Friday, May 28, 2010


I just returned from a visitation.   I have to work tomorrow, so I cannot attend the funeral, but the viewing was my chance to pay my last respects... not to an elderly aunt, who passed in the night from a long battle with cancer... not to a grandfather, who died suddenly at the ripe old age of 84 from a massive stroke... not to a close relative or friend who passed later in their years... no, I paid my last respects to a 17 year old girl.

Her name is Porcia.  She's one of my kids, as I call any of the kids who come through WalkAbout Drama, the middle school ministry I helped found and led for a time.  She's just a few days into her final summer of school, her senior year awaits, then college... but, that's not to be.  She died a few days ago in a... well, I hate using the term "freak accident", because it puts forth this image of a bizarre circumstance that is hardly to be believed... it was an accident.  No one to blame, no fingers to point, no one's fault... just a case of God saying, "This is what I'm going to do, these are My plans, and those plans involve Porcia coming home to Me."

I watched this kid grow up from afar, and admired her for her talents, her values, her quiet spirit, her sweet nature.  I've also admired her mother, Ashley, and the life she's led in the years I've known her.  With Porcia being 17, and Ashley being a year younger than I am, that puts her having Porcia at around 14 or 15.  I'm not trying to be all gossipy or anything, I'm just doing the math... and there's a connection there for me, because my own biological mother had me when she was 15, so I can understand at least a little bit of the kind of struggle she might have had.  I actually think Porcia's family tree might be as whacked out as mine is... and I mean that in love, because I kinda like my family tree.  Helped make me who I am.  Anyway...

Porcia loved her mom.  I'd see them together, when girls at church were huddled together, doing their girls-in-a-huddly type thing, Porcia would often be seen hanging out with Ashley.  And, wow this chick loved horses.  And from what I understand, she was really good at riding too, an underrated talent, if you ask me.  I think I'd be scared of being kicked in the head, or getting Chris Reeved by a mad palomino or something.

The visitation was peaceful, nice, beautiful.  I stood next to Mrs. Paula Maddox as we waited to go into the sanctuary of Valleydale Church (an sbc fellowship), and we walked through the "receiving line" together--I know that's what its called in a wedding, I'm not sure what its called in this circumstance, but you know what I mean... a line of people waiting to pay their final respects to the deceased, and give condolences to the family.

Paula and I chatted briefly as we made our way around the room in the line, each of our hearts tearing a little bit more at the sobs coming from Ashley, as she hugged each person that came through the line.  I asked Paula about Courtney, her daughter of the same age and same class, and what she would do in Ashley's situation.  Paula just dabbed her eyes, shook her head and said, "I don't... I don't even know.  I cannot even begin to understand how this feels... I mean... Courtney... I just..." she stammered for a minute and just shook her head.  "I just... I don't know."

We finally arrived where Ashley stood next to Porcia, lying in her equestrian outfit.  Porcia's stepfather and stepbrother stood nearby.  Paula whispered, "You want me to go first, or would you like to go?"  I told her I would go first, as I knew Paula would take much longer... I hugged Ashley and spoke to her for a minute, then gave the guys a big hug and handshake.  I walked to a seat near the back of the chair rows, and stood watching the line as they came through.  Paula grabbed Ashley and hugged her so tightly, in a way that I can only assume a mother can hug another mother when it comes to the safety and care of their daughters. 

There was a ROTC group of about five guys, full uniform, none looking older than 16 or 17.  I watched as they got close to Porcia, stopping and then breaking into a small march.  The marched to the side where Porcia was lying, turned to face her, saluted in unison, turned back again and marched down the aisle.  Three were stoic as they walked.  One guy... boy... was barely keeping it together, his jaw trembling, his lip shaking, eyes squinting.   The other wasn't even trying, one hand covering his mouth, the other wiping his eyes, all in perfect march.  If I came close to tearing up at all tonight, it was right then and there.  (oh, don't judge me for not crying... we grieve differently, back off)

I guess this begs the question... why, God?  Why take Porcia, God?  Is it fair that a 17 year old girl, just really beginning to live, ready to get her last year in high school behind her, get that diploma, go on to college (I suspect Auburn), join a sorority, meet some guy that is nice to her that no doubt Ashley will like but never feel is good enough for her baby, get married, make Ashley a grandmother, then grow old and die the ripe old age of 92 of heart disease, won't get to do any of this?

Is it fair that you take her from this Earth, and leave behind so many people that we know that we just feel like don't deserve to be here?  What kind of God would do this to Ashley, who loves You and follows You?  What kind of God would take away a loving sister to little Nicki, her sister?  Its not fair, and who would want to follow a God that would treat His children so cruelly, to take away someone--one of Your followers--so loved and adored, so young and beautiful that might bring such glory to Your name?  Who would want to follow this God?

Well... frankly...

I would.

Its such a conundrum that we as people put on ourselves.  If you can blame God, or be furious at God (which, by the way, being angry at God and questioning His motives are not sins... its the lack of faith that follows that leads you to into murky waters) that concludes that you believe in God.  And if you believe in God, then you probably believe in The Word.  And through this chain of thought, if you believe in The Word, then you'd have to at least consider these three things...

1)  God is love.  He is truly love, He loves us more than we can possibly understand, and in that love, He does things and allows things that we may not agree with.  2) God's purpose is to glorify Himself, and everything that happens will either directly or indirectly lead to His glorification.  3) If love is wanting what's best for us, then what's best for us is to glorify Him through His plans and purposes, which means that things happen that we don't understand, that we don't like, and that we downright hate, but those things are things that are best for us in order to further glorify Him and spread His kingdom.

The first thought I had in my head when I heard the news was a verse I used to quote frequently, but hadn't thought of in years... Psalm 115:3, which says, "Our God is in Heaven and He does what He pleases."  And it's a comfort, to me at least, to know that what pleases Him is His love for us, which in turn is glory for Himself.  He does what He pleases to accomplish what's best for us...

I think Porcia has probably impacted hundreds of lives in her 213 months on Earth, and possibly would have impacted hundreds more in a long life ahead.  But now?  Through the tragedy?  She might impact thousands.  Thousands of people who will hear this story, and will hear the Word of God not only spoken, but lived through Ashley and those in her family.   And that is a strong statement for God's glory.

Let's be real though... this doesn't make it suck any less.  Sure, its a warm fuzzy to know how God is being praised and leaned on now, but it still absolutely, positively sucks.  All of it.  It just plain sucks.

And life goes on, as it always has. 

By the way, I had a thought... if there was a phone in Heaven, and you had Porcia's number, and you called her to say, "Hey Porcia... you leaving was not cool.  There are a lot of people hurting down here, and lots of people missing you... can you come back?  Would you like to come back to us?" I have a pretty definite idea that she would look at her surroundings now and say, "Nope, I'm cool.  I'll just see y'all when you get here.  You're going to love it."

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

...And Lee is None DeWyzer (Idol IX Finale 2)

So here's last night's recap show...

And here we are.  Seven hours of fluff to give us 12 seconds of news.  Rock on.




Sez Amarylis By Morning (up from san antone):  American Idol 10 (its Season 9-d$) is the biggest snoozer since Jordan Sparks won it. There is zero anticipation for me.

8p... Yes, this show started at 7pm tonight, and yes, its 8pm, and we just started.  The Lovely Steph Leann and I decided on dinner first, and we headed to The Purple Onion over here on 280.  The owner of our favorite location on Hwy 31 is apparently owning this one too, because he was sitting there in the cafe.  And it was awesome.  I love me some Purp'O, and I'm happy a great location has opened up less than 3 miles from The Cabana, instead of the 10+ mile trek we have to usually make.

The judges are introduced, and The Lovely Steph Leann's first question:  "What in the bejeebers is Randy Jackson wearing??"

8:04p... The finalists come down the steps, and we both notice that Lee and Crystal are all wearing Preparatory Outfits.  We are confused, until the Top 12 are introduced and I realize they are doing "School's Out" by Alice Cooper.  Glee this ain't.

About to fast forward through the group song when I notice none other than Alice Cooper himself, Christ Follower (no, seriously) and staunch Republican, come out.

Fast Forward through Commercials

8:08p... About to fast forward through Kris Allen and The Lovely Steph Leann tells me to put down the remote as he is about to sing his new single, "The Truth".  As Seacrest sends it to Kris, and Kris begins, we still hear Seacrest and some backstage chick talking.  Really, Fox?  Your the biggest show in the country for what, 7 years running?  Get this right.

