Lest you think I was giving up... we continue with our countdown of what I personally consider to be the 100 Coolest Things of the Year of Our Lord 2009... you might remember reading some of the stuff before, as I did copy some of the previously written thoughts and recaps from posts last year. Hope you don't mind...
60... Thanksgiving in Ellijay
Vacation is always nice, especially if there's a Campbell Family involved. Explained further on November 29th, 2009, this year The Lovely Steph Leann and I joined Big Daddy Ron (the father in law)
and Mama Ruthless (the mom-in-law),
Tyler Campbell, and The Lovely Steph Leann's sister & family. We joined up with some family friends, including The Lovely Steph Leann's good friend Jason and his wife, The White Jada, and headed to the mountains of Georgia.
One of the many highlights included a stop over at Babyland General Hospital, home of the Cabbage Patch Kids... how can this be a highlight, you ask? Well, it made for great blog fodder,
if nothing else. We also got to spend some time in downtown Dahlonega, walking the shops and antique stores... those are some of the most fun times I think The Lovely Steph Leann and I have together.
And of course, what would a Thanksgiving buffet be without lots and lots of food? And where we ate, there was lots of food... and dessert... here's how I described it on November 30th...
And of course, there is dessert. There is always dessert. After two plates of lunch (though no more crab legs--they were delicious, but crab legs are just too much work
), I headed towards the superb dessert spread, gathering up a banana pudding parfait, a piece of pumpkin pie (covered in homemade whipped cream)
, a piece of pecan pie (covered in homemade whipped cream),
a pecan pie brownie (covered in homemade whipped cream)
, a piece of German chocolate cake... and I think a cookie. And I ate. And I ate some more. And it was awesome. And just when my stomach knocked on my insides and said, "Hey, yo... uh... we're getting kinda packed down here, so you... uh... you may want to ease up, or even stop..." To which I said, "Stomach. Shut up. Its vacation. Its Thanksgiving. You'll speak when you're spoken too. For now, take what I give you." And with that, I took another bite of the chocolate parfait I had just retrieved.
Now THAT is a vacation.
59... "The Proposal"
(From my own Clouds in My Coffee review, where you'll also get my own list of favorite Sandy Bullock movies...)...
Right from the get-go, you know exactly how this movie is going to end, but really, it’s a lot of fun to find your way to the moment when Margaret (Sandra)
and Andrew (Ryan Reynolds)
finally get together.
Margaret Tate is a mean, mean boss, especially taking for granted her hard working, long time, loyal assistant, Andrew Paxton. The predicament is when she, being Canadian and ignoring her call to renew her visa, is threatened with deportation. Her solution? Marry that hard working, long time, taken for granted assistant, and of course, against his will. (Let’s forget that this movie was called “Green Card” when it was released in 1990 and starred Gerard Depardieu and Andie McDowell… because “The Proposal” is a far better film, it gets a pass)
So they travel to Alaska together, to his hometown to meet his family, and… well, hilarity ensues. The supporting characters add much to the fun, including Ramone, who makes a half-dozen appearances, all hilarious, throughout the film. Betty White
is the grandma, and has her own issues which are quite funny, Mr. Incredible Coach
and Mary Steenburgen
are the parents, doing an ample job and worth mentioning is Malin Akerman
, who plays Andrew’s former flame Gertrude (really? Gertrude? They couldn't come up with a better name for that?)
I only mention Gertrude because while really good looking here, she wasn’t anywhere near this cute as Silk Spectre II in “Watchmen”
There is a notable scene, heralded in the media and with critics, where both main characters are naked, accidentally running into each other, he covered in sweat after hard work, she wet after just getting out of the shower. All naughty bits are covered and unseen, though, and the scene is very funny. -- June 2009
58... "Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince"
I struggled with this film for weeks. In one sense, it was awesome. All the Harry Potter films are awesome, with "Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix" not only being my favorite book, but my favorite adaptation... but I struggled as to whether to rank this one high or low on the list of the six films.
There's so much about it to like... Emma Watson
has grown into quite the eyecandy, it was great to see Quidditch back onscreen, Jim Broadbent
made a great Slughorn and the visuals of the movie were stunning--like usual. But... there was so much to not like. Yeah, yeah, its a movie, its not going to be the same as the book, I get it, that's not the point... I think the biggest miss, more than anything else, was the inexcusable way that the Harry/Ginny hook up was handled.
I think I could have handled the screwed up Dumbledore death scene, I could have dealt with the lack of screen time that the fantastic Dave Legano
received as Fenrir Greybeck, I could have forgiven the inclusion of a silly Burrow scene with an attack from the Death Eaters, I could have pushed through the fact one of the most glorious battles in the entire series, the (first) Battle of Hogwarts, was reduced to only a few main characters, I could have overlooked the way Snape was handled as the Half-Blood Prince, but...
