Saturday, December 31, 2011


There are some movies that are easy to explain... Like "Snakes on a Plane". It's a bunch of mofo snakes on mofo plane, and Sammy Jackson is tired of it. Or "Twilight", which is a two hour montage of how beautiful and sparkly Edward is. (didn't say these were good films...)

Other films take a little work. Take "The Usual Suspects"--great cast, plot line with lots of twists, and an awesome ending which, at the time, was brilliant... It's a little too well known to shock anyone these days. Or the best example of a complicated film, at least in recent years, is "Inception". One of my favorite films ever, to talk you through that would be a good hours discussion... And even then, you'd have a ton of questions.

This poster isn't far from the truth
And then... There's this small independent film called "Rubber". See, it's this movie where a... Um... Okay, so this tire like, rolls out of the desert and... um... uh...alright, so this tire like, kills people, right? And this group of people is watching and it's like a reality show, but real life when... This tire... It. He...

Yeah. That.

"Rubber" is one of the most bizarre movies I've ever seen in my life. Without explanation, a tire, on it's own, stands up in the desert and starts rolling around. There is even a learning curve, as it, or he, figures out what is and is not possible.

And he kills people. Not by rolling over them, but by telekinesis. Like, brainwaves. And I say "he" and not "it" because the tire starts stalking this chick, even trying to spy on her in the shower.  In fact, the tire has a name--"Robert".  Its never called Robert in the movie, but the trailer specifies.  I'm not kidding.

And if that's not weird enough, there is this sort-of subplot where there is this group of people are watching him from afar, only the people who have set up the viewing apparently want the group dead because they poison the food except there is one old man in a wheelchair who refuses to eat and he ends up contributing to the efforts in stopping the rogue tire...

Robert the Tire faces off against the police.  And wins.  Cause the cop's
head explodes.  Oh, stop complaining that I ruined it--you weren't going
to see it.
Yes, it's all bizarre. I can't tell you I dislike this movie, because I don't. It's kind of amusing, actually, and the scene where the sheriff tries to explain to his deputies what is going on is hilarious.  And there's a touching scene were Robert the Tire witnesses the burning of dozens of his brother and sister tires in a big furnace.  Almost made me cry.  Okay, not really, but it was kinda sad.  Okay, it wasn't sad--it was par for the course in this movie.

However, I can't tell you to go watch this film... Not because it's gratuitous or bad or anything, it's just... Odd. I feel like out if every ten people, perhaps 2 will like this movie.

So, bottom line--this is one of the strangest, and even pointless, films I've ever seen, so if you want to see something you've never seen before, then "Rubber" is right up your alley. Just tread lightly.

Friday, December 30, 2011

The Ten Coolest Things of 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love my Best Mate Wookiee.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And finally...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh yeah... honorable mention...

Brad Latta

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The 2010 Cool Express

Okay, so its December 28th, with only half of a day today, and three full days left in the entire year of 2011.  And here I am, still 30 cool things away from listing the coolest things of the year 2010.  I could say that life, Campbell, pregnancy, American Idol, audio books, Disney trips and more got in the way of finishing, but lets be real here--I've had 361 full days to complete this list, so truly the only reason is that I'm just lazy.  I mean, I do have ambition when it comes to certain things, but in many respects, I'm as lazy and unmotivated as a Wall Street Occupier.

So rather than try to dish out another three or four posts, I am just going to shoot through this list real quick-like before the year ends, and I am starting The 100 Coolest Things of 2011.

Quick recap for you:
The 100th through 91st Coolest Things of the Year... Alabama's National Title... "Just Wright"... The Miz... Lotso Huggin' Bear... "The Pony Exce$$"... Big Al... "The Other Guys"... Jamie's Post... "Leap Year"... "Iron Man 2"
The 90th through 81s Coolest Things of the Year... "Live Like Your Dyin'"... Zoe's Kitchen.. "Red"... Daylight Donuts... "Death at a Funeral"... Sandra Bullock wins the Oscar... "Morning Glory"... "Undercover Boss"... AllState's Mayhem... "Unstoppable"
The 80th through 71st Coolest Things of the Year... "The Town"... "American Honey"... "The A-Team"... "Tron: Legacy"... Auburn's season... Glee does Queen... "The Wal-Mart Effect"... "The Wal-Mart Effect" Authors response... "Zombieland"... Middle Eastern Night
The 70th through 61st Coolest Things of the Year... Facebook DeFriended App... "Love the Way You Lie"... "Hawaii Five-O"... "Christine"... The Tipulator... "The Book of Eli"... "...featuring Norah Jones"... "Just the Way You Are"... The Candlelight Processional... "Kick-A**"
The 60th through 51st Coolest Things of the Year... Disney's Autism... SI's Playoff Push... "The Expendables"... Dixon's dinner... The New Orleans Saints... "The Fighter"... Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains... new Mickey Gloves... my favorite new hat... "Showgirls, Teen Wolves & Astro Zombies"
The 50th through 41st Coolest Things of the Year... "Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows Part I"... Via Napoli... Stuff Christians Like... Lil Sister Ashley's ring... The Rev'rn Ty Coffey's ring... "Nothin' On You"... "How to Train Your Dragon"... "Under the Dome"... Chris Z's burgers
The 40th through 31st Coolest Things of the Year... Hide Yo Kids, Hide Yo Wife... "Firestarter"... Disney in July... "Tangled"... "Break Even"... Sara Barellis... Trey Cartledge... The Film Vault... Pablos... The Keys to the Kingdom Tour

30... "True Grit"
The Clinton Portis novel is a quick read, its narrative is light and well written, and its a great classic, little known western.  And it was almost as good as...

29... "True Grit"
I was a little skeptical about this remake of the John Wayne classic, but just about everything about this movie works.  Jeff Bridges is wonderful as Rooster Cogburn, while Hallie Steinfeld acts well above her age.  Even Matt Damon makes a convincing cowpoke.  Great film.

28... New Wookiee Baby
Wookiee had another one!  Well, Mrs. Wookiee, anyway!  Little Abby Grace... and the only reason this isn't higher is because this is his second one.  Congrats, a year later!

27... New Mikey Baby
Mikey had a baby!  Well, his woman, Ashleia did.  Little Charlotte.  Add that to Big Tom's kid, SyJo, and we've got half a future Deucette.

26... The Weekend with DeNick and DeLisa
Anytime we can go to the beach, its a good thing.  And anytime we can go with friends, its also a good thing.  Hence, spending the weekend with DeNick and DeLisa, and little DeGeorge in October, down on the Gulf Coast.  Great food, comfy room, and just a whole lotta fun.

25... "It" by Stephen King
The books that are known as "masterworks" by King are "The Stand" and the "Dark Tower" series.  Perhaps right under that is "Salem's Lot", and maybe even "The Shining"... but an underrated classic is "IT".  Yes, its the one with the bad clown guy.  Its huge, with a cast of kid characters who grow up to be adult characters, and the story is told in back and forth parallel... one chapter its 1957 and a few pages later, its 1985.

