12/31/2009

Top Seven Movies of 2009...

I wasn't able to see every movie I planned on seeing before I made this list. The Lovely Bones was moved to January because it wasn't testing well with sample audiences and the studio wanted to retool its ad campaign. And, in the case of Nine, I just ran out of time. I might see it tomorrow. I might not. It probably wouldn't make the list anyway. (This is how I'm justifying it.)

I saw sixty seven movies this year. (Not counting repeated viewings.) What follows is my list of the movies I loved the most. It's completely subjective in its composition (as all end of year lists on the internet are). But it's completely awesome in its entirety (as all posts on my blog are).

And just in case you'd like to see the past two years' lists, click the links for 2008 and 2007. Anyway, on to why you came here...


7) The Soloist (certified 4.5 Yarmulke™ rating) - Critically (and commercially), this movie didn't do so hot. But I loved it. Robert Downey Jr. provides another incredible performance as he proves that his career resurrection is completely deserved. It's the story of how a reporter befriends a homeless schizophrenic man who was a once prodigious musician. I felt a deep personal connection to this movie as some of its events mirrored some of the struggles I've had growing up with my little bro. But in the end, it provides such an incredibly beautiful picture of grace...

6) Avatar (certified 4.5 Yarmulke™ rating) - I really, really wanted to dislike this movie. Mainly because of how smug James Cameron was in his proclamations of how this would be the best movie to ever be made. Well, after seeing it in 3D, I have to say I gave in to the hype. It really is good. The story may be similar to Dances with Wolves or The Last Samurai, but the visuals are completely game changing. I guess that's what you get when you give a genius twelve years and three hundred million dollars. Call them were-smurfs all you want, but this movie is a must see...

5) Inglourious Basterds (certified 4.5 Yarmulke™ rating) - I've never been a fan of Tarantino's before. But this movie changed that. While having its share of language and violence, I thought it was one of the most fun movies I've seen in a long time. To see Christopher Waltz's performance in this movie is nothing short of witnessing an absolute oscar guarantee. In fact, there are several character's that I'd like to see get their own feature. This one was so good, I went back for a second viewing...


4) Coraline (certified 5 Yarmulke™ rating) - This movie is absolutely magical. The combination or Henry Selick's stop-motion animation, Neil Gaiman's story, and some of the best voice casting around has produced one of the best fairy tales I've ever seen. And what's even better, is that it brings back the scares in kids' movies. This is another movie that I saw in 3D (and the last one my brother wanted to see in 3D, maybe due to the scares). It absolutely lit my imagination on fire and I can't wait to see what Selick does next...


3) Up In the Air (certified 5 Yarmulke™ rating) - I just saw this movie today. I went in with tempered expectations. After all, it had received critical praise but looked boring. But after about twenty minutes in, I was hooked. Such a beautiful, and honest, depiction of the importance of relationships. The movie takes its time showing that Clooney's character has built up walls to keep himself from being hurt. Then it slowly shows how his relationship with a new woman tears them down. The ending was absolutely surprising to me. And I loved it. It's not a typical "neat" story. But it's a great one...

2) Star Trek (certified 5 Yarmulke™ rating) - I had serious doubts about this movie when it was first announced. After all, it's not like Mission Impossible 3 was great. But after seeing the second trailer, I was fully on board. And after seeing it three times, I can say that I was right. EVerything about this movie was awesome. Abrams remained faithful to the spirit of the series while relaunching Star Trek for a whole new generation of fans. This was a case of someone going where others had gone before, and conquering it. A friend just got this on Blu-ray, and I can't wait to see it there...

1) Up (certified 5 Yarmulke™ rating) - Simply put, this movie deserves to be on top. It could be Pixar's best. And that's saying a lot. The first ten minutes of it were better than almost everything else released this year. Not to mention among some of the saddest. Everything from the story, to the voicework, to the laughs, to the animation was absolutely great. Not only will this be nominated (and win) the Oscar for best animated feature, but it will be nominated for best picture as well. If you haven't seen this, make it your priority to see it asap...

Honorable Mention- District 9 (certified 4 Yarmulke™ rating), Fantastic Mr. Fox (certified 4.5 Yarmulke™ rating)...

And for the second year running:


Worst Movie of the Year) Miss March (certified 1 Yarmulke™ rating) -
Wow. I mean... wow. There were other movies I considered giving this title to: BrĂ¼no, Jennifer's Body, I Love You, Beth Cooper, Year One, and Land of the Lost were all in the running. But this was the king of them all. There are four, count them, four scenes of explosive diarrhea shown in this movie. Shown. Lazy and easy gross-out humor abound in this absolutely terrible movie about a guy's attempt to win back his High School girlfriend after awaking from a coma. Whatever you do, don't see this. Avoid it at all costs. I'm actually mad that I wasted four dollars on it. I'll be surprised if The Whitest Kids You Know (the internet comedy troop who made the film) ever get another shot at making a follow up...

