Sunday, December 02, 2012

to campbell on his first birthday (post 900)

This is post #900.  I had something a little more "elaborate" for this "milestone", but is it really a milestone?  Its just moving from the 800s to the 900s.  So I waited for today to blog, a day with a little something to it.  Yes, its been over a month, and for those of you who kept checking the site on a regular basis looking for new content, thank you.  I really appreciate you sticking with me.  And yes, Clouds in My Coffee rolls on.  But here is what I wanted to say tonight...

Dear Campbell,

This is your dad.  Today you celebrated your first birthday . You don't remember anything about it, I am fairly certain, and I'm guessing now if you are reading this, you are probably about 10 or 11.  Maybe 9.  Maybe 13, I dunno.  What year is it, 2023?   The point is, this is your Dad's blogsite that, I'd like to think, is still going strong with somewhere around 4,000 posts--or maybe it ended in 2013, before I got to 1,000, who knows.

You were born one year ago on this date.  Yesterday, a year ago, I got a call from your mom that things were progressing quicker than we thought... And it was the next day, or today-one year-that you came to meet us... (it was a week later when we brought you home)

This was you, maybe two weeks old.  You've grown a little since.
Your birth was actually 4:37p in the afternoon, and my plan was to write this up and have it posted at exactly that time today, but that didn't happen.  Today was filled with cleaning up The Cabana (where we live at this moment), anticipating your birthday party.  And if you know your mom, she was trying to get things done and cleaned and wiped down and such... trust me, I thought it was a bit silly to spend a ton of money on a party you don't remember, but by now, I'm sure you've seen the pictures. 

What to tell you about your first year?  Well, the biggest songs of the year belongs to a dude named Gotye, called "Somebody That I Used to Know"... a chick named Carli Rae Jepsen doing a tune called "Call Me Maybe"... and some pop star from Korea named Psy, doing this goofy song called "Gangnum Style".  If you've never heard of it, go find it on whatever version of iTunes you have on your 17th generation iPod Touch or whatever.

For movies, "The Avengers" is really all you need to know.  Cause that movie was awesome, and by the time you read this, you will have seen it about 2,000 times, thanks to me.  And if  the latest Star Wars movies were awesome (or awful), then this is the year that it all went down with Disney and Lucasfilm.

But that's not why I'm writing this open letter to you, for the world to read.  I'm writing this to tell you how much I love you, Campbell.

I watched a movie yesterday, while you slept in my arms.  You had your bottle and were totally zonked out.  You have (had?) this thing with your pacifier where you suck on it... but when you get sleepy and are drifting, the paci moves less and less... and eventually, it falls out of your mouth... gotta say, its darn cute.

Anyway, it was this movie from 1996 called "Ransom", starring Mel Gibson and one of your dad's favorite actresses from his teenage years, Rene Russo (she was also in Lethal Weapon 3 and 4, and Major League, both some of my favorite movies)... and in this movie, they play the parents of a kid named Shawn.  The kid is kidnapped by the bad guy--Gary Sinise, who was in "Forrest Gump" and a few other films, and he's also the lead commander guy in Mission: Space at Epcot.  Well, he was in 2013, anyway.

I hope I don't spoil this for you--its a decent film, though a bit predictable, so unless you just find it on Starz in Black or something, I wouldn't make a huge effort to see it... but towards the end, there is a scene where both Tom (Mel) and Susan (Rene) thinks that Shawn has been shot and killed... and they both have deep emotional breakdowns on the balcony.  Now, this is a movie I've seen several times over... but not really since you came into our lives... and as I watched Tom and Susan cry, fall apart, I actually teared up a little.  Because, though I tried not to, I imagined what would happen if we lost you.  And I could barely finish the movie.

You probably know I'm a big Stephen King fan... one his first books is called "'Salem's Lot", and though I won't go into the plot line (unlike "Ransom", this book is something I can highly recommend--when you're older, anyway), there is a part where a teenage mom is frustrated at her newborn baby, and she ends up striking him in anger, punching him in the face.  I usually re-read this book every year around Halloween, and in October 2011, this part came and went, only adding to character development... well, this time, in October 2012, this part turned my stomach, because I couldn't imagine anyone hurting you (or any other child) like this.  It gave me chills.

Our jobs as your parents are to protect you, and we'll do our best.  We will fail sometimes, and sometimes you'll catch heat for things you didnt do, and sometimes we may punish you too harshly for something small, or inconsistantly, and then other times, it might be that we are too distracted to talk to you and so on... we aren't perfect.  But we love Jesus, and we are hoping you will find Him too, one day. 

Make sure its real and that you understand it before you make the that step, though.  See, Campbell, your mom and I... we love you so, so much.  And in loving you so much, we want what's best for you.  Trust us when we say, what's best for you is, in fact, a life in Christ.  It won't be easy.  It will be tough, as a matter of fact.  But God promises to love you, take care of you, give you hope and a future.  As much as we love you, He loves you a billion times more than we ever could... and He wants to take care of you. 

We love watching you learn new things.  Lately, you've learned how to open drawers and cabinets... and even more so, you are just now figuring out there is stuff IN those drawers and cabinets.  You love crawling up to the dryer and banging on it with your hands, because you love the hollow sound.  And you will go up those stairs like no one's business. 

You are very healthy, you seem pretty happy, and we are proud to be your parents.  You are one today.  We only get about 1/4 of your life to raise you right, and out of the 18 years we have, we have 17 left now.  Wow. 

Now I'm going to go to bed--where you might be sleeping.  I love you, my sweet son. 

And happy birthday.

your dad

ps... please stop messing with the Blu-Ray Player.  I hate having to keep un-plugging and re-plugging it. 

pps... I know tonight at your party was kind of loud and obnoxious.  This is called "Alabama Football Gameday".  Your dad is a Florida fan, but everyone else belongs of the Roll Tide Nation.  Get used to the yells.

Friday, October 12, 2012

a dozen movie dash

Well, here it is… its Post 900 Eve. As in, Post 899… so I thought I’d give you a quick dash through a bunch of movies I’ve seen . Twelve paragraphs, twelve movies.’

Argo… Simply the best movie I’ve seen so far in a long, long time. This is based on the true story of “The Canadian Caper”, which is when the Iranians took over the US Embassy in 1980, capturing over 50 hostages… 6 people escaped from the Embassy and took refuge at the home of the Canadian ambassador. While the hostages were on tv all the time, and a bargaining chip between the US and Iran, no one knew about the 6 escapees, which meant they were completely expendable. Ben Affleck, which has turned into one heck of a director after “The Town” and now this, plays one of the leads, the CIA agent who works with a few Hollywood bigwigs—John Goodman and surely to be nominated for a Supporting Actor Oscar, Adam Arken—to come up with a fake movie, one called “Argo”, that provides a cover for the 6 to be rescued. The story moves at a fast pace, and is over almost too soon. Its also very tense, and even though you are pretty sure that you know how it ends, you still find yourself a little nervous at the end as they are almost—almost—home free. The cast is fantastic, the dialogue is sharp and not wasted, and both Arken and Goodman provide some great comic relief to a suspenseful story. I loved this movie, and I chalk this and “The Avengers” as to very real candidates to be elected into The Dave100 in the future. Walking out of the theater, I told The Lovely Steph Leann, “I’d watch that movie again, like, right now.” Can’t ask for higher praise than that.

Looper… This movie gives me faith that there are, in fact, original ideas in Hollywood. Looper is the story of Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt… or is it Joseph-Gordon Levitt?), who is a “looper”, which means that people are sent back in time from 30 years in the future, and Joe, a looper, assassinates them. He collects his silver, and goes about his shady life, including frequenting a house of ill repute where Piper Pirabo is a dancer. Things go haywire, however, when the Future Joe (Bruce Willis) is sent back for Present Day Joe to kill—and Future Joe escapes. Suddenly, the chase is on and… and then, it becomes more than a cat-and-mouse chase movie. It becomes an original story of the future meeting the present, and it takes time travel in a gritty direction. Time travel isn’t looked on as this miracle feat, its illegal and an underground event used for bad things by very powerful people. And then, the wonderful Emily Blunt comes along, and then the movie goes in another completely different direction and… and its awesome. Everyone I know who has seen this movie tells me they didn’t think it would go the direction it did, but they are glad it went there, and I’m in the same boat. JoGoLevitt had prosthetics on his face to better resemble a younger Bruce Willis, and he studied Willis movies to pick up the mannerisms and facial expressions--and he succeeds.  Also has Jeff Daniels, who is turning out to be a great actor of our day.  Rated R for language and violence, and a random, probably unnecessary boobage scene with Piper Pirabo that could have been done just as well covering up her lady parts. Just my thought.