And the story is scary... yet, its more of a character study than anything.  Bill Denborough, the future writer... Ben Hanscomb, the chunky kid turned manly man... Beverly Marsh, the abused girl turned abused woman... Ritchie Tozier, the class clown now and future... Stanley Uris, the local Jew who finds refuge in the group... Eddie Kaspbrak, the weakling both as a boy and as a man... and soon, Mike Hanlon, the black kid who makes a great addition to the group.  Each kid has his/her own issues as a child, and those issues reflect their grown-up world... and they are all thrown back together when the horrific event that unites them as children brings them back as adults--namely, Pennywise the clown, an evil entity that exists in the sewers below the town of Derry, Maine.

Besides Pennywise, the kids also have to deal with the local school bully, Henry Bowers, and his cronies who, at first, are just your beat-em-up, money stealing bullies, but evolve into something a bit more sadistic.  And you begin to see the grip that Pennywise has on the town and its citizens, as the whole town starts dying slowly... not the people, but the town itself.

Its a brilliant book, a great and meaningful story and though its big, its reads easy.

24... Pawn Stars
I will watch this show every time its on.  Rick, Hoss, The Old Man and Chumlee make the 30 minutes its on just a little bit better... and who knew that there was such a market for pirate coins, or Civil War maps or old magazines?  Addictive.

23... "Easy A"
It feels like every year there is one movie that I like a little more than I probably thought I would, and maybe than I should.  In 2010, it was "Easy A".  Emma Stone is a hoot as a high school chick named Olive (who names their kid Olive?  Olivia, sure, but Olive?) who is branded unfairly as a harlot... and decides to use it to her financial advantage.  Also starring Lisa Kudrow, Thomas Haden Church and a hilarious Amanda Bynes, who I dig, plus either Aly or AJ from the Disney duo Aly & AJ (not sure which one), and of course, Stanley Tucci.  Everyone loves The Tuch.

22... Disney in February
What a great trip.  Nine days in Disney, first with Little Sister Ashley and McQ, then on our own, then catching a ride with Snow White and her Sidekick Sarah, it was an awesome time.  I can't elaborate, though, as it was 22 months ago, and I'm having a hard time remembering the details.

21... "Forget You" by Cee-Lo
Yes, I'll admit it.  On my iPod, I've got all three versions, from "F&#( You" to "F-You" to "Forget You", and they all make me laugh.  I tend to make "Forget You" the version I sing along to.

20... Red Mango
All natural frozen yogurt, I hope this shop sticks around when the Fro-Yo craze finally dies, which I think will be soon.

Its got a stellar cast, but the reason to watch this is almost entirely
Jesse Eisenberg's performance.  He makes this movie what it is.
19... "The Social Network"
Its that Facebook movie!  Everything about this movie clicks, from the script to the killer score by Trent Reznor to locale to the cast (even Justin Timberlake!) to the direction... and Jesse Eisenberg is brilliant as Facebook co-creator Mark Zuckerberg.   Love love love this movie.

18... Sirius XM
When I got my new car, Red Robin, I was given a trial subscription to satellite radio.  And I can only describe it by saying it revolutionized my radio experience in the same way that my iPod revolutionized my music listening habits, or DVR revolutionized my TV watching.  I found it difficult to pick only 18 channels to program into the car, out of the 180+ or so... but ended up choosing gems like The Blend, which is pop and rock... and The Bridge, which is classic rock... and 20 on 20, which is modern hits... Coffeehouse, which is acoustic... and of course, the 60s channel, the 70s channel, the 80s channel, and the crown jewel of the radio, the 90s on 9.  When you are traveling to work at 420 in the morning, and "Baby Got Back' comes on 90s on 9, its worth it.

17... Darius Rucker
Hootie!  Hootie!  Hootie!  While I'm sure he's not ashamed of Hootie and the Blowfish, he probably does enjoy being known for more than just Hootie... so I'll give him the props he deserves.  I've always enjoyed him and his talents, but his latest solo CD, "Charleston SC 1966" is rockin' awesome.  He's countrified in every way, starting with the lead off single "The Come Back Song" to his ode to a sparky night with his woman, "Lucky".  Great stuff.

16... "Waking Sleeping Beauty"
Telling the story of Disney's animation renaissance from 1984 to 1994--years that brought "The Little Mermaid" and "Lion King" and more--this documentary is pieced together from archival footage, personal video footage and old interviews.  Don Hahn, a Disney producer, narrates,and if you are a Disney enthusiast and history buff like myself, this film is essential.

15... "Game Change"
Written by political journalists John Heilemann and Mark Halperin, the book tells the story of the 2008 presidential election and more importantly the primaries.  It opens up on Hillary Clinton, who was the heir apparent to the White House--she believed it so deeply that even before the primaries were run, she had secretly gotten her White House Transition Team ready to go.  And then, this little Senator from Illinois, Barack Hussein Obama shows up... and not only steals the thunder, but takes the nom from Clinton and John Edwards, who's own issues are highlighted.

More than half of the book is dedicated to the Democratic race, but there is juice in the Republican side too, as it goes through the candidates and their failures to succeed, like Guiliani and Thompson, then it dives into the McCain and Palin race, plus the animosity that builds between them.  Then it takes on the actual presidential race with juicy tidbits and stories, and does so with very little political slant.  Great read.

I love the yellow speedy guy... I can deal with the triplets... the black
bird is the bomb... however, I do hate that boomerangy one.
14... Angry Birds
I won't bother explaining this, because if you know, you know, if you don't you don't.  But the amount of hours spent on this game number in the hundreds, easily.

13... "Need You Now" by Lady Antebellum
Great song.  Who doesn't love this song, even though its really about a drunk booty call.

12... The LOST Finale
It took six years to get here, and by this time, I just wanted a good ending.  I wasn't even concerned with tying up all the loose ends (good thing too, because they weren't concerned about that either), I just wanted the story to wrap up nicely and with some point of satisfaction.  Now, you could argue that it didn't come close, and it left too many things unanswered, and thats all valid thoughts... but I liked it.  The second time I watched it, I loved it.

11... Starbucks ASM
After The Happiest Place in the Mall shut down and became Jihad Toys and IEDs, I had to find somewhere to go.  I stayed at Starbucks part time, and was able to come on for what was essentially full time as an hourly barista, but some time around May, I was able to step up to management again.  I became Melanie's assistant manager, and let me just brag and tell you, our store rules.  Man, it feels good to be a gangsta.

So, that's 90 down... how about 10 more to go.  Never fear.  Its already written, I'll just need to tweak a few links and add a few pics.  Another song, a few more movies, some Magic, a hot chick and more... just in time to get ready for The Coolest Things of 2011!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Campbell's Journey Home

So, I have a kid now.  Like, a real life baby.  Another mouth in The Cabana that wants food, another person in this place that will have (or has already) his own personality and thoughts and opinions.  He is upstairs with his mommy, having a late night snack as babies are wont to do sometimes.