2009: A Year Surveyed...

Just in case you want to compare this to past years', you can click for 2008, 2007, and 2006...

1) What did you do in 2009 that you'd never done before?
Wrote about the lessons I've learned about ministry from the retail world, quit a TV show, ate chocolate covered bacon, invented a new phrase, went to Catalyst, provided tech support to a star, got a cd off of twitter, saw the death of a king, ate at a Columbia landmark, invented a new alphabet, had a reunion with friends, and grew my own Tony Stark Goatee...

2) Did you keep your New Year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Still no resolutions. I guess I've never really seen the point...

3) Did anyone close to you give birth?
Yes! My cousin Carolyn and my friend Tara...

4) Did anyone close to you die?
Not this year thankfully...

5) What countries did you visit?
No other countries for the 4th year in a row. I really hope that this answer changes next year. Anyone want to take me along on an international excursion...

6) What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008?
A job in ministry again...

7) What date(s) from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
As strange as it sounds, I guess there weren't really any giant life changing events this year. Awesome! Kind of...

8) What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Getting a job in the marketplace. Hooray for retail...

9) Did you suffer illness or injury?
Oh yeah. I got sick in January and November. Both times I almost died. Seriously...

10) What was the best thing you bought?
I was even shorter on cash this year than I was last. So... not so much with the spending of money...

11) Whose behavior merited celebration?
I'm pretty proud of how great some of my friends have handled the challenges of being parents this year...

12) Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
I don't think I've let anyone affect me that badly this year. Thank goodness...

13) Where did most of your money go?
Paying bills. Ugh. Tell me at some point in life this stops...

14) What did you get really, really, really excited about?
I got pretty excited about a couple of ministry job opportunities. None of them worked out. But, you know...

15) What song will always remind you of 2009?
Single Ladies. It seems like everyone had to do their own version...

16) Compared to this time last year, are you: Wiser? I definitely think I understand a little more about myself and my relationships. Hopefully, I'll use that wisdom in 2010 to be better... Healthier? Probably more than last year. But still not as much as years past... Richer? Oh gosh. So far from it...

17) What do you wish you'd done more of?
I wish I'd worked more. It'd be nice to have saved more money...

18) What do you wish you'd done less of?
I wish I'd spent less time wishing for things I didn't have and spent more time working with what I did...

19) How did you spend Christmas?
Back in Columbia with the fam enjoying good food, my cousin's engagement, and lots of people I love...

20) Did you fall in love in 2009?
Nope. I'm not even sure I allowed myself to entertain the idea this year...

21) What was your favorite blog post that you wrote?
I'm not sure anyone has ever written anything better than my 1000th blog post. Ever...

22) What were your favorite TV programs?
Bones, The Venture Brothers, Community, and True Blood...

23) What was the best book you read?
Umm... Well if I can't count rereading Harry Potter seven and eight, than I'm going to go with Stephen King's The Green Mile...

24) What was your greatest musical discovery?
I think the rediscovery of Michael Jackson's music brought about by his death was pretty cool...

25) What did you want and get?
I finally got a job to make a little money...

26) What did you want and not get?
I guess just a job in ministry...

27) What was your favorite film of this year?
Still thinking about this one. I should know in a few hours...

28) What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
Ugh... I saw a movie, spent some time reading, and was pretty depressed at turning 29. All I kept saying to myself was that i had 364 more days until I turn 30...

29) Which celebrity/public figure did you like the most?
Umm... Search my blog for Robert Downey Jr. I think the results will speak for themselves...

30) How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008?
It's always going to be t-shirt, jeans, and rainbows. Why change things up now...

31) What kept you sane?
Eh... Sanity's overrated...

32) Who did you miss?
All of my friends in Orange County and San Diego... A lot...

33) Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009.
My identity is not determined by what I do for a living. It is determined by my relationship to and with God. I do what I do because of that...

34) What did you gain this year?
Umm... Airline miles. If I had a frequent flier account...

35) What did you lose this year?
A little self esteem I guess. But it's coming back...

36) Who was the best new person you met?
I wish I could say that I met a lot of new people this year, but I didn't. So... I don't know...

37) Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
And I feel so satisfied when
I can see you smile.
I want to confide in
All that is true, so I’ll
Keep on tryin’. I’m
Through with lyin’.
Just like the sun above
I’ll come shinin' trough.
Oh yes, I’ll
Keep on tryin’. I’m
Tired of cryin’.
I got to find a way
To get on home to you.


Here's to 2010...