8:11p... A montage of Simon Cowell clips, as this is his final Idol.  Many of these audition clips I actually remember.  A great appearance of Paula the Flake... I miss Paula. 

8:13p... Siobhan Magnus and Aaron Kelly.  Doing us the Bee Gees. 

8:13p... The Lovely Steph Leann tells me I can fast forward, but I'm intrigued by the fact that Siobhan and Aaron are singing "How Deep Is Your Love"... and then , the curtain rises, and out comes Barry Gibb, and another guy I can only assume is another Gee.   The last time Barry Gibb was on this show was really, really bad... a few seasons back, they did Bee Gees week, and Barry performed "To Love Somebody", and it was so bad, so terribly bad, that years later, I still randomly break out with a "there's a.light.  some kinda light." in mockery--and it still sounds better than that night.

8:16p... Barry Gibb sounds marginally better

8:16p... The camera pans to David Hasselhoff in the audience.  The Lovely Steph Leann pipes up, "There's The Hoff!  He's in every one of these finales!  The camera just finds him!"

Fast Forward through Commercials

8:18p... Big Mike comes out, singing a song that I cannot place... I don't know the lyrics, but I know the music... what is it... what is it....

8:19p... "Takin' It to the Streets"!  And here comes Michael McDonald!  The Lovely Steph Leann says, "I still have a hard time realizing this guy is white..."

8:20p... Michael McDonald is awesome.  "Sweet Freedom" from the '86 Billy Crystal/Gregory Hines piece of crap "Running Scared" was awesome.  "Keep Forgettin'" was awesome.  His lead on "What a Fool Believes" by the Doobie Brothers.  Awesome. 

8:22p... I have a hard time disliking Dane Cook.  I only say that because he's now onstage singing a comedic song dedicated to Simon.  Most people I know aren't Dane Cook fans, and certainly, if you've ever seen "Good Luck Chuck", you'll know why.  However, his movie "Employee of the Month", as terrible as it is, I'll watch it everytime its on, and laugh all the same.  Anyway, this Dane Cook bit tonight?  Pretty crappy.

Fast forward through commercials

8:25p... Lacey Brown singing Christina Aguilera's "Beautiful".  In the first five notes, we are reminded why she was kicked out in Week 12.  We fast forward through, til we see Xtina herself appear, leading the group in "Stronger"

8:26p... Christina Aguilera sings a new song.  We fast forward.

8:27p... Ricky Gervais appears via satellite to say goodbye to Simon the Cowell. 

Fast Forward through Commercials

8:29p... Lee DeWyze is on stage to sing Hall & Oates "I Can't Go For That (no can do)", which sounds really, really good.  It sounded great til Andrew Garcia joined him.  Casey James then leads us to "Maneater".  Now I'm wondering if Hall & Oates will make an appearance.  That would rule.

8:30p... Aaron Kelly singing this song is funny, because you know he has no concept of what this song even is, and who the artists are.  And he wouldn't even get the joke 'Ah, its Jeffrey Dahmer's theme song'. 

8:31p... HALL AND OATES!!!!!  I just told The Lovely Steph Leann that if they came anywhere near here, I'd totally go see them.  And they start singing "You Make My Dreams Come True".  About three lines in, The Lovely Steph Leann pipes up and says, "Dude.  Darryl Hall.  You are obviously too old for this."

8:32p... Law #8,878 I'm forcing through when I become president in 2028... John Oates is required to sport his 80s 'stache at all times.  At all times.  Shaving it is a punishable fine of $100,000 and/or up to ten years in maximum security prison.  Just sayin'.

8:34p... Crystal Bowersox comes out and sings "Ironic".   And then, as now expected, Alanis Morrisette herself comes out, starting out with "You Oughta Know".  How can I fast forward through this darn show when I actually want to watch the performances!?   Crystal changes a key line in the song, "Would she go down with you to the theater".  You know your old when you see that line, and immediately know what the original line is.  Hey, "Jagged Little Pill" was a college icon album for me, one of those "what CDs would you take with you to a deserted island" kind of albums.  Even The Lovely Steph Leann likes this CD, which is saying something, because a rocker chick she ain't.

8:36p... Alanis/Crystal duet.  AWESOME.  The Lovely Steph Leann is even singing along to "You Oughta Know".

Fast Forward through Commercials

8:42p... The Lovely Steph Leann and I have this quick, spirited discussion about whether "Jagged Little Pill" was a rock album or not.  I say yes, she says it was more alternative, to which I say, "Yes, alt rock."  I'm right.  Again

8:42p... Carrie Underwood comes out.  She's singing "Undo", a song I'm not a huge fan of.  I like Carrie, though, because she really shows how appreciative of Idol--she comes back all the time, and shows her gratitude frequently.  Unlike Kelly Clarkson, who seems like she wants to forget Idol is the reason she has a career.

8:44p... Typing that last paragraph, almost missed fast forwarding through the Ford Commercial.  Made it, though!

8:45p... Casey James introduced singing "Every Rose Has its Thorn", which makes me throw my hands up, saying "Bret Michaels is coming out!  Yeah!!"  How can you not like this guy, and this song?  Seriously.

8:47p... Okay, so Bret Michaels is having the best year ever.  I mean, "Rock of Love", "Rock of Love 2", "Skank of Love", "Rock of Love Bus", "Venereal Disease of Love 5" and all those shows, while it make him a punchline of sorts, made him relevant again.  And then, with the Celebrity Apprentice having such a great season this year (and it was awesome) and him doing so well, plus his medical issues--don't get me wrong, I don't wish ill on him at all, but everyone has felt for him, and learned to love him... he can do just about anything right now.

8:50p... Lee DeWyze is out now, joining the band Chicago for a medley of hits.  If I were to even think about fast forwarding, The Lovely Steph Leann would be on the phone with Brad J. Latta, Atty at Law, discussing divorce.  She loves loves loves her some Chicago.  Even the old crap. 

8:52p... Reality hits bigtime, as they start "If You Leave Me Now", and I say, "They sound unfortunate".  The Lovely Steph Leann pipes up, "Yeah, they sound a little like Hall & Oates.  Maybe Lee should sing the whole time..."

8:54p... Another Simon montage.  Then Seacrest says the magic words... "Pants On The Ground".  The Lovely Steph Leann pipes up, "Ohmigosh... they are actually doing this song on the stage?  Oh dear..."  They bring out the barely alive Bee Gees, then redeem themselves with Alanis, then a little off-key Hall & Oates, which I still love, and then they go all awesome with Michael McDonald and Bret Michaels.  And now?  The Pants guy... and William Hung.  No joke.

Fast Forward through Commercials

8:59p... Remember, we started this at 8pm, and we've got 30 minutes left to get through.  Another Simon montage... and here's Paula the Flake herself, looking absolutely gorgeous for the first time since, I dunno, 1994 and the "Rush Rush" video...

9:02... And now that she's talking, and I remember why I call her "Paula the Flake".  I'd like to think she's stumbling and bumbling because she's not reading from a prompter, but I can almost guarentee that she IS reading from a prompter... and she still sounds like this. 

9:05p... So, I guess the producers said, "Hey, Lee and Crystal can sing... but they have no personality... lucky for us we can concentrate on Simon's leaving and make the finale about that!   Hey, someone call Shady Oakes Retirement Village in Irvine and see if Barry Gibbs and John Oates and that singer from Chicago are available next week!"

9:07p... Here comes Kelly Clarkson!  And then Ruuuuuuben!  And Fantasia!  And then Carrie!  And then Taylor!  And now Jordin!  And now Kris!   Where's David Cook?? 

9:08p... They are doing a song that's something about "look what we've become..." or something.  I'm happy to see Kelly Clarkson here, though she looks like "I really don't want to do this..."  Anyway, the Idol winners are dressed in black, and out walks, in white, a ton of former Idol standouts, like Blake Lewis, David Archuleta, Ace Young, Mikaylah Gordon (okay, I said standout, but I guess anyone can come), Jason Castro, and.... PICKLES!!!  I love Pickles.

9:11p.... "Hey, fellow producer, let's remind America that this show CAN be great!  Let's get a whole bunch of former Idols up there to remind America what we've done!" 

