Winning & Musing…..Volume 1.15

kickoff_footballThe Super Bowl is this Sunday but your humble Potentate of Profundity won’t be watching. I think it might be the first time in 42+ years on the planet that I haven’t bought into the hype. The truth is that my interests have shifted a bit in the past couple of years and I find myself less interested in sports than I once was. I find both teams involved to be somewhat loathsome. We know that the commercials won’t be all that interesting (there hasn’t been a truly memorable slate of Super Bowl ads in several years) and I can check them all out online on Monday anyway. They have a semi-talented harlot performing the halftime show which I am sure will thrill little girls with no taste and teenage boys attracted to the…well…not the music, that’s for sure. There’s just nothing there for me. My energy can be better spent reading a book or on any number of other activities. So, with that in mind now seems like the perfect time to wrap up the football season by tying some loose ends and pontificating on whatever else pops into my brain. Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

I apologize that our Pigskin Picks of Profundity ended with such a whimper. I ran into some computer issues right before the final week of the NFL 1regular season. I am not opposed to taking a bye week, but that’s not how I wanted to finish the year. However it is what it is. C’est la vie. For the season Zach finished with a 46-50 record (he had a brutal final week…well, the final week that we picked), while I concluded with a record of 52-44. I’d put our records against any of the talking heads at ESPN.

 

Our bowl picks were even closer, but with the same result. I went 23-15 for a 60.5% winning percentage, while Zach was 22-17 for a 56.4% winning Ohio_State_Buckeyespercentage. Neither of us picked Ohio St. to win the national title or even make it past the semifinal. I am sure we weren’t alone in assuming Alabama would defeat the Buckeyes. Obviously we were wrong.

 

Looking back at my pre-season Top 25 a few things pop out. I had Florida St., Oregon, & Alabama in the Top 3, but made the assumption that Ohio St.’s NCAA_footballchances at a national championship were lost when QB Braxton Miller was lost to injury. I was way wrong. My 4th team was South Carolina, which ended up going 6-6. I said Boise St. would win 10 or 11 games (they won 11 in the regular season), although they did finish a few spots lower in the final rankings than I thought they would. Baylor, Michigan St., & UCLA had strong seasons as I predicted. I whiffed on Oklahoma, who I thought would be a Top 10 team but finished with just 8 wins. My Marshall Thundering Herd blew an opportunity to go undefeated and finish with a Top 15 record as I’d hoped, but did end up 23rd in the polls. LSU had a subpar 8 win season and didn’t finish ranked liked I thought they would. Ditto for Notre Dame. Arizona had a solid year and finished just about where I predicted. Ditto for Auburn.

 

My NFL prognostications were solid with few surprises. I got 5 out of 8 division winners correct. My Steelers really surprised me by winning the AFC nfl-footballCentral, while their Pennsylvania neighbors the Philadelphia Eagles completely fell apart down the stretch, losing 3 out of their final 4 games. I picked 5 out of 6 AFC playoff teams, although I said it’d be Denver representing the conference in The Super Bowl. Damn I wish I would have been right about that. I only got 3 out of 6 NFC playoff teams right and predicted Green Bay would go to The Super Bowl. If their coach wasn’t so conservative and they could play special teams at all I would have been right.

 

