Thursday, January 31, 2013

the top ten coolest things of 2011

Okay, its finally here... you've been waiting all year for this... well, all last year for this, and here it is, only one solid year later... the Top Ten Coolest Things of 2011...

The 10th Coolest Thing of 2011... Tyler Gets Engaged
Its a little hard to imagine, but my brother in law got engaged in 2011.  Young Tyler Campbell, who I remember meeting at The Deuce back in the day, playing pogs and annoying My Best Mate Wookiee... Young Tyler Campbell, who we watched grow up, first with little hair, then with shaggy hair, and now with short, short hair and a beard... he finally found the one he liked, that being Brynn Bralley, this incredibly small little thing with a big smile and a warm heart.   He asked, she said yes, and it was on.  (expect the wedding to be a part of 2012's list)

The 9th Coolest Thing of 2011... Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows Part 2
I reviewed this movie mere moments after I watched it, and here's part of my review:

All in all, this is the best of the Harry Potter series. I think if you have only seen the movies, you will have a few questions and you'll find a few holes... and if you have read the book, you'll be like me, and have questions that start with, "I wonder why they did/didn't..." However, because of the scope and size of the book, I think you will agree that they did the best that could have been done. The screenwriter, Steve Kloves, got it right... absolutely right, and almost perfect.

And as the camera panned away from Harry and Ginny, Ron and Hermione, and the familiar music came on and credit rolled, I had only one thought...

All is well.

You can read the full review by clicking here

The 8th Coolest Thing of 2011... 2nd & Charles
To say I was overwhelmed the first time I walked into this store is a bit of an understatement.  I was blown away.  2nd & Charles is really a used bookstore, but its huge... and not only do they have thousands upon thousands of used books, but also thousands of used CDs... and comic books... and DVDs... and record albums... and videos... and Blu Rays... and hundreds of electronics... and even fun t-shirts... I spent a good two hours the first time, and that was nothing but in the CDs and movies... it was a bit reeeedonkulous, but its worth it.  Their music is bargain priced, the movies are also cheap, and its a great place to hunt up used books.

The 7th Coolest Thing of 2011... "Rolling in the Deep"
The first time I heard this tune, I was driving across Mississippi, headed towards the other side to see The Revr'n Ty Coffey get married... The Lovely Steph Leann in the front seat, Shawn Sharp in the back, and this cool riff and this awesome vocals streaming out of my satellite radio, "There's a fire burning in my heart..."

Much in the same way I was mesmerized by KT Tunstall's "Black Horse in the Cherry Tree" with her multiple layers of vocals, smart instrumentals and great, if not somewhat puzzling metaphors, "Rolling in the Deep" drew me in and never let me go.  Adele rules. 

The 6th Coolest Thing of 2011... The Deucecast
Text from Mikey, circa February 2011:  Hey man, I got an idea
Text response from me, within a minute or so:  Sure, what's up?
Text from Mikey: So, wanna do a podcast with me?
Text response from me:  Dude!?  Seriously!?!
Text from Mikey:  Yeah.  I think it would be awesome
Text response from me:  I had been thinking of doing a podcast on my own anyway... let's do it
Text from Mikey:  I think we should call it The Deuce Podcast.  Or The Deuce Show.  Maybe... Deucecast.

And so it was.  We called those first episodes "Negatives", and we started with The Deucecast -4... and it was rough.  Really rough.  In fact, I don't ever want to hear it again, because I remember how bad we both were.  I talked to fast, Mikey rambled on about Sea Monkey oppression (I'm not kidding) and it was a bad 30 minutes.  But... we got better.  I'd say The Deucecast Episode -1 was pretty presentable.

And we had our big kickoff with The Deucecast Episode I: The Podcast Menace, and kept going, weekly.  Its movies. Its music.  We play random games with stupid names like "Faux or Show"... "The Ryan Phillippe Game"... "Reel or Unreel"... and Mikey's favorite, "Simple Star Wars Trivia".  Matty Rector joined us for about 30 episodes as a co-host, and we've had a number of special guest hosts along the way, including recurring hosts like Doc Earl... Hurricane Rhett... Steph Nipparector and even more.  Check it out... The Deucecast.

The 5th Coolest Thing of 2011... Wrestlemania XXVIII

The 4th Coolest Thing of 2011... Disney in February
Without knowing Campbell was on the way, The Lovely Steph Leann and I still had the mindset that every Disney trip we took could be our last without a kid. To be honest, every trip from mid-2009 thru all of 2010 was like that, but the more time went along, the more we knew "well... if we are going to have kids, then this trip might be it." And this February 2011 trip was, in fact, it.

Our plan was to do the things we wanted to do that we hadn't done, stuff that would be much harder to do with a child in tow... dine with an Imagineer... go see Cirque de Soleil: La Nouba... have dinner at the Hoop de doo Revue... take a Segway tour of Epcot... do the then-brand spankin new Wild Africa Trek at Animal Kingdom... plus a host of other little things we'd missed--Flights of Wonder at Animal Kingdom comes to mind. Now, even after all of this, there is still a huge amount of activities and such we've never done, and maybe will get to at some point.

I won't give you the full recap, because it would take a while, but those things I listed are highlights... of course, I did get a little borderline sick halfway through the trip. We invited our good friends Melanie and her hubs Chris to join us for a few days at the end of the trip, and they flew down Wednesday morning... we did lots of stuff together, they had some coupley time, so did we. We all shared the La Nouba experience, including Chris purchasing drinks for both women--he went for the large $14 daiquiris... The Lovely Steph Leann chose not to guzzle it, lest she be hammered early.

I did deal with the that not-so-fresh feeling, including taking a long sleep on a Thursday night while the others went and did their thing and The Lovely Steph Leann went to Epcot and took pictures of French mimes and chair stacker dancer people. Or something like that.

Anyway, it was a fabulous trip, sickness aside... and it even culminated with...

The 3rd Coolest Thing of 2011... The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando
Let's be clear.  Disney beats Universal every time its tried.  The only reason that a Disney trip is one notch behind Harry Potter is simply because I'd been to Disney alot.. and never to the Harry Potter experience.

One of my favorite pics from that trip... the girls enjoying the Butterbeer
Towards the end of our Febraury 2011 Walt Disney World vacation, we scheduled to spend a day at Islands of Adventure at Universal Studios Orlando, notably to go into The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  Again, our friends Melanie and Chris went with us, with Melanie and I being huge Harry Potter fans, The Lovely Steph Leann being a pretty big Harry Potter fan and Chris somewhat indifferent...

And it was a blast... the only hindrance I felt at all was mid-way through trip, I had one of those not-so-fresh feelings... as in, I woke up and didn't feel all that great.  I battled a cold or sickness for several days, dealt with it through La Nouba and an entire day at Epcot... was able to sleep some on Thursday night (some of the best sleep I've ever had) and finally, on Friday, while not fully recovered, was able to enjoy the dreary weather and incredible atmosphere of Hogwarts. 

I could tell you tales all day of our adventure at Universal, but really, it can be summed up in a few words... incredible castle... incredible ride... Ollivander's is brilliant... and butterbeer?  Absolutely awesome.  Heck, that should have been its own number. 

The 2nd Coolest Thing of 2011... Mom
While its true I lost my mom, the woman I grew up calling mom, in September of 2011, I also managed to gain a mom too...

You can find it in the post called "Mom, Mama and Mother's Day", written in May of 2012... here's the link, and I hope you enjoy it.


The Coolest Thing of 2011... This guy:

How cute is this kid?  And the baby too!

What can I say?  The Lovely Steph Leann went in for a check up on November 30th, 2011, and called me from the hospital to tell me she was being admitted to labor and delivery.

You read what happened on Day One, as we began to realize we were about to have a baby... and what happened on Day Two, as we actually HAD a baby...  and then, the journey of how we brought Campbell Isaiah home...

Well, there it is.  All 10 of the top ten, preceded by 90 more of the coolest things about the year 2011... now... let's start a 2012 list, shall we?

Monday, January 21, 2013

turban idol: new york auditions

And here we are.  Its time.  The delay is over, we've put it off as long as we could...

The Lovely Steph Leann just finished watching the better-than-you'd-think 2012 film "21 Jump Street", and as she deleted it off of our DVR, I said, "Well... do we want to watch American Idol Audition 1?  Or just call it a wash?"

"Sigh... well... I guess we can try it..."  And so here we are.