9:12p... Simon gets up, says a few words, and gets misty eyed

Fast forward through commercials

9:13p... The Top 12 start out with "Again" by Janet Jackson, a lovely little ditty that I have on cassette singles.  And of course, here comes Janet... I do love this song.  My favorite Janet songs, starting with 5, is "Escapade"... 4) "Again"... 3) "The Best Things in Life Are Free", a duet with the late, great Luther Vandross from The Dave100 movie "Mo' Money"... 2) "Miss You Much"... and my favorite Janet song is "Love Will Never Do (without you)".  I love that tune.

9:15p... As Janet Jackson sings solo, we have this exchange:
Me: Ya know, she sounds a lot like Michael did towards his end there
The Lovely Steph Leann:  That's exactly what I was thinking!!!  I almost wonder if maybe she was doing his singing...

9:17p... I fast forward for just about 4 seconds before I stop it, realizing she's going to another song... and when I realize its "Nasty", I just set the remote down.  That's right.  Don't call me baby.  Its Janet, Jackson, if you're nasty.

9:20p... Seacrest:  Tonight... its about Lee and Crystal
Me:  No, no its not.  Its about Simon
The Lovely Steph Leann:  Lee who?  Who's Crystal?

9:22p... Lee and Crystal come out together to sing "A Little Help from My Friends", as made famous by The Beatles, but popularized by Joe Cocker on my #2 favorite tv show of all time, "The Wonder Years", recently supplanted from the top spot by "LOST".  And on cue, Joe Cocker comes out to sing a little.  And I think he just missed a line.  But man, he can still wail, even at the ripe old age of 104.

9:25p... After a brief debate on The Beatles version vs Joe Cocker's version, I go to the source.  Wikipedia.  Lennon and McCartney did it in 1967, but Cocker did a radically different version in '68, one that he performed at Woodstock, and it went on to be the version used by "The Wonder Years". 

Fast forward through commercials

Its 9:25p.  There is about 6 minutes left recorded on the show.  We are now concerned that we will miss the winner, unless Seacrest gets to it.

Its 9:27p... Dim the lights!  After the nationwide vote... the winner and new American Idol is...

...Lee DeWyze.

Okay, so there's that.

Lee is emotional, and its kinda sweet to see him almost speechless.  They pan to the judges and Simon looks bored, like he knows the wrong person won (and really... after last night, Crystal should have won this)  The Lovely Steph Leann says, "He should be bored and ready to leave.  Lee shouldn't have won... that should have been Crystal."

The Lovely Steph Leann is not upset at Lee's win because she doesn't think he's good enough, she's upset at Lee's win because "We needed a female to win.  Suck it." 

And what a fitting phrase to end a disappointing season of Idol.  Suck it.  Well said, The Lovely Steph Leann, well said.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Crystal Sings Her (bower)Sox Off... (Idol IX Finale 1)

Well, here we are.  Someone asked me earlier today if I was going to watch the Idol finale shows, and I sighed and said yes.  They asked me who I thought would win, and I sighed again and said, "I dunno.  Not sure if I care."  They asked me why I would still watch, and I sighed again and said, "Because I've invested far too much time into this season to not finish it."

And so it goes.



It's Crystal vs. Lee.  Don't get me wrong... I think they are both talented.  Both have great voices, both have had numerous stand-out performances, and truly, through this season, America made the right decision when figuring out who to put in the Top Two.  That being said, neither are really all that... well, super.  Idol is looking for a superstar, and both are just... well, talented singers that are getting a bigger chance than most. 

And in a case of bad choreography, Lee ambles down the aisle, while Crystal starts off in a sprint, the mic booms like she drops something, she runs back and faces the camera looking confused.   Seacrest tells us they will be singing a song from this season, one as chosen by Idol producer Simon Fuller and finally, one that they'll be releasing if they win.

Lee DeWyze chooses "The Boxer" to sing as his song already performed this year.   Not bad, though it just sounds like what he did a few weeks ago during "Inspirational Week".   Randy the Dawg liked it, Ellen DeG says, "I couldn't be prouder if I birthed you myself".  Kara the New Hotness says she wants more.  Simon the Cowell wants a lot more.

Crystal Bowersox is reprising "Me and Bobby McGee" from #1s week, a song made famous by Janis Joplin.  She does it well, I guess, reminds me of Janis' original, which is good.  Randy the Dawg thought it was dope.  America's Favorite Lesbian Ellen DeGeneres calls her compelling.  Kara the New Hotness loves the fire in her (C'Bosox) belly.  Simon the Cowell says this was her best.

Now, the second song to be done by Lee DeWyze, singing "Everybody Hurts" from REM.  This song is a producer's choice. This was also a song from my college years, 1994 to be exact, from the album "Automatic for the People" back when REM was.. well, when they were relevent.  Seriously, the to' up the late 80s and early to mid-90s with this song, "Shiny Happy People", "The One I Love", "End of the World As We Know It (and I feel fine)" and of course, "Losing My Religion", that song where Michael Stipe just sits in a stool and flails his arms around in the video, looking almost cool doing it.

Ever seen the video to "Everybody Hurts"?   Like, all these cars get stuck on a bridge, and everyone gets out of their cars and start walking, much to the surprise of the newcaster narrating.  Oh, Randy, Ellen, Kara and Simon liked Lee here.

Back in school, there was a guy we knew obsessed with REM.  We used to kid around and tell him that REM stood for Rear End Men.  Turns out, years later, Stipe would prove that to be correct.  Go figure.  I was only more shocked when I found out that Nathan Lane was gay. 

Crystal comes out singing "Black Velvet", a song I destest and deplore.  And she's doing it in a dress that is not doing her curvy figure any favors.  I believe Clarice in "Steel Magnolias" said it best, at Shelby's reception... "looks like two pigs fightin' under a blanket"

Randy the Dawg loved it.  Ellen DeG loved it.  Kara the New Hotness loved it.  Simon the Cowell loved it.  Of course.

Personally, I like "Love Is", Alannah Myles "Black Velvet" follow up, much better.   You know, the last song she released before disappearing into obscurity.

If Lee DeWyze wins it all, this will be his song... "Beautiful Day" is the tune.   Is this... is this the U2 song?  Seriously?  I guess that makes sense... every song they attempt to write for the Idols absolutely blows chunks, so let's find a proven winner by rippin' someone else's song.

Randy the Dawg liked it.  Ellen DeG liked it.  Kara the New Hotness liked it.  Simon the Cowell liked it.  I thought it was good.

And Crystal's song is "Up to the Mountain (MLK Song)".  Its a song done by Patty Griffin, by also covered by Kelly Clarkson and Jeff Beck during Idol Gives Back in 2007.  And C'Bosox's version?  I thought it was fantastic.  Absolutely fantastic.   By the way, I didn't add the phrase (MLK Song) as any attempt to be cynical or sarcastic--thats part of the title. 

So sez Wiki:  "Up to the Mountain (MLK Song)" is a contemporary folk song written by Patty Griffin. The song touches upon emotions surrounding Martin Luther King, Jr.'s famous 1968 "I've Been to the Mountaintop" speech, given the day before his assassination in Memphis, Tennessee.

Here's my picks for tonight... Crystal's "Up to the Mountain"... Crystal's "Me and Bobby McGee"... Lee's "Beautiful Day"... Lee's "Everybody Hurts"... Lee's "The Boxer"... Crystal's "Black Velvet"

Peronsally, I think Crystal Bowersox wins this, and if she does, I will immediately purchase "Up to the Mountain (MLK Song)" by C'Bosox as soon as its available. 

And to wrap up, its Will Young, the winner of the UK's Pop Idol, and the guy who sings "Leave Right Now", the exit song for Idol this year is onstage singing that very song.   The Lovely Steph Leann and I debate on whether he's black or not.  I think he could be, she says no.

Tomorrow night at 8pm, join me here on Clouds as I give a running diary of the finals... why at 8?  Well, if I wait an hour, I can fast forward through commercials, the Ford Music Video, random performances we want to skip and so on. 

Sunday, May 23, 2010


108 Thoughts on LOST as the series finale nears...

(1) I was talking to Cindy Jo earlier after a group dinner, and I made a revelation that I don't think I had admitted before.  LOST is quite simply my favorite show.  Of all time. 

Of.  All.  Time.

I don't say that lightly.  I don't use the words "of all time" just, well, all the time.  Thus my reluctance to discuss my favorite movie of all time, listed on The Dave100, without a proper buildup.  Thus my favorite song of all time being a song from the mid-90s, not some cool song I heard a year ago.  Oh, I might say, "That's one of my favorites of all time", with the phrase "one of my favorites" encompassing anything from a few to a dozen of whatever we are talking about. 