dfEven though I am ambivalent in regard to The Super Bowl the fact is that this DeflateGate stuff with the New England Patriots has been difficult to escape. Even non-sports news outlets are talking about it. I actually turned off the AFC Championship game at halftime and was in bed by 8:30pm that night. I could see where things were headed and just couldn’t stomach watching anymore Patriots “success”. So do I believe that they deflated balls in a covert attempt to win the game in an underhanded fashion?? Yes I do. Do I believe deflating balls helped all that much and altered the outcome of the game?? Not really. Although I do think those that are pointing out that New England outscored Indianapolis 28-0 in the second half after the subterfuge had been discovered and the footballs pumped up to their proper air pressure are missing the point. By halftime the game was over. The Colts’ spirits had been broken. Whatever kind of advantage the chicanery did provide in the first half was enough. I am a big believer in momentum. I think that if the score would have been 17-14 or 10-10 at the half it is possible that Indianapolis might have been more competitive. However, whether or not deflated balls made a difference in who won & lost the game isn’t really the most important issue. The fact is that over the past dozen or so years the New England Patriots, under the “leadership” of head coach Bill Belichick, have been proven to be built on a foundation of cheating and arrogantly thumbing their nose to the rulebook. If they win The Super Bowl will they really care about a fine of a few hundred grand or losing a draft pick?? Of course not. It’ll be a small df2price to pay. It is well known that NFL Commissioner Fidel Goodell is good buddies with Pats owner Bob Kraft. Goodell is an incompetent assclown anyway, and any kind of preferential, non-objective treatment of the Patriots in this situation would further call into question Goodell’s capability to carry out his duties properly. I know that this will never happen, but what I would do is fine the team $10 million, take away their 1st, 2nd, & 3rd round draft picks for the next three years, and suspend Belichick for the entire 2015 season. Surely this would be a stiff enough penalty to f-i-n-a-l-l-y get the attention of the folks in New England.

 

I had a huge problem with the NCAA ending all sanctions against Penn St. football a few months ago, penalties that had been handed down in the wake joe-paterno-psu1of the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal and resulting investigation. I thought the scholarship restrictions and post-season ban should have stayed in effect for the entire 4 years they had been originally set at. However, I don’t have any issue with former/late head coach Joe Paterno’s wins being restored. I have always believed that retroactively going back and changing record books and acting as if games never happened was kind of silly. We all know who won those games…why ignore it?? Eliminating the post-season ban and restoring full scholarship capacity is, in my opinion, a much bigger deal because I am not sure the citizens of Happy Valley and Nittany Lions fans have really been humbled and learned to put football in a proper perspective. It feels to me like they still assume that Penn St. is above the rules…and evidently they are right.

Trivia Tuesday…..Chapter 3.15

And we’re back with another exhilarating addition of Trivia Tuesday!! Well okay…exhilarating might be pushing it. Maybe mildly interesting might be more apropos. I knowledgewas always taught to minimize expectations. Under promise and over deliver. At any rate, enjoy…and never hesitate to leave some comments.

 

 

 

books&musicThe most played song of the 20th century was the 1964 tune You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling by The Righteous Brothers. It aired more than 8 million times on radio & television.

 

 

potpourri

 

The Empire State Building was built with 10 million bricks.

 

 

 

sportsIn chess each player has 16 pieces: 1 king, 1 queen, 2 rooks, 2 bishops, 2 knights, and 8 pawns. The king is the most important piece, but is one of the weakest. The king can only move one square in any direction – up, down, to the sides, and diagonally. The queen is the most powerful piece. She can move in any one straight direction – forward, backward, sideways, or diagonally – as far as possible as long as she does not move through any of her own pieces. Rooks (from Persian rokh and Sanskrit rath, both meaning “chariot”) may move as far as it wants, but only forward, backward, and to the sides. Bishops may move as far as it wants, but only diagonally. Knights move two squares in one direction then one more move at a 90 degree angle…like an “L” shape…and is the only piece that can move over other pieces. Pawns move forward but capture diagonally. Pawns can only move forward one square at a time, except for their very first move where they can move forward two squares. Pawns can only capture one square diagonally in front of them. They can never move or capture backwards. If there is another piece directly in front of a pawn he cannot move past or capture that piece. The object of the game is to ‘checkmate’ your opponent’s king by placing it under an inescapable threat of capture.

 

 

plants & animals

Cats are feline. Dogs are canine. Bears are ursine. Liberals are asinine (okay I made that one up…kind of).

 

 

movies&TVIn 1990 now defunct pharmaceutical manufacturer Upjohn ran the first TV commercial in the United States in which a person stated that he had diarrhea. The ad was for Kaopectate.