You've already had a chance to read my thoughts on the judges... Randy the Dawg is the ol' staple... then keith urban... Nicki Minaj, who I've shared my opinion on... and then, Mariah Carey.  The diva.  The pre-skank awesomeness, post-skank okayness, Mariah Carey. 

Just now, as Ryan Seacrusty just discussed the judges, I heard Nikki Minaj talk... for the first time.  Ever.  Now, we know that Nikki and Mariah don't get along... its been reported several times that there have been harsh words spoken and egos clashing, so this should be interesting.

Did you know that Nikki Minaj was featured on Mariah Carey's single "All Up Out My Face".  This was in Mariah's ick period, so I can't say I've even heard it.

And New York City is the setting for the first round of auditions, and automatically, Nikki Minaj and Mariah Carey butt heads over a fluffy drum major hat, interrupted by a dude coming in singing a random version of "We Will Rock You", using the judges in the song, before hitting a high octave and then some sort of Rastafarian tune.  And the judges say "No!" 

The Lovely Steph Leann:  What just happened?  I'm confused.  Are we... watching American Idol?
Mariah and Nicki at it again. keith urban just sits there and shakes his head.  I'm Team Mariah, just to be clear.

Tenna Torres, 28, went to Camp Mariah when she was 13, way back in the day.  Tonight, she sings "You've Got a Friend"... Judges love her, Mariah speaks first, Nicki rolls her eyes, keith urban loves it, Randy the Dawg and she goes on through to Hollywood.

Montage of a few voices that went to Hollywood that we'll probably see later and not remember.

Here comes a young Psy type kid, Asian, and is ready to be the next Justin Beiber.  The Lovely Steph Leann says softly, "...oh dear..."

James Bae takes on a Beiber song... wearing oversize headphones around his neck, genuine 3D glass, a terrible necklace, a terrible haircut and a terrible voice.  Which we know this was coming.  Mariah suggests he become a DJ... Nicki asks if he has a girlfriend... keith urban says he doesn't have the whole package... and Randy the Dawg says a big NO. 

Christina, from Boston, tells us her story of losing weight in high school, being inspiring to an obese nation.  Christina's name flashes on the screen, but it says Christina "Isabell", and I don't know which name is actually her.  She has a great voice, though.  Nicki says "OMG!"... keith urban calls her a "natural singah"... Mariah loved it... Randy the Dawg loved it... she goes through!

BACKSTORY ALERT!!! So here comes dancer Evan, who at 19 was diagnosed with cancer... and he lost his right leg to the disease. Boom. And he comes in, metal right leg, guitar in hand... and we hope this kid is good now. Now he takes on "I'm Yours" by Jason Mraz... and I'm unclear if I like him or not... then he take the chance to strum some "Wanted Dead or Alive" on guitar--which sounds much better. Mariah, keith urban and Nicki all agree he's awesome, but also agree that Idol isn't for him... and I actually agree with that. Randy the Dawg agrees with me. As he should.
Seacrusty tells us how Idol has tossed up a new twist... people can send in nominations, and one or more of the judges go out to find this person to hear them sing.  This is a brilliant twist...

...even better when NBC's The Voice did this already...

Randy the Dawg shows up, hears her sing, and gives her a number to go straight to the judges.  Jessica Kartalis from Staten Island sings a little bit of a song she wrote... and stumbles a bit on the guitar.  And isn't doing all that great... come on chick, rescue this! 

Nicki tells her to mold herself and come back next year... Mariah says come back next year... Randy the Dawg says come back next year... keith urban loves the guitar and writing music... but still says no.  Sad. 

If I was Jessica, I'd be mad... "You freakin' came and told me to come sing, Randy the Dawg!?  What the crap, yo!  I was minding my own business!"

We get a video clip of how New York--and Idol--is worldwide... Belgium, Mexico, Russia, Sweden and more.. and Shira Gavrielov is from Israel, who had a #1 hit in Israel.. but is here to chase that American dream.  And other than some annunciation problems, she's not that bad.  All four judges shout YES, so she is on her way.

Brooklyn native Frankie Ford is the last contestant of the day... and found out he was adopted at age 8, with his real mom being caught up in substance abuse.  He sings on the subway to collect money on the train... which I'm guessing might be some good jack.   

Nicki Minaj touches her hair alot.

He sings "Sweet Dreams" from the Eurythemics... and blows it.  He starts again, a little slower.  That may have saved him, as it is a 1000 times better.  I hate this song, but at least he's making it sound better.  keith urban loves the voice and tone.  Randy the Dawg believes in him.  Mariah loves his inner glow.  Nicki loves that he's different.  All big YES votes.

keith urban says "Frankie goes to Hollywood!"  (rim shot)

Baby break!
Food break!
Tropical Smoothie break!

Nicki and Mariah go back and forth, keith urban just smiles uncomfortably.
Benjamin something or other is wearing an outfit very similar to the Michael Jackson outfit I've worn in the past.  That's all I'm going to say.

Okay, I have to mention he's singing Boyz II Men's "I'll Make Love to You" to Mariah, then immediately switches over to Babyface's "Everytime I Close My Eyes" to Nicki... then keeps going.  keith urban literally just climbed under the table.  He seems genuinely crushed when he's told NO all around... they play "End of the Road" as he walks out.

And next up is Roxanna Shindelman, singing "To Know Him" from the 60s... and its not too bad.  Well... its not too good either.  She hits high notes, and blows it completely.  The song was supposed to show her range and Nicki squashes a second song.  Its a No. 

And the obiligatory bad voice montage, including one guy who just ripped one on camera, causing The Lovely Steph Leann to choke on her ham & swiss flatbread from Tropical Smoothie.   And the ending shot is some chick cursing in front of the camera in anger, as per usual
Another chick named Sarah blows the judges away with a Carrie Underwood song... then Randy the Dawg asks for another song, and she does "Super Bass".

The Lovely Steph Leann:  What is Super Bass?
Me:  I think its a Nicki Minaj song...?  Maybe?

Which now has thrown Randy the Dawg and keith urban into turmoil, because they hear country and rap from the same artist and throw the whole "I dont know who you are..." card down.  However, keith urban gives a Yes... Mariah says Yes... Nicki says Yes... and Randy the Dawg tops it off with Yes.

I refuse to listen to Super Bass, because I'm afraid I might like it..

Albert Chang, 25, from Queens NY... he works as a medical clinic receptionist... and he's subtitled because we can barely understand him.  He tells Seacrusty that he is excited about the new judges, then tells the camera he has no idea who the judge are. 

His attempt on "Phantom of the Opera" lacks... well, tune.  And then hits hilarious tones... The Lovely Steph Leann grimaces and almost chokes on her Harvest Cheddar Sun Chip.  Whew.

For some reason... Nicki Minaj speaks with a British accent for the next few contestants.  Like, what the what?

Now, here is a chick with 40% hearing loss... Angela Miller from Massachusetts is singing a song that I don't know what it is... "Mama Knows Best"?  I like it.  Seems like Idol does too, as they allow her to sing for a while. 

Nicki loves her tone... keith urban likes that she moved... Mariah likes her tone... Randy the Dawg loved her much.  Yes for Angela!
Food break for Campbell! 
Feed Campbell!
Run to Fresh Market for Organic Peaches for Campbell!

And we're back... and we have a "dream sequence" with some dude named Brett Holt, who has one of the most amazing voices in history... in his dreams.  He's auditioned 7 times, and he's singing "When I Fall in Love"... and I feel like if he could just sing the word "When" over and over, he'd be alright... but when he got past that first word, it collapsed immediately.  Bad.  Just bad.

And our first ever contestant with a turban... and he matches his turban with his clothes.  Can you do that with Islam? Or Muslim?  Or whatever he is?  Gurpreet Singh Sarin is singing Maroon 5's "Sunday Morning"... and I didn't expect this.  He's like... like... good.

Nicki is telling him no.  But, keith urban says his voice is a little too light.  Mariah thinks its pretty, and says Yes.  Randy the Dawg says Yes.  keith urban struggles with an answer, but says no.  Nicki now tries to decide this kid's fate... part of me doesn't want him to go through, just so I don't have to type Gurprett Singh Sarin over and over... but she says Yes, and off he goes.

And now, two days of contestants and singing and wailing, Ashlee Feliciano is the final contestant...

BACKSTORY ALERT!!!  She comes from a family that sponsors a ton of medically challenged foster kids.  She's got a few biological siblings, several adopted siblings and a bunch of foster kids in the home.  And I tip my hat to the whole family... that is a spiritual gift from God himself.