 A Thousand Words… The latest Eddie Murphy flick follows this trend of “fantasy type films”--Shrek films, Imagine That (where his toddler daughter makes financial decisions for him), Meet Dave (the little guy living in his head), etc—and its premise finds him as a slick tell-em-what-they-wanna-hear book agent who attempts to sign a mediation spiritual celebrity and winds up with a tree in his backyard. A tree that drops a leaf every time Jack says a word. At the end of the leaves, it’s the end of Jack’s live, which forces him to re-evaluate everything. The movie takes away one of Eddie’s biggest assets, which is his hilarious voice and line delivery, and doesn’t quite make up for it in his silent action. The first half of the movie is a comedy that its actually kind of amusing, but somewhere around the midway point, it takes a semi-serious tone as the movie’s message starts to come through and Jack begins to figure out what has been going wrong in his life. While its not the greatest Eddie movie ever (I’d give that to Trading Places, easily), its sorta funny and will do when you’re in a mood for something silly and at least attempting to be thought provoking. PG-13 for language.

The Five Year Engagement… Tom (Jason Segel) and Violet (the wonderful Emily Blunt) meet at a party, date and suddenly get engaged. And thus the movie kicks in, as we chronicle their relationship through struggles, jobs, watching other people around them get engaged and married, kids, family issues and more. Whether you like this film or not will depend on whether you like Jason Segel and Emily Blunt, because this movie rests entirely on their shoulders… and I think it is because of their chemistry that this movie works on a lot of levels. Like a real couple, they face the hardships of consequences that come because of decisions they make, especially when it comes to their careers. And there is, of course, temptation in the form of a college professor that has taken a shine to Violet in her graduate program. I laughed out loud several, several times and found the story to be engaging, entertaining and though a little “over the line” a couple of times, nothing like the gratuitous humor you’d seen in “The Hangover” and the like. We watched the “unrated” version of this, and its full of language and though there aren’t any nudie shots, there are a few sex scenes. Unrated for language.

The Vow… Okay. I’ll admit it. I kinda liked this movie. When married couple Paige (Rachel McAdams, who makes everything better) and Leo (the surprisingly charming Channing Tatum) get into an accident, she comes out with some sort of selective amnesia. And because of the amnesia, she doesn’t remember the fact she’s married to Leo, which means he now has to start all over with her. Throw in the fact that her family has never met him—and they already don’t like him—and therefore think they should be her caretakers, plus an ex-boyfriend who is actually the person she remembers dating and all the other travails of life, and all you can do is feel horrible for Leo. He’s a loving husband trying to win back his wife, who doesn’t know anything about loving him. It can be a little brutal, but it’s a good date movie. Rated PG-13 for language and some suggestive hanky-panky.

Harold & Kumar’s Very 3D Christmas… Don’t. Just… well, just don’t.

John Carter… Having heard about this movie, mostly from critics, I had a very low set for this film. The few people I knew that had seen it told me they thought it was okay, or pretty good or something like that. For the most part, critics hated this flick, and the box office returns were pretty terrible (Disney ended up doing something like an 84 million dollar write off, and expected to lose about 200 million in total from this movie). Having said that, it wasn’t a bad movie. It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t terrible. A sci-fi epic set in the late 1800s, John Carter is a Civil War vet that is transported to Mars and dropped right in the middle of a planet-wide war amongst the several different races where he goes from outcast and strange being to hero and warrior (of course). This took a while to get into, and while it never kept my full attention (I kept doing other stuff), it was entertaining, I guess. It’s a little overly long, and has more special effects and CGI than it probably should have, but there it is. Its not as bad as critics made it out to be, but not a great film. Just eh. PG-13 for science fiction violence and some language.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter… So, you know when you are in high school, and like, there is the popular kids group that hang out together at lunch and at recess and such, and like, there is always this one kid who wants to be popular but just can’t quite pull it off, and he goes out and buys the right clothes and listens to the right music and tries to say and do the right things, but all the popular kids can see right through it and know that deep down inside, he’s still just that dorky kid, and they even make fun of the kid when his back is turned? You know, that kid? Well, that’s Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. This film wants to be The Dark Knight Rises and The Avengers and The Amazing Spiderman so, so badly—but its just the dorky kid who wants to be popular. What does that mean? This movie is kinda goofy, not in a good way, not in an intentional way, but in a way that it tries so hard to be the cool movie, but in its efforts, just comes across as something that isn’t very good, or very interesting.

What To Expect When You're Expecting... A huge ensemble cast, including Liz Banks and Chris Rock and Cameron Diaz and the choir guy from "Glee" and Jamie Foxx and I love Anna Kendrick and Dennis Quaid and J-Lo and Brooklyn Decker and its all about the highs and lows of pregnancy and it tells intersecting stories (of which Banks and Ben Falcone's are the best) of families and single parenting and unexpected babies and families and so on... and... wel... I hate to admit it... but... well I... uh... I mean... I... okay, fine... I LIKED THIS MOVIE.  I'm so ashamed.  PG-13 for language and adult situations.

Battleship... For all the talk about what a bomb this movie was, I gotta tell ya, its not that bad.  Well, like "John Carter", its not that great either, but I will say the re-watchability factor on this movie is much higher than "John Carter".  Seriously, its an alien invasion movie that is confronted by the warships from non other than our own US Navy.  Liam Neeson, though billed as a major character, is actually somewhat minor, while Taylor Kitch is forced to carry the film.  And Brooklyn Decker thrown in there for scenery, with some big dude with no legs.  Go figure.  Anyway, to watch this movie, you need to slog through the first 30 minutes or so... its terrible.  Bad acting, bad story, silly exposition.  In fact, the movie really doesn't take off until the aliens start coming down.  I can't tell you the payoff is grand, but its still sorta entertaining, if only because alien explosions in the ocean are cool.  And this is despite the face Rihanna is in it.  PG-13 for alien violence.

Prometheus... Um... well, its pretty good, I guess.  Ridley Scott returns to his Alien roots and does this film, a prequel of sorts to the Alien franchise, which by the way, if you've never seen Alien (my 111th favorite film of all time) or the sequel, Aliens (#60 on The Dave100), do yourself a favor and watch them both--the former is a horror film in space, the latter is a big sci-fi epic with a little bit of scary to it... anyway, back to Prometheus.  it is a little long, it drags somewhere in the middle, Michael Fassbender as the android David is pretty fascinating, and the special effects are good... Noomi Rapace is the lead, as Elisabeth Shaw, with Charlize Theron playing what would be the villain character, but she's not really evil, she's just self-absorbed.  Anyway, watch it to say you did, but don't build your expectations too high.  PG-13 for alien violence and language.

Jack & Jill... This is Adam Sandler's 2011 release.  This is the one where he plays not only his character, Jack, but also his twin sister, Jill.  This movie is a complete disaster.  I laughed once, but that was because an old lady got hit in the face with a soccer ball, and it was funny.  Beyond that... yeesh.

And Finally... a bonus...

The Sitter... Wow, this movie was crap.  Jonah Hill plays Noah, a slacker dude who lives with his mom and is just trying to score with his girlfriend, who really isn't a girlfriend at all, and just uses him for whatever she needs.  He is roped into a babysitting job where he is taking care of a little girl who looks straight out of Toddlers & Tiaras, a neurotic boy who is manic depressive, and an adopted kid who likes to set lots of fires.  Full of language and crude jokes and bad acting, this movie is a mess.  Richard Roeper called it the worst of movie 2011, and though I'm not sure I completely agree, I will say its pretty bad.  Full disclosure, when the kid peed on the dance floor and the old lady slipped in it, that was kinda funny. Rated R for being a crappy film. 

Next stop... Post 900.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

the 100 coolest things of 2011... 80 to 71

I just looked around and realized... holy schmoles... its almost October!  And we are no closer to tell you what the Coolest Thing of 2011 was!  So, this is what I wrote a few months ago, and then we'll blast through 70 thru 11 on a Cool Express post or 2...

Here is 100 through 91... Auburn's title... "Pocket Full of Kryptonite", ah... "Friends with Benefits"... Colin Firth's Oscar... "My Strange Addiction"... Edge's retirement... "Fast Five"... "50/50"... Aladdin's stage show... "Something Borrowed"

Here is 90 through 81... Coin Dozer app... "Superheroes"... "The Rainmaker"... "I Need a Dollar"... "Zookeeper"... Mr. Toad's Wild Ride... "The Help"... Jersey Mike's subs... "Thor"... Brava Rotisserie Grill...

Okay, so this part of the list is very movie-focused, as I saw a record (for me) number of movies last year, I think at 38... and a lot of them made this list.  So, let's kick it off with the film that Hurricane Rhett said, "I understood about 58% of what was happening in the second one... and in this one, I understood about 74%, making it thereby much better."