But to point out a single something as my favorite of all time?  That's big.

Yet, I can say that comfortably about LOST.  For years, for almost two decades even, my favorite show of all time was "The Wonder Years", discussing this in a post from almost five years ago, during the first year of Clouds in My Coffee.  

(2) The Lovely Steph Leann and I spend the better part of the last 5 or 6 months going through the episodes of LOST on DVD.   Though I pride myself on being there at the beginning (when NO ONE was discussing this show), I can ashamedly admit that I lost it somewhere around Season 3 (the reasons are here).  I even tried to start again last year, but was unable to do so, until The Lovely Steph Leann and I just made it a commitment.  Last week, we caught up, and watched the latest episode of LOST this week the actual night it came on, for the first time in years.  And it was awesome.  And when Jack drank from Jacob's cup of life, and the revelation was made that the island must be saved and Fake Locke must be destroyed, when it ended, The Lovely Steph Leann and I looked at each other with a "NOOOO!!!!!" look on our face... this was a cliffhanger.

We had not experienced a LOST cliffhanger in a long, long time, because we just had Seasons 1-5 on DVD, and all episodes of Season 6 on our DVR.  Now... we had to wait for the Series Finale on Sunday night.

(3) And I will mourn the loss of LOST, but I'm glad its ending.  I am relieved that Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof, the producers/creators, were given an end date a few years back, and were able to wrap up their story in a finite amount of time.  I am mad at Fake Locke, I am happy the Desmond is back, and I am sadden by the loss of Jin and Sun, and Sayid Jarrah.


(5) I've heard it said that there will never be another show like LOST.  I'm not sure I fully agree with that... in the mid-80s, it was said that "The sitcom was dead".  Not long after, we were treated to "The Cosby Show", the prime years of "Cheers", "Seinfeld" and eventually "Friends".  The procureal drama was also dead by the early 2000s, which gave us "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation", "The West Wing", "Alias" and stellar years of "Law and Order"... and of course, LOST. 

So to say that there will never be another show like LOST is misleading.  After LOST premiered, what happened was what usually happens when a hit show premieres--numerous similar shows will pop up around it.  Anyone remember "Coupling" and "Boston Common" during the run of "Friends"?  Or how about "Threat Matrix" when "CSI" came on?  Yeah, me neither.

And with LOST, you had "Surface", "Threshold", "Invasion" and others that wanted the same type audience and showed the same type story, one that you had to watch every week to keep up with.  All fizzled before the season was up.  People had their LOST, and one show to watch, absorb and remember was enough.   Perhaps their will be another show like LOST, one that relies on its audiences keeping up with the story.  With the advent of TV-on-DVD, NetFlix, iTunes, Hulu, the interweb's technology and instant viewing, there's no reason someone can't catch up and keep up with a show... its all about the commitment.

That being said, there will never be another LOST.  Survivor meets Cast Away meets The Real World meets The X-Files makes for an incredible adventure, one that we are in love with, one that we follow to the very end, one that we get angry with (didja really have to kill Libby, just when Hurley was happy?), one that we almost gave up on (Seriously?  Did we care how Jack got his tattoos via Bai Ling?) but one that we kept coming back to for good reason ("Penny?"  "Desmond?"  "I love you!").

It's with this thought in mind that I tip my hat to the writers of LOST, for giving me six wonderful, frustrating, glorious, maddening, amazing, confusing, patience testing, inventive, creative, aimless, purposeful years of television. 

My Favorite LOST Characters, in No Particular Order:
(6) Sayid Jarrah... a torturer by trade, yet you could tell that the time on the island helped him forgive himself for all the things he'd done
(7) Daniel Faraday... twitchy as Elmo Blatch, he was the one who told all of us how this time travel stuff worked.  He seemed to answer (some) of the questions we were all trying to figure out the moment everything flash-forwarded
(8) Hugo "Hurley" Reyes... Everyone loves Hugo
(9) Jin Kwon... All he ever wanted was to love and protect his wife.  Sometimes he took the wrong way around (see Season One), but in the end, at the very end, he was there for her. 
(10) Juliet Burke... really only because I thought she was the hottest thing on the entire show's run
(11) Desmond Hume... another transformation within the show, he went from confused, almost mental guy who's lot in life is to push a button and miss his woman to Brothah.

(12) The Lovely Steph Leann says some of her favorites are, "Hurley... Sawyer... Jack and Kate (better that Sawyer and Kate)... Desmond."  She goes on to say that she likes how Jack is always trying to fix things, and she wonders how Sawyer would have been different if his parents hadn't died like they did.

Some of My Favorite LOST Moments
(13) From the Very Beginning... The moment Jack opens his eyes and sits up, looks around and sees Vincent running by him.  He stands, walks out of the woods and the camera pans, sound growing louder to suddenly see a wrecked airplane sitting on the shore, people screaming all around, things blowing up everywhere, metal and shrapnel flying through the air, and that guy who gets sucked into the engine making the whole thing explode.  It's on.
(14) Grieving for Jin & Sun... When I say "favorite", I also mean impactful.  When the sub sinks, with Jin and Sun aboard (after Lapidus and Sayid are already dead), Hurley, Jack, Kate and a unconscious Sawyer wash ashore.  Hurley asks, "Where's Jin and Sun?" and all Jack can do is shake his head, "No."  Kate begins to tear up, but Hurley's reaction is worse.  He just starts bawling.  Jack walks to the water, and begins to cry as well.  Wow.  Just wow.
(15) "The Constant"... the whole episode kinda put things in perspective. Sort of.  When Desmond finally gets through to Penny, its unbelievably awesome. 
(16) Charlie's Redemption... Another death, at the end of Season Three. Charlie Pace, another character I just loved, started as a heroin addict and ending as a heroic martyr. 
(17) Hurley Builds a Golf Course... right after Jack and Sayid torture Sawyer, Hurley goes and builds a golf course.  And it was a perfect bit of comic relief amidst all the drama and building confusion
(18) Sayid vs Keamy... Big Keamy was one of the coolest cats on the show, but when he and Sayid finally went toe to toe in a fist fight, it was darn near awesome.  The rolled, they tumbled and they kicked and punched for what seemed like five minutes before Sayid finally got the win... but it was awesome.
(19) Charlie and Claire Share Peanut Butter... Well, it was invisible, but still... Charlie, still getting close to Claire, knows she wants some PB more than anything.  So after a fruitless search, he gets an empty jar, scoops his fingers inside, and licks off invisible peanut butter off of his fingers.  Then he offers it to Claire, who hesitates at first... but then gives in, hungry and charmed at the same time.
(20) Hurley Takes Down Sawyer... After so many "fat jokes" at Hurley's expense, he snaps.  He runs over and tackles Sawyer through his tent, pounding him in the sand until he's pulled off.   He also gets the better of Sawyer in later seasons, when he hustles him in a game of ping pong for medical supplies and the agreement to not use any nicknames for a week
(21) Miles and Hurley Discuss Time Travel... One of the reasons The Lovely Steph Leann likes Hurley so much is "He's us".  And this was never more true than the conversation between Miles and Hurley, as Miles tried in vain to explain what was going on with the time shifting, the time travel and the rules that can and cannot be broken.  Hurley asked the questions we were asking, as we kept wanting Miles to dumb it down for all of us.
(22) Hurley hurls the Hot Pocket... Ben shows up, Hurley whips around in surprise and chunks the Hot Pocket in Ben's direction.  Hilarious.
(23) Sawyer Talks to Jack's Dad... After the entire first season puts Jack and Sawyer at odds, Sawyer is set to leave with Michael, Walt and Jin on the boat to find rescue.  They say a quick goodbye, but Sawyer turns to Jack and tells him of a conversation he'd had in Australia.  With man who Jack knew... because it was Jack's father.
(24) The Writing on the Wall... The wall comes down on Locke, trapping him under the door.  Locke screams for help, and then... the lights go out.  When the emergency lights come on. there's a huge map on the wall, a Dharma map with notes and stations and other fun things.  If we didn't know there was secrets on the island by then, we certainly did now.
(25) Mr. Eko Stares Down Smokey... When Smokey zips through the jungle and runs across John Locke, Locke stands motionless, but is petrified, later describing it as "I've looked into the eye of this island, and what I saw was beautiful."  When Smokey runs into Eko, the fake priest seeking repentance stands strong, looking more bewildered and amazed than anything else.  That is what you call a bad-a**.