Naturally, she does an old standard, Corinne Bailey Rae's "Put Your Records On"... and kills it.  You kinda knew she would.  And she gets four YES votes, well deserved.  Love it.

So that's Audition #1 in the books... we still have Audition #2 to look at, with this week's episodes yet to air.  With a 14 month old, plus a Disney trip 2 weeks away, Clouds in my Coffee's next Idol review is never promised!  So stay tuned!

Friday, January 18, 2013

mariah: pre-skank vs. post-skank

Me: American Idol is coming on!
The Lovely Steph Leann:  I know!

American Idol is coming on!
The Lovely Steph Leann:  I know!

American Idol is coming on!
The Lovely Steph Leann: I know!

Me: Are we going to watch American Idol this year?
The Lovely Steph Leann:  I dunno.  I guess we can see.

And here we are again.  We actually had an open discussion on the benefits of watching American Idol... that took up a few minutes we'll never get back.  However, we have decided that we will watch it... for a few weeks.

The commitment level is low.  Not only is the flesh weak, but the spirit is totally unwilling... because of two words:  Nicki.  Minaj.

There are two things I'm proud of in my life right now... well, a number of things, but specifically, I have never heard a One Direction song... nor have I ever heard a Nicki Minaj song.  I don't know what she sounds like, and frankly, I don't even know what her voice sounds like.  And I'm okay with that...

Gone are the past two years of feathers and tight dresses and the like... Crazy Creepy Uncle Steven Tyler has left, now that he has used American Idol to benefit his career and re-invent himself... Jennifer Lopez has also left the building, doing much of the same.  Together, they had two pretty good seasons, giving us both Scotty McCreery and Phillip Phillips (which is a far better result than Lee DeWyze and whoever it was that beat Crystal Bowersox).  Now, they are gone.

Who is here now?  The aforementioned Minaj... Keith Urban, though he oddly enough likes to say "keith urban", not Keith Urban.  Somehow, I can dig that.  Anyway, keith is a country artist, with songs like "Sweet Thing" and "You'll Think of Me" and "Making Memories of Us"... I like keith urban... also known as Mr. Nicole Kidman.

And of course, Mariah Carey.  Now, this is Post-Skank Mariah, let's not forget that, but this is Mariah nonetheless. 

Picture this walk down memory lane, if you will indulge me.  Band bus.  1990.  Fall.  On the way to Georgiana, where Samson High is going to play G.W. Long High in football.  I'm sitting with Tonya Windham, in front of me in the seat is Chris McCall and Regina Lassiter, who are turned around talking to us, and over our shoulders are a few other bandy people... we are discussing music, as high schoolers are want to do...

This is how I like my Mariah. Simple.  Pre-Skank.  Frizzy headed.
Tonya asks, "Have y'all heard that new Vision of Love song?  By that Mary girl... whats her name?"  Chris says he hadn't heard it, Regina grins and says she has.  I know the song.  I really like the song.  I actually had already bought the cassette tape.

Regina says, "Who sings that song?  d$, you know who sings everything!"

I simply reply two words... "Mariah Carey." 

I was in love with Mariah back in the day... 1990, 91 or so... I had the poster of Mariah in her "Emotions" pose.  She was a goddess... she was glorious... she was wonderful... "Vision of Love"... "Someday"... "Emotions"... even her tepid remake of "I'll Be There" (which also featured Trey Lorenz, who's one hit "Someone to Hold" was a favorite of mine back in the day) was good enough to keep me around... she got a little sexy going on a few years later, with "Always Be My Baby" and "Fantasy" and possibly my favorite Mariah song, "Dream Lover".  So, so good.

And then, 1997... "Honey".  A decent jam, to be fair... but this is where the turn was made.  Suddenly, she wasn't the cute, hot looking starlet with the big voice... somehow, she got a little bigger up top, she got a little weird, and she decided that she was not white, but black.  She's actually somewhere in the middle, but you didn't know that.  From the "Butterfly" album, it was the album that she decided "I'm a bad girl now" The video for "Honey" has her surrounded by black dudes while she romances a white guy. 

Finally, her Skankdom took over when she released "Rainbow" in 1999...  Pre-Skank Mariah, fabulous.  Post-Skank Mariah, eesh.  Yikes.  "Glitter", both the movie and the album came in 2001, "Charmbracelet" in 2002... everything had samples, everything had rappers behind it, tracks would come with "ft Da Brat & Ludacris" and "ft Jay-Z" and then Cam'ron and Fat Joe and Snoop Dogg and... who cares.

She had her breakdown in 2003 or 2004, went a little nuts, and "rebounded" with her acclaimed album "The Emancipation of Mimi" in 2005... but by then, I just didn't care.  Apparently there is one called "Triumphant" and another album called "Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel"... but I just found that out when I looked on iTunes. Had no clue.

I checked out on Mariah in 1999 with "Rainbow"... I ended up getting "Glitter", "Charmbracelet" and "Emancipation" just because that's what big fans do.  But while I cherish my Pre-Skank Mariah memories, I have no use for Post-Skank Mariah...

And now, she's on Idol.  American Idol.  What do I do?

I'm almost afraid to watch it... I'm almost afraid I will become a Post-Skank Mariah fan.  I don't want to.  I don't want to at all.  But what if I do?  I just don't know.

Nicki Minaj?  Not worried about being a fan at all. 

I just checked... I have 138 Mariah Carey songs and/or videos in my collection on iTunes.  I have 17 keith urban tunes.  Nicki Minaj?  Zero.  For a reason.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

the 2013 golden globes running diary

If I suddenly disappear for a few, its because (a) my internet went out due to rain... (b) my internet went out because my internet blows... (c) the satellite went out... (d) both a and b... (e) both A and C... (f) both A, B, C, D and E... just a warning...

7p...And here we are... Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are onstage, kicking things off... shots at Ricky Gervais and those movies "that have only been in theater for 2 days"...

705p... Amy nods to Kathryn Bigelow, director of "Zero Dark Thirty", saying "I would take advice about torture from a woman who was married to James Cameron..." drawing a huge laugh and a huge "whoa!' from the crowd.

706p... The Satellite just went out.  Again.

710p... Still out.  Who won? 

710p... Thanks to Twitter, I learned the Christoph Waltz won best Supporting Actor in a Movie for "Django Unchained."

712p... Satellite still out.

719p... And the show comes back on, with Eva Longoria and Don Cheadle onscreen, giving out some award for Mini-Series or Movie... and the winner is "GameChange".  A brilliant, film, by the way... and this is someone who is a staunch conservative.

719p... Apparently, Professor McGonagall won for "Downton Abbey" a few minutes ago.  I think.  Stupid rain.

720p... And its off... and its on... and the satellite is off... and its on... and its off... and its...

720p... Off.

720p... At least we got to see a speech by the husband of the lead singer of the Bangles

730p... Still off.  Seriously.  One of my favorite nights, where I get to blog and make fun, and nothing. 

And... turns out I've been hit with some sort of malware called Scour.  And my Norton didn't find it. 

732p... Here we go again!

What did we miss?  A Les Mis montage. 

Now we have the always awesome Paul Rudd and the sometimes cool Salma Hayek for Best Actor in a TV Series.  "Homeland" won a ton of these acting awards at the Emmys, and so, Damien Lewis picks it up for the same show.

734p... And so begins a Homeland lovefest.  Perhaps I should see this show at some point.

Teleprompter screw up?  No problem.  Paul Rudd is here.
735p... Paul Rudd and Salma have an awkward moment before giving the Best TV Drama to Homeland.

The Lovely Steph Leann:  Seriously?  Homeland?  The Newsroom is so much better.  (I tend to agree)  But, Claire Danes looks good after just having a kid.

737p... Apparently, the teleprompter screwed up.  Paul Rudd needs to host every teleprompter breakdown.

742p... After a quick commercial break, we get a clip from the nominated film Argo, which is a great film that you should see right now.

744p... Best Score now, with Jennifer Lopez and Jason Statham are out to give the award.   And the award goes to... Homeland!

745p... Just kidding.  Life of Pi.

745p... The Lovely Steph Leann:  Really?!  Now the Life of Pi love begins... crap.

747p... Best Original Song!  Music from Skyfall... The Hunger Games... Act of Valor... some Pacino/Walken film... and Les Miserables... and the winner is? 

749p... Adele be Rollin in the Deep, with the Skyfall win.  Movie wasn't that great.  Neither was the song.  Let's be real, here.