Its an amazing thing, really.  For the entire pregnancy, we had no clue of the gender of the baby... was it Lorelei?  Was it Campbell?  Thankfully, we found out early it wasn't both at the same time... but on Thursday, December 1st, at 437p, we found out it was Campbell Isaiah.  And now, I can't imagine a daughter--I can't imagine not having Campbell here in our lives.

But he didn't come home immediately... and neither did The Lovely Steph Leann.  So for your sake, because many of you have asked, and for my own sake, so a decade from now I can recall how it all happened, here's Campbell's journey from birth to The Cabana.

So, hundreds of you read the running diary on the day he was born.  Dr. Babysnatcher snatches him out and they plunk him down on the table to do all their doctory things.   As I said, childbirth was supposedly this beautiful and magical experience and such, but for me, it was just weird.  I wasn't queasy, or it didn't freak me out, it was just... well, weird.  And after the baby was yanked out, Dr. Babysnatcher... okay, you ever been to Panera Bread?  You know how you rake all the extra food and such off of the plate and into the garbage, and it goes into a big pile?  That was kind of what it looked like--the doc was just pulling out all the extra junk.  Weird.

Also, did you know that The Lovely Steph Leann had TWO epidurals?  So, she had decided to go unmedicated for delivery for a variety of reasons, but once admitted to the hospital the day before--turns out she had something called pre-eclempsia, which has high blood pressure and protein in the urine as symptoms--the odds of unmedicated delivery was very slim.

About halfway through the day, after the doc told her that going natural would be very hard and very bad for her because of blood pressure issues, she finally relented and allowed the epidurals.  Of course, I have to step out when the Epidurally Doc comes in, and I learn later that because of her being swollen practically all over, including her back, the epidural given only numbed half of her body.  She was still feeling contractions on the other half--so they had to stick her two more times to get it to work.

The Lovely Steph Leann is known as a sleeper.  Always has been.  So here is my impression of her during birth:

Push push push push ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ what?  I'm awake... push?  ok, push push push push push ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ huh?  push again?  ok, push push push push push pusZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

Yup, she fell asleep in-between contractions while pushing.  The nurse looked at me and asked with surprise, "Is she snoring?" and I smiled and said, "Yup.  That would be The Lovely Steph Leann."

So, you know the rest--baby out, mommy in a daze, and daddy given a pair of scissors to cut the cord.

"So here I am, warm, fed, taking a nap... and I'm evicted from my womb
with a view.  Its cold, I'm stark naked, I got fluid and blood in my eyes,
I'm hungry and some dude in a Jedi sweatshirt is coming at my food
supply line with a pair of scissors.  What the fool, man?!"
Let me just say this about that cord thing... for me, it was kind of pointless.  I guess I can put on my Hurricane Rhett Dead Inside pants and say it.  Didn't see the point.  Campbell was already cut from mommy, and all I did was cut the excess from his tummy while he lay in the crib, screaming his fool head off.  I think I was supposed to bond with him, and in truth, I found it distracting because that cord was hard to cut and I was trying to not amputate his little leg off with the scissors.  It would have been different were I to cut him free from mommy, but it was more of a symbol than anything else.  Maybe its just me.

The next 24 hours were a blur.  The Lovely Steph Leann and I were both flat out exhausted, yet almost too exhilarated to rest.  We had already agreed to let Campbell go to the nursery overnight, being brought back to our room only to nurse.  We had a few visitors that night, including Hurricane Rhett and Amarylis By Mornin' (up from san antone), The Rays--both St'ray and C'ray--Bro-in-law Tyler and his Boo Brynn and a few other folks.  My buddy Tebershaw came up and helped me install the carseat base, and our friends The Stampers checked on us daily.

Remember, since Camp decided it would be a good idea to show up, oh, you know, 17 days early, we were still in the old women's center at the hospital, and as (mis)luck would have it, we were in the smallest room on the floor.  The room ended up being quite cramped for a little while.  The Brookwood New Women's Center opened on December 2nd.  The day after Campbell popped out... so on Friday, they wheeled us over to the new building... we were the final patients to be moved, and we were the first (and for a brief few hours, the only) patients on the 6th floor.

The 6th floor is considered the "High Risk" ward, and we could thank The Lovely Steph Leann's roller coaster blood pressure for that honor.  Not that any of the nurses will remember those little nuggets of trivia, or even us for that matter, by now, but its worth mentioning.

A proud Wookiee, proud of the new Ewok in
the tribe.
The second and third nights both brought in a more visitors, like my best mate Wookiee, who came in a sat a while with us, held Campbell, and joined me for dinner.  DeLisa and DeNick also stopped by with their own son, DeGeorge, plus some more family, and of course, Big Daddy Ron (the pops in law) and Mama Ruthless (the mom in law) were there alot.  The Lovely Steph Leann had a blood pressure cuff attached to her arm for the better part of three days or so, inflating and deflating every 10 to 15 minutes.  All day.  All night.  Sucks to be her.

I do have to tell you that the hospital cafeteria food wasn't that bad.  We had several coupons for food, which I happily used over and over--though it was titled "Complimentary Meal Voucher", and in fine print said, "Not  To Exceed $5", which would buy you a parfait and half a co-cola.   Their corn dogs were delish, though.

Now, the trick was actually getting to the cafeteria.  When in the old building, in Labor & Delivery, it wasn't a very long.  The cafe is on the ground floor, so it was a quick walk over.  In the new building, however?  Well, as I learned by leaving a trail of bread crumbs... you take the elevator to the 3rd Floor, which will let you out at the nurses station.  Take a right, go around the atrium and enter the hallway into the old building.  Follow that hall about 150 feet until you come to the nurses station (you'll pass an old lady in Room 3334, usually eating, usually lonely and also another door with four folders on it, labeled Shannon, Dawn, Pam and something else).  Take a right at that nurses station and walk probably another 250 feet down to Elevator A.  Go to the G floor, and the cafe will be right there.  Yep, that's a walk.

Up until this point, its routine.  Campbell has been spending a bit of his time in the blue lights of the nursery because he's got a touch of jaundice, but no big whoop, right?  The Lovely Steph Leann is doing better, and my fold out chair bed is brand spankin' new, and actually pretty comfy.  For whatever reason, the cable TV in the room had no CBS channel, so I didn't get to watch a single down of the SEC Championship game, but it was a blowout, so no big whoop, right?

Smashcut to about 4am Sunday morning.

Though I have slept decently well in the hospital, save for when I tried to move an inch in the old building's chair-bed, I still do that half-awake-can-hear-whats-happening-but-it-doesn't-register thing.  You know what I mean, like when you can understand a conversation or a situation, but the depth or gravity of said convo or situation doesn't really sink in because you are half asleep.