12/30/2009

Weird Cell Phone Picture: #21 (Hover What?)...

For more Weird Cell Phone Pictures, click here...

While restocking the shelves a few nights ago, I found this little poor choice in fonts...

I'm sorry. Hover what? Maybe next time, you choose a font with a little bit more of a difference between your "O" and your "D". That, or you vastly change your product...

12/23/2009

Coming Soon to A Blog Near You (Hint: It'll Be This One)...

I've still got four more to see (Up In the Air, Sherlock Holmes, The Lovely Bones, and Nine). And I have no idea how, with my retail work schedule, I'm going to do it. But I'm determined. I'm even planning on writing a review for Sherlock Holmes.

I usually post the list in the last week of December (along with my year end survey). So look for them then...

You Give Your Hand to Me...

Yeesh. It's been a while. No, I'm not dead. I just have a retail job and it's Christmas time. In other words, I'm there. A lot.

I kind of wanted to write a post to remind people that I'm still here. But didn't actually want to write a post, as I just got home from work at 12:45am and I'm wicked tired. So I just thought I'd share something with you that I love.

In 2005, I discovered the music of Ray Charles. Yes, it was because of the movie. Yes, I'd heard it before but had never paid much attention to it. But no, it isn't a bandwagon thing. I still love him. One of the first songs of his I heard has turned out to be one of my favorite songs of all time. I even used it as a title in a past post.

It's called "You Don't Know Me".

And tonight, as I restocked the shelves, I found myself singing it out loud. It's just so heartbreaking to hear the story of meeting someone, falling instantly in love with them, realizing they don't see you the same way, and then watching them walk off into the sunset with someone else. I mean, you can hear how he longs to be with his love...

And even though I love this song so much, there have definitely been some times since 2005 when I couldn't listen to it because it hurt too much. I was living it.

But for now, it's back to being one of my faves.

So here's a live performance I found on the youtube. I hope you love it as much as I do...

12/11/2009

I Can Do Cupcake All By Myself...

I was lucky enough to take my great-aunt out today for a little date!

So after hitting up a two dollar showing of Tyler Perry's I Can Do Bad All By Myself, we drove downtown to grab some Starbucks. (The coffee. Not the first mate from Moby Dick. Or the chick from BSG.)

Next door to Starbucks is a brand new cupcake shop called... Cupcake. (You'll never guess what they sell there... is a joke I made about five times.) So we decided to give it a try!

Now, I should say, cupcake stores aren't anything new to my friends in southern California. But here in Columbia, it's still kind of a big deal.

Here's what we got...

Red velvet on the left. Key lime on the right.

Even though there was a lot more icing than I'm used to, I have to give two very enthusiastic (and icing covered) thumbs up! I'd heard a lot about this place from friends and I'm so glad I finally made it in for myself! I'll definitely be returning...

Whip It, Whip It Good...

I debated whether or not to write up a separate post for this or include it in some Power Rankings. But who am I kidding? It's Iron Man 2. It's Mickey Rourke. It's Tony... Stark's... Goatee.

It's also the twelfth post I've written about Iron man 2. Boo Yah.

Are you on twitter? Well, you should be. On top of all of the awesome things that you can get from following me, you can also get amazing up to the minute news on all kinds of things. Like, for example, this little gem I got from following Jon Favreau. He tweeted that the new Iron Man 2 poster featuring Mickey Rourke as Whiplash would be premiering soon. And...

Boom.


How cool does that look? Great design guys. You can see a High Res version on Apple's IM2 page.

Do we have confirmation that Mickey Rourke actually knows that he's in this movie? Cause... building laser whips and attacking Robert Downey Jr. seems like something he might do just to impress one of his dogs.

What? One Iron Man 2 scoop isn't enough? Fine. How about another look at War Machine? Thanks to some toy catalog, we've got another look here. How's that? Satisfied? Good.

Gosh I can't wait for May 7, 2010 to get here. You can bet I'm going to grow another Tony Stark Goatee...

12/10/2009

Something New, Something Blue...

Waaaaaay back in June of '07 I bought a new phone. At the time of purchase, I was stoked at how shiny and awesome I thought it was. Well, turns out that phone stunk worse than a seventh grade boy on the fourth day of camp.

So here we are two years, and many malfunctions with that phone, later. I finally broke down and bought (read as: saved up enough money to buy) a new phone.

When I went to the store, I had every intention of purchasing a regular phone. But then I saw the HTC Droid Eris. Now, it should be said that I have coveted the iPhone since its release. So when I saw this phone, that is extremely comparable yet, on Verizon, I fell in love. But there were two drawbacks...