80... "Transformers: Dark of the Moon"
I mean, why even try to explain this film.  Its a bunch of robots who can transform into cars, and Optimus Prime and Megatron go at it uno mas time, and Shia LaBeouf is running around trying to act better than his talent will let him, and Megan Fox is no longer in the cast, replaced by supermodel Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, and somehow Ken Jeung, Patrick Dempsey AND John Malkovich make an appearance...

...but really, who gives a crap, right?  Its CARS WHO TURN INTO FIGHTING ROBOTS!!  There's a scene in this flick where Bumblebee, the bestie of Sam Witwicky (LaBeouf), is racing down the interstate with Sam inside, sees congestion in the form of dead robot bodies all over the highway, then he transforms into the robot, hurling Sam into the air, leaps over the hulking hunking holes of metal, fires his gun at the bad guys, then transforms back into the car, catching Sam back inside the passenger seat, all in the matter of a few seconds.  Despite this move being poorly acted and stupidly plotted, that is one of the best few seconds of ANY movie in 2011... you don't watch this movie for plot and talent.  You watch it to see FIGHTING ROBOTS!!!  Dig it!

79... "The Ides of March"
Wow did I think this movie was good.  You have to know that I really like political dramas, and judge them accordingly.  Russell Crowe's "State of Play"--excellent.  Tom Cruise in "Lion for Lambs--unexcellent.  Primary Colors--so good its one of my 100 films of all time.  George Clooney in "Michael Clayton"--would be good if it wasn't so boring.

An adaptation of Beau Willimon's play "Farragut North", this film features Ryan Gosling as Stephen Meyers, a campaign manager for Mike Morris (George Clooney), the Governor of Pennsylvania and a Presidential candidate locked in a fierce battle with a senator for Arkansas.  The goal is to woo a North Carolina Senator, who controls 356 delegates and would give the winner of those delegates the Democratic nomination. 

When a young intern, Molly (Evan Rachel Woods), gets involved with Stephen, things begin to go downhill fast... because with Molly comes a few secrets involving not only Stephen, but also Governor Morris himself... and a double cross with both Morris' and the Arkansas senator's campaign managers, played fantastically by Philip Seymour Hoffman and Paul Giamatti, respectively. 

There are some slow moments, but bear with it... the deep showdown between Gosling and Clooney towards the end of the film is supremely done and worth the wait. 

78... The Dallas Mavericks Win the NBA Championship
Yes, I'm a San Antonio Spurs fan.  Have been since the late 80s and especially the early 90s as I followed David Robinson, my favorite all time player... that said, there are several teams I follow and root for.  Almost dead even with the Spurs as a favorite NBA team are the Orlando Magic, for the obvious Florida ties.  And though there are teams that I don't want to see them beat the Spurs or Magic, I do enjoy wins by the Celtics (its a mom connection), and now, the Mavericks.  Of course, reading this, the champions now are the Miami Heat.. the way, how come there hasn't been more made of the fact that it was strike shortened season?  When the Spurs won their first title in like, '99, there were a whole lot of people discussing how they didn't play a full season, and could the Spurs do it if there was a full season, and Tim Duncan is a rookie and could he play all 82 games and blah blah blah, and here comes LeBron, playing in a 60-something game season, not a full 82 games, and they win the title, and its like a coronation of LeBron all around, even though he didn't play a full season either and... really?

Where was I?

77... Kent State Helps Alabama Who Salutes Kent State
On April 27th of 2011, a massive band of storms roared through Alabama, filling up our landscape with rain, wind and... tornadoes.  Towns were wiped off the map, neighborhoods here were damaged and some leveled, and the destruction was practically unfathomable.

And with such loss comes the familiar, yet never-gets-old, stories of those in the city, the state, the country and even the world who rise up to the challenge and, for lack of a better word, give a "helping hand".  One such story made me smile just a little more than some of others, and that was the fact that players from the Kent State University football team saw fit to make their way down to Tuscaloosa to pitch in that aforementioned helping hand. 

Four Kent State Golden Flashes players--Spencer Keith, Ishmaa'ily Kitchen, Lee Stalker and Jacquise Terry--volunteered at the Habitat for Humanity houses alongside several Tide players, in addition to helping out with a football camp at Holt High School for some tornado-displaced children. 

Kent State was set to play Alabama the following September, and when they did, it wasn't the usual taunting and superiority felt by many smaller teams who are cashing in for their beatdowns at the hands of behemoth schools like Alabama.  Before the game, Bama fans sent hundreds of messages begging Tide fans to not boo and ridicule the Kent State team when the Golden Flashes entered Bryant-Denny Stadium.   The messages worked.

The Kent State team was greeted warmly with cheers and such, as they should have been, and from the side of the Alabama Crimson Nation, it was a class act.  Yes, the game got out of hand quickly, with the then-ranked #2 Tide beating KSt 48-7, but it was the actions of Kent State over the summer and the reception of Alabama that will be remembered, separating this game from the hundreds of beatdowns given before SEC play commences.

76... "Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows"
As much as I like Rachel McAdams... this second movie in the Sherlock Holmes series was, at least to me, superior in most ways--story, dialogue, characters, etc.  What can I say... I liked it quite a bit.

The plot is a little much to get into and keep your attention, but Holmes (Colin Firth Club Member in good standing Robert Downey Jr) and Watson (Jude Law) team up to stop a take-over-the world plot from the cunning and so, so evil Dr. Moriarity, played by Jared Harris, who is Lane Pryce on Mad Men.  The addition of Noomi Rapace, as ingenue Simza, doesn't necessarily make up for the short screen time of McAdams, but she is great in the film too.

Anyway, great film.  Enjoyed it much.

75... My Yard Goes Disney
From the category of "We have to make up problems in this country", comes a ridiculous show on HGTV that takes boring and decrepid backyards and turns them into Disney World havens with props and pools and accessories all decked out in Mickey Mouse style. 

Here's what I wrote on June 6th of 2011...

We just recorded, and are watching back, this show on HGTV... now I don't really watch HGTV, because every show on their schedule might as well be called "Kitchens and Backyards That You'll Never, Ever Be Able to Afford TV" or KABTYNEBATATV... in hindsight, I guess HGTV works better.

The show that would get me watching HGTV?

My Yard Goes Disney

Apparently, HGTV invited people from all over the country to make videos telling them why they deserved to have a Disney-themed backyard makeover.  A backyard with an 8 foot sorcerer's hat, a Tinkerbell themed teapot that serves as a playhouse, a Tinkerbell themed birdcage kids swing, flowers with kids pics in the middle and topped off with a freakin' train with 200 feet of track running from their backyard into Mawmaw's backyard next door, and of course back again. All designed by genuine Disney Imagineers.

You can read the full show review by clicking here.

74... The Civil Wars
Talk about mellow and smooth... the duo of (former?) Christian music artist Joy Williams and John Paul Williams make great music.  No, they aren't romantically linked, as she is married with a kid and he is married with four of his own--not that makes a difference sometimes, but still.

Anyway... its soft coffeehouse rock kind of music, and its awesome.  Well, maybe not on a long car trip, as it might put you to sleep, but otherwise, yeah.

73... "Rise of the Planet of the Apes"
This was truly a movie I didn't want to see.  Having never seen any of the early "Planet of the Apes" films and thinking the 2001 Mark Wahlberg reboot was a steaming pile of Bantha poodoo, this film didn't excite me all that much... and yet, I somehow ended up at the theater, checking it out.  And I'm glad I did...

Here's what I wrote on August 30th.... So, the movie was solid. The story was good, the characters were well written, the script is well written, the special effects, especially Andy Serkis, is unbelievable and overall, I enjoyed it immensely. You don't have to be familiar with the other films--in fact, there are apparently a dozen or so references to the early films, though I only caught one when Draco Malfoy says, "Dadgum dirty apes!"--to like this movie, and it sets it up quite nicely for following films, which due to the success of this one, are likely.
Here's the full review, or you can find this and hundreds of other films on my own movie review page.

72... "Hot Coffee"
Remember the old lady that spilled coffee in her lap, then sued McDonalds for like, $300 million dollars or something because the "coffee was too hot"?  There were jokes abound on everything from late night television to me and my own high school buddies cracking jokes.  Seriously?  Isn't coffee supposed to be hot?  So, yeah, I think I'll sue Water World in Dothan, because their water is too wet!  Ha ha!  Right? 