Trivia Tuesday…..Chapter 2.15

Welcome to another exciting week of trivia fun. It’s hard to believe we are already a couple of weeks into the new year. I hope everyone is staying warm & safe. knowledgePersonally I am not a big fan of winter and wish I could just hibernate like a bear. Anyway, thanks for making The Manofesto part of your busy day. Please don’t hesitate to leave comments, be sure to follow me on Twitter, and if you haven’t taken the leap to full-fledged citizenship in The Manoverse you’re only a click away!! And now…knowledge.

 

 

 
movies&TVStar Trek’s Captain Kirk never actually said “Beam me up, Scotty,” but he did say “Beam me up, Mr. Scott”.

 

 

 

history&geographyThe name of each of the seven continents begins and ends with the same letter of the alphabet: Asia, Africa, North America & South America (ignore the North and South), Antarctica, Europe, and Australia.

 

 

 

food&drinkThe process used to purify water is reverse osmosis. In this process tap water is filtered through a pressurizer that separates impurities from the water. Spring water is water that has risen from aquifers (an underground layer of water-bearing permeable rock from which groundwater can be extracted using a well) beneath the surface and absorbed minerals along the way. The amount and type of minerals can vary depending on the source of the water. Mineral water also has absorbed minerals, but it must have 250 parts per million total dissolved solids according to the FDA. Mineral water is oftentimes effervescent (aka sparkling) due to contained gases. Distilled water is processed to have impurities removed. The distillation process, which involves boiling the water and then condensing the steam, removes the minerals that can lead to build-up in machinery, which is why distilled water is often used for industrial purposes.

 

 

potpourriGoogle got its name from the world googol, which is a mathematical term for a 1 followed by 100 zeros. The name was chosen to signify the search engine’s purpose to provide large quantities of information. The name was changed from its original moniker…BackRub (thank God).

 

 

sportsMary, Queen of Scots, who reigned in Scotland from 1542 to 1567, was an avid golfer. She referred to her assistants as cadets, which is where the term caddy comes from.

The 2014 Sammy Awards…Part III

SammyAwardWelcome back!! After a brief delay (to build suspense…yeah…that’s it…suspense) we have returned for the conclusion of the 2014 Sammy Awards. Please be sure to check out Parts I & II if you have not already done so.

 

 

 

 

After a moving tribute to the late Robin Williams by our host Billy Crystal as well as Whoopi Goldberg, Henry Winkler, Matt Damon, & Garry Marshall it is time to present our next award.

crystal2whoopiwinklerdamongm

 

 

 

 

Please give a warm ovation to a young man who is able to join us because his team stubbornly refuses to revamp a horrendous defensive secondary and therefore bigbenhas been eliminated from the NFL playoffs. Welcome to the stage the two time Super Bowl winning quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers…Ben Roethlisberger!! And the nominees are:

 

 

Biggest Sports Sports Story

 

 

The Winter Olympics
When the most memorable thing to happen during an Olympics is Bob Costas’ pink eye I think it means they’re doing it wrong.

 

 

Seattle Wins The Super Bowl
The Seahawks defense dominated Peyton Manning & the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII (that’s 48 for those of you who might be here all night trying to utilize Common Core to figure it out…you’re welcome). Might we see a rematch in the near future?? It’s possible.

 

 

Derek Jeter Retires
I’ve never been much of a Yankees fan. Okay…I despise them for no apparent reason. However, Jeter has always seemed like a classy guy, and to my knowledge he was never accused of juicing unlike ¾ of MLB. He hung up the cleats last fall after two decades…all with the same team, which is a refreshing rarity, and got a game winning hit in his last at-bat, which was pretty cool even if the game itself was meaningless.

 

 

The World Cup
I’ve tried…I really have. But I just can’t get into soccer. Now the Quidditch World Cup…that I’d watch…maybe.

 

 

Lebron James Comes Home
Few have been harder on Lebron James than your humble Potentate of Profundity. The way he left the Cleveland Cavaliers a few years ago for the Miami Heat…with that idiotic television spectacle called The Decision…was asinine. However, I am a forgiving man and Lebron has apparently seen the error of his ways, especially in regard to The Decision. He has returned home to Cleveland, and even though things are a bit rough right now I have no doubt that he’ll have the Cavs in the playoffs this summer and in serious championship contention next year.