So, once, in college, I had stayed up all night for work, and gotten to bed around 7am the next morning, a Saturday.  I was zonked out completely, though not enough to sleep through the phone ringing.  I answered with a bleary, "heh... he... hello...?" and on the other end was buddy and frat brother Scotty Wilkes, who said, "Hey man, listen, my car won't start.  I have to be at work in like, an hour... I really need a lift, or maybe if I could borrow your car..."  Now, I'm someone who has had car trouble after car trouble all of my life, so my natural response should have been, "Dude, yeah, let me wake up, I'll be right over..." or at least "sure, take my car, just don't wreck."  Instead, I mumbled something about how tired I was, and I wasn't getting up and hung up.  When I woke up a few hours later, I immediately realized what I had done, and called Scotty back.  He ended up calling our friend Spivey, who took him.  Spivey also chastised me for not being willing to help. Deserved.

It was this type of vague recognition that I had when the nurses brought Campbell in around 4am, and then told the already awake The Lovely Steph Leann that he was being admitted to the NICU.  I heard the nurses describe Campbell's jaundice, and how it wasn't getting any better, but also that he had something called "retraction", which is a respiratory issue.  The Lovely Steph Leann got to hold him for a minute, and then they took him, placed him in a crib and wheeled him out.

I drifted back to sleep.

At 6am, she nudged me awake.  I turned over and saw her there, bloodshot and puffy eyes, and she whispered, "Campbell's in the NICU."  I shrugged and simply said, "I know.  I heard."  I sat up and excused myself to the restroom.  When I came out, The Lovely Steph Leann was laying back on her bed, snuffly and a little teary.  I sat on the edge of the bed and held her hand.  "The Lovely Steph Leann... its going to be okay.  I know it is."

She attempted a smile, failed, and then let it fall to a whimper, as she softly said, "I know its probably going to be fine... but all I could think of was Mason."  Mason was the child of Steph's cousin Seth and his wife Cherie, and was only a few months old when God called him home.  I smiled and said, "Well... maybe this is God's way of telling us to stop the complaining about not having time to get everything ready... He's giving us a few more days."

She replied, still softly, "I don't care.  I don't care about the house.  I don't care if anything is ready or never gets cleaned.  I want Campbell to be okay, and come home."  She had a few tears trickle down, and confided that she'd been awake for two hours and had been crying for much of it.  "Seriously?" I said, and I leaned on the reclined bed, put my arm around her and let her weep a little on my shoulder.  "The Lovely Steph Leann, you should never have to cry alone.  Never.  You should have woken me."

We rested there for a few minutes in silence, as the sun slowly rose and daylight began to lighten the room.  After a while, we got our showers, got ourselves gussied up and prepared for the day.  I sent out a few texts, first to my best friend/work wife Melanie, with the simple words, "Campbell in NICU".  She immediately texted back, "Can I come see y'all?"  And within 30 minutes, she met us in the 4th floor lobby, with cookies.  And Melanie, The Lovely Steph Leann and I scrubbed up in the big hand sink and made our way to see Campbell.

Poor kid. He was one cord in the back of the neck away from being a part of The Matrix.  Under the blue lights,in a crib, in the NICU.  Brookwood's new center has a new NICU, and instead of a row of cribs and incubators, each newborn has his or her own room, each with privacy curtains over the doorways that can be opened or pulled closed, each with a recliner for sitting and/or nursing, each with a couch for sitting and/or sleeping.  Its a great set up, and the digs are exemplary... only, the reason you'd need them is not a reason you'd want.  Only daddy (that's me) and mommy (that's The Lovely Steph Leann) are allowed to touch Campbell--we could open the little incubator door and put our hand on him, stroke his back or his hair, or touch his hands--but nobody else could do so.

So there we were.  My two favorite chicks, standing over a crib with my newly appointed favorite kid in the whole world.  It was hard.  Yes, he was in there for some cautionary respiratory issues, yes it was a common jaundice issue, yes he would be fine.  But it was still hard.   This was... is... my child.  Less than four days old, and he's already strapped up with wires and probes and IVs and junk.

Over the course of the day, we made several trips down to the NICU, talked a few times on the phone to friends like JustFish and Ryan Sherman and answered numerous texts from friends and family and such.  The support was absolutely overwhelming.

Dr. Babysnatcher came in that afternoon and checked up on The Lovely Steph Leann, determining that her blood pressure had been a roller coaster, and she was still too up and down to go home just yet.  With permission, I headed home that evening to get some rest, to return Monday morning... I did get a call from my Mama (no, not the dead one, the other one... okay, so my biological mom who... you see, its my "real" mother, not to say the mom who died wasn't my mother but... um... you know, we'll get to that later...)

Anyway, she called me late Sunday night and said, "Hey, I'm coming to see my grandson."  Now, I would love to see her, but I understand this is a long drive--she lives in Andalusia, about 3 hours away--so I tell her my concerns. She basically gives me the pshw and says she will be up in the morning around 7am.  That's good, gives me a little time to catch some sleep.

And of course, the phone rings the next morning with Jan saying, "Hey, I'm 15 miles outside of Birmingham, how do I get to your house?"  Drowsy, feeling like I just went to bed a mere few hours before, I mumble something about how to get to 459, then 280 and how I'll meet her in the Chick-fil-a parking lot in about 20 minutes.  I focus just enough to notice its still pretty dark outside, and as I begin to wonder why its so dark at 705 in the morning, I realize its actually 503am.

She visited for a mere three hours, just enough to see me, see The Lovely Steph Leann and visit with Campbell in the NICU, even though she couldn't hold him. By mid-morning she was leaving, having to work that night at her job... she said to me as she was leaving, "I am glad I came down.  I couldn't stay long, but every second was worth the drive."

Love you, Mama

I drove her back to The Cabana and back to her car, and she was one her way, and I zipped upstairs for a much needed sleep extension... finally, I got up and showered, and after a quick breakfast at Burger King, and a quick stop at Starbucks to see Melanie, the team and grab a hot chocolate, I raced back to the NICU... only to find not much of a change in Campbell's condition.

This was my view for about 45 minutes while I held
my son.
And so it stayed like that for Monday.  The Lovely Steph Leann and I made some frequent trips down to the NICU from our room, but also tried to get a little rest.  Dr. Babysnatcher gave her one more night in the hospital, with blood pressure issues, but let us know it was likely the final evening, saying, "At some point, we have to risk you going home with medication to control your BP issue."

Monday night I slept at home again, having to be at work Tuesday morning early... after work, I again went to the hospital to visit Campbell and The Lovely Steph Leann.  Around 5pm, they released her, though Camp still had a few more days.

Seems to be its customary to keep newborns in the NICU for 72 hours once admitted, which meant that a Sunday admittance would mean a stay through Tuesday night minimum.  Also, they told us that they wanted him to spend at least 48 hours out of the incubator and into a crib, which meant that every day in the incubator kept us at least 2 days from bringing him home.

The Lovely Steph Leann and I drove away from Brookwood Tuesday night, mostly in silence.  Our child was left behind.  We wanted to bring him home and we couldn't, and we couldn't do anything about it.  Quite a helpless feeling.