750p... I think Life of Pi will win 3.14 awards tonight.

801p... Due to the fact I have some crappy malware on the computer, I had to do a re-start on the computer.  Good times.  So, we are about 8 minutes behind, which hopefully we will catch up on during commercials

802p... Campbell just smashed his foot in the baby gate.  Cause he's a genius.

803p... So, Kevin Costner just won for Hatfields & McCoys... he's actually giving a better acting performance right now than he does in most of his movies.

806p... Bill Clinton?  Really?

807p... Hollywood Libs are going nuts right now.  He'd still be president if they coulda changed that stupid Constitution... though... I wonder what would happen if Obama and Bill ran against each other?   The first black president AND Obama?  Wow... 

809p... Will Ferrill and Kristen Wiig come out together.  Can they host next year?!  That would be awesome too!

809p... Best Comedy/Musical Actress award...

810p... I've never used these words before but.. Kristin Wiig is friggin' hot.  Just sayin.

811p... Will and Kristin are cracking me the heck up...

This was Tommy Lee Jones.  He's actually laughing here.
812p... They just showed a stone faced Tommy Lee Jones... I think that was him laughing.

813p... Jennifer Lawrence won!!  Taylor Swift gave her a standing O... and J-Law says, "What does this say?!  I beat Meryl [Streep]!!" then follows it up with "Harvey [Weinstein], thank you for killing whoever you had to kill to get me up here..."

816p... Best Supporting Actor TV Series/Movie/Mini-Series...

816p... John Krasinski is with Kristen Bell to give the award to... Ed Harris for GameChange.  I dig it.  I kinda think that John Krasinski is a possible entry into The Colin Firth Club for The Lovely Steph Leann.  He's a good dude.

817p... Jamie Foxx out to discuss "Django Unchained"

818p... And now, Jonah Hill and Megan Fox... a mismatch of epic proportions.  Awkward banter.

819p... Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture... Amy Adams is nominated.  I'm in love with her, I don't care, I'll admit it.  But?  Anne Hathaway wins this easily. 

I just won a Golden Globe?  And am probably headed for Oscar
gold?  Shut!  Up! 
819p... Princess Mia won!!!  Hope she saves room for the Academy Award on the shelf.

821p... She even references Genovia!  Winning!!! 

822p... Caught up to Live TV!

823p... Amanda Seyfried with the cute, weird eyes and Edward the Gay Vampire are out for the Screenplay Award.

824p... Tarantino won!?!  "I wasn't expecting this!" he says.  Neither was anyone else in that room, QT.

Favorite Tweets of the night so far: 
@bradlatta... Anne Hathaway is the cutest boy in Hollywood
@MissMovies... Three words:  JLaw boob shelf
@pourmecoffee... Taylor Swift is so sad in losing to Adele she's going home and listening to Adele
@JamiesRabbits... I feel like Jennifer Lopez only checks her rearview mirror before going out

826p... Jeremy Irons being very Jeremy Ironsy...

827p... I prefer Will and Kristin's description of Salmon in Yemen

827p... Lucy Liu and Debra Messing is out for Best Actor in a TV Comedy Series... Don Cheadle for House of Lies.

833p... Sly and Arnold are giving out Best Foreign Film.  Is it usual to have the presenters speak a foreign language?  "Amour" from Austria wins... and I think this is where it picks up steam to steal a major award Oscar in a month. 

@JamiesRabbits:  I feel like Sylvester Stallone being in a movie called "A Bullet to the Head" is a bit redundant

836p... Nathan Fillion and Lea Michele come out for Best TV Actress Drama... Excuse me, Nathan Fillion, Lea Michele and Lea Michele's overbite.  The winner is... Claire Danes, for Homeland.

I knew that, by the way.

844p... Sacha Baron Cohen is out, holding his wine, and acting like Sacha Baron Cohen, which is a bit refreshing, because in Les Miz, he was very Un-Sacha-like.   And being fairly funny.  Best Animated Film.

846p... At least he's not hiding his drinking.  "Brave" wins, from the category of Foregone Conclusion.

848p... I wonder if Liev Schriber looks at Hugh Jackman, thinks about "Wolverine" and wonders how it all went wrong.

850p... Aziz Ansari and Jason Bateman makes a Downton Abby weed joke that everyone laughs at, except for the Downton Abby table.

851p... Lena Dunham wins the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Comedy series.  I think that she is an actreZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

859p... We've seen far too little of Amy and Tina tonight...

859p... The Lovely Steph Leann's knees wobble again, as Robert Downey Jr comes onstage. 

901p... Jodie Foster is getting the Cecil DeMille Award for lifetime achievement?  I'm sorry... wha...???

902p... I'm confused... wasn't she just in "The Silence of the Lambs like, 3 years ago?

905p... "Nell"... "Sommersby"... "Nim's Island"... "Little Man Tate"... thank you Jodie Foster for your great body of work. 

906p... Taaaaay.... in da wiiiinnn.....

908p... I'm not positive... but Jodie Foster might've been drinking.  Just a bit.

908p... Real subtle cut to Jane Lynch

909p... I'm not even sure what Jodie Foster is talking about.  And I'm not sure if the audience knows it either.

911p... I really hope there is a written version of this speech somewhere online, so I can re-read this and start to decipher what just happened.  I feel like Jodie's therapist.

916p... Back from commercial... Halle Berry... Best Director

The Lovely Steph Leann:  Her dress is so bizarre!  Her boob is hanging out all weird!

917p... Ben Affleck just won Best Director for Argo... an award he wasn't even nominated for in the Academy Awards this year.  This is awesome!

919p... Josh Brolin is out to discuss "Moonrise Kingdom"... a movie I'm halfway through at this point.  Looking forward to finishing it after the awards.

@JamiesRabbits:  Ben Affleck.  We can now forget Gigli.  (I agree)

921p... Jay Leno and Jimmy Fallon out to give Best TV Series Comedy/Musical... the award goes to Girls on HBO. 

922p... I should feel happy for a success story like Lena Dunham but... I just don't.

@BradJLatta:  Girls, on the other hand, doesn't sound like a show I'm ever going to watch

927p... Lena Dunham drops a Chad Lowe reference... and finally, he gets thanked for Hilary Swank's Oscar win!  Only took a decade.

@JamiesRabbits:  Chad Lowe SHOULD be namedropped.  All the time.  As my co-workers will learn this week.
Random online comment:  Girls.  The most awesome uncomfortable show ever.

Its 930, and they are about to race through the rest of these awards like a boss.

929p... Christian Bale comes out, not hitting anyone, but to give accolades to"Silver Linings Playbook".  Really want to see this film.

930p... From the category of "About time...", I really like "Ho Hey" by The Lumineers. 

931p... Jennifer Garner comes out to give Best Actor in Comedy/Musical... Hugh Jackman just won for Les Miserables.

933p... The Lovely Steph Leann is wobbly and weak. 

934p... And yes, I'm happy he won this.  He may not win the Oscar for it, but since Actor is divided up into Comedy/Musical and Drama, then he and Danie Day-Lewis can both win.  Tonight. Not on Oscar night.

938p... Jeremy Renner... straight from The Artist?  He's out to review Best Drama Movie

939p... Dustin Hoffman, director of Quartet, a movie that no one has ever heard of.   Not you, not me.  Don't jive.

940p... Best Comedy/Musical... and the winner is Les Miserables...

The Lovely Steph Leann:  Oh listen.  They are playing the song that they left off the soundtrack.  Which is the theme of the whole movie, right?  What the heck?

@BradJLatta:  Who's that boy groping Amanda Seyfried?
@michaelanipp:  Probably Michael J. Fox's son
@davedollar:  Just keep Taylor Swift away from him!  And her!
@bradjlatta: Turns out it was just Anne Hathaway

And there's this:

@JamiesRabbits:  Is it wrong to wish fatal bodily harm to Mrs. Hugh Jackman so he can grieve and then meet me at a Chick-fil-A?
@davedollar:  My wife would beat you to that Cool Wrap luncheon, I promise.
@JamiesRabbits:  Sister Wives!!

947p... George Clooney is out to give Best Actress to Drama... Jessica Chastain for Zero Dark Thirty.  I almost feel like there are several locks for this year's Oscars... and Jess Chastain is one of them.

950p... And in the other lock, Best Actor for Drama... Daniel Day-Lewis for Lincoln.  Clooney just spits that out there like "yeah, we all know this..."

@Dougbenson:  Meryl couldn't be here because she has Streep Throat.  Goodnight!