Things I'll Remember About LOST:
(27-39) Oceanic Flight 815... Ajira Flight 316... "DUDE!"... "You got some Arzt on you"... The jar of invisible peanut butter... "Freckles"... The numbers... Dharma... Hanso Foundation... The caves... flashbacks... flash-forwards... flash... sideways??...

(40) KATE: Are you serious?

SAWYER: Baby, I am tied to a tree in the jungle of mystery. I just got tortured by a damn spinal surgeon and a genuine Iraqi. Of course I’m serious.

(41-52)The Flame Station... the Swan Station... the Hydra Station... the Temptest Station... the Lamppost Station... the Orchid Station... Penny... "Not Penny's Boat"... the hatch... Mr. Cluck's Chicken... Smokey... the sound Smokey makes before he arrives...

(53) "A 12 year old Ben Linus just brought me a chicken salad sandwich.  How do you think I'm doing?"

(54-73) Henry Gale... Cassidy... Clementine... Turnip Head... Ethan Rom... Santa Rosa Mental Institution... that glowing cave... that big foot statue... Dogen & Lennon... The Others... The Tailies... The Freighter... enter the numbers...  Expose!, starring Billy Dee Williams... Richard Alpert's agelessness... Richard Alpert's guyliner... Some Like it Hoth... press the button... DriveShaft... "You All Everybody"...

(74) Jeff Fahey has a career again!  No more "Lawnmower Man" sequels for you... at least, not yet...

(75) RIP Juliet... Charlie... Shannon, Boone, Danielle, Alex, Karl, Sayid, Jin, Sun, Widmore, Frogert, Ana Lucia, Eko, Libby, Lapidus, Charlotte, Daniel, Michael, Nikki, Paolo, The Real Locke...

(77-87) The Oceanic 6... "Bad Twin"... "Watership Down"... Uncle Rico from Napoleon Dynamite being Ben's dad!... I Heart My Shih-Tzu... "if anything goes wrong, Desmond Hume will be my constant"... Dharma ranch dressing... "You and me ain't done, Zeke"... bear cages... getting it on in those bear cages... Fish Biscuits..

(88) "Face it dude... Ewoks suck"

(89-106) Greg Grunberg getting snatched out of the cockpit in a tree... Geronimo Jackson... The Man in Black... Mr. Eko's Jesus stick... Bernard to Eko:  "I think I liked you better when you were just hitting people with your stick"... Jughead... Fake Locke...  white rock... black rock... Black Rock... polar bears... backgammon... Locke's orange-eating smile... "Good Vibrations" in the Looking Glass... Vincent the Eternally Surviving Lab... the Lighthouse... Locke's knives... Finding out Bernard was white!

and, of course...

(107) SHANNON: I’m alone now. On the island alone. Please, someone come. The others, they’re … they’re dead. It killed them. It killed them all.

BOONE: That was good.
SAYID: Sixteen years.
SAYID: Sixteen years. And five months. That’s the count.
BOONE: What the hell are you talking about?
SAYID: The iterations. It’s a distress call. A plea for help. A mayday. If the count is right … It’s been playing over … and over … for sixteen years.
BOONE: Someone else? Was stranded here?
KATE: Maybe they came for them.
SAWYER: If someone came, why is it still playing?
CHARLIE: Guys…where are we?

Oh yeah... what better way to end this post than to shout:

(108) BAD ROBOT!!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Hallelujah to the Idol Three (with results!)

Its been what you might call a lackluster season.  The performances haven't been great, but maybe just good.  The personalities haven't been outstanding, but maybe just interesting.  The season hasn't been steller, maybe just manageable.

However, it wouldn't be right, it wouldn't be the same, nay!  It wouldn't be proper, American or wholesome if we didn't finish this season out right.  That means the final two performance shows, that means the final two results shows...

And we begin tonight with Crystal, Lee and Casey.  My predictions have Lee and Casey in the Idol Championship. 


Tonight, all the contestants do two songs... one picked out by themselves, the others picked out by the judges.

Casey James is up first.  He's picked a song by Eric Hutchison called "Okay, Alright With Me."  I've never heard the song, but I liked it.  It was totally in his wheelhouse, and I thought he sounded pretty good.

Randy the Dawg says, "Yeah, it was okay, alright with me too."  America's Favorite Lesbian Ellen DeGeneres kinda... well, kinda babbles like Paula used to do.  I miss Paula Abdul.  Kara, though hot, is no Paula.  Kara the New Hotness says it was just okay, and Simon the Cowell says this is the most important night of CJ's life, and this song is nothing but the salad to the dinner.

Crystal Bowersox comes up next.  She sings "Come to My Window", which is AWESOME.... this is one of my favorite songs of all time--Top 100--and a great part of my Troy State Experience.  Came in the spring of 94, if I remember quickly.  Its off the album "Yes I Am' because it was about the time that Melissa Etheridge came out.  The Lovely Steph Leann is a fan of "I'm the Only One" but I take this one.

C'Bosox starts out with a quiet harmonica, then kicks it in.  Perhaps its because I adore this song, but I like C'Bosox' take on it.  Granted its not perfect, but if I wanted the perfect version, I'd fire up the iPod, scroll to Melissa Etheridge (under the "Lesbian Rocker" playlist, a list that I've had to add Jennifer Knapp to recently.  Sigh) and hear the original.

Randy the Dawg didn't love the arrangement, but loved the vocals on it.  Ellen DeG, speaking on behalf of her fellow Butch, says Melissa would be proud.  Kara the New Hotness says it wasn't a "moment", but it was good.   Simon the Cowell says it wasn't a great performance, but it was good.  The Lovely Steph Leann liked the song, but not the arrangement.

Seacrest sends it to commercial with "Lee is up next, with some Skynyrd!"   To which I groan, "...oh no..."  Let's hope its not as bad as I think it is.

Lee DeWyze is singing, "Simple Man", which is good.  We dodged a bullet.  Cause there is really one song not named Freebird that Skynyrd is known for, and I was so afraid we'd hear that.  Of course, I don't really know the song that he is singing, but it sounds like its straight out of 1974... but that's probably because its a Lynyrd Skynyrd song.  Lot of "y"s in that name.

I thought it was pretty good, The Lovely Steph Leann liked it.  Randy the Dawg thought it was a great song choice, and it was a great performance.  Ellen DeG said it showed that Lee takes this seriously.  Kara the New Hotness says what Lee did is what all the contestants should do.  Round One goes to Lee!  Simon the Cowell asks Lee why that song was chosen, and Lee said, "Because when I play that song, it makes me happy."  Simon says the song choice was brilliant. 

Me:  That was a good fit for him.  Of course, Crystal doing Melissa Etheridge should have been better.
The Lovely Steph Leann:  Exactly.  She should have just played her guitar.  The arrangement killed it. 

Alrighty, we now go a quick hometown videos, where the contestants will also find out what songs they'll be singing.  Let's go to Texas with Casey James.

Randy and Kara the New Hotness have selected "Daughters" by John Mayer for Casey to sing.  Not my favorite John Mayer song, so let's see how CJ does...

I think he's singing it really well... but I find the original to be a little boring, so I kinda find this one to be a little boring too.   Randy the Dawg says this song fits him like a glove.  Ellen DeG says lots of daughters and mothers and... sons too... that will be voting for CJ.  Kara the New Hotness says CJ shone in this song.  Simon the Cowell thought it was much, much better.  And he agrees with me that the song was kinda lazy.

So, Randy the Dawg, one of the two original judges (and soon to be the only original judge) on the show, has to share a song selection with Kara the New Hotness.  Ellen DeGeneres gets a selection all by her lonesome.  Why?  Probably because she's America's Favorite Lesbian.

Let's cut to Ohio, where we see Crystal Bowersox getting a text from Ellen DeGeneres, telling her she'll be singing "Maybe I'm Amazed" by Paul McCartney and Wings.  Good song.  No, great song, and its in my Top 15 of all time.  No joke.

Again, maybe its because I love love lurve the song, but I really like what Crystal is doing with this.  The arrangement isn't too far off base, and it sounds great.   Randy the Dawg says, "Great song, great vocals, America!  She's in it to win it!"  Ellen DeG loved it.  Kara the New Hotness said it really showed off different parts of her vocals.  Simon the Cowell says that she has soul, and the song was terrific.