So the story is, in 1992, then-79 year old Stella Liebeck, living in Albuquerque, New Mexico, sat in her grandson's car in the passenger seat, ordering a 49 cent cup of coffee in the McDonald's drive-thru.  Her grandson parked the car so that Stella could put the cream and sugar in her coffee, but when she went to lift the lid, the cup sloshed and the entire contents of the cup spilled into her lap.  Wearing cotton sweatpants, it absorbed the coffee and burned into her skin.  At the hospital, it was determined that she suffered third-degree burns over 6% of her skin and lesser burns on 16% of her skin... she underwent skin grafting over the next 8 days and spent two years undergoing medical treatment. 

She sought to settle with McDonalds for $20,000 to cover her actual and upcoming medical expenses.  They offered her $800.  And thus began the legal battle over coffee was was too hot and unsafely served... and thus is the opening salvo in this HBO documentary.

It covers three more cases like this, cases that are seemingly open-and-shut yet are much deeper and harder to agree upon a resolution once you know the full story... like Nebraska family, The Gourleys, who's 16 year old son is severely brain damaged due to medical malpractice at birth... yet, Nebraska's cop on damages meant the Gourleys could only get $1.25 million, far below the estimated $5.65 million that a jury decided they would need for his lifetime care.

You also see the story of Oliver Diaz, a judge who opposed tort-reform and was "run out of office" by those groups who didn't see it that way... and finally, the story of Jamie Leigh Jones, a KBR/Halliburton employee who's claims that she was drugged and raped by male co-workers and faced even more problems when evidence disappeared.

Whether you agree with these stories or not, or whether you think that Stella is still too greedy, especially since she was clumsy, or you think that McDonalds took a greedy route by their lowball offer, all of these stories are fascinating in nature and very thought provoking. 

I, for one, learned a lot about tort reform.  And McDonalds coffee.

71... "Misery" by Stephen King
I find that sometimes the scariest Stephen King novels aren't those that deal with the supernatural and ghosts and demons, but deal with people who are just bat guano crazy.  And when they are bat guano crazy, it makes for a more compelling villain, because they are real people who do things that real life people might do.

While "'Salem's Lot" and "It" are my favorite King books, dealing with the undead and the otherworldly, "Misery"'s Annie Wilkes might just be one of the most scary villains in the King universe... because she's not supernatural.  She's not undead, or otherworldly... she's just... well, bat guano crazy.

Writer Paul Sheldon has a ritual when he finishes his novels, of which he's been writing about a character named Misery Chastain--and the latest book, he kills her off, giving him the freedom from writing just that story that he's done for so many years.  And it all goes haywire when during this novel-finishing ritual, which calls for him to complete books while up in the Colorado mountains all alone with no forms of communication, his car wrecks and he tumbles down a snow filled ravine.  And when Annie Wilkes finds him, the story takes over... Annie is his biggest fan.  His biggest, obsessive fan.  And she loves Misery Chastain... and when she finds out that Misery bites in this, his latest and last Misery novel, she's not happy.  As a matter of fact, she's bat guano crazy about it.

When I read it, Paul was already wrecked and in Annie's spare bedroom within the first 30 pages or so, which made me wonder how in the world King was going to stretch the story for another 300+ pages... but he did.  And it is intense, both wonderful and dreadful at the same time.   Yes, the movie is great, with Kathy Bates portrayal of Annie getting her an Oscar for it, but the book is even better. 

Coming up... The 2011 Cool Express...

Sunday, September 16, 2012

coming back again


So... its been almost a month since I've written down anything on this here blog site.  As I near 900 posts, at first I wanted to ensure that something fun and cool was written for that, by my standards, momentous occasion... then I just stopped doing anything blogworthy.

Well, that's not entirely true... I thought of several things I could have told you in the month between then and now... I just never got around to writing it down.  So what have I been doing?   Well, not counting working for The Most Caffeinated Place on the Planet... and taking my what-seems-like 50 vacation days one or two at a time... and when its my turn to do so, taking care of this guy... 

See, on days off when I have to keep young Campbell Isaiah here at The Cabana, there isn't alot I can do without taking my eyes off of him.  Sure, he'll stay in his little jumparoo bouncy thing, for a little while, and he might sit in his playpen, for an even littler while, but right now, the young man wants to crawl.  And if you don't give him that chance, he then decides to let you know all about his displeasure.

Wanting to crawl is kind of a misnomer... he has two goals in his young life, not counting hitting the bottle and taking a slam in his Pampers... those goals are (1) standing and (2) putting his mouth on whatever is directly in front of him when he gets to his feet.  And I mean what-ever is in front of him.  Couch?  Legs of the dining room chair?  The pedestal to the recliner?  The wall?  Your knee?  Whatever is in front of him he puts his mouth on. 

Of course, the crawling and attempting to stand is truly means to an end... walking.  My mama told me the other day that I only crawled long enough to learn how to walk, and I would expect the same out of Camp Iz as well.  And I would imagine he'll do it soon.

The whole point in saying all that is to let you know that over the last month, I've watched a lot of movies... and I mean, a whole lotta movies... many times, while watching Camp Iz, I will turn on Dish Channel 300, which is HBO, and scroll forward to about 390, which encompasses a bunch of HBOs, several Cinemaxes, a handful of Showtimes and The Movie Channels, a boatload of Starz & Encore channels, and a dozen or so movie channels--Sony, Epix 1, 2 & 3, MGM, Universal HD to name a few--that I never knew existed until we got satellite. 

And sometimes I just turn on the TV, and if a movie is coming on, I just watch it.  Which is how I found myself watching Minka Kelly and Leighton Meester in "The Roommate" from 2011.  When the trailer for this movie would appear before features at the theater, The Lovely Steph Leann would comment, "I liked this idea better when it was called 'Single White Female'"

To say this is an understatement is an understatement... to refresh your memory, "Single White Female" is a creepy movie from 1992 that casts Bridget Fonda as Allie, a software designer (a "software designer" in movies in the early 90s is pretty funny when seen now) who has just broken things off with her fiance (Steven Weber) for cheating, and is now forced to find a roommate.

Hedy responds, and moves in, and they become friends.  But as the course of the movie rolls along, we see how disturbed and, for lack of a better word, how Bat Guano crazy Hedy is, as she becomes obsessed with Allie's live, imitating everything from her haircut to her clothes to trying to get rid of the other people in Allie's life so as to keep her all to herself. 

"Single White Female" is not a particularly great movie by any stretch, but what makes this movie is Jennifer Jason Leigh, who plays Hedy.  Jenn Jay Leigh is absolutely brilliant in her psychotic behavior, making her a classic, completely despicable villain.  If you only watch it for Hedy, its worth at least once viewing... it is Rated R for violence, some gettin' it on scenes and language.

However, "The Roommate" makes "Single White Female" look nothing short of "The Shawshank Redemption".  It's not even so bad its good... its so bad, its really, really, reeeeeeally bad.

Its been called an "unofficial remake" of the aforementioned film, but its very poorly done.  Minka Kelly plays Sara, who is starting her freshman year in college, and ends up with Rebecca (Leighton Meester) as her roommate... well, you know where this is going.  Rebecca, who has no friends because she's freaking weird and unlikable, clongs onto Sara with obsessive abandon to the point of hurting and even murdering those around Sara who Rebecca deems as "competition" for her attention and she is crazy and blah blah blah blah blah...

... I found myself kinda wishing that Rebecca would blow up the dorm with everyone inside, then maybe throw herself off a cliff.  The movie was silly, not suspenseful in any way, the acting was over the top, hammy and just plain bad, and none of the characters were engaging enough to draw any concern over their well being. 

The movie is just bad.  Granted, I've seen worse... in thinking through the topic of "Worst movie I've ever seen", the film "Superman IV:  The Quest for Peace" keeps coming to mind, followed by "The Janky Promoters", starring Ice Cube, Mike Epps and rapper Young Juc... but that's another topic.

In addition to torturing myself over bad films that I'm too lazy to get up and grab the remote across the room in order to change the channel (Run on sentence, aisle 5!), I've managed to knock out a book or two here and there. 

I knocked out "The Lincoln Lawyer" by Michael Connelly in two days... because it was just that good. It was better than I'd say anything John Grisham has written in at least ten years. The movie, starring Dave Wooderson Matthew McConaughey as Mickey Haller, came out a few years back, and is a decent watch--a defense attorney who is skilled enough to routinely get scumbags out of jail and either reduced or flat out dropped charges for their crimes, is met with what seems like a big payday when a rich kid (Ryan Phillippe) accused of beating and raping a chick hires him based on his reputation of success.

Also starring Frances Fisher (Rose's mom on the "Titanic"), William H. Macy as a grizzled private eye, Marisa Tomei (who is always welcome onscreen) and a great turn by country singer Trace Adkins as the leader of a biker gang who Mickey helps, while getting paid under the table... its Rated R for language and violence... anyway, the movie is pretty good and very rewatchable.