955p...  You stay alive, no matter what occurs! I will find you. No matter how long it takes, no matter how far, I will find you.

955p... I feel like if I could have pulled that Last of the Mohicans line off successfully, I would have gotten more dates.  Just sayin'

@DanWolken:  Being in an award category with Daniel Day Lewis is like coaching against Saban in a championship game

958p... Julia Roberts sighting...

958p... Argo wins Best Picture at the Golden Globes.  Now, this throws the entire Best Picture race into all kinds of a tizzy.

959p... Argo fu.... wait a minute...

So... thats it.  Its 10pm, Campbell Isaiah is screaming his fool head off, we had too little Tina & Amy, we're all tired, my Google search doesn't work and so on and so forth. 

The Golden Globes Arrival Show

So, this is one of the many of hundreds of thousands of reasons of why the terrorists hate us.  We not only have three hours of prime time dedicated to giving Hollywood superstars awards and self-congratulations, but we devote an entire HOUR of prime time to just watching them walk into the building, and asking who made the dress they are wearing. 

And, like most people who are into pop culture, movies and Amy Adams, like myself, I'll watch.  But the best part of this evening will simply be the woman sitting about eight feet to my left and back, on the couch... while I can critique the movies, The Lovely Steph Leann is bar none when it comes to discussing the dresses. 

Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie are our hosts for the evening, and Matt tells us about 9,000 glasses of champagne will be poured tonight...

Understand we are about 5 minutes behind the broadcast as The Lovely Steph Leann was doing kitcheny stuff for a few... now we start.

In the last few minutes, we've dealt with the 13 month old, Campbell... we've seen Matt Lauer talk to Jon Bon Jovi, and subsequently I watched The Lovely Steph Leann swoon and grin a little... we've seen Bradley Cooper... Hayden Penetteire... Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman..

Me: I don't even know most of the nominations right now
Her: I didn't know Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman were nominated for anything
Campbell:  Bwwahhauah uahu huahhauuahaa

Zooey Deschanel is nominated tonight for "The New Girl", and strangely enough, I've never seen the show... but somehow, I'm a Zooey fan.  I loved her on "Winnie the Pooh" soundtrack... I love her voice with She & Him... I've liked the movies she's done... maybe I should watch the show?

Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are co-hosting the show tonight, which should be kinda fun.  Amy's outfit though?  Not so much. While Tina Fey looks like that hot mom that lives down the street, I think Amy Poehler + cleavage is a math equation that should not be solved.

Lena Dunham, dressed, is here, nominated for the HBO Show "Girls", a show I cannot bring myself to watch.  Too many naked chicks, plus the name alone gives it a Cinemaxy feel, and that creeps me out.

I wonder if she and Clooney watch old
episodes of WCW Nitro to see Keibler's
Miss Hancock character.  You can find
some of these matches on Netflix.
George Clooney and Stacy Kiebler!  She won't fool me... she is a WCW Nitro Girl from the 90s... I watched her WRESTLE, and it ruled. Don't be pretentious with me, young lady.

The Lovely Steph Leann:  Holy crap... either Al Roker is really short or Jennifer Lawrence is really tall... (not sure which...)

Anne Hathaway, who just has this way of looking like crap one day and looking amazing the next (she's the latter tonight) is here with Matt and Savannah... with her short hair.  She'll always be Princess Mia to me.

Daniel Day-Lewis, talking about Lincoln and what a great man he was and so on.  The Lovely Steph Leann centers in on his companion, Rebecca Miller, and says, "What a humongous purse she has."

The wonderul Julianne Moore comes up to Al Roker.... she's one of my favorite actresses, she'll likely win for her incredible portrayal of Sarah Palin in the superb "GameChange" movie, and she looks fantastic tonight... and The Lovely Steph Leann agrees:  "This looks much better than her yellow highlighter dress from the Emmys".

They show Hugh Jackman, a member in good standing (with Jon Bon Jovi, by the way) in the Colin Firth Club, and The Lovely Steph Leann remarks, "He doesn't need facial hair.  He looks so much better without."  Whatever.  She loves him anyway.   She follows it up with, "Halle Berry looks so... odd."

Really crappy internet + Campbell's dropping a load = tough blog to blog.  Life.

Add to the fact its raining like crazy outside, and we might just lose a signal too... good times!

Hugh Jackman came back on screen just now... The Lovely Steph Leann is a puddle.

Aaaaand... our signal is gone...

I wanted to post a picture of Stacy Keibler from her WCW Nitro wrestling days... but I can't find any where she isn't in a small bikini.  Seriously. 

So, not only did our internet flake out, but we lost our channels as well... rain.  Lots of rain.  Stupid Global Warming. 

On with the real show.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

the alabama dynasty

Did you watch the game?  Oh you know what game... Alabama's complete destruction of the Notre Dame Fightin' Irish.  I knew it was coming.  I knew that it would be a blowout.  Honestly, I think most Alabama fans knew it, but were afraid to say because of the sports superstitions that dictate saying such predictions jinxes and thereby ruins a win. 

A familiar sight for most of the evening.  Bama celebrating,
Notre Dame looking on, out of breath
But I knew it was coming.  Notre Dame is a team that took 3 overtimes to beat Pitt, who ended up losing to Ole Miss in the BBVA Compass Bowl.  Notre Dame is a good team, even with a sketch schedule, and it takes a lot to go 12-0.  So I give the Fightin' Irish props... but they are about the 6th best team in the SEC.  Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Florida and South Carolina were all better teams, with Mississippi State likely to give them a game.  It wasn't that Notre Dame didn't show up... they showed up.  They just got steamrolled. 

And frankly, I'm surprised the game was a close as it was

I'm a Florida fan.  I'm a Florida Gators fan surrounded by a wave of Alabama fans.  The Lovely Steph Leann is an Alabama graduate.  Her dad is.  Her mom roots for the Tide.  Her sister and brother, and the brother's wife are Alabama graduates.  The Crimson is everywhere, and unfortunately for Campbell Isaiah, he doesn't have a chance.

I graduated from Troy State University, so she has allowed the opportunity to have Campbell become a Troy fan... but using faulty rationale, because I did not go to the University of Florida, I therefore am faulty in rooting for them, and Campbell can therefore not be allowed to do the Gator Chomp at any time. 

(using this rationale eliminated the fandom of 87% of Alabama fans in this state, but that's beside the point... I do contend, however, that he will end up rooting for whoever he wants to.  I say that I get one to turn into a fan, and she gets the next one... The Lovely Steph Leann has claimed Campbell, so it looks like Lorelei Addison will be wearing a Troy Cheerleader outfit while doing the Gator Chomp.  Its only fair.)

The preceding paragraph was the set up to what I want to say, but making sure that you are aware I am not an Alabama fan, or a "Bammer" as the Harvey Updykes of the world are called, but am looking at this as a college football fan...

Here's my thought...

We are in the middle of, and thus bearing witness to, one of the greatest football sports dynasties in all of history. 

And I don't feel bad about saying it.  The Florida Gators winning two titles in three years wasn't a dynasty, they were just a really good football team with a really good quarterback.. TEEEBOOWW!!!!!   Remember, the year in between their titles, they were something like 8-5 or so...

The Alabama Crimson Tide has won 3 BCS Championships in four years.  The state of Alabama has held the BCS title for four years in a row, with Auburn's title coming after Alabama's first (for this run) and before their back-to-backs.

Consider this... in the last five seasons Nick Saban has been at the helm (his first season, there were wins vacated due to earlier infractions, so they only have a 2-6 record that counts), the team has gone 61-7.  That's 61 victories, 7 losses... and 5 of those are in two separate seasons (2 in 2008, 3 in 2010). Beyond that, they have a loss to LSU and one to Texas A&M, earlier this year.

This team is a monster.  And its not that they are good for a season or two (Auburn?), or are good enough to win a title, reload, then contend again (Florida?  LSU?), or are good enough to be good, but not enough to be great (Georgia?), they are good, and great, every year.  Every single year.

Roommates and buddies, center Barrett Jones and QB AJ McCarron had
a disagreement.  It made for one of the only real competitions of the night.
In fact the only time AJ was touched was when his own center gave him
a shove. 
Center Barrett Jones has more championship rings (3) than the Auburn Tigers have as a team (2).  Quarterback AJ McCarron has more championship rings (3) than he does losses as a starting quarterback (2--LSU and A&M).