One, the phone runs the Droid OS from google. Meaning it doesn't sync with my Mac. Hey Verizon, how about you meet those of us who don't operate crappy PC's halfway? And two, it would mean an extra thirty dollars a month in data charges. So after driving home and thinking about it, I decided that I couldn't justify the extra charge. Boo. So I got the regular phone. (Pictured above.)

So, once again, I belong to Verizon for another two years. Anybody out there have the LG enV3? Anything I need to know? Any cool tricks? Here's hoping that the iPhone finally makes it to Verizon this coming year...

12/08/2009

iTunes Receipt: Part 13...

Wow. A whole year has gone by since I've posted any of the songs I've purchased on iTunes. Guess I've got some time to make up for.

So here's five of the last group of songs I purchased. Since I'm awesome, and I like these songs, you can bet that they're awesome too. (That's the transitive property SUCKA!) Click the links and give them a listen...

  • Keep on Trying by Poco

  • Nine In the Afternoon by Panic! at the Disco

  • I'm Free (Heaven Helps the Man) by Kenny Loggins

  • Home Come, How Long by Babyface

  • Mr. Blue Sky by Electric Light Orchestra
  • 12/07/2009

    A December to Remember (Question Mark)...

    I see a lot of movies. Most years, the count is above sixty. For those of you who are good at math (not me), that's more than one a week. (You know, because there are fifty two weeks in a year.) For the past month and some change, I've suffered through a barren desert (I wish it had been a dessert) of terrible "movies"; wastes of film that studios have put out in their evil attempt at getting our money without putting forth actual effort. (With the exception of The Blind Side and Fantastic Mr. Fox.) But thank the Lord December is here.

    Ahh December... That special season when studios release their oscar bait films (and I think there's some type of celebration of the birth of someone...) in their last desperate try to get a statue of some naked bald dude. You know what else is so great about December? It's when I make my list of Top 7 Movies of the Year. But because so many great movies are released this month, it's often a time when titles that were on the list all year get bumped at the last minute.

    So I thought I'd make a list of the movies that I'm looking forward this month (that could potentially knock others off my list). Here they are in no particular order...







    Anyone want to go to the movies...

    12/04/2009

    Fantastic Mr. Fox...

    My review of Fantastic Mr. Fox is up at youthministry.com! Click the link to check it out! Rate it and comment on it while you're there too...

    12/01/2009

    Iron Man 2: Post(er) #11...

    In case you're new around here (or have never googled "Tony Stark's Goatee", you might not know that I'm a huge fan of Robert Downey Jr. as the Armored Avenger. In fact, not only did I rank Iron Man number five on my list of The Top 7 Movies of 2008, but I even grew my own Tony Stark Goatee. Oh yeah, I'm that committed in my fandom.

    So you can imagine the level of excitement that I reached when @Jon_Favreau posted this new poster for Iron Man 2 (released on May 7, 2010) yesterday...

    That's right. It's the first look (outside of this past summer's Comic Con) of War Machine.

    OMLGG, I can't wait...

    Desperation...

    Lately I've been thinking a lot about my love for God. Wait... I think it's probably more like this: Lately, I've been thinking a lot about God's love for me, and how I respond to that love. While His love for me is perfect, my response is very far from that.

    I've written before about how being "in love" can motivate us to do things we'd never do out of self discipline or motivation. It compels us to act. We can't fight it. But as I've been thinking about my response to God, I've been reminded of a visual that I got a few years ago.

    When I was a little kid, one of my aunts got a swimming pool in her backyard. (I was so excited about this, I jumped in with all of my clothes on before the concrete walkway that goes around it was even finished.) During the summer, my brother, cousins and I would go swimming everyday. It was awesome!

    And one of my favorite things to do in the pool was to swim down to the bottom of the pool and see how long I could hold my breath. I can't exactly remember what my record was. But I'm sure it was both impressive and awesome.

    I can still remember floating on the surface, taking in a giant breath, and diving down farther than was possible for other, mere mortal, humans. (Hey, at the time I thought six feet was pretty deep. OK?) Once I made it to my intended depth, I would sit indian style at the bottom of the pool and count how many one thousands (seconds... duh) I could get to before having to swim back up.

    Of course, the inevitable reaction I would have is that of slight panic. The longer I stayed on the bottom, the more time seemed to slow down. I would begin to feel the pressure of the water all around me. My chest would start to involuntarily heave in and out as my body would instinctively try to breathe. Then, without knowing how or why, I would feel my legs straighten out, touch the bottom of the pool, and push off. As fast as I could, I would race desperately toward the surface. Finally, I would burst through and gulp in a giant breath of air. And that breath of air was always the best. It was as if that one breath brought me back to life.

    And that's how I want to respond to God's love for me.

    I want there to be desperation in my response. I want to want God like I wanted that breath. Desperately... Because I know that if I don't reach Him, I won't make it...