On Wednesday, I went to work while The Lovely Steph Leann slept in a little, getting some much needed rest.  I made the decision to not visit the hospital on this day, mostly because I just wanted a break.  I'm not someone who can just go and... well, sit.  And sit.  And sit.  Yes, I loved seeing Campbell, and yes I enjoyed being with him, whispering encouragement to him, but really, there's only so much I could even do.  Plus, Mama Ruthless and The Lovely Steph Leann were up there most of the day, so I just came home after work and relaxed.

The good news, however, was that Campbell was moved from the NICU to the nursery... he still remained under the bili-lights for his jaundice, but things were quickly improving.  Thursday he spent all day in the nursery, under the lights, but also out from the lights where The Lovely Steph Leann could nurse and where Mommy and Daddy (and GiGi--that being Ruth, the grandmother) could hold him some too.

Our last few minutes in the hospital.  Five minutes
after this pic was taken, Campbell was loaded
into a car seat, preparing to come home.
Finally, Friday, we got the word that yes, he was being discharged.  Brookwood requires all parents to (a) watch this video on infant CPR... (b) to watch this how-to video on putting your kid in a car seat.... and (c) to actually be shown on your own car seat how it works and how your kid goes in it.  During the first two tasks, I did a double duty of watching the video and nudging The Lovely Steph Leann awake as she drifted every few minutes.

And the moment was upon us.  The doc came in, talked with us for a few minutes about Campbell, how he was doing, a few minor things to watch for, he shook both of our hands, wished us well and he was off.  And Campbell Isaiah was ours for the taking.  And The Lovely Steph Leann and her mom being of the same ilk, they took approximately 4,378 pictures as we were leaving the hospital, another 811 pics as we went to her parents home for a quick bite and then another 1,980 pics as I was walking in the door with Campbell in the car seat.

He's home.

In the days since, its been a little different.  God has definitely given a gift of adaptation to The Lovely Steph Leann, as she's gone from her enjoyment of about 10 to 12 hours of sleep per day to, in the first few days, 4 to 6, and a few weeks later, maybe 6 to 8, but all broken up into 2 and 3 hour chunks, if she's lucky.

Aunt Melanie holding Campbell
We've had a few people drop off food--thanks to The Hitchcocks, The Fishers and The Shermans--and a big thanks to work wife/best friend Melanie and her family for providing a delicious Middle Eastern themed meal the Sunday after Campbell came home.  Melanie stopped by with the food and was the first non-family to hold Campbell outside of the hospital, and as far as our home goes, still the only non-family a few weeks later.  Oh, she's family, who am I kidding.

Another big thanks to The Rays, The Shaws, The Stampers, The Barnetts, The Wookiees, Amy Harris, my pal Mikey, Jeff McG, Tommy Mac, Lil' Sister Ashley and (now) Lil' Brother Brandon, DeNick & DeLisa (with DeGeorge) and anyone else I might be forgetting for their calls, texts, visits and so on.  Your help, love and support has meant the world to us.  (and if I am forgetting anyone, I do apologize.  I do have a 20 day old here...).  And of course, a huge thanks to The Lovely Steph Leann's mom, who has been hugely supportive and helpful not only to her, but also to me, as I've been able to sleep some before I go to work.

Anyway, I won't be one of those dads who do nothing but post pics of their kids online, unless its worth a look.  And I'll keep blogging about love, pride and deep fried chicken and the like, I'll just be a little busier now, that's all.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

100 Greatest Songs of the 2000s (Part II)

(Preface... this was written on Monday and Tuesday of this week.  Wednesday, the Lovely Steph Leann was admitted to the hospital for labor pains, essentially, and I didn't get to finish tweaking this for posting.  So here I am on the 6th floor of the Brookwood Women's Center, the new one, in a quiet room, and I wanted to finish it up... so here ya go...)

And we continue with our countdown... first, a few reminders--this is a five part Vh1 show, I've already covered Hours 1, 2 and 3 (which you can read here), I've got Hours 4 and 5 coming up below, and just so you know, I'm seeing each song on the countdown for the first time... meaning, I haven't seen the list and know what's coming.  I write it as I watch it appear.

Let's keep moving, with the 40th greatest song of the 2000s decade, according to Vh1...

40... "Sugar, We're Goin' Down" by Fall Out Boy (2005)
I cannot tell you for certain that I could name any song by Fall Out Boy... and I keep thinking of "Number One With a Bullet"... wait?  That's this song?  (the song is playing on the tv and they just got to the "blah blah something merry go round something number one with a bullet")

So this song is not called "Number One With a Bullet"?  Its called "Sugar, We're Goin' Down"?  Perhaps I should have had my late teens in this decade, and I'd probably know more.   Personally, I like "Flagpole Sitta" by Harvey Danger.

Incidentally, one of the guys in this band, Pete Wintz, is the host of this entire countdown show.  And he's terrible with a bullet.  His hosting career is going down, down... see what I did there?  Good one, d$!

39... "Chasing Pavement" by ADELE (2008)
Man this chick can sing.  Actually, I didn't discover her until "Rollin' in the Deep", which freakin' rules.  And ADELE is amazing, because she has this special quality that not alot of pop stars have nowadays... talent and a good voice.

But though I know what a pavement is, I am unclear as to why you'd need to chase it.  It doesn't move much.

38... "Party in the USA" by Miley Cyrus (2009)

Maybe you should listen to the song about 114 times, and maybe that's the breaking point.  That's the threshold.  After that, you like it.  


Did you know that this song had a resurgence on the charts when Osama bin Laden was killed?  To me, that's the final insult... you are this powerful leader for decades, causing fear, death and destruction in your reign, and your death is celebrated by your enemies with a Miley Cyrus song.  Ha!

Me?  Oh, well, I, uh... I hate this song.

No, I don't know all the words, why would you ask such a foolish question as that?  You silly.

Um. No, I don't put my hands up when they are singing my song, and the butterflies fly away (butterfly fly away).  Uh, no, I don't have the video.  Why would... check my iPod?  No, that's private.  Why would you want to do that?  

I think I just saw Chris Hanson, so let's move on.

37...   "Oops!... I Did It Again" by Britney Spears (2000)
"Baby, One More Time..."?  Absolutely.  "Sometimes"?  Heck ya.  "You Drive Me Crazy"?  Sure, why not?

"Oops!... I Did It Again"?  No way.  Terrible song.  And was a terrible entry in the Christina vs. Britney battle.  I mean, who likes crappy, catchy pop junk like this?  (why are you scrolling up to re-read #38?  Come back)

36... "Bye Bye Bye" by *NSync (2000)
Dude.  This song flippin' rules.  I ain't even joking.

Get past the boy-band part of it, and JT, Joey, Chris, Kirkpatrick and NancyLancey could own it.  And this song was awesome.  As a guy, liking the Backstreet Boys was straight-cred destruction.  However, liking *NSync was just normal, cause we all like them.