The book is also a great read, and mirrors the movie almost entirely, save for a few characters that have different backstories... the main difference is the ending.  The book takes the ending (and effectively, the continuation of the story) in a completely different direction, though I have to say both the book and movie endings are extremely satisfying. 

By the way, when I started this post, I had no clue I would end up on McConaughey and "The Roommate"... sometimes that's just where it goes, I guess.

See you soon--before 30 days, I promise.

Friday, August 17, 2012

the expendables 2

As of this very moment, its 217.  In the am.  In the morning.  I just walked in the door, flipped on the TV, sat down and fired up the laptop.  On the TV is "Payback", from 1999, back before Mel Gibson displayed his anger management issues...

...remember when he was just cool?  With "Braveheart" and "Ransom" and "Lethal Weapon" movies and even that crappy "Conspiracy Theory"... now, he does a movie like "Edge of Darkness" and "The Beaver" and no one gives a darn.  Sad, really...

Why is it so late, you ask?  Because I was sitting in a theater at midnight with my buddies Mikey and Tommy Mac, watching the glorious dude movie called "The Expendables 2".  

The original came out in 2010, and I was so pumped for it, I even wrote a preview post... and the movie didn't disappoint.  It was the 58th Coolest Thing of 2010, and I wrote, "...what is the movie even about?  Some crap about a corrupt government and the overthrow of a brutal dictator and so on and so on and who gives a rip.   Seriously. It's awesome. If you like real substance and deep plotlines, then don't watch this movie..." 

And truly, the same line can apply to "The Expendables 2"... only more.  And better.  Most of the cast returns, with Sly, Dolph, Statham, Couture and Terry Crews, with Bruce Willis and Ah-nald making longer, more notable appearances.  Jet Li only gets a little screen time, but we get a few additions to make up for Li's loss, including a surprisingly likable Liam Hemsworth and the bad-A chick Nan Yu, as Maggie Chen.

And lest we forget, the villian this time around, a chews-the-scenery Jean Claude Van Damme as... wait for it... Vilain.  Yes, we have the villian Vilain. 

The Expendables team find themselves in debt to the rogue businessman Church (Bruce Willis) and are sent to retrieve some valuable property before it falls into the wrong hands... but in order for there to be a story, there has to be some wrong hands around, which there are. 

I'd go into more detail, but there's no need... lets face it, like the first one, you aren't coming to this puppy for a deep plot... though I will admit, its got a better plot than the first one.  All in all, I enjoyed this one more than the first film, despite the lack of Jet Li screen time... perhaps it was the appearance of one Chuck Norris that filled the void.

There are a ton of nods to the old action films and cliches of the past, including Bruce Willis and Ah-nald mocking each other's most famous catchphrases ("Yippee-ki-ay!" and "I'll be back", respectively), and lots of laughable moments, though I feel like you'd have to be a little older, maybe late 20s, into your 30s and beyond to really get the jokes. 

Each of the actors hold their own, and Jason Statham continues to be awesome, and you can just tell all of these guys look like they are having fun. 

The language is actually not a huge factor, and though I'm sure there were some, I don't really remember any F-bombs at all. The violence? Completely over the top, almost to the point that it's ridiculous... not that I'd let Campbell watch it, but its a silly violence, not a serious violence, if that makes sense... it is Rated R for a reason, but its still just a lot of fun.  Silly, nostalgic and fun.  I rank it better than the first. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012


As Teber was teaching our Life Connection Class on Sunday--and has been for the past few weeks--about our faith and the reasons behind it (a great series of lessons, and a great presentation of this part of the Gospel) and it made me think of something that I wrote back on October 12th, 2000.

Its a little write up centered around a little tune by Nichole Nordeman called "Fool For You", a song that discussing that even though we may not understand why we believe it, we believe it and are willing to live the life of those beliefs--no matter the cost to our reputation or our image. (note: this song is also featured on the two disc "Love, Pride & Deep Fried Chicken: The Soundtrack to d$'s Life" collection, forthcoming).

I have taken it, give it a little editing twist, added and subtracted and now I simply call it "Nothin' But a Fool". Here goes...

There are times when faith and common sense do not align, when hardcore evidence of You is hard to find. I am silenced in the face of argumentative debate--is a long hill, its a lonely climb--they want proof. They proof of all the mysteries I claim, cause only fools would want to chant a dead man's name. Maybe its true but... I'd be a fool for You. Because you asked me to. A simpleton who's seemingly naive, I do believe You came and made Yourself a fool for me.

Nichole Nordeman rocks my face off. In the late 90s and early part of the 2000s, when I was deeply absorbed in Christian music (before it all started sounding exactly alike and I discovered podcasts and audiobooks), Nichole Nordeman was one of those artists that helped to change my life--dcTalk, Jennifer Knapp and Watermark also have that distinction. And from the album "This Mystery" comes a song that also changed my life. But first, an oddly connecting anecdotal story...

Well, let's begin in 1997... I had a crush on this chick, and I thought of ways to impress her. I'm not going to lie to you, I was a dumb dater then... what I mean by that is, all the stuff I know not to do now, I learned by doing it then and realizing how dumb I was... I'm lucky anyone would have me. Okay, back to the story.

So, I called this girl up, and sang... yes, sang "My Girl" on her answering machine. Now you sit there and laugh, but at the time it seemed like a good idea... well, if you must know, I didn't hear from her for a long time. Yes, it was dumb. And I'm sure I looked incredibly stupid... and foolish. But you know what, I liked her, so I didn't mind looking like a fool for her.

Not to many years ago, someone asked me about God. They were an atheist, and they asked me all sorts of questions that I, being a new Christian, couldn't give a solid answer. Truth-be-known, I'm not sure I could answer some of them now, but it was some of the old unbeliever favorites like "How can a loving God allow such sin in the world?" and "Why do you praise a dead man, Jesus?" and that kind of stuff. You and I both know, in our hearts, the answers to both of those questions, but its hard trying to relay those answers without your opponent having an open mind to the idea of Faith. So, I looked like a fool. But you know what? I like Jesus, he had done a lot for me, so I didn't mind looking like a fool for him.

I admit that in my darkest hours I've asked what-if, what if we created some kind of man-made faith like this? Out of good intention, or emotional invention, after life is through, there will be no You. They want proof of all these miracles I claim, because only fools believe that man can walk on waves. Maybe its true, but I'd be a fool for You because you asked me to. A simpleton who's seemingly naive, I do believe You came and made Yourself a fool for me.

Now, I know I'm not the only one who has done this... wondered what if?

What if... God really doesn't exist?
What if... other religions and beliefs are actually right?
What if... when I die, there is nothing?

Those questions you never acknowledge that you ask, because you want to be strong in your faith, but when you are really at a low point, Satan smacks you with the sin of unbelief. And if I am wrong in what I believe, when it’s all said and done, boy, will I look like a fool. But if believing makes me a fool, I love God, so I don’t mind looking like a fool for him.

But then I think about Jesus, who came here two thousand years ago. He preached to the masses, to the crowds, to everyone. He wasn't popular with the "important" people, he could care less that consorting with that woman at the well was deemed undignified and frankly, could give squat about the Pharisees opinions when he visited the low life tax collectors at their houses. He did it because he loved them... and us. They called him a fool. But he loved us so much, he didn't mind looking like a fool.

Unaware of popularity. Unconcerned with dignity. You made me free. That's proof enough for me.

We as humans are so prideful, if we lower ourselves down enough to look foolish for something or someone, then that means we hold them dear to us... you wouldn't be a fool for just anyone, I'm sure. But when you love someone, you make a fool of yourself sometimes... have you ever been embarrassed for worshipping or praising God in public? Its okay to say yes, because I have... but you know what? Praise Jesus, Hallelujah, pass the cornbread. Sometimes the deepest, most impactful worship you can have is when you just raise your hands, shut your eyes and let God move you however he sees fit.

For a time, I would even close my eyes and sign the worship music--I knew sign, I loved sign and for me, it was a glorious way to worship. Somehow, over the years, I became self-conscious of that and stopped. And that truly is a shame. Who knows... maybe during something I know (like the next time we sing "The Air I Breathe", which might be never, as that's a forgotten classic), I'll just let it go and throw my hands up. We find ourselves sitting next to John and Ashley Wolf many times on the front row of that side-section, so I hope I don't smack Ashley during my over dramatic sign for "...and I-I-I-I-I I'm desperate for You..." If I do, though, then we'll both look like fools. Fools for Jesus. And isn't that how it should be?

I think so.