 

 

College Football Playoff
After decades of “mythical” national champions and BCS silliness college football finally got a 4 team playoff this season. The specifics & the methodology need some fine tuning, but I have to admit that the playoff committee ultimately chose the right four teams. The two semi-final games got monster TV ratings, and I am sure the title game will do so as well.

 

 

 

And the Sammy goes to…..

Lebron. Homecomings are always cool. I understand why he left even if I disagree with how he did it. He has grown up now and has different priorities. I hope there lebroncavsis a happy ending. The Cavaliers haven’t gotten off to the best start and have made some moves that seem kind of desperate. They aren’t winning a championship this season, and it looks like their current head coach probably shouldn’t be buying any property in Cleveland. I sincerely hope Lebron James doesn’t get frustrated & impatient and leave his hometown a second time. That would be horrible and might send me into the kind of rage that ends with a prison sentence even though I really couldn’t care less about the NBA. Until we get to that bridge though I will remain optimistic and believe that this will all turn out to be a really nice story.

 

 

 

The Charles Barkley Role Model Award

There isn’t a list of nominees for this award. There is only one nominee & winner. Lauren Hill is a 19 year old woman who was diagnosed with an inoperable brain praytumor a little over a year ago during her senior year in high school. The first thing Lauren wanted to know after her diagnosis was if she could still play basketball. She finished her senior year and set her sights on playing college ball. Lauren had already committed to Mt. St. Joseph University, a Division III program in Cincinnati, OH, before her diagnosis. In September 2014 a scan showed that Lauren’s tumor had grown and she was unlikely to make it to Christmas. Her dream was to play in one college basketball game, a goal that she achieved. Lauren got to play in 4 games before her health would not allow her to continue. She also utilized her growing notoriety to start a fundraising campaign for cancer research that has raised over $1 million. And oh by the way, the doctors were wrong…Lauren made it thru the holidays. She & her family are being assisted by hospice care, but she got to see one last Christmas & New Year’s. I don’t know Lauren Hill. I don’t know anything about her other than what I have read and seen on television. But one thing I do know is that Lauren chose life. She chose to battle this evil scourge called cancer to the bitter end. She achieved her goal and took time to do something helpful for others. Godspeed Lauren…I’ll keep you & your family in my prayers.

 

 

 

 

The following awards were handed out last weekend at an abandoned Ramada Inn just outside Detroit:

Most Annoying Song
Happy by Pharrell Williams

Best Commercial
ESPNU’s “Blind Date” and Budweiser’s “Friends Are Waiting”

Idiot of the Year
“Daredevil Naturalist” Paul Rosolie (the guy who was “eaten alive” by an anaconda for a Discovery Channel special)

Most Disappointing Movie
Sex Tape

Funniest TV Moment
Frank Caliendo reads Lebron James’ “Letter to Cleveland” in the voice of Morgan Freeman on Mike & Mike in the Morning

Biggest Mystery
The appeal & continuing success of Taylor Swift

Best Game to Play on Your Phone
Trivia Crack

Biggest Ingrates
Those who had an issue with a free U2 album being added to their iTunes library

 

 

 

 

Our next presenter(s) come to us via satellite. Please give a slightly puzzled welcome to infamous Brat Pack actor Rob Lowe, along with his pals Super Creepy Rob Lowe, Painfully Awkward Rob Lowe, Far Less Attractive Rob Lowe, Scrawny Arms Rob Lowe, Meathead Rob Lowe, & Crazy Hairy Rob Lowe.

rlrl2rl3rl4rl5rl6rl7

 

:

 

 

 

 

 

And the nominees are:

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Favorite Movie

Muppets Most Wanted
This is a follow-up to The Muppet Movie, which won The Sammy for Favorite Movie in 2011. Unfortunately this one lacks the same magic. Neither Jason Segel nor Amy Adams return from the previous film, and instead we get Ricky Gervais as a sinister criminal and Tina Fey as a German prison guard, as well as cameos from Tony Bennett, Puff Daddy (or is it P. Diddy??), Celine Dion, Lady Gaga, Josh Groban, & Ray Liotta. It’s not a bad way to spend a couple of hours, but just isn’t as charming as its predecessor.