Let's now go to Chicago to find out what Lee DeQWyze will be singing... and its "Hallelujah" by Jeff Buckley.  Let's be real here--Jason Castro has the definitive version on Idol of this song.

The Lovely Steph Leann says, "Oh, please, please be good."

Lee is not speeding it up any, but is putting a little raspy rocker twist onto the song.   The Lovely Steph Leann says, "I thought it was good.  Castro did his own version, Lee did his style, it was good."  I concur.

Randy the Dawg says Lee just threw down the gauntlet, and that Simon set him up for this moment.   Lee thanks Simon for the selection.  Ellen DeG says it was stunning.  Kara the New Hotness says that he is what the show is all about--starts in one place and ends up where he is now.  Simon the Cowell says he is very proud of Lee. 

For me tonight... Lee's "Hallelujah"... C'Bosox' "Maybe I'm Amazed"... Lee's Skynyrd... Crystal's "Come to My Window"...  CJ's "Daughters"... CJ's "Okay Alright"

Tomorrow.... who makes it in the Idol Championships?

Aaaaaaaaand we're back.    Its about 24 1/2 hours later, and The Lovely Steph Leann just got in  from a "thing"--you know, sometimes at work you have to do a "thing", and she had to do one tonight.  So, I grab the DVR remote... and...

Its Casey.  Its Crystal.  Its Lee.  Its Americal Idol's "semi-finals". 

Tonight, Justin Bieber is performing.  Uh... yay?  And some guy named Travis Garland is also performing.  Uh... yay?   Interestingly enough, this will be my first time hearing Justin Bieber sing, for as long as I let him sing on my TV.   Oh, and just a note, its pronounced Bee-ber, not Bye-ber.  I know this because I have a niece who is twelve. 

While The Lovely Steph Leann is unwinding, I've been surfing the interweb, checking headlines on ESPN (by the way, my Magic is down 2-0... and I have a feeling its over.  Dwight Howard, as much as I want to like the guy, is overrated), Sports Illustrated, Drudge, and Facebook, and I just realized that we are like, 10 minutes into the show and Seacrest has killed that time by chatting to the three Idolites about winning.  I just realized at this very moment, I'm kinda bored.  Sigh.

Fast forward through commercials

Fast forward through Ford Commercial

Now we cut to the video from Texas where Casey James went home.  I remember when I worked in Hell-TV, Taylor Hicks, as a Idol Top-Three'er, came to the nearby Fox 6 station.  Holy smokes that was a mess.  There were cars everywhere, parking in our own station lot and up and down the driveway.  They did a rooftop concert and it was loud and crazy and I was kinda jealous... they have fun at Fox 6 from what I could tell. 

Seacrest:  Up next, Travis Garland performs with his new single
The Lovely Steph Leann (pause):  Who?

Fast forward through commercials

And we're back, and Seacrest is talking to Perez Hilton.  He comes from a long line of people that make you wonder, "....aaaaand how is this guy famous?"   So now we go to Travis Garland, who Perez Hilton "discovered".  

Me, remote in hand, finger on >> button:  Say when, dear.
The Lovely Steph Leann:  You could have already fast forwarded for all I care.  Who is this guy?

Fast forward through Travis Garland

Fast forward through commercials

Now, let's go to Crystal's go-home video.  Back to Taylor Hicks, I also remember when he came to the Galleria mall.  I wasn't working there at the time, I was actually sitting at a Sneaky Pete's restaurant with... Tom Johnson, I think.  Anyway, we were watching the action on televsion, and it was insane.

Heard later that the retailers in the mall, especially those around the food court, hated hated HATED having Taylor Hicks there.  For all the people that came to see Taylor Hicks sing, it killed business that day.  The people that were there were there to see Taylor and leave.  The people that would have wanted to shop stayed away to avoid the crowds.  Some stores saw a slight bump in sales, but for the most part, it was a bad day for anyone with a business to run that day.

We now go to the Chicago video of Lee DeWyze's homecoming.  Someone on Facebook made the comment that they didn't understand the fascination with Lee DeWyze, and said he had the personality of a doorknob.  As personable and nice as the guy certainly is, I kinda agree.

Gotta be honest though, if you put a gun to my head and said "Okay, d$, either I shoot you, or you go to a Lee concert, a Casey concert or a Crystal concert.  Pick one or die." I'm probably headed to a Lee concert.  Just sayin'.

Idol has big changes, by the way.  The are pulling the performance shows back to 90 minutes instead of 2 hours, which is fine with me, though I could go either way.   When you have up to 12 people performing, a 2 hour show is not unreasonable, though it can be trimmed, though.  The results shows are the big change--from an hour to 30 minutes, which is wonderful.  There is no reason to go a full hour.  Heck, they could cut "Fringe" by 10 minutes and have a 10 minute results show, and I'd be fine with that.

Fast forward through commercials

Listen to about :30 of Justin Bieber

Me:  Holy crap, he looks like he's four
The Lovely Steph Leann:  Because he is.
Me:  Did you know he was nominated for a BET Music award?
The Lovely Steph Leann:  Did someone not realize he wasn't black?

Granted, Justin Bieber only got one nomination, for best new artist.  That pales in comparison to Jay-Z, who got five.  Jay-Z, incidentally, is in fact black.

Fast forward through Justin Bieber

The Lovely Steph Leann also observes that the judges aren't even watching Justin Bieber perform

Fast forward through commericals

Also heard a completely unsubstantiated rumor that Idol might replace ALL the judges next year.  Get rid of Ellen, that's my pick.

Dim the lights... here's the results.. the first person...


next week's...



Lee DeWyze.  We almost all knew this to be true.  So, who will join Lee for a shot at the title?   That would be Crystal Bowersox.  So, my prediction only half came true... Casey James punks out and is gone. 

So there you have it.  The American Idol Season 9 Finale will be Crystal Bowersox vs. Lee DeWyze. 

NEXT TUESDAY... full recap of the final performance show.  And next Wednesday, a LIVE RUNNING DIARY OF THE IDOL FINALE... Be here! 

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Top Five Coolest Things of 2009

Here we are!  Finally!

Okay, okay, I know its mid-May.  I know I'm just now finishing up a recap of a year that finished almost five full months ago.  I've been busy, sue me.

Seriously, I hate that its taken this long to finish this list--my true objective is to have the entire 100 list finished by the end of that following January, and only once have I actually accomplished it.  But, as LOST would say, "What happened, happened."

Let's recap this year's list first...

#100 thru 91... Pixar's wish... "Fireflies"... a real high school musical... "The Hammer"... Steak Tartare... "Gran Torino"... "Empire State of Mind"... Tracy Jones... "Blue Harvest"... Slapchop Rap
#90 thru 81... Dairy Queen Real Deals... Stuff you missed in history class... Toy Story double feature... Alissa & Joey... Smiley Face... Joe Wilson... Paepcke gets told... "Men of a Certain Age"... "Paul Blart: Mall Cop"... The Amazing Race
#80 thru 71... Kate Winslet gets an Oscar... Pickles!... Jon Thompson... Hank Azaria's Pharoah... The Muppets and Queen... "Hey"... "High School Musical"... "Hoedown Throwdown"... "30 for 30"... Shankapotomus
#70 thru 61... Pastor Calvin... "My Life in Ruins"... Chipotle... "Tropic Thunder"... "Breakthrough"... ESPN College Football... Christian Brothers Auto... "Native Tongue"... "I Love You Man"... Kris Allen's "Heartless"
#60 thru 51... Ellijay Thanksgiving... "The Proposal"... "Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince" Mindy DA & KT Baby... Swamp Lunch... Baha Burger... "State of Play"... "Fearless"... "Julie and Julia"... Lenning on Idol... The DFC X
#50 thru 41... "Right Round"... "Mother Lover"... "The Rise & Fall of the WCW"... Lunch With... "The Princess & the Frog"... JT Wins Survivor... "Party in the USA" (oh shut up)... "The Blind Side"... Walt Disney World July... New kicks
#40 thru 31... "Sweet Thing"... "Taken"... "John Adams"... "Fallin' for You"... Debating Brad Latta... That great picture... "Star Trek"... Pardon the Interruption... "Avatar"... Ruminations
#30 thru 21...  Tyler's wake up... "The Hangover"... "The Hurt Locker"... Rebecca Jourdan Samuelson... "My Life Would Suck Without U"... Dave and Amanda Tuck... Disney with Family... Justin Fisher... "It"... Go Gators...
#20 thru 11... Where We Eatin'?... "Sunshine Cleaning"... Adam Carolla... "Relator"... "The Book of Basketball"... "Rather Unimpressive Illegitimate Children"... MZ Gets a Starbucks... Inside the Magic... Disney With The Lovely Steph Leann... Bad Movies with Mikey
#10 thru 5...  "B.O.B."... "Up"... Class reunion... The Rays... Disney with the Rays...