I would be a fool for You, only if You asked me to. I'm a simpleton who's only thinking of the cause of Love, I will speak Jesus' name. If that makes me crazy, they can call me crazed, I'm happy to be seemingly naive. I do believe You came and made yourself a fool for me.

life connection connections

The Lovely Steph Leann and I do love our Sunday School Life Connection class at Valleydale Church (an sbc fellowship), as some of our favorite people are in there.  When the "Young Marrieds" started in 2005, we had only 6 or 7 couples--ourselves, The Hawbakers, The Barnetts, The Watkins, The Shaws, maybe one or two couples I can't think of, a couple named Frank and Amanda Hanson, and another couple who weren't married, but engaged to be so within a few months (I think they subsequently broke up, but that's neither here nor there--they, and the Hansons, didn't return after a few weeks).

None of us had kids, and the majority of the couples in the class now either weren't even married at the time (in fact, Willis & Meredith Watkins were getting married later that spring), weren't members of the church, weren't even residents of the state, or some or all three. 

From January of 2005, our class has exploded in size.  Yes, its been 7 years and alot can happen in 7 years, but we started out being taught by The Robinsons, then Jason & Emmy Turnbow--the class blew up in size a few years later, and ended up splitting because it was just to flippin' big.   The Lovely Steph Leann and I helped lead the charge into the great unknown of starting a new class out of the old class... and here we are.

Now, we are about 25 couples strong--and we are one of those lucky, blessed classes that at least 17 or 18 of those couples are really active.  And we have enough kids in this group now to supply an entire Chinese gymnastics squad.  And they are young enough too.

There is a three teacher rotation in our class at the time, which works pretty well... Big RyRy (Ryan Sherman), Tebershaw (Tebe Shaw) and winner of 2 BET Soul Choice Awards for his latest Moody Gazette Best Selling book "I Can't Even Walk (without you holding my hand)", JustFish, aka Justin Fisher.  So far?  Its worked out great... kinda like a Matthew-Mark-Luke thing, where you have three different personalities, three different styles and three different perspectives all on the same subject, this being the promotion and furthering of the Kingdom of Christ and its Scriptures. 

Why just spill this info, seemingly random?  Because I do a newsletter every week for our class called, funnily enough, The ShawFiSherman Times--and its become fairly popular at this point, full of important infomation, dates, events, birthdays and anniversaries, plus usually some thoughts on whatever at the end. 

And, because I'll probably start posting some of those, I didn't want to have to explain all of this stuff everytime I mention our Life Connection class and its workings... so there's the scoop.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

take a day

As part of my association, and training, with Distinctive Journeys in becoming a Disney Vacation Planner (!), I have also been asked to contribute to a Disney Blog, made up of guys and gals who... well, who love Disney and want to talk about it.  This is the first article I submitted...

The Lovely Steph Leann and I have been to The Most Magical Place on Earth many, many times, and have even made it out to The Happiest Place on Earth once last year.  Our vacations usually last any number of days, but more often than not, we spend at least five nights there.  Our longest has been a nine night, ten day excursion in which we were able to do so, so much, including tours and shows and other fun things. 

Between the two of us, we have a wealth of Disney knowledge, and even more things that we think we know... but one thing is completely and totally assured--you will be exhausted.  We've often joked that "we need a vacation from our vacation" because when we return home, we unload, collapse into bed and go to work the next morning, though the nature of my job allows me sometimes to take the next day off to recover.  She, however, remains wiped out for days to follow.

Every trip we've taken thus far has been without kids of our own, and we are prepared to take our new family member, our son Campbell, on his first visit this November, when he'll be 11 months old.  We swore we'd wait a little while longer, at least until age 3 or 4, so he could remember it, but we are we kidding?  We probably would have delivered him at the Magic Kingdom were it an option. Perhaps in line at Splash Mountain--after delivery, we could do the parental ride-swap.

Anyway, as I help other people on their own vacations, I offer one piece of advise about traveling to the parks:  Take a day. 

Its so tempting for all of us to hit the World, get unloaded, toss on your pin lanyard and grab your tickets at head to the bus stop, or get the car pulled around and try to get there in time to get fast passes for Soarin', or to hop on Peter Pan before the wait time is an hour, or maybe to grab a safari ride before all the animals conk out in the mid-afternoon heat... and The Lovely Steph Leann and I are no different. 

Like most, we have our days planned out weeks in advance, taking into consideration magic hours, dinner reservations, possible delays and constructions, and even when we want to meet Mickey and the Fab Five or the Pooh Gang or "If we do the Cinderella breakfast, we are likely to get Snow White, Cindy, Aurora, Belle and probably Jasmine, so maybe we can get Poppins and Alice at the Supercali, and try to see Rapunzel in between Small World before we get to Tomorrowland and..." 

But we've learned in our planning to find one day somewhere in the middle of trip, perhaps the halfway point, or a day before or after, as our "rest day".  When I say "rest", its not necessarily a "catch up on sleep, never leave the room" day... to the contrary, its a "sleep in past our 6am wakeup time, maybe to 730 or 8, get showers at our own pace, go to a late breakfast, walk slowly everywhere, and do NOT, I repeat do NOT, go to the parks" day. 

This is our day to take it easy.  By this time, we have already hit all the parks at least once, probably stayed til midnight at Epcot or past it at the Magic Kingdom, or gotten into Animal Kingdom or Hollywood right before 8am, we've had several early morning breakfasts and late night dinners and we've done lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of walking.   And we walked alot too.

We found that day in the middle to be vitally important to our survival, a day when we can do brunch at Kouzzina (at Boardwalk, you have to sacrifice half a park day to do this anyway), maybe go down to Downtown Disney to scope out some things we want for our visit later that week, and, in the instance of our last vacation, we were able to nap in the afternoon before taking in La Nouba--instead of dashing off of Toy Story Mania, racing across Hollywood, catching the ferry or the bus, or running to our cars, getting to the hotel a few minutes later than we wanted, dashing around like crazy people looking for the outfits we were going to wear, "did you get your ticket?" "I thought you had it!" "Do we need our reservation number?!" "My camera is full, I need to delete pictures!" "I bought you a memory card"  "I forgot it in the room!" "I still can't find my ticket!" kind of afternoon (let's be honest--we've all had one of those afternoons, right?  Right.)

Take that day.  And with your kids, its even more important... let them spend as much time at the pool as they want, or maybe head to DisneyQuest, or just resort-hop and spend some time in other kids areas they haven't seen.  Plan for an evening show like La Nouba or Hoop de do Revue or a resort dinner at the California or O'Hana, so you'll have plenty of time to get ready. 

And the next day, after you've had a day of rest, your feet, your body, your mind and your family will thank you.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

cast member confidential

I'm a Disney fan... its not any secret, to be honest with you...

(this post sponsored by Disney on a Dollar, in partnership with Distinctive-Journeys... for a magical vacation that you'll never forget, email for all of your Disney travel needs!)

...but more than that, I'm also a Disney history buff.  Like, I love Disney books, and I don't mean "how-to" books and "visiting Disney" books... I will tell you that my favorite is Birnbaum's Disney books, and the 2013 guide will be released on September 25th--and this year's should be amazing, with Toontown gone, Snow White's Scary Adventures gone, new Fantasyland over half finished, and so on...

where was I?

Oh yeah... Disney books.  I have a shelf full of books read and to be read at this point, books on Walt Disney World history and the movie animation secrets and behind the scenes and Disney Underground and did-you-know and the like... and any book where Cast Members open up about their experiences also suck me in.

So, I picked up Chris Mitchell's "Cast Member Confidential: A Disneyfied Memoir", about a guy who drove to Orlando to escape his mundane life and family, gets a job at Disney World and becomes engulfed in the life and lifestyle of Cast Members.  According to Mitchell, and I agree, its like it's own culture, almost its own species.

Mitchell gives stories and anecdotes over his year there, everything from the drugs to the make out sessions he witnessed, with both boy-girl, boy-boy and girl-girl, to the ones he participated in, especially with a fellow Cast Member named Calico.  Yes, Calico.

He works as a PhotoPass photographer, and even tries out as a character, to disastrous results.  Other stories share the details of his trip to Cuba, the parties that his gay roommate threw and of course, lots of park shenanigans... including some good loving in the upstairs of the American Pavilion during Epcot's Illuminations.

Could I believe all of it?  Maybe.  Do I believe it?  No, not really.  However, Chris Mitchell spins a humorous tale of all the magical, and unmagical, things that go on when the lights go down, and behind those doors that say "Cast Member Only" we see as we walk through the parks.  It does read more like a work of fiction, though, which is why I have a hard time swallowing the majority of what he tells us.  And at no point does he give you any actual park or resort information or behind the scenes stories, its all based on personalities and anecdotes.

It is full of salty language, many homosexual overtones and characters, descriptions of drug use, alcohol, and loose, loose women.