...the way the Harry/Ginny get-togethery was done? Inexcusable. Unforgivable. Dare I say, blasphemous? It would be like George Lucas coming out and saying that the Force, the mysterious, mesmerizing Force that wields so much awesomeness in "Star Wars" is nothing but a bunch of cell-things in the bloodstream of a potential Jedi... waaaaaiitt...
Anyway, this is further spelled out in my own letter to the movie's screenwriter
, Steve Kloves. You know, I went back and re-read what I had written, and it reminded me that, while I liked the movie, it made me angry.
You know what? Forget this.
58... KT's Baby and Mindy D'A
KT and J Rob had a baby. Baby Kaylee. It was worth a mention, cause really, that baby is preciously cute. I mean, solid cutetivity going on with that baby. And Mindy D'A? She reads Clouds and comments often. She's a friend from college. She lives in Seattle. What can I say, she's pretty cool. I don't mention either enough. So there.
57... Lunch at The Swamp
As Lenning, Tyler the Sexy Beast, Trey Cartledge and the 70th Coolest Thing of 2009, Jon Thompson, and myself were returning from a guy's weekend at The Most Magical Place on Earth
in October, we were debating on where to eat.
Trey had suggested a trip to Gainesville, which was just off the interstate as we drove up I-75. We didn't actually know where we were going, but we figured once we found the statdium, we'd find a place to eat. We found The Swamp, in all its two national championship and a Heisman in three years glory (I know, I know, y'all got thirteen, yeee-haw!)
, and started looking around for a place to eat. Driving, I wheeled into a parking lot, spying some co-eds walking nearby.
I casually rolled down the back window where Tyler sat, and honked the horn. They looked over. With a "...what the... dude! why did you do that!" look on his face for a second, he was forced to speak to the girls. "Uh... so, uh... where can we find a good place to eat... uh... you know, around here and... and all...?" he stammered.
I'd love to tell you that the girls saw all the single guys in the car--Tyler, Lenning, Jonny T and Trey--and immediately gave over their phone numbers, but this didn't happen. They pointed us to to a restaurant called The Swamp and that was that.
We drove around the block, parked and walked inside. The place was kinda cool, looking like an older house that had been renovated into a restaurant... you can always tell that when the bathroom door has a little hook on it to lock, like an old fashioned screen door. I mean, the hook part, not the bathroom door being like a screen door, cause that would be weird.
Anyway, lunch was great--I got a burger of some sort. You'd think it would be hard to screw up a burger, but its been done before. Everyone enjoyed their food, Jonny T enjoyed the waitress, Trey enjoyed the atmosphere, Lenning enjoyed the appitizers (don't remember what they were, but I remember liking them too),
and Tyler enjoyed the fact he was sitting a football field away from the world famous The Swamp Stadium, being the Go Gators fan he is.
56.... Baha Burger
Speaking of great burgers... ahhh... Baha.
Come hungry, leave full. You can choose one of their "titled" burgers, or you can do what I do, and spend the $7.50 and make your own. Pick the meat... a beef, pork, chicken, turkey, lamb, salmon (my choice), or veggie burger, then pick your bread (I go Kaiser Roll),
then pick your sides, including skinny fries, sweet potato fries, onion rings, a salad, coleslaw, or melon... cause I don't dig on melons, onion rings, sweet potato fries or salad, the skinny fries are my choice. You can also add on garnishes like peach chutney and chipotle, and I like the mushrooms.
The whole place has a "surfy" theme to it, though its really nothing more than a few surfboards and some beachy-named menu selections, but it still makes the aura friendly and comfortable. On pleasant fall and/or spring days, when the temperature is just rightly so, sitting outside and enjoying a Lamb Burger on a Kaiser Roll, coated in mayo, mustard, ketchup, mushrooms with sharp cheddar (and if I'm feelin' froggy, some Swiss too),
with a helping of skinny fries, washing it down with a 22 ounce fountain Coke soaked in great, chippy ice, having great conversation with MZ or Mikey or whoever I'm meeting for lunch... number one, baby, number one. Ah, Baha.
Just a note... after I wrote this, The Lovely Steph Leann and I went to Baha Burger--me for the millionth time, her for the first time. She ordered the Baha Blend, which is like a chuck roast burger, and the sweet potato fries, and while I normally get the Lamb, I decided to try the Baha Blend. We split a piece of Key Lime Pie. She loved it. Its always great when you convert someone to a place you like to eat at.