And when I say "we are the middle of...", I mean it.  When Tim Tebow left Florida in 2009, we knew Florida would take a year or two to rebound.  Urban Meyer up and left, there has been QB after QB who have struggled over and over, and while coach Will Muschamp has them on the right road--a few bounces here and there from Notre Dame and Florida would have been the ones getting blown out in the BCS Championship Game--it has taken a few years. 

Alabama is different.  They are already reloaded for next season, and are preseason contenders and will likely be ranked #1 at the season's beginning.  And this is something that will continue for a while. Sure, they'll lose good classes, some years a mass of seniors will move on, leaving a dearth of underclassmen to carry the weight, and those years, you Bama fans will have to suffer through those dreadful seasons of 9-3 and 10-2--you poor fanbase.

Obviously, the titles won't be every year. As a matter of fact, I predict they won't win the final BCS next year, and will end up in the Sugar Bowl blasting Kansas State 56-7, but that just means they'll have to wait another year or two for "16". 

(I won't get into the whole "15 national championships" thing, and how ridiculous that claim is... while I stand in awe of Alabama, I'm not giving them props for what they don't deserve)

What's worse, for every fan of every other team not named Crimson Tide, is the upcoming playoff system.  From what I gather, one of the reasons that the playoff system is being implemented in 2 years is that other conferences were tiring of the SEC stranglehold on the BCS Trophy, and wanted to do something that didn't put the SEC in the game so often... which backfires, because not every year Alabama will qualify for one of the top two spots... but more often than not, they'll be in the top four, meaning they can play their way to the title game. 

And to me, this also brings up another interesting dynamic... the legend of Bear Bryant vs. the current coach, Nick Saban.  From an outsider looking in, Nick Saban is a better coach. 

Bear Bryant is a legend.  And the key word is "legend".  I'm not taking anything away from him at Alabama, and his 25 years, amassing a record of something like 237-46, a ton of bowl wins, and depending on how you count and who you believe, a bunch of national titles. 

In a great line, Saban was asked, "What do you do with all your
championship rings?  Do you wear them?" and he responded that he
lays them all on the coffee table in front of potential recruits.
But Nick Saban has three titles at Alabama in four years, and four titles to his name if you toss in the LSU one.  He has to deal with restrictions from the NCAA that The Bear never dealt with, from recruiting violations to when you can practice to how much you contact a player to dealing with gifts and money and boosters and so on, with ALL of it being broadcast to the world every minute from everything from Finebaum to Twitter.  A player gets drunk at a party, you know about it.  His own daughter got into a cat-fight at a sorority function, and we knew about it as it was going on. 

Bear Bryant never dealt with any of that.  I don't know how strict the NCAA was on things back in the 60s and 70s, and I know it took the SMU scandal in the 80s for them to really crack down on boosters and such, but I'm guessing that paying players didn't start with Southern Methodist.  (hear me now, I am not accusing Coach Bryant of doing anything illegal or cheating in any way).  Also, conditions in which players could practice weren't regulated (anyone see that movie about Bear at Texas A&M?  I'm sure some of that was real).

My whole point is, Bear Bryant never had to coach in an atmosphere of restrictions and parity that Nick Saban is having to deal with today.  Football players likely did the same things in 1966 as they do now, as did boosters, but you didn't hear about it, or it was easy to cover up then... not so much now. 

Perhaps the actual star of the game, AJ's lady
friend, Katherine Webb.  However, I will not stoop
to the levels of other sites and just toss her picture
up here for effect.  I refuse to do it.  Look else-
where for that. 
What people my age know about Bear Bryant is only stories from our parents and grandparents, and how good he was.  We hear tales of games and victories and names that have long since retired from the NFL or never made it that far and have retired from selling insurance 30 years ago.  What we know now is Nick Saban, and the masterful job he's done at not only Alabama, but Michigan State, Utah and even LSU, as much as we all hate LSU.  Let's be real, everyone hates LSU.  Even LSU fans, they just don't know it yet.

So it becomes a generational argument, and as the legend of Bryant gets passed down from father to son, so grows the Legend of Nick Saban.  I contend that in 20 years, those children who will be age I am now will be discussing Saban in Bryant-like mythos.  And Bear Bryant will eventually become a Knute Rockne figure... someone everyone know was great, but no one really knows what he actually did.  Sorta like people look at George Denny.  You know, the "denny" in Bryant-Denny Stadium.  Exactly.

Anyway, that's my assessment on Alabama.  They are very, very good football team, and will remain so for a long time.  And while wishing the same type of success for the Go Gators, I am recognizing the greatness of what is occurring and the rarity of it all.

There's my thoughts.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

the 100 coolest things of 2011... 40 to 11

What's this... two posts in two days?  Its like... its like... its like we are going back to the old days of the blog... frequent postings.. lots of randomness... sometimes funny... okay, maybe never funny, but at least the attempt is there...

How about more of 2011...

The Lovely Steph Leann crossing one of the bridges.  While I shook it.
40... The Wild Africa Trek... Pay some money, go backstage at Animal Kingdom, find yourself hiking through the backwoods, crossing rickety rope bridges, then harnessed in and hanging over crocodile pools and hippo pools.

39... Panera Mac & Cheese... Bar none, best macaroni and cheese you will find at any restaurant. Great stuff.

38... "Winnie the Pooh"... this is how Winnie the Pooh should be. Director John Lassiter said that Pooh belonged to all of us, not just the toddler audience that Disney had put Pooh and the gang into. Great film, great laughs, animation is wonderful and its a twinge of nostalgia.

37... The Epcot Pin Event... Our first and only pin event, located at Epcot, with pin boards and books and trading and special access to special pins and so on. Its pretty intense.

36... one of the best humor sites you'll find online.

35... The Stampers... our friends David and Carlie Stamper. We love these guys, and they are great people.

34... "Onward" by Howard Schultz... Written by the CEO of Starbucks, its the account of the last six or seven years of the company, where Starbucks was, and where the company is going, especially after all the store closings in 2008. I like the book for the fact that Schultz doesn't pull any punches, and doesn't blame anyone else but himself and the team for the downfalls... and credit goes to the same team for the revival.

33... The Celebrity Apprentice... What a train wreck this show is, always.

Us and our segways, in the Italy Pavilion
32... The Epcot Segway Tour... There aren't many ways to better spend a crisp, cool February morning than riding around Epcot's World Pavilion for two hours on a segway.

31... "Real Steel"... Wasn't sure I wanted to see this movie at all, as it looked like a big screen version of Rock'em Sock'em Robots... yet, this turned out to be one of the most heartfelt movies I'd seen in a while. Yes, there are fighting robots in this film, but that takes a backseat to what the real plotline is, that being the relationship between a father (Colin Firth Club member Hugh Jackman) and a son (Dakota Goyo) and their reconciliation over those same fighting robots... including an old relic named Atom.

30... The Adjustment Bureau... A pretty good movie that I really enjoyed for the mere fact that I was able to write this article...

29... "The War for Late Night" by Bill Carter... What a great book. It recaps the crazy year or so when NBC brought in Conan O'Brien to take Jay Leno's place on The Tonight Show... then how NBC brought Jay back in prime time, ruined Conan's Tonight Show ratings, fired Conan, then brought Jay back to The Tonight Show, all while Letterman, Jimmy Kimmel and others watched from the sidelines. Well written, and showing a side of all the main players that you wouldn't expect, including Jay Leno's tendency to be a... well, a jerk. Who'da thunk it?

28... The Rock Returns... Yes, I watch WWE, and yes, I wigged out when The Rock made his fateful return after being gone for years. Yes, I can smell what the Rock. Is cooking.

27.. "Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol... Perhaps the best Mission Impossible film since the first one--its fun, its exciting and its well done. Complete review here.

26... Hoarders... What the what? Have you seen this show? Its insane. People are pack rats to the ultimate extreme... dolls... toys... clothes... cars... dead animals... all found in the midst, and within--sometimes under--tons of possessions. Yet, the show is addicting, its mesmerizing, and at the least, it makes you realize that your house isn't all that bad. Or, it makes you realize that maybe your house is headed that direction.

25... Rob Murray... we miss you, my friend.

24... 11/22/1963... Sometimes Stephen King throws you for a loop. Instead of a vampire infested town, or a rabid, maniacal dog, what if the story itself was a random diner that had a portal, a time portal, that took you back to 1958? And what if you could stop the JFK assassination from happening? All questions answered, at least from one perspective, in this novel that I finished in days... starts a little slow, but keeps you coming back over and over.