Do I recommend it?  Not really.  Again, its fun yarn at points, but the opening story with Tarzan sets it up as a little far-fetched.  Just my two cents.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

mr. wizard being grumpy

When I was a young tyke, in the midst of the kid stage, there were several shows I watched on television... we didn't have Barney or Dora the Explorer or Blue's Clues (the first two I am going to avoid at all costs when introducing educational programming to the young Campbell Isaiah)... no, we have PBS and Nickelodeon. 

We had Sesame Street, of course, and The Electric Company, which I didn't watch much of, but there was another show I watched every day that I can't remember the name of... but it had a segment called "MathNet", a "Dragnet" type Math sketch with two Math Detectives. 

But the bulk of my programming came on Nickelodeon... this was before "Nick Jr" and "Nick Kids" and the Noggin Network and so on, and this is before TV Land... this is when they had kids shows in the morning and midday, they had older kids shows until about 7p, then they went to Nick At Night, showing reruns of My Three Sons, Gilligans Island, Newhart and Donna Reed... then around midnight, we had infomercials.

During the day, I took in healthy amount of "You Can't Do That On Television" and Leonard Nimoy's "Lights Camera Action"...

SIDEBAR... I remember in 2nd grade, at Ridgetop Elementary in Austin, Texas, we were all in the class and Ms. Martinez asked us to name our favorite TV show, and I wanted to say "You Can't Do That On Television", but due to my seat in the class, I was one of the last people to have a turn, and Brian Bruner at about four chairs down, and as it zipped around the class, I didn't hear YCDTOT, and I was excited because me, at 7, would get to say this cool program that many parents hated, and I would look cool and then, four chairs down, Brian Bruner went and he said "You Can't Do That on Television!" and a bunch of kids in the class said, "I love that!" and "Oh, I forgot that, I want to change my answer!" and I was so mad because I wanted to say it and get that reaction so when it went to Gloria Gil, then Jesse Gomez then Pete the Stereotypical Big Kid in the Class, it got to me, and panicking, I said, "Lights Camera Action!", which wasn't a lie, I did love that behind-the-scenes-movie show, but I knew it wasn't as exciting as "You Can't Do That On Television", and I was so disheartened when from across the class, Becky Rocha said, "Oh, that show is boring"... and I just sank in my chair...

Where was I?

Oh yeah, Nick at Nite...

Anyway, my parents and I watched "My Three Sons", and once they had a contest for a week, saying if you could write down the names of each of Steve's dates in each episode and be one of the first people to send it it, you'd win a Nick at Nite address book.  So, each night at 7, I labored through episode after episode (it was usually on from 7p to 830p, but only one episode had Steven going out on a date), for five straight nights, and wrote down those 50's type names like "Mildred" and "Esther" and "Dorothy".  I wrote it on a piece of loose leaf paper and stuffed it in an envelope and addressed it--I don't remember the address, but I'm sure it has something to do with "Avenue of the Americas" in New York City--and sent it out... and a week later, I got my Nick at Nite address book!  Word.

The daytime shows that taught me my education included "Today's Special" and "Mr Wizard's World", and the latter is why I'm even posting anyway. 

Seriously... I actually wanted to post a video, but I ended up getting distracted in thinking about my childhood shows... don't even get me started on "Double Dare" and "Hey Dude"...

So, I found this video online, and thought it was awesome.  Mr Wizard was a dude named Don Herbert who had a show on NBC in the 50s, but then revived it for Nickelodeon in the early 80s.  Only producing 78 episodes, it aired three times a week, and in reruns until 1990.  At its peak, it was the #3 show on the channel, and why not?  It was cool.  It made science cool.  Even if Mr. Wizard was a curmudgeon.

And thinking back, I didn't realize it at the time, but now, Mr. Wizard comes across as a grumpy old man... back when you could be a smarty pants to kids on television and no one would say anything about it. 

Warning... as you can see, the title of the video contains a crass word... I didn't do it, and I would have used the word "jerk" but there it is.  And I can't change it, so please just avert your eyes...

By the way, I totally remember some of these episodes, like the spoon on the dry ice, and I remember many of these kids, like the Indian kid and the "...what?..." kid too.

Hope you enjoyed our little venture to Nickleodeon's heyday...

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

val's obituary

I would say this is from the category of "I didn't write it, but I wish I hadda..." but I can't really say that, because this is an obituary.  A very good one.  Found this online, and I thought Val Patterson's final words in death, discussing his life, was worth a post here on Clouds... oh, that we could all be so festive and fun after we die...

As published in the Salt Lake City Tribune from July 15 to July 22, 2012

I was born in Salt Lake City, March 27th, 1953.  I died of Throat Cancer on July 10th, 2012.  I went to six different grade schools, then to Churchill, Skyline and the U of U.  I loved school, Salt Lake City, the mountains, Utah.  I was a true Scientist.  Electronics, chemistry, physics, auto mechanic, wood worker, artist, inventor, business man, ribald comedian, husband, brother, son, cat lover, cynic.  I had a lot of fun.  It was an honor for me to be friends with some truly great people.  I thank you.  I've had a great joy living and playing with my dog, my cats and my parrot. 

But, the one special thing that made my spirit whole is my long love and friendship with my remarkable wife, my beloved Mary Jane.  I loved her more than I have words to express.  Every moment spent with my Mary Jane was time spent wisely.  Over time, I became one with her, inseparable, happy, fulfilled.  I enjoyed one good life.  Traveled to every place on earth that I ever wanted to go to.  Had every job I wanted to have.  Learned all that I wanted to learn.  Fixed everything I wanted to fix.  Eaten everything I wanted to eat.  My life motto was: "Anything for a Laugh".  Other motto's were "If you can break it, I can fix it", "Don't apply for a job, create one."  I had three requirements for seeking a great job:  1 - All Glory, 2 - Top pay, 3 - No Work.

Now that I have gone to my reward, I have confessions and things I should now say.  As it turns out, I AM the guy who stole the safe from the Motor View Drive Inn back in June, 1971.  I could have left that unsaid, but had to get it off my chest.  Also, I really am NOT a PhD.  What happened was that the day I went to pay off my college student loan at the U of U, the girl working there put my receipt into the wrong stack, and two weeks later, a PhD diploma came in the mail.  I didn't even graduate, I only had about 3 years of college credit.  In fact, I never did even learn what the letters "PhD" even stood for. 

For all the Electronic Engineers I have worked with, I'm sorry, but you have to admit my designs always worked very well, and were well engineered and I always made you laugh at work.  Now to that really mean Park Ranger:  after all, it was me that rolled those rocks into your geyser and ruined it. I did notice a few years later that you did get Old Faithful working again.  To Disneyland - you can now throw away that "Banned for Life" file you have on me, I'm not a problem anymore - and SeaWorld San Diego, too, if you read this.

To the gang:  We grew up in the very best time to grow up in the history of America.  The best music, muscle cars, cheap gas, fun kegs, buying a car for "a buck a year" - before Salt Lake got ruined by over population and Lake Powell was brand new.  TV was boring back then, so we went outside and actually had lives.  We always tried to have as much fun as possible without doing harm to anybody - we did a good job at that.

If you are trying to decide if you knew me, this might help... My father was RD "Dale" Patterson, older brother "Stan" Patterson, and sister "Bunny" who died in a terrible car wreck when she was a Junior at Skyline.  My mom "Ona" and brother "Don" are still alive and well.  In college I worked at Vaughn's Conoco on 45th South and 29th East.  Mary and I are the ones who worked in Saudi Arabia for 8 years when we were young.  Mary Jane is now a Fitness Instructor at Gold's on Van Winkle - you might be one of her students - see what a lucky guy I am?  Yeah, no kidding.

My regret is that I felt invincible when young and smoked cigarettes when I knew they were bad for me.  Now, to make it worse, I have robbed my beloved Mary Jane of a decade or more of the two of us growing old together and laughing at all the thousands of simple things that we have come to enjoy and fill out lives with such happy words and moments.  My pain is enormous, but it pales in comparison to watching my wife feel my pain as she lovingly cares for and comforts me.  I feel such the "thief" now - for stealing so much from her - there is no pill I can take to erase that pain.

If you knew me or not, dear reader, I am happy you got this far into my letter.  I speak as a person who had a great life to look back on.  My family is following my wishes that I not have a funeral or burial.  If you knew me, remember me in your own way.  If you want to live forever, then don't stop breathing, like I did.

A celebration of life will be held on Sunday, July 22nd from 4:00 to 6:00 pm at Starks Funeral Parlor, 3651 South 900 East, Salt Lake City, casual dress is encouraged. 

Online condolences may be offered and memorial video may be viewed at

(if you head over to Starks website, it tells you that they have been overwhelmed by this particular obit, and it directs you to their Facebook page...)