55... "State of Play"
Absolutely excellent. The all star cast was just part of it--Russell Crowe
, Ben Affleck
, Rachel McAdams
, Helen Mirren
--when many times "all star casts" just don't work, especially in political thrillers (See "Lions for Lambs". Or better yet, don't).
Just kicks off immediately with a couple of deaths that seem unrelated, which of course, you know have to be related somehow... but what drives this movie is Crowe, who is great as a reporter who just wants to dig for the truth, no matter where it takes him, including taking him to his friend, Congressman Collins, played by a surprisingly good Affleck. Rachel McAdams is Della Frye, a blogger for Crowe's newpaper and who resists learning from Crowe--but ends up assisting him all the same. And thankfully, there wasn't a "Peacemaker"
ending, that being a pretty good movie ruining by a sudden romantic gesture between its two leads when nothing during the movie was leading to that.
The twists kept coming, the dialogue was sharp, the humor was in-line and the plot, though thick, was very, very good. I always look at The Lovely Steph Leann as the credits begin to roll and ask, "How did you like it?" This time, I looked at her, and said, "I really liked that. How about you?" Rated PG-13 for language and violence. (from a movie review post in April)
54... "Fearless" by Taylor Swift
From the opening title track, through the end, Taylor Swift's sophomore album is full of nothing but awesomocity. What can I say, I like Taylor Swift, and have since her first song, "Tim McGraw", off of her first album.
My favorite of the tracks, "You Belong With Me" (to be featured later in this very list),
is full of energy and pep and charm, while there's a bit of maturity, if not a little sappiness, in "Fifteen" and even "White Horse".
53... "Julie & Julia"
Oh, man I loved this movie. It helped quite a bit that it has Amy Adams
, whom I'm in love with, but Meryl Streep
is also fantastic... as always. It tells two stories, one being Julia Childs' beginnings in France as a cook and chef, while paralleling the story of Julie Powell, who is looking for something more in her life, and decides to take on the task of cooking all 524 of Julia Childs' recipes in "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" in a single year... and she blogs about it. And both stories are true, with Julia Childs being... well, Julia Childs, and Julie Powell actually having a real blog telling this adventure
The movie is great, it moves fast (despite its 2:04 running time)
and is fun. The Lovely Steph Leann and I laughed throughout, there were a couple of "awww..." moments when I think The Lovely Steph Leann found the theater to be a little dusty, and I think I can now watch Amy Adams in just about anything. And call me old fashioned, and I guess this was only portrayed in the movie because that's how it was in real life... but I like the fact that Julie and Eric, her significant other, are married. Not just dating and living together, but married. Somehow that means something. Chris Messina
is awesome as Eric, who goes through just as much as Julie does, trying to cope with his wife under this massive undertaking.
The main Julie Powell story is based on a book called "Julie & Julia", which I have on audio and look forward to listening to. She also has her own blogsite she still keeps up, which does have a colorful use of the English language, so beware. (from August, 2009)
Since writing that review last summer, Meryl Streep was nominated for an Oscar for this film, something like her 48th nomination lifetime, and months later, I still haven't read the book--but its on my list. I promise. Amy Adams, whom I'm in love with, has been in "Leap Year", a film saved by the prescence of Adams and the Irish countryside, and The Tuch has been nominated for an Academy Award for "The Lovely Bones", an adaptation of a book I was halfway through before I got distracted with other stuff. I'm sure I'll finish it at some point.
52... Lenning on American Idol
From October 15th, 2009, recounting the Disney World trip with me and Tyler & his roommates...
We were working our way to The Sci Fi Cafe for lunch when we passed by The American Idol Experience. One of us piped up to Lenning that he should try out for it. He said no, and another of us said he should, and still he said no, and finally we all pushed him towards the entrance. Of course the Cast Member at the front was trying to convince Lenning as well.
I said, "Okay, okay... if you will try out, I'll try out." Lenning looked at me, still unconvinced. Then I said, "Okay, not only I will try out, TYLER WILL TRY OUT!" This, of course, came as quite a surprise to Tyler, who, after the initial shock, said, "Uh... yeah! I'll try out!"
Essentially, it breaks down like this... you can audition for American Idol in Hollywood Studios. You sing for one of the producers, and if they like you, they send you down the hall to another set of producers. If those producers like you, you become one of three people booked on one of the shows. There are typically seven shows per day, from about 11a, each hour, until about 4p, maybe 5p.
The audience votes on a winner for each show. If you are a show winner, you come back for the daily finale, at 7p. Again, the audience votes, and if you win THAT one, you get a special golden ticket... that golden ticket allows you to go to ANY American Idol audition in the country and go straight to the front of the line and get special VIP treatment for your entire visit.