However, my affection for this song may not be so much the song itself but the redux done a few years back by the cover band *NStynk...

35... "Daughters" by John Mayer (2004)
Fathers, be good to your daughters, don't let them near John Mayer.  

I like John well enough--I really dig "Gravity", "Clarity", "No Such Thing" and of course, "Your Body Is a Wonderland"--but this song not so much.  I think its about ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

34... "All For You" by Janet Jackson (2001)
Yeah!  Love me some Janet!  At least, Janet before the infamous Wardrobe Malfunction at the Super Bowl.  I think she's more of a punchline now, but back in the day, especially back in the 90s, you had "Rhythm Nation" and "Miss You Much" and "Control" and one of my all time favorite songs ever, "Love Will Never Do (without you)"... she's fantastic.

And this song is pretty good too.  A little dirty, though, so don't really study the lyrics.  Have you ever read the lyrics to "If"?  Great song, sounds awesome, and it frustrated me that she sang so fast, I couldn't understand them... so I looked them up.  Holy crap.  I blushed.  I mean, its like, down and freaky.  Wow.  So now you know.

33... "Hurt" by Johnny Cash (2003)
Wow.  So, I feel like cracking wise about this particular song, and Johnny Cash at the time he sang it would be akin to making fun of the opening battle scene of "Saving Private Ryan", or the ending to "Schindler's List" or anything serious and depressing like that.  Not that "Hurt" compares historically to those particular times in our nation's history itself, but you get my drift.

So I won't.

But what I will say is this:  This song, this video, is a pre-death eulogy.  Cash had a successful, but at the same time hard and even horrible, life.  He did this song after his wife, June Carter, had passed, and he passed not too long after.  The video is crushing.  Film clips of a younger him, celebrating, not knowing that some of his life would be so wasted, clips of June Carter and their relationships, so happy yet so stormy and rocky... and the lyrics are so, so moving.  This is truly one of the few songs out there that I would classify as "painful" on so many levels, and I don't even have a connection to the song, other than I have a soul and am not dead inside.

Hurricane Rhett would make fun of this entire piece.

32... "This Love" by Maroon 5 (2004)
I really, really wanted to not like this song.  I wanted to hate this song, and as a result, hate Maroon 5... but I can't help it.  This song is kinda fun, kinda catchy.   And Maroon 5's music is actually not bad.  It's not revolutionary, but it does stick with you.

Sing it with me... This... love... has... taken its toll on me... she says goodbye too many times before (oh-whoa-oh)... everybody!

And Adam Levine gets some major play... at least in his videos.

31... "Rehab" by Amy Winehouse (2007)
Okay... "Amy shoulda gone to Rehab!  Ha!"  There, I said it.  Oh, and, "We tried to make her to go to rehab, and she said No!  No!  No!"  See what I did there?  I kill me.

30... "Hollaback Girl" by Gwen Stefani (2005)
Fine.  I'll admit it.  I love the dang fool out of this song.  Its addicting, Gwen is awesome, its stupid, its catchy, its poppy, its ridiculous and it forever changing our mental processes when it comes to fruit.

What with the number one song be, Gwen?  Ah!  You are keeping
yourself from blurting out the answer!  Good job, girly!
Much like any mention of a chick named Stacy, you'll think about how going on her mom has it, a mention many times of a banana will elicit this thought:  Its bananas! B-A-N-A-N-A-S!

Were I a chick, a cheerleader, gay or all three, this might be my anthem.  I frikkin' love this song.

Still unclear as to what a "Hollaback" girl is, and what makes one "hollaback".  Not sure.

29... "Best of You" by The Foo Fighters (2005)
I guess while I was making time with Gwen and hollering back, I missed this entirely, because I've never even heard this song, like ever in my life.

Don't get me wrong, I dig the Foo Fighters, and "Learn to Fly" is in my Top 100 all time, I think Dave Grohl is awesome, and hearing a snippet of this song, I like it too... but I've never heard  it.  Maybe I should have listened to 107.7 the X more often.

28... "Music" by Madonna (2000)
This song sucks.  So does Madonna any time after 1998.

That is all.

27... "Yeah!" by Usher, feat. Lil Jon and Ludacris (2004)
Another ridiculous, stupid, moronic song with no redeeming value that I just simply love and sometimes will blast out of the Red Robin, making sure my speaker colored thumping lights are thumping like a twitchy ninja, when it comes on.


Kick that, rewind it back, Lil Jon, Luda and Ur-shure got the beat
that make yo' booty go boom!
Gotta tell ya, Usher... underrated talent.  I know, I know, he's sold a bajillion records, though like Nickleback CDs, I don't know anyone that owns one... but Usher doesn't get a ton of mentions when discussing great voices.  He's good.  He's really good.

Then you toss in the stupid stoopid Lil Jon, who says, "The chorus of this was easy.  You just say Yeah... then Yeah... then Yeah... and Yeah again.  We kind of ad-libbed it."   And finally, Ludacris in a cleaner form, at least in his lyrics, and you've got a legendary dance hit.

26... "Seven Nation Army" by The White Stripes (2003)
Yes, I have heard of them.  I just feel like I'm not hipster enough to like The White Stripes.  She & Him, sure.  Ingrid Michelson, yep.  The White Stripes?   I've not only not heard this song, I've never heard OF this song.

25... "Hot In Herre" by Nelly (2002)
This made me laugh loud.  Serriously.  I've trried to tell my darrling wife, "hey, its getting hot in herre, so take off all yourr clothes", and in the real worrld, it doesn't worrk.  Sorrry.

Let's be rreal herre... I didn't go to a ton of parrties in college, and even less in high school, so I'm not what you'd call, "A Parrty Going Experrt", but I can tell you this from my limited experrience... Chicks that tell you "I am gettin' so hot I'm gonna take my clothes off" are few and farr between.  But when you do stumble acrross such a chick, you might be tempted to think, "Awesome!", and perrhaps at 19, I would have thought that.  Howeverr, I'm old enough to know now that if such a statement is spoken by said chick, its a good bet she has done this beforre, lest you think you arre the test case for this scenarrio.  And in thinking she's prrobably done this beforre, its not a long leap to assume she prrobably has an STD.  And although chicks with venerreal diseases arre still people too, that would be someone you want to be fully clothed.  I'm just sayin'.

24... "Get Ur Freak On" by Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott (2001)
As much as a I hate this song, its a good reminder that I am a total music hypocrite, and even snob.  As much as I dig on "When the taxi man turned on the radio and a Jay-Z song was on... a Jay-Z song was on... a Jay-Z song was on!" and goofy lyrics as such, sometimes the lyrics are just too stupid for even me.  And when they are forced together to make a rap, its bad.

Like this song.  Man, do I hate this song.  I hate everything about it.  I hate that beat.  I hate that she hocks a loogie in the middle of it.  I hate that in the video, she spits in a man's mouth... "In yo' face... open yo' mouth, get you a tays..."  I hate the fact it uses "Ur" for "Your".  I hate the video.  I hate the fact I heard this song 3813 times in 2001.