23... Triple H vs The Undertaker... Brilliant match between two WWE legends. Should have highlighted WrestleMania.

22... "Crazy Stupid Love"... Every year, there is one movie that I didn't expect to love and I end up adoring... last year, it was "Easy A". This year, its "Crazy Stupid Love". Starring Steve Carrell, Ryan Gosling, and a 1-2-3 punch of Julianne Moore, Marisa Tomei and Emma Stone, its smart and funny, and unlike some of the other films on this list, I've watched this over and over on cable. Meaning, the re-watchability of this film is very high.

21... Tim Tebow... Tebow! Tebow Tebow Tebow Tebow (tebow, tebow... tebow) Tebow Tebow...

TEBOW: Tebow, Tebow, Tebow, Tebow

Tebow Tebow Tebow Tebow. Tebow, Tebow Tebow Tebow Tebow Tebow, Tebow Tebow Tebow Tebow Tebow!

Purchased for about $3
20... The Billy Joel Collection... Visiting 2nd and Charles, a local used book and CD shop, my Billy Joel Collection was expanded considerably... for about 25 bucks, I added, among others, "52nd Street", "The Bridge", "Turnstiles", "Songs in the Attic", "Glass Houses", "Storm Front", "River of Dreams" and "An Innocent Man"... that's a lot of Billy Joel, and that's really cool.

19... Pastor Calvin... After close to 30 years at Valleydale Baptist Church turned Valleydale Church (an sbc fellowship), Pastor Calvin Kelly decided to step down. Oh, there was some silly little something, and I say "silly" and I mean "silly", lest you think I'm being sarcastic, but either way, he is a good man, a good Christ Follower and I'm proud of him for following where God leads him and his family.

18... Disneyland... 2 free park tickets + 2 free airline tickets + Marriott Rewards Free Hotel Stay = a trip to Anaheim to visit Disneyland Park and California Adventure. Now, there isn't enough time to go into all of the trip, but one of our favorite attractions was...

17... The Wonderful World of Color... A water based show on the lagoon at California Adventure, its full of light, color and imagination, and its just cool.

16... The New Star Tours... So, when I was in Disneyland, I read on Twitter that they were doing testing for the brand new Star Tours--remember, this is May 2011--so I kept checking for when I might be able to get in. Finally, I saw they were accepting "Annual Passholders", and being such, I hoped to get to ride it... of course, I was a Walt Disney World passholder, not a Disneyland Passholder, there is a difference.

The Lovely Steph Leann, only 3 or 4 months pregnant at that time, was unable to ride then... so I went alone, and made it to the Star Tours attraction. Of course, my WDW Pass wouldn't get me in, but I noticed a Cast Member working with another gentleman's fast passes... I asked him if there was any way I could get to ride, and he nodded and said, "Come with me". So he escorted the other gentleman and myself past the long, winding line and straight to the entrance of the building... and it was awesome. The ride was awesome.

15... "I Can't Even Walk (Without You Holding My Hand)" by Justin Fisher... My boy JustFish is a story teller. Some of his stories are a bit long winded, some are right on the money, most are hilarious, all are sincere. This is a book of stories, one after another, about his struggle and life with cerebral palsy, and the blessings God has given him through such a handicap. He's just a good dude.

14... The Muppets Soundtrack... its the awesome music to the awesome movie called...

13... "The Muppets"... What an awesome film. I mean, straight up fantastic. Of course, this is someone who grew up on the Muppets, has the series on DVD, has all the movies on DVD (except for "Muppet Treasure Island"... I just can't get into that one) and have loved Kermit & the gang for years. Plus, toss in Jason Segel, and Amy Adams (whom I'm in love with) and you've got a great movie on your hands. Even the bizarre rap song by Chris Cooper somehow works in this film. Sort of.

12... October Disney... went in October. Loved it. (the trip was over a year ago, so I'm a little fuzzy on the specifics of this trip...)

11... "Walt Disney" by Neal Gabler... This book is a behemoth... and its filled with dates and names and times and things that are very detailed about the life, both personal and professional, of Walt Disney, creator of Mickey Mouse and those Magic Kingdoms that bear his name. If you want a light telling of his life, this is not the book for you. But if you want the details, the minutiae, the backstories behind the stories, then pick this one up. I loved every page, and look forward to reading it again.

And for your weekend... finally... The Top Ten Coolest Things of 2011... you don't want to miss it as we wrap up then, and start working on just now...

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

the 100 coolest things of 2011... 70 thru 41

Yes, its the 2nd of January.  That is 2013, I mean.  And yes, I'm still discussing 2011... but I feel like I can't very well discuss the coolest of 2012 without finishing up 2011... so, let's move quickly, and go through the 70th through 41st coolest things of 2011...

First, a recap...

The 100th to 91st Coolest Things of 2011... Auburn... The Spin Doctors... Friends with Benefits... The President of the Colin Firth Club Wins... "My Strange Addiction"... Edge retires... Fast Five... 50/50... The Aladdin Stage Show... Something Borrowed

The 90th to 81st Coolest Things of 2011... Coin Dozer... Superheroes... The Rainmaker... I Need a Dollar... Zookeeper... Mr. Toad's Wild Ride... The Help... Jersey Mike's... Thor... Brava Rotisserie Grill...

The 80th to 71st Coolest Things of 2011...  Transformers: Dark of the Moon... The Ides of March... The Mavs Win... Kent State... Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows... My Yard Goes Disney... The Civil Wars... Rise of the Planet of the Apes... Hot Coffee... Misery...

70... The Lion King Re-Released in 3D... Loved the movie when I saw it in the summer of 1993, loved the times I've seen it since... and watching in not only in 3D but also back in theaters was fantastic. 

69... Necessary Roughness... No, not the epic Scott Bakula movie, though I do love that one too.  This is a series on USA Network about a psychologist (Callie Thorne) who is hired to help out the athletes on a professional football team.  Its funny, its serious, its got great stories and great acting. 

68... Words with Friends... Another app that kills my time and distracts me from work.  And yes, I do get routinely beat by The Zach Attack, an 11 year old.

67... "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides"... Perhaps I'm in the minority here, but like everyone, I'm a lover of the first one, and like most people, I didn't care for the 2nd and 3rd one--too long, too convoluted, too confusion... but this 4th one, with its straight story and new characters, I could dig. 

66... "X-Men: First Class"... Continuity be darned, this new entry into the X-Men franchise seems to be starting its own series of films.  James McAvoy as Professor X and Michael Fassbender as Erik Lensherr, aka Magneto, lead this ensemble cast which includes... Kevin Bacon.  Wait, what?  Great film, great climax.

65... "Captain America: The First Avenger"... What's not to like about this final film before "Marvel's The Avengers" took the world by storm this year? Chris Evans is a great Steve Rogers, the puny soldier who volunteered to become a super soldier, a Weapon I if you will... in comic book history, Wolverine is Weapon X.  And Hugo Weaving is a great bad guy, as The Red Skull.

64... American Idol... After Phillip Phillips blew me away this past season, I had to look to see who won in 2011, because I had already forgotten... it was Deep Voiced Scotty McCreery, who edged out America's Darlin' Lauren Alaina. 

63... Mark Lowery... He came to Valleydale Church (an sbc fellowship) in January of 2011.  And I remember laughing very hard at his humor and enjoying his music very much.  He's a Christian music legend.

62... "Horrible Bosses"... Not for the faint of heart, but it does have heart as it tells the story of three losers--Jason Batemen, Charlie Day and Jason Sudekis--who hate their bosses so much, they want to help each other kill the bosses.  Lots and lots and lots of language, plus a scantily clad Jennifer Aniston, but if you can deal with that, Jamie Foxx as MF Jones and Colin Farrel completely against type (and having a ton of fun, you can tell) make it worth the watch.

61... "Once Upon a Time"... This might be a little cheating, because I really didn't get into this show until 2012, but I did see a few episodes of it, and I loved it from the beginning.  Its the story of Storybrooke, where all the residents are actually real life story characters--Snow White, the Dwarfs, Cinderella, Pinocchio, etc--who are cursed to live in the real world.  Reminds me a little of the comic book "Fables".  Oh, and Ginnifer Goodwin.  Love her.

60... She and Him... What can I say?  I dig their tunes.