So, anyway, we went into the AI building, and because I am a Cast Member, not only could I not participate, I could not even audition. Technically, neither could Tyler, being my brother-in-law, but we weren't really that concerned with his winning the show. They could only take one person in the audition room with them, so Tyler took Jon. Jon later said that Tyler sang, "Ain't No Mountain High Enough", complete with hand motions and movements. He didn't make it.
Lenning, on the other hand, took Trey with him. I stood in the lobby talking to a CM for a little while, when I learned that Lenning had made it to the next round. I went out to The Sci Fi Cafe and told them to hold our reservations, because we were with the Next American Idol. Tyler and Jon were sitting outside, waiting on the results of Lenning's second round audition.
Tyler texted Lenning's dad. His text read something like, "YOUR SON IS GOING TO BE ON AMERICAN IDOL". A few minutes later, Tyler gets a text. He reads it, and says, "Crap! Mr. Lenning trumps again!" The text read something like, "IN SOUTH AFRICA. DINNER WITH DISNEY VP."
Lenning made it. He came out wearing a number and a yellow card on a lanyard. We went nuts. The producer came out, and wanted to get some video of him celebrating. They got a great shot of us doing high fives, and Jon chest bumping Lenning. He did some interviews on camera, and finally, an hour and ten minutes after our reservation, we had lunch.
Lenning had to be back at 2:50 for make up, rehearsal and a few other re-show things for the 4pm show. The guys and I had enough time to run and do Star Tours and a couple of other things, then we had to meet up at 3:30p for the VIP door.
The family and friends of the other two that made it were also at the door when we got there, and soon enough, a CM led us to our seats, close to the front on stage-right side of the theater. Each seat has an arm rest with two sets of buttons number 1-10, which you use to vote on your favorites. As we walked in, the first contestant was finishing up his practice song, which was "I Like It" by Tim McGraw. The guy singing, Billy Cox, was a country bumpkin kind of guy, and sounded decent enough.
Lenning was singing "Sweet Home Alabama", which was a blessing and a curse. He sounded great, but I dearly hate that song. Always have. Makes me feel like I should be driving a 4x4 truck, covered in mud, a tennis ball hanging off the long antenna I have and a big Confederate Flag in the back window. Under the gunrack, of course. So, it makes me feel like I'm back in Samson. Yee-haw.
Lastly, Jada Davis, a big sista', got up and sang "Respect". As she sang, I looked and Tyler, who looked back, and we both looked up at Jonathan on stage, who saw us. We all shook our heads. Jada was tearin' it up... and we knew it was over.
The little girl sitting next to me was the daughter of Billy Cox, and she looked up at me and said, "She's really good." I nodded, and said, "You know, if you accidentally hit 2 on your buttons there, instead of 1, then its okay." She smiled and said, "And if you hit 1 by accident, its okay too." I heard Tyler say, "Touche."
The show started, the judges came out--one is like Randy, one is like Paula, and one is like Simon... go figure. Billy Cox sang his song, and again, sounded pretty good. The judges said their stuff, then Lenning got up there... and again, sang well. The Randy-Judge told him that he needed to be more animated, the Paula-Judge said, "You are so cute! You look like you are 12 years old with your fuzzy little legs!" You know those moments when something happens and you just know that this will stick with you for a long, long time, and you are going to hear about it a whole heckuva lot? That was this moment with Jonathan Lenning. Trey, Jon, Tyler and I just about passed out in our seats with laughter.
The Simon-Judge told him that "I once carried some frozen peas and that was slightly interesting than your performance."
And Jada Davis got up, sang awesome, and the judges loved her. The Cox family next to me had a little baby girl who started crying, and the daughter next to me had to take her out, leaving her buttons unattended. So when it came time to vote, I hit "2" for Lenning... then I hit "1" for Billy Cox, cause that is what Cox the Daughter would have done.
Well, Seacrestette stood up finally, and announced the big winner... and to no one's surprise, it wasn't our man Jonathan Lenning. But, for the rest of the day, people were coming up to him, telling him they had voted for him telling him how much they loved him, and I'm sure he got the chick vote easily.
51... The DFC X
What started out as a simple game between 11 friends, picking football game winners, has become a still-simple game, this time between 30+ friends. The Deuce Football Championships concluded its 10th season in December, with the first ever chick taking the title.
Alas, I tear through the regular season once again, winning my second straight MVP title, but stall and fall in the postseason. An old school battle was set up for DeuceBowl X, our championship weekend, between Eddy McBroom and Lori Beirne, with almost 1100 victories and 17 years of DFC'ing between the two of them. I'm still rooting for Big Eddy to win this game, but I gotta give props to Lori for winning it all. Good job.
Coming up... Moving your hips like yeah... Starbucks gets a new boss... and the political debates rage on...