 

God’s Not Dead
The premise is this…a college student decides to stand up to his atheist philosophy professor. It’s not a horrible film and is somewhat inspiring at times. Here’s the problem with this as well as other “Christian” films though…Christians will like it while non-believers will scoff (as non-believers are wont to do). So what exactly does it accomplish if it is “preaching to the choir”?? I don’t think this movie is going to convince anyone of anything as written. The idea is ripe with potential, but the execution is lacking. Nice try though.

 

Draft Day
Kevin Costner finally decided to do a sports film. Okay okay…I’m joking. We all know that Costner is the king of sports movies. This time he plays an NFL GM whose team (the Cleveland Browns) has the #1 overall pick in the upcoming draft (talk about realism!!). He’s not sure which player he wants to take, but we are introduced to three candidates: a cocky QB (sound familiar Browns fans??), a talented RB, & an underrated linebacker. The GM has some drama going on in his personal life too, but it’s really not that compelling. Draft Day is no threat to replace Field of Dreams, Bull Durham, or even Tin Cup as beloved Costner classics, but as a fictionalized behind the scenes look at the NFL Draft it is decently entertaining.

 

Boyhood
The critics are raving about this film. It is a coming-of-age story about a 6 year old boy and his slightly older sister being raised by their single mother in Texas. Their father (played by Ethan Hawke) pops in & out of their lives but is a good Dad. What is unique about Boyhood is that it was filmed over the course of 12 years, so we literally watch these two kids grow up in the space of a couple of hours. The same actors were used the entire dozen years. It is a fascinating & mesmerizing concept. However, there are a couple of issues. First of all the distinctive idea doesn’t have any kind of really interesting plot accompanying it. It is just about the ups & downs of everyday life…love, marriage, divorce, parenting, breakups, drinking, drugs, friendship, loss. It’s not that those things can’t be interesting, it’s just that I found myself asking “what is the point??” beyond the singular way the story is presented. The other issue is that the filmmakers and Hawke…an unabashed liberal…couldn’t resist taking a few political potshots along the way. These jabs were unnecessary and only distracted from my enjoyment of the film. Some things are better left unsaid.

 

A Merry Friggin’ Christmas
I love Christmas movies and I love Robin Williams. I had to check out one of his last projects. I’d be lying if I said that Williams’ demise didn’t have a negative impact on my perspective. The whole time I was watching I just kept thinking how worn down & disengaged he looked. This is not the enthusiastic, energetic, witty, full of life Robin Williams we all knew & loved. The story involves a somewhat alienated father & son taking a road trip back to the son’s house to fetch some misplaced Christmas presents for his children. It is funny in spots, but not nearly funny enough. This isn’t a movie the masses will be watching every Christmas in perpetuity like so many others.

 

Neighbors
Seth Rogan and his wife & kid move in next door to a fraternity house. Hilarity ensues. Mildly funny but mostly forgettable.

 

Million Dollar Arm
This is based on a real life story wherein a hotshot baseball agent mines the mean streets of India for untapped talent. It is somewhat charming but also mostly forgettable.

 

Blended
Adam Sandler & Drew Barrymore have teamed successfully before… in 1998’s The Wedding Singer and again in 2004’s 50 First Dates, both of which are the kind of solidly entertaining movies one is apt to watch multiple times, especially if it comes on some random TV channel on a lazy weekend. Will Blended become that kind of “modern classic”?? Ehhh…probably not. The duo portray two single parents whose initial blind date is disastrous, but then both inexplicably end up bumping into one another (with their respective children) during a vacation in Africa. We all know the inevitable conclusion, but we don’t care if the journey is satisfactory. I think there are just too many moving parts here that don’t allow us to focus on the central romance. Blended tries really hard and isn’t a terrible film by any means.

