetheless.

#84... "The Help"
What can I say?  I liked this movie. 

I won't spend too much time on the specifics of this movie, as we all kind of know by now its a group of black housekeepers in the early 60s who are interviewed for a book by a white reporter about their living standards and such.

The ensemble cast is outstanding, with Viola Davis as Abileen and Octavia Spencer as Minny (who won an Oscar a few weeks back for this role) as the main housekeepers in the group, Emma Stone with the jacked up curly hair as Skeeter, the reporter writer chick, and various good and bad "housewives", played by Jessica Chastain (who got an Supporting Actress nod), Ashley Johnson and a great villianous turn played by Bryce Dallas Howard.

Its a movie that was made for awards, tackling Civil Rights, though I think the subject of the movie is actually better than the movie itself... does that make any sense?  Like, if you take Heath Ledger out of "Brokeback Mountain" and put in Natalie Portman instead, making it a hetero story and not a homo-story, I think "Brokeback Mountain" becomes a forgettable love story that gets very little notice.  You can't say "take out the race aspect of 'The Help' and it becomes a forgettable story" because race is the story, but I think you get my point.

The movie is well acted, the script is well written, though I can't tell you how it compares to Kathryn Stockett's book (I started it, got bored and put it down... will eventually read the whole thing).  Davis and Spencer are great in their roles and deserved their accolades, and as I mentioned, BDHoward is perfectly just mean, but I don't know that I really liked Emma Stone here--don't get me wrong, I dig some Emma, but still.  All the white chicks smoke, as per the culture of the day, but when Emma did, I didn't buy it.  Her curly hair was a little odd, and maybe she was a little mis-cast.  Who else could have done it?  I dunno.  And maybe if I see it again, I'll completely go with Emma here.

Which presents the issue... I dont know that I necessarily want to see it again.  Being featured on this countdown will tell you that I didn't think it was a bad film--nay, I thought it was a great movie, and I'm glad I saw it... but it didn't change my life, and when all is said and done, I don't know that it will be on my list of my Top 500 films of all time.    And truthfully, if this is on Starz in Black (what else would it be on?) in late 2012, I might still watch something else... perhaps "Zookeeper". 

#83... Jersey Mike's Subs
Man I love this place.  Big, thick bread, they slice the meat right in front of you, the cheese is fresh, and the prices are reasonable.  I do enjoy a Subway sandwich every now and then, but I do love to indulge in some Jersey Mike submarine sandwiches.  Dig it.

#82... "Thor"
One of the many superhero movies I've seen in the last few years, and one of several that make this countdown for 2011... here's what I wrote on June 21st:

Its a great movie. Chris Helmsworth is fantastic as Thor, and Tom Hiddleston is perfect as the weaker, yet smarter Loki. The effects are quite stunning, with the color and splendor of Asgard, the superhero explosions and superpowers you'd expect to find in a super hero movie, and to top it all off, the story is solid too. Again, I wasn't expecting nearly as much as I got out of the movie.

Even Natalie Portman was good--yes, we know she's a good actress, yes, we know she won an Oscar for "Black Swan", but in movies that aren't serious, she tends to mail her performance in (see: prequels, Star Wars), but she actually isn't that bad. Of course, there is stuff at the end of the credits, so stick around for that...

(see the full review, plus more reviews on "Devil" and "Three Days of the Condor", by clicking here)

#81... Brava Rotisserie Grill
Sitting next to Publix on Valleydale Road is a Subway shop.  Next to it used to be a Jungle Juice Smoothie place, but it now sits empty.  Next to it is a UPS Store.  And on the corner is used to be a coffee place called The Bean Hole... but no longer.  Oh, nay nay. 

Currently, there is a little chicken place called Brava, and its good food.  Its great food.  The chicken is grilled over a rotisserie with just the right amount of spice, while the fries are served with this awesome seasoning kind of stuff... each plate gets a piece of pita, with a little hummus and some dipping sauce, which is fantastic.

I know that Hurricane Rhett doesn't like it much, but his wife Amarylis by Mornin (up from san antone) really loves it... which helps the cause of myself and The Lovely Steph Leann when we four are looking for an after-church lunch spot.  (update:  they are no longer open on Sundays.  Frowny face)

I would say that I'll eat there tonight for dinner, but we had it last night... perhaps I'll hit Jersey Mike's. 

Coming up... the financial gain of Hot Coffee... a Disney makeover... and Misery.  And later... one of the best apps I've ever owned...


  1. Brava is no longer open on Sundays. :( It was a go to place after church for the Fishers.

  2. I know... I wrote this post about two weeks ago, and finally posted it last night, and forgot to mention the Sunday thing--we found out when Rhett, Lily, Steph and I went there after church (Rhett was happy the doors were locked)


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