Let's move on before I throw this nearby Katy Perry CD through the window.  I wish I were kidding.

23... "Get the Party Started" by P!nk (2001)
I can't say I hate this song.  I really can't say I like it, either.  I actually could just take it or leave it.  I'm not sure that apathy is what P!nk was going for.

However, I am considering changing my name to dav!d.  Its a thought.

22... "Fallin'" by Alicia Keys
Okay, I have several things to say about this song, but first, I must tell you that I do really like this song.  It think its a career-defining masterpiece.  And I did use the word "Masterpiece" because that's how its performed.

However comma

Have you ever heard the expression "Could sing the phone book and still sound amazing"?  That's what this song reminds me of.  Allow me to put on my lyrical snobbery hat again, and just tell you, I'm bothered by how simple some of the lyrics are.  "Sometimes I love you, sometimes you make me feel blue"?  Really?  "I never felt this way.  How do you give me so pleasure, and cause me so much pain"?  Each verse is only, like, two lines!  Am I being overly dramatic in wanting a little deeper meaning in my lyrics?

No matter... Keys is amazing in this tune.  You know what, forget I said all that.  I love this song.

21... "99 Problems" by Jay-Z (2003)
If you having girl problems, I feel bad for you soon, I got 99 problems but a (crude term for someone of the female persuasion) ain't one...

How is this okay?  Isn't this song a little misogynistic?  Am I being overly critical here?

20... "Toxic" by Britney Spears (2003)

Really?  Really?  10,000 songs in a decade and this is the 20th best of all?  Seriously?

19... "Bootylicious" by Destiny's Child (2001)

And they just keep getting better, don't they?  Okay, so this song is fun, and by far better than "Toxic" will ever be, and for the record, I pick Kelly Rowland over Beyonce any day, but I can't put this in my own personal Top 20.  Or 50.  Or 100.  "I don't think you ready for this jelly..." is a fun line, though.

By the way, because of this song, the term "Bootylicious" was added to the dictionary.  This is why the terrorists hate us.

18... "Beautiful" by Christina Aguilera (2002)
Two things:
First... it is a good song.  Yes, we've heard it a thousand times, and in 2002, that was per day, but when it comes down to it, it really is a great tune.

Second... I'm happy she beat out "Toxic".  Unlike Britney, Christina has a great non-studio produced voice.  Love it.

(sidebar... I'm reviewing this part of the list with The Lovely Steph Leann, getting any feedback, and with Maroon 5, she simply said, "Oh, I like that song"... but with this one, the floodgates freakin' opened... "Oh my gosh, I hate that Aguilera song!  I hate it!  Hate it!"  She then proceeds to sing it in a horrible mocking screeching tone, accenting the word "beautiful" in a terrible pitch.  She then ends her tirade by saying, "Hate it."  Don't hold back, Steph, tell me how you feel.)

17... "Clocks" by Coldplay (2002)
Who doesn't like this song?  Seriously?  And if they do a 100 Greatest Songs Intros of Like, Ever, you'd have to see this song up there somewhere.

But let's be clear--I, you, maybe even them, have no idea what this song even means.

16... "Single Ladies (put a ring on it)" by Beyonce (2008)
All the single ladies!  All the single ladies!
All the single ladies!  All the single ladies!
All the single ladies!  All the single ladies!
All the single ladies!  All the single ladies!
All the single ladies!  All the single ladies!
All the single ladies!  All the single ladies!
All the single ladies!  All the single ladies!
All the single ladies!  All the single ladies!
All the single ladies!  All the single ladies!
All the single ladies!  All the single ladies!
All the single ladies!  All the single ladies!
All the single ladies!  All the single ladies!
All the single ladies!  All the single ladies!
All the single ladies!  All the single ladies!
All the single ladies!  All the single ladies!
All the single ladies!  All the single ladies!
All the single ladies!  All the single ladies!
All the single ladies!  All the single ladies! 
(is it in your head yet?  yes?  mission accomplished)

Excuse me Taylor, Imma letcha finish... but Beyonce had one ada greatest videos of all time!

(and yes, I do like this song.  its fun.  even the lovely steph leann likes it)

15... "Beautiful Day" by U2
Dear Bono,
That's enough.  You've had your run, and its been a great one.  U2 is one of the biggest bands in the history of the world, and we all know it.  Your music will live forever, and transcends generations.  Your album "The Joshua Tree" is immaculate.  Songs like "With or Without You" and "Streets Have No Name" and "New Years Day" and even later stuff, lesser known stuff like "Mysterious Ways", is music I am excited to let Campbell Isaiah and/or Lorelei Addison experience. [which we now know as Campbell Isaiah only]

But Bono, its 2011. Apparently you put an album out recently, and no one even knew about it.  Its time to step away.  Its time for you to free up more time for Darfur or the rain forests or Ensley or whatever, and allow Larry Mullen and Adam Clayton time to do more music for Mission Impossible movies, and to say, "Hey, The Edge, its time for us to part."  Let it go, Bono.  Its time


Not sure if this is a performance of "Crazy", and I'm
not sure if that is Danger Mouse in the trooper outfit,
but either way, the picture is cool. 
14..."Crazy" by Gnarls Barkley
Holy crap this song is awesome.  Like, every beat, every second, every minute detail, every word of this song rulz to the maximum allowance of ruling.  "Crazy" is fan-flippin-tastic.

Were I to give my own 2000s list, its easy to put this Top 25, maybe even Top 15.  Cee-Lo Green has this unusual, cool as grits voice, and Danger Mouse is just cool for having the nickname Danger Mouse.  

13... "American Idiot" by Green Day (2004)
I knew this song would come up, and I was dreading it, mostly because I hate it when I throw up in my mouth. And I just did.

These are the same guys that had an album called "Dookie", and sang about going to a shrink and being told that lack of sex will bring you down.  Yes, people can, and do, change.  I get that.  But really, BJ Armstrong, can you just sing your fun songs and quit telling me that liberals are awesome and conservatives suck?  

Sorry... just threw up in my mouth again.

12... "I Gotta Feeling" by The Black Eyed Peas (2009)
The first time I ever heard this song, all I could think of, "This is going to be a party anthem and/or a sports anthem and/or a celebration anthem for ages to come."  When B-list celebrities in 1981 were sitting around and discussing the best songs of the decade just completed, I'm sure that someone was saying about "Rock and Roll Part 1" by Gary Glitter the same things they are saying about "I Gotta Feeling"... "Party song..." and "This song is the ultimate going-out song" and "I gotta feeling..." and such.

Personally, I'm a little flabbergasted that "My Humps" hasn't shown up yet... however, we have 11 more to go...

11... "Umbrella" by Rihanna feat. Jay-Z
My main issue with Rihanna?  How her name is spelled.  When I hear her name, I automatically think Fleetwood Mac's classic "Rhiannon", which was an outside consideration for my kid's name (thought I never shared it with The Lovely Steph Leann.  Probably a good thing.)