Alrighty, now that we are all caught up, let's get on with the five coolest things of all of 2009...

The Fifth Coolest Thing of 2009... "You Belong With Me" by Taylor Swift
What can I say.... I dig this song.  Its off her latest CD, "Fearless", the 54th coolest thing of 2009, and its everything you want in a teenage country pop song... teen angst, puppy love, jealousy, a "cheer captain, I'm on the bleachers" rivalry...

But what does it for me?  The video.  My favorite video of the entire year matches the favorite song of the entire year... call me a wuss (Wookiee likes to), call me a softie, I'm a sucker for a well played love story, which is why "Notting Hill" is in my top 20 movies all time, and its why this video makes me happy...

My favorite part?  From memory... "Oh I remember you driving to my house in the middle of the night, I'm the one who makes you laugh when you know you're about to cry, I know your favorite songs and you tell me about your dreams, I think I know where you belong. I think I know it's with me..."

Thank you.  Here all week.

The Fourth Coolest Thing of 2009... "Up in the Air"
Sometimes you just know that you're going to enjoy a movie.  That's how it was with "Up in the Air"... I almost couldn't fathom not liking this movie... but the end of the year was approaching quickly, and since I knew this film would find its way on the 100 Coolest of 2009 list (wasn't sure how high... here we are), I had to see it before the year was out.

Smashcut to New Year's Eve, 10pm, The Lovely Steph Leann and I sitting in the Lee Branch movie theater with NBC's Andrea Lindenberg.  Finally wrote my review of the film, and our experience with Andrea, in a post titled "So, Vera Farmiga" on February 20th... said this:

I loved this film, every single minute of it, and though its rare for me to feel this way, I would have been happy with a few more minutes.

It tells the story of Ryan Bingham, played by also-nominated George Clooney, who's job is to travel all over the country and be the mediator when a company wants to lay people off. Natalie (Anna Kendrick) is a new recruit who's developed a system of eliminating the travel--firing via satellite. Bingham convinces their boss (a great Jason Bateman) that Natalie needs to learn how its really done, so she's sent with him across the country to teach her how to do it face-to-face.

Along the way, Ryan keeps running into Alex (Vermiga), who is another frequent flier, and they develop a relationship in hotel rooms and where ever they can find a place... but of course, there might be real feelings there after a while. Jason Reitman, director of "Juno", wrote and directed this flick.

[The movie] does have language, and one scene where you see a nude woman's back, but that's it... and yeah, I loved it. I am eager to see it again when it hopefully comes to the Ghetto Theater here in town. Not only did it have airplanes and airports, which I strangely am fascinated with, it had George Clooney, who like Brad Pitt, I contend if given the right material is a phenomenal actor, it had the cutie-patootie Anna Kendrick, who was the only thing that kept me alive during the movie "Twilight", it had great writing, it had likable, if not sympathetic characters, it featured appearances from the cool voiced Sam Elliott, the comedic Danny McBride, the always awesome JK Simmons, "The Hangover"'s Zach Galifianakis and the I-am-strangely-enthralled-with Melanie Lynskey, and... it had Vera Farmiga.

Just a note... I still have my own list of The Dave100, my choices for my favorite 100 movies of all time.  One of my rules has always been that a movie cannot make this list unless it is at least three years old--I think its silly to declare a favorite "anything" when it comes to movies or music because of something that is so fresh and new.  Having said that, a short list of movies that I think might be on the 2015 edition of The Dave100 include "Up", "Iron Man", "Sunshine Cleaning", "The Dark Knight" and yes, "Up in the Air".

The Third Coolest Thing of 2009... Toy Story Mania
On June 23rd, I did Part I of "Top Ten Disney Must-Dos", and a day later, I did Part II... and not to spoil it for you, but the top spot?  The top Disney Must-Do?  A little ride in Hollywood Studios called Toy Story Mania".  Here's what I wrote about it...

You will have more fun on this ride than possibly any other ride in the park. The Rockin' Roller Coaster is faster. The Tower of Terror will kick you in the stomach harder. Small World is more classic. Everest is bigger. But Toy Story Midway Mania appeals to anyone who's ever had fun throwing rings or tossing balls or trying to win at skee ball or trying to get those stupid little red tickets in an arcade... because "arcade" barely covers it.

You get in your little car, behind a goofy gun with a pull string. You put on the 3-D glasses, and then are whirled around to a screen where Jessie & Woody greet you, asking you to practice. You pull the string and... a little paintball appears on the screen, splattering a plate Woody is holding with red paint.

You are whisked away to five areas, breaking plates, popping balloons, tossing rings and more... your score is kept via your little digital readout, and the entire time, you are eager to beat the person next to you, and laughing all the way. Its awesome. The Lovely Steph Leann and I did it five times last February, and though we could only do it once, this is a ride that is on a short list of "we have to ride this every time we go. Every. Time." kind of attractions

The Second Coolest Thing of 2009... My New iPod
Here's what I wrote on the 30th of December in a post called "Its 3am, I Must Be Lonely"...

The Lovely Steph Leann did well this year.... she usually does, but this year especially. I got some great stuff, like some books, my "Mountain Soul II" CD by Patty Loveless that I was hoping for, a cute little Mickey Mouse tie, Super Mario for the Wii, and in my stocking, I pulled out some candy (Reese's Peanut Butter Cups are the best, aren't they?), some weird little "put them in water and they grow!" animals that The Lovely Steph Leann got a big kick out of and at the bottom... an iPod Touch.

I held it, I looked at her, looked back at it, then looked back at her smiling face. "You... you got me... got me... an iPod Touch?" I stuttered. Very little leaves me stammering, but this did the trick. She smiled, and told me that she won it at work in some sort of contest... she was quick to point out that, "Had I not won this, you wouldn't have gotten it. Just so you know."

I had kinda been wanting an iPhone, but my issue with that was the phone bill per month would be higher... not necessarily the actual phone plan, but the cost of all the bells and whistles that went with it. An iPod Touch is basically the same thing, just without that pesky phone part. I can connect to the interweb, download applications, load contact info and so on... in fact, I'm not even sure what I'm capable of with it. Tomorrow, I'm going to try to launch a cupcake business and tap into the space shuttle interface.

Its been a learning curve, using both iPods on the same iTunes... yeah, yeah, I know, poor me, pity me and so on. I'm just telling you how it is. The Touch is great, though... the screen is really wide, so I've enjoyed watching music videos and TV shows on it... on a weekend trip to Tullahoma, TN, last weekend, I managed to take in Family Guy's "Blue Harvest" and the first episode of "Mad Men", a show I have a feeling I'm about to plunge headfirst into.

(I plunged headfirst into "Blue Harvest", and it ended up being the 92nd coolest thing of 2009... and I've dug into half of the first season of "Mad Men", and its awesome)

The Coolest Thing of 2009... Disney World with the Guys
So, at some point in late July, I had just gotten back from a quick three day venture to The Happiest Place on Earth with Rev'rn Ty, Amy Mc and Tommy Mc. I was sitting with Tyler, The Lovely Steph Leann's younger brother and by law, my brother-in-law, and we were discussing said trip to Orlando, and he mentioned something about Fall Break at The University of Alabama.

Trey, enjoying an apple the first morning.  We had arrived about three hours prior to this, we were all dead tired, and when Trey stands up here, he trips backwards over his chair.

I, out of the blue, half joking, kinda serious, said, "You want to go to Disney on Fall Break?" He stared at me, and said, "Are you serious?" I replied, "Sure. I mean, I'll have to ask The Lovely Steph Leann what she thinks about it, but yeah, why not. Bring the roomdudes."

Tyler texted his roommates (Trey's response?  "Balls yes"), and within a few days, it all came together. On Wednesday, we would leave out around 8 or 830pm, drive all night, arrive at All Star Movies (where five of us would stay in a four person room) and hit the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom for three full days, and some on Sunday before heading back.