The July 31 Day Twelve    

Monday, July 16, 2012

one hundred g's

Thank you, dear Clouds in My Coffee readers... thank you so, so much.  I don't know at what time, but I'm guessing that at some point when I check this site tomorrow, the "visitors" number on the right side will read six digits... as in, 100,000.

That means that this here little website, and its randomness, its questionable talent, is boring design, its promises of consecutive blogs and movie listings and other things and its failures to deliver most of it, its pretty decent posts every now and again tossed in between a dozen random thoughts of whatever... has been visited 100,000 times.

I'm not even sure who reads it--some of my closer friends never do.  But someone does, and to you, I say a big thank you. 

Next stop?  Post #900... then Post #1000... then Clouds In My Coffee's 10th Birthday... then who knows, maybe 1,000,000 visits? 


Thursday, July 12, 2012

lack of institutional control

So the big report came out today.  I speak of the Louis Freeh, the former FBI director's, report with its findings in a 7 month investigation concerning Penn State University, namely the Jerry Sandusky scandel... its your basic search...

Who knew what, and when did they know it? 

Who knew that Jerry Sandusky was abusing young boys, as far back as 1998, and when did these people know it?

And the report is brutal, essentially telling everyone that most people in the higher up positions in Penn State's athletic football program knew a lot, and knew it early.  You can go to any site right now, Sports Illustrated or ESPN or even Deadspin, and you'll find a bunch of Penn State materials.

Bottom line is, Paterno's legacy is over.  His son, Jay, has said that, and I'm paraphrasing, "my dad's legacy stretches over 61 years at Penn State.  To say that this incident ruins that is not fair.  He made some mistakes, but it shouldn't define his legacy or career."

Oh yeah, Jay?  Nixon had decades of a successful political career, but guess what defines his legacy?  A few months of Watergate.  OJ Simpson had 30 years of a successful college and pro career, plus an incredible acting turn (have you seen "The Naked Gun"?), but guess what defines his legacy?  Those are all the things you think of when you think of Nixon and OJ. 

Jerry Sandusky, like it or not, is Joe Paterno's legacy.  Those boys in the shower is Joe Paterno's legacy.  The fact that JoePa knew a heck of a lot more than he let on, and that he did nothing about it?  This is JoePa's legacy.

Its already started.  Nike has already removed Paterno's name from their Child Care Center.  There are rumors that his name will come off of Penn State's buildings on campus, and his statue is in danger as well. 

And what about the NCAA?  Here's what Jeremy Schaap, from, had to say:

If Ohio State can't play in a bowl game this season because former Buckeyes coach Jim Tressel lied to NCAA investigators about his players receiving free tattoos, how can Penn State play in the postseason after former coach Joe Paterno helped cover up the horrific actions of a serial child rapist?

If North Carolina can't play in the postseason this season because some of its players received improper benefits from agents and committed academic fraud, how can Penn State be eligible for the postseason after its former president and vice president, athletic director and legendary coach fostered a culture in which a pedophile used the school's facilities, sideline passes to games and bowl trips like candy to lure the young boys he molested?

And if USC was banned from the postseason for two years and lost more than 20 scholarships because the school failed to oversee the compliance of its most high-profile players, how can Penn State go unpunished by the NCAA when the university's most-high ranking officials failed to even do what was morally right when they learned young boys were violated and the victims and others were probably still at risk?

Officials are looking to rotate this statue, so it
will spend years and years looking the other way
I was undecided as to whether I thought the NCAA should be involved... but after hearing the facts of the report--and full disclosure, I haven't read it, I'm only going on the numerous news stories that say the same thing--I think the NCAA should come down on Penn State like a sack of hammers.   At first, I thought that the NCAA shouldn't mess with a criminal investigation, one that may or may not have involved the football program, save for some of its coaches.  Players weren't paid or received benefits, or illegal players used, or illegal recruiting methods weren't enacted... however, what we know today is that JoePa and his subordinates covered up all they could in order to protect their beloved football program.

And this directly involves the NCAA's jurisdiction. 

SMU got the dreaded "Death Penalty" in the late 80s for outlandish and flagrant player activities, including gambling, shutting the football program down for over a year, and it took 20 years for that program--many times a title contender in the early 80s--to rebound... and its still nowhere near the national title picture, mired in the depths of Conference USA.

But nowhere in the SMU Death Penalty charge are the words "sexual abuse" or "boys" or "cover up of sexual abuse of boys".  To me, under the table payments to players is pretty bad... but the lasting effects?  Some people with mismanaged money, some former players who live with the stink of being a part of such a stupid plan.  This?  This is a million times worse--the lasting effects on these kids involved include memory of sexual abuse and all that goes with it.

Penn State football should be, in the least, reprimanded beyond belief, and everyone on the football staff, unless its possible to prove they didn't know anything, in the last 12 - 14 years should be let go.  At worst, "the death penalty".  Yes, its unfair to those on the team who had nothing to do with any of this, its unfair to the students and fans that never knew anything about this until it all exploded over the fall of 2011, and its unfair to the entire Penn State family and community...

...but... Jerry Sandusky brought down the program.  And those in charge with him, including the winningest coach in Division I football, Joe Paterno.

And if that isn't "lack of institutional control", I don't know what is.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

casey's top 40

Alright, we continue our quest to blog every day in July with Day Nine of what I call The July 31... 31 blogs in July.  So, even though its tough, I'm dedicated to making sure that...

...I'm sorry, what...?

...what did you say today was?  The 10th of July...?

...awkward pause...

Well, crap.

Okay, we continue our quest to blog every other day in July, with Day Nine of what I call The July 31... 31 blogs in July, though with a day in between to give you some time to actually read my brilliant thoughts. 

On with the show.

With two cars in our garage, we take our cars at various times... sometimes we take Red Robin, other times we take hers.  We take mine, and we can listen to SiriusXM radio.  We take hers, and it gives us a little more room, as we have a car seat in the back, though she just has regular, terrestrial radio. 

However, on Sunday mornings, it doesn't matter which car we take... because when driving to Valleydale Church (an sbc fellowship) on Sunday morning, I always end up turning the station to Magic 96.5.  The reason?  At 9am, the start a reply of American Top 40 with Casey Kasem, from at least 20, many times 30 years ago.

Don't know how long Magic 96.5 has been doing it, but its a total delight to hear it, even if only for the 15 minutes it takes to get to the church from The Cabana.  Its a 4 hour broadcast, so usually we can catch some of the Top Ten as we are headed from church to wherever lunch will be that day. 

And if there is one thing I've truly figured out, its that music from the early 80s... well, it absolutely blew.  It was terrible.  For every great band with great hits like Hall & Oates or Fleetwood Mac, you had a dozen one hit wonders like Marty Balin, Champaign, Tierra or Franke & the Knockouts.  All singing songs that I'd never heard of.

One episode had Rupert Holmes follow up hit to "Escape (the pina colada song)", a little ditty called "Him".  It was terrible.  And the first hit from Tommy Tutone... no, not "867-5309 (Jenny)"... instead it was a snappy little song called "Angel Say No".  And it was terrible. 

Heard this 1982 song from this chick named Patrice Rushen.  Her song was called "Forget Me Nots", but when it came on, I was completely confused, as the beginning sounded just like a Will Smith hit, that being the title track from "Men in Black".  Seems that Will Smith sampled "Forget Me Nots" for "Men in Black.'



Anyway, something I couldn't help but notice was that music in 1982 is a lot like today... a few gems surrounded by a whole lot of crap.  Like I said, back then, Hall & Oates, The Eagles, Eddie Money, even Olivia Newton John, was still making great music.  And a whole lot of stuff around it not only sucked, but was completely forgettable.  I mean, I pride myself on knowing a lot about music and musical randomness from the 70s, 80s and 90s, but I have never heard of Charlie Dore and "Pilot of the Airwaves", or "Tired of Toeing the Line" by Rocky Burnett, and though I've heard of Boz Scaggs, what is "Jojo"?  And The Alan Parsons Projects had more hits that "Eye in the Sky", and they both managed to stink?

And today?  You've got great artists like Adele, Usher and maybe even Bruno Mars and Katy Perry, artists that we'll probably remember in 2041 while listening to Ryan Seacrest's Top 40 flashbacks on Sunday mornings.  But surrounding them, you've got forgettable sound-alike artists like Lupe Fiasco?  Rick Ross?  What the crap is a Wiz Kalifia?   And the fact that Ke$ha had not 1, but TWO songs in 2011's Top 100 of the year... oy vay. 

Sorry.  Didn't mean to diatribe... but I still believe that 1990 to 1995 was the Greatest. Era. of Music.  Ever.  One of these days I'll defend that position, until them just assume I'm right.