She's very talented, though through no fault of her own, its a little disconcerting that all of her songs keep breaking all sorts of sales and chart records, and I'm bothered by this.  Why should Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You" fall to whatever getting-it-on tune Rihanna is blathering out?

That said, this is an addicting song.  You know, Umbrella-ella-ella-ella-ella-ella-ella-ella-ella-hey-hey-hey-hey-hey-ella-ella-ella-ella-ella-ella-ella-ella-hey-hey-hey-hey-hey-ella-ella-ella-ella-ella-ella-ella-ella-hey-hey-hey-hey-hey...

If this doesn't get stuck in your head, I have this to say:

All the single ladies!  All the single ladies!  All the single ladies!  All the single ladies!

Your welcome.

AND NOW, Vh1's TOP TEN OF the 2000s...

10... "In Da Club" by 50 Cent (2003)
Really?  Like, really?  

9... "We Belong Together" by Post-Skank Mariah Carey (2005)
I have often referenced my inclination to Pre-Skank Mariah and how awesome she was over Post-Skank Mariah, so I won't go into it.. but I will say that everything after 1997's "Butterfly" album is pure skank.  Notably, the song "Honey" is where it all took a turn for the ho.

This song brought her back around again for me.  While not my favorite Mariah (that's a tie between "Vision of Love", "Dreamlover" and "Always Be My Baby"... or maybe "Fantasy"), its vintage.  Its a throwback, yet just hip enough to be in the 2000s.  Ah, pre-skank Mariah, may we see you again soon.  

8... "Empire State of Mind" by Jay-Z feat. Alicia Keys (2009)
This is a quite a love letter to a city... a New York City Anthem, and I'm not sure why the city itself hasn't adopted it as its City Anthem.  

And Alicia Keys is awesome, as always.  I can listen to this song over and over and over, and have.  Great, great song.

7... "Sexyback" by Justin Timberlake (2006)
Oh no he di'nt!  Oh no he di'nt!  This song is my jam, y'all, MY Jam!

Okay, not really... but I can see a few of these songs listed on this countdown not necessarily for their artistic merit, but more for their importance, and this song was a monster.  Timberlake had broken free from *NSync, and was on his way to superstardom, had some huge hits, and then a few years later, released "Future.Love.Sex.Sounds", and this was the lead-off single.  And a catch phrase was born.

Its not even so much that "Sexyback" is cool, it is more that Justin Timberlake singing this is cool.  And how many people do you know have used the term "I'm bringing sexy back..."

6... "Gold Digger" by Kanye West feat. Jamie Foxx (2005)
Dude. This song.  Like, this song.  Can't help it.  For all the punk that Kanye is and can be, this song is fantastic.  

Here's the scene... 2005 Video Music Awards.. I was watching (don't ask me why) and out of the floor of the stage rises one Kanye West and one Jamie Foxx, looking all cool and sleek, posed and frozen.  Suddenly, Jamie starts into a "She takes my money... when I'm in need..." then the beat kicks in, and I watch one of the coolest live performances I've ever, ever seen.   And its this song.

I ain't sayin' she's a gold digger... she ain't messin' with no broke (broke)

Do me a favor... holla "We want pre-nupt!" (we want pre-nupt!)

I love love love this song

5... "Since U Been Gone" by Kelly Clarkson (2004)
Everyone likes this song.  Some people love it, some only like it a little, but to some degree, everyone likes this song.  How can you not?  Its infectious like the basement of the CDC...

The Lovely Steph Leann has joined the room for the Top Ten, and she's over on the couch bobbing her head, watching with total interest.  And when this song comes on the radio, I sing along.  And so do you.  Kelly might never have been better before or since... though I do enjoy "Behind These Hazel Eyes".  Love me some Kelly Clarkson.

4... "Lose Yourself" by Eminem (2002)
We've now hit the first song on this entire countdown that I could make an argument for being the #1 song of the decade.  This song... amazing.  And he even won a stinkin' Oscar for it.

Now, my favorite Eminem song is quite simply "Without Me", a totally hilarious, yet quite incredible rhyme... but "Lose Yourself" might be his actual best work.  I saw "8 Mile" not too long ago, and its not that bad.  

And when Em sings, you believe it.  He's blowing the mic away, he's jamming, he's just rapping and singing with so much ferocity, and you really get into it.  And if you knew the words, you'd sing along, though you probably don't know the words.  

3... "Poker Face" by Lady Gaga (2008)

I have come to accept that Gaga is here to stay.  Perhaps in 1982, fuddy duddies like me were saying the same thing about that new Madonna chick that just came up on the scene... and now, here's Lady Gaga.  

Okay, she's got a great voice.  And "Bad Romance"?  I'm a sucker for it.  And yes, this song is pretty good.  It's catchy.  But #3?  Really?  

2... "Hey Ya!" by Outkast (2003)
Now... if I had to list a "Greatest Songs of the 2000s" and "My Favorite Songs of the 2000s", this song would be #1 on the former list, #2 on the latter list.  "Hey Ya!" is one of the best songs ever performed, crossing all genres of awesome.  Even The Lovely Steph Leann likes it, and she don't go for the blasted rappin' crappin music!  She says, "Its not rap, its pop.  I like pop."

The video?  Best of the 2000s, in my Top Five All Time.  There are EIGHT different Andre 3000s on the stage, and he even manages to slip in a few scandalous lines towards the end (don't read the lyrics if you don't want to know, though its nothing too terrible) but the song is so fun, you don't even notice.

It shows a Beatle-type frenzied performance by the band Andre 3000 and The Love Below, consisting of eight members:  Possum Jenkins on bass... Johnny Vulture on guitar (yes ladies, he's still single)... Benjamin Andre (on keyboard)... Dookie on drums... Andre (ice cold) 3000 on lead vocals... and, of course, The Love Haters on backup vocals.  And all are played by Andre 3000 himself.

And yes, the song asks you to shake it (you can determine what "it" is) like a Polaroid Picture, and Polaroid had to come out with a statement that said, "Hey ya, you used to coulda shaken our pics, but don't do it anymore, you don't have to."

I love this song, man. I really do.

And finally...

1... "Crazy in Love" by Beyonce feat. Jay-Z (2003)
This song?  Beyonce singing along with her babydaddy?

Uh-oh uh-oh uh-oh

No no no

I'm conflicted... while I don't think it should have been the top song of the entire decade, I can't make much of an argument against it--heck, I sing this song sometimes at work.

As Vh1 shows clips from the video, I can only surmise one observation... well, two.  First, she jiggles alot.  And honestly, I'm not sure I'm ready for that jelly.  Secondly, there must have been a heckuva lot of double-sided tape used in those particular outfits.

Great song.  Great choice.    

And there you go.  The Top 100 Songs of the 2000s... agree, disagree, its not my list, its Vh1.  What's my list?  That's a great question... perhaps soon...