Tyler and Jonathan trying on new hats in Tomorrowland

I had two conditions... 1) I didn't drive a vehicle that is parked at The Cabana. This is not to say I wouldn't drive at all, but Toni Rocki Honda wasn't built for five--its barely built for three--and I knew darn tootin' well that The Lovely Steph Leann was not about to let me take her car to Orlando. 2) I got a bed. I figured I'd sleep next to one of the guys, and I did, but I wasn't doing the floor. I'm too old to do such things. Other than that, let the magic reign.  (from October 15th, 2009)

And the magic did reign.  This was just about the perfect trip.  Five guys who get along well, one of them (me), knowing exactly how to attack Walt Disney World for maximum fun, how to work the crowds and when to (and when not to) ride rides, see shows and eat at certain places.  It was as if all the other trips I had been on up until this time was God preparing me for this very trip... and I was ready.

Jon and Jonathan on the teacups in Fantasyland.  Trey sat out because he just can't handle the spin.

In early October, it was myself, Tyler Campbell, who had been a couple of times in years past, Trey Cartledge, who had also been some years ago, Jonathan Lenning (who was the focus of the 52nd coolest thing of 2009), who had also been way back, and Jon Thompson (the 78th coolest thing of 2009), who had never, ever been.

We ate a Biergarten in Germany, we ate at The T-Rex cafe, one guy was the focal point of what I like to call The Smoky Bus Affair, we saw Fantasmic, we saw Finding Nemo: The Musical, we enjoyed funnel cake while watching Wishes, we rode everything from Soarin' to Peter Pan's Flight, we napped on the train, we enjoyed Dole Whip in Adventureland, we saw one of the guys on the Idol Experience stage, the four guys got to participate in the Backlot Movie Tour, we searched for Hidden Mickeys, we met Princesses,

Jonathan, myself, Trey and Jon, buckling up for a flight across California, via Soarin'

The Lovely Steph Leann had a hard time with this trip being number one.  She wondered why our anniversary trip didn't make the top spot, and my main reason?  She got sick.  Talked about that when it our trip was declared the 12th Coolest Thing of 2009 earlier.  And it almost ended up number two, as getting that iPod Touch was a strong contender for the top spot... and had this list been completed in January, it might have been a Disney with the Guys at #2, iPod Touch #1 finish, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that this was just about the perfect trip.  The weather was perfect, the cost was minimal, the food was awesome, the company was fantastic--seriously, I cannot say enough about how amazing, Spirit filled and "good clean fun" natured these guys are--and The Most Magical Place on the Earth was ours for the four days we were there.

Thanks guys for making this trip the absolute coolest thing of 2009.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Burn Baby Burn (Starbucks Inferno)

Don't ever let anyone tell you that Starbucks does not have hot coffee.  In fact, hearing about the woman who is suing Starbucks in NYC because she was served tea that was "unreasonably hot in containers which are not safe", I can't help but think that our drinks are nothing but hot.

Opened this particular morning at Starbucks, there around 5:20, getting set for a 6am Saturday opening time.  Things went accordingly, and around 610, MZ comes in bringing a batch of doughnuts to fill everyone's stomachs and cellulite.  I went to grab an urn of our bold coffee, this week being Three Regions Blend, and that's when everything happened. 

Our urns are metal, with plastic tops, and on the top there is a handle on each side to grasp it with.  I put a hand on each handle, pulled it out and somehow, my right hand slipped.  The urn pivoted in my left hand, practically turned upside down, the lid came off and a gush of what can only be described as 190-200 degree coffee comes pouring out... right onto my right foot.

I dropped the urn, it landed with a thud, I hopped on my left foot and yanked off both my right shoe and then right sock, now soaked in hot coffee.  This all happened in a matter of 2 seconds.  Maybe 3. 

And man oh man, it burned.  Like you would not believe.  In hindsight, I would have gone to the sink, rinsed off my leg and foot with cool water, dried it off and applied some burn cream immediately.  Then wrap it as best I can and then carry on.

What did I do?  Dried off the coffee, massaged the wound for a minute, put my shoe on and went back to work.  Mopped up the spilled coffee, and began to deal with an injured foot while working.  It had already started to blister...

MZ came shouting from the back, holding up a coffee stained sock, "Who left their sock in the floor?!  This is a violation!  We could get in trouble for this!"   I hobbled over to her, "It was me.  I uh.. spilled coffee... on my leg.  Sorry about the sock.  We can probably throw it away."   

MZ's motherly instinct took over, as she looked at my foot with several, "Are you okay?" and "Can I help?" and "What do you need?"  That's why I work for MZ.  She takes care of me.

I got some burn cream, put it on the already fast rising blister(s) on my right foot.  The next five hours were uncomfortable, but manageable.  I quickly adapted to pivoting on my left foot, keeping the weight off of my right.  I had a Starbucks hand towel in my shoe serving as a wrap, using Scotch tape to keep it around my ankle.   At one point, while making a drink, I even sang, "Burn baby burn... Starbucks inferno... burn baby burn, burn that coffee down..."  A customer said, "You should do a dance for that!" and I kindly replied, "Oh, not this morning."

Because I've just finished The Happiest Place in the Mall, and won't have enough hours to get Starbucks benefits until about July, I have no insurance.  You'd think this would be the time I'd wish everyone would have insurance all the time, but no.   But as it is, I had to get it looked at, so I had to suck it up and go somewhere.  MZ was kind enough to let me go early (keeping Garrett on the floor--thanks Garrett!) and around noon, I headed across the highway to American Family Care.

The American Family Care on Highway 280 is located down on the southern end of the main drag of Hoover.  Its before you get to Lee Branch and the mountain, but past the 119 junction.  I've been to one "Doc in a Box" before, back in 2003, also when I had no health insurance.  Back then I was running a high fever and could barely walk... turns out I had strep throat.  Then, as now, I worked anyway cause I got bills to pay.  That Family Care, or whatever it was then/now, was on Hwy 31, close to 65, and was reasonably clean and speedy, and served its purpose. 

This AFC was extremely nice.  The lobby was very nice, comfy chairs, the attendant at the front was very pleasant, and the practitioner was great as well.  Her name was Alice, and she was a little Asian girl who I had a hard time understanding.  She took my vitals, asked lots of questions and make a few jokes that I could barely understand.  I only knew she was joking when she laughed after she said whatever she had said.  I chuckled too, just for posterity.

By the time my right foot had been doctored, there were seven burn blisters, including one huge, bubbling blister covering my ankle.  It was at least an inch thick, and in a rectangular shape--I'm not kidding when I say it was about two inches wide, and about four inches long.  And when I walked, I could feel the fluids inside of it move.  It was kinda creepy.

Another girl came in, took a look at it and told me that it was a 2nd degree burn and that I would be just find.  Alice would be back in shortly.

Alice came back in carrying with her a pile of gauze, an Ace bandage type wrap and... a small scalpel.  She placed a small, blue towel under my foot, then poured peroxide over it and wiped it down to clean it.  She said, in broken English, that she had to lacerate the blisters and drain them.  She told me it wouldn't hurt, and it didn't.  She lightly touched the sharp tip of the scalpel to the surface, and my blister was like a geyser, a fountain of fluids.  It shot through the air in a large arch, like a small child spitting water into a cup.  She pressed the blister down, and it did hurt a little as she got closer to the skin, but not too bad.  She repeated the same process onto the other blisters, each providing their own little water show.

Alice drained all the fluids, leaving my foot in a big pile of peroxide, blister fluid and burn cream atop a blue towel, and then she pulled out a jar of Silver Sulfadiazine, which as best I could tell, looked like a jar of... well, a jar of Kraft's Jet-Puffed Marshmallow Creme.  Okay, the jar didn't look like it, but what was inside looked like it.  She used a tongue depressor stick and slathered it all over my ankle, then carefully wrapped it up in gauze and the bandage.  And, just like that, I hobbled back to the front to pay. 

The pay wasn't bad--about $72 or so, and the attendant at the front told me that everyone loved Alice (apparently, she has a great reputation for giving shots--she spanks the person, then puts the needle in.  No joke).  Went back to the store for a few minutes, went to CVS for my prescription, then got home around 1:30. 

A few minutes ago--8pm--I pulled off the outer bandage.  The Lovely Steph Leann had this "uuggh" look on her face.  Even though there are two pieces of gauze still on my foot, being held on by the sticky sulfadiazine, its red all around.  I'll pull the gauze off in a little while and wash off my foot.

But... what I dread?  That shower in the morning.  Oh em gee that's going to hurt.