59... Magic, Memories & You... This is the show presented on Cinderella's Castle prior to the fireworks at Magic Kingdom every night.  Using this advanced light technology, a constant stream of color and light and wonder flash onto every part of the castle, giving the impression that the turrets and columns are spinning or disappearing or on fire or flying or whatever... you know what, just watch this:

58... "The King's Speech"... Starring the president of The Lovely Steph Leann's fabled Colin Firth Club, here's the story of King George VI, his horrible stutter, an amazingly understated Geoffrey Rush as his speech therapist.

Set in 1939, Prince Albert (who becomes George VI), has what he thinks is an incurable stutter, which only hinders his leadership and future under his ailing father, King George V.  Albert's wife Elizabeth, persuades him to go visit Lionel Logue, an Australian speech therapist who is in London at the time.

Of course, they don't get along, at least at first, and added to Albert's pressures and woes is the antics of his older brother David (Guy Pearce, in one of the only flaws in the film, because he does not look older than Colin Firth) who is heir apparent to the crown, until he goofs it up... and its the speech he must give, addressing the people of London in a time of impending war that the title of the movie refers to.

"The King's Speech" is a magnificent movie all around, with all performances being stellar.  Helena Bonham Carter is especially subdued as Elizabeth, a break from her normally frantic and weird acting, while both Rush and Firth have wonderful chemistry in their lead roles.  It is Rated R, but its pretty much solely for language--there is a scene where Lionel tells Albert to use profanity to help his stutter, and he does, repeatedly, in a string of words that include several F-Bombs.  But in a world where crap like "Salt" can be PG-13, despite language and violence, then this should never be an R.  I'll be proud for Campbell Isaiah to see this movie when he's 12 or 13.

57... Outtakes... I was going to tell you about their awesome chicken salad, but not too long ago, The Lovely Steph Leann and I went there for lunch.  And they were closed.  As in, closed down.  So, never mind.

56... Catching Hell... One of the best documentaries I've ever, ever seen, and so far, by far, my favorite of the ESPN 30 for 30 series.  Directed by Alex Gibney, it takes the 2003 story of Steve Bartman... do you remember Bartman?

Eighth inning, Game 6 of the National League Championship Series, the Chicago Cubs are but a few outs away from their first World Series in over 100 years, they lead the Florida Marlins 3-0, their ace pitcher is rocking the hizzy, and the mojo was on their side.  And then, a pop fly into the stands, as Moises Alou goes to get a very catchable ball and suddenly... fan Steve Bartman reaches out for it.  The ball bobbles, Alou misses it, it falls into the grass, and the Marlins score.

The  guy in the Cubs hat
And suddenly, all hell breaks loose.  And the Cubbies, who were sooooo close... blew it.  And then they blew Game 7.  And the fans, instead of raging against the Cubs for blowing Game 6 and then screwing up Game 7 (and watching the Marlins, a franchise less than a decade old, win its 2nd World Series), they turned all their attention towards Bartman, who suddenly became a scapegoat for all the teams ills and shortcomings.  Death threats to him and his family, public shaming, humiliation all for a fan who reached out for a ball that a dozen other fans were reaching for--and had the fortune of not getting.

The film explores that night and such topics as... was the pitcher really clutch?  was the team's mojo really rolling?  and was that ball really catchable?  It also makes a great parallel to Bill Buckner, the Red Sox first baseman who's error in letting a ball slip past him, and in turn costing the Red Sox the game--and eventually leading them to blow the series vs the Mets, as it explores the whole concept of "scapegoating".

Using never before seen footage from inside the stadium during Game 6 of the Cubs/Marlins series, interviews with everyone from Moises Alou to nearby fans who didn't catch the ball, this film is captivating, and in a way, heartbreaking, as you see Steve Bartman sit solemnly at what has happened.

Its also a great study in human nature, as that night, guards had to escort him out of the stadium, and one even took him to her home for a few hours after the game to keep him safe.  Brilliant film.

55... The Winnie the Pooh Soundtrack... Yes, I loved the movie.  I love it more every time I watch it.  And the soundtrack is just as good... with vocals from Zooey Deschanel, plus a few Disney classic voices, its perfect for a peaceful drive or a happy afternoon.

54... Survivor... the show gets better and better every year. 

53... Shazaam... What's that song?  Who sings that tune in that commercial?  What's that music playing overhead?  Just plull up your Shazaam app, press the button and it will tell you its Edward Sharpe & the Zeroes... or its Colbie Caillet... or its some other tune that you will have to immediately buy in iTunes...

52... Moneyball... I do love this movie.  Its very close to making its way onto the famous The Dave100, a collection of my 100 favorite films of all time... Brad Pitt plays Billy Beane, a former baseball superstar in high school who can't cut it in the majors and ends up being a general manager at Oakland, where he using a new system to put together a competitive team.  Pitt is like usual, that is, great, and Jonah Hill gives a strong supporting performance, based on the brilliant book by Michael Lewis (a book that will appear on the Coolest Things of 2012)

51... "Bridesmaids"... Hilarious.  Completely hilarious.  Kristen Wiig is great in the lead as Annie, who is watching her best friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph) get married, and is all set to be the maid of honor... and is now battling Lillian's other friend Helen for the attention.  And thus the comedy ensues.  Supporting cast wins, including Jon Hamm as a complete d-bag, Chris O'Dowd as Annie's possible love interest, and Melissa McCarthy stealing the show (and earning an Supporting Role Oscar nod) as another bridesmaid.  The scene in the dress shop, after the Annie-led luncheon, is priceless.

This movie does bring up a problem though... there are some movies I enjoy immensely--like this one, ranking as high as it does on this list... but in subsequent viewings, it loses some magic.  Don't ask me why, or how.  I haven't seen it all the way through since this initial viewing.  Hmm.

50/49... Lil Sister Ashley Gets Married & The Good Reverend Ty Sharpton Coffey Gets Married... One was in the middle of Mississippi, one was all the way across Mississippi.  Both got married to their own soulmates, and I'm happy for both, and it was an honor to see both ceremonies.

48... Lunch with an Imagineer... For a fee, you can eat a fantastic lunch with a Cast Member at Walt Disney World... but not just any Cast Member, an actual Imagineer, someone who develops, plans, and does the behind-the-scenes work at the parks.  And The Lovely Steph Leann and I did just that in February of 2011, sitting with a dude who works at Hollywood Studios, and dining at The Brown Derby, which had me eating the best salad I've ever had in my life... the steak wasn't bad either.  Oh, and we sat right beside the guy, with a group of another 8 or so people, peppering him with questions like "Why is Stitch's Great Escape still around?" and "Is Disney going to answer Harry Potter?" and "Why is the big hat still up at Hollywood?" and "What other pavilions were planned for Epcot?".  Good times.

47... Super 8... Just an all around great movie, that, like "Bridesmaids", I found it not as enjoyable to watch the 2nd go round.  Read the full review here.

46...Cirque de Soleil: La Nouba... Got to watch this incredible show in Orlando on our Disney trip.  Would have been better had I not been feeling so rotten.  The little chicks with the spinning spools were the best.

45... "Brighter Than the Sun" by Colbie Caillet... 2011 was the year that you couldn't get away from this song... most movie trailers and a ton of commercials had it... "oooooh... this is how it starts... lightning strikes the heart..."  Good thing the song was so catchy and fun.

44... Osama bin Laden Caught... Yes, Obama was the president while bin Laden was captured.  Using Dubya's policies.  Go figure.  U-S-A!  U-S-A!

43... Beavis and Butthead... They made their return.  And it was darn funny.  And I miss them again.

42... "Cujo" by Stephen King... How can you take a story that has a mom and kid trapped in a car, being terrorized by a rabid dog into over 300 pages?  Stephen King can do it.  And its awesome.  Cujo, now a word used in our lexicon to mean a big, fierce creature, is a dog bitten by a bat and goes on a rampage.  And its scary.  And thrilling.  And awesome.

41... "Courageous"... What a great movie.  What a great, great movie about fatherhood, God's love and friendship.  The Kendrick Brothers, out of Georgia, have done a series of films, all unrelated in story except for God being an integral part of the story, and you can see the progression of their talents from early ("Facing the Giants") to this film.  Its a simple story of a group of officers in Georgia, plus a Hispanic day laborer, all with incredible faith that is tested severly when God throws a few curveballs their way.  Rated PG-13 for "gang violence", which is ridiculous, because this is more family friendly than 90% of the content I've seen on ABC Family and so on.

So there is more of the 100 Coolest Things of 2011... tomorrow, you get another installment as I take you to the Top Ten Coolest Things of 2011... and then, onto the Coolest Things of 2012!