 

This Is Where I Leave You
Take the 1983 classic The Big Chill and cross breed it with 2005’s The Family Stone and you come up with this dramedy about a dysfunctional family forced to sit shiva for a week after their father’s death. I am usually a sucker for the dramedy format, but this one goes back & forth more than a ping pong ball. It can’t decide whether it wants to be funny or serious, and that uncertainty hurts the momentum. The cast (Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Dax Shepard, Katherine Hahn, and many others) is outstanding, but probably a bit bloated. Adam Driver may be on the verge of superstardom as the bad guy in the new Star Wars movie(s), but I think his true calling is following in the footsteps of Vince Vaughn as the always likable ne’er-do-well. TIWILY is, overall, kind of a downer, but it has its moments.

 

What If
I love a good rom-com, and this is a good rom-com. Originally released internationally in 2013 as The F Word (no…not that F word), it was finally released in North America in 2014 after the politically correct name change. Daniel Radcliffe sheds his Harry Potter persona quite nicely as a jaded young man who falls in love with a young woman he meets at a party. That young woman, portrayed by the enchanting Zoe Kazan (why she isn’t a bigger star is a mystery to me), has a boyfriend and immediately puts Radcliffe’s Wallace into “the friend zone”. Yes I know…we’ve seen this a thousand times and we all know how the story ends, but that’s okay as long as the script is well written and the cast is good. What If is kind of an updated riff on When Harry Met Sally, which is fine by me. Adam Driver shows up playing the same kind of aforementioned scalawag that seems to be his strength, and another captivating young actress named Mackenzie Davis that I am quickly developing an affinity for has a nice supporting role.

 

Heaven is for Real
This is a stronger effort in the Christian film genre than God’s Not Dead and is based on a true story. A 4 year old child becomes ill and has emergency surgery. After his recovery he begins to act strange and reveals to his family that he went to Heaven and saw God. His father is a minister in rural Nebraska and even he has doubts about his son’s claims. The small community doesn’t like the publicity that the story brings and ponders ousting the preacher. Greg Kinnear is an underrated actor and touchingly portrays the struggle of this minister and how his beliefs are shaken. Again, this is kind of “preaching to the choir” in that it’s the type of movie that will appeal mostly to believers, but unlike God’s Not Dead I think it has the potential to give fence sitters some food for thought.

 

That Awkward Moment
Three 20-something dudes suffering from a severe case of arrested development agree to stay single in solidarity with one another. Of course immediately thereafter they all find themselves in relationships. Complications arise…some of them funny, some of them not-so-much. I haven’t decided if I like Zac Efron or not, but I do know that if he wants to ever be taken seriously as an actor he has to grow beyond these juvenile frat boy parts. I do like up n’ comer Miles Teller, and the aforementioned Mackenzie Davis has a supporting role.

 

Jersey Boys
This is a well-executed biopic about the legendary 1960’s band Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons and is based on a Tony Award winning play. The actors are all Broadway vets and do their own singing, which is impressive. I learned a lot about Valli and his pals, which isn’t saying much since the only thing I knew before was the music. It is amazing to ponder what heights The Four Seasons could have achieved if everyone would have stayed on the same page and maintained a laser focus on their collective success. Alas life has a way of interfering and stuff happens. As it is though the foursome ended up with five #1 hits, sold over 100 million albums, and were inducted into the Rock n’ Roll Hal of Fame in 1990. Not bad, right??

 

Saving Christmas
IMDB users have quickly crowned this the worst movie of all time, which I think is rather harsh, especially considering competition like From Justin to Kelly, Glitter, & Gigli. Look, I realize that Kirk Cameron is a polarizing figure. Even some Christians don’t like the guy. But I have to give him credit for making this effort. I’m not sure I completely agree with all of the theology, but there is some decent food for thought here. Santa was a badass?? Who knew?? Saving Christmas wasn’t exactly what I was expecting, and I think the same points could have been made in a more acceptable format, but this is far from the worst film ever made. Haters are just gonna hate I guess.

 

 

 

And the Sammy goes to…..

 

 

 

What If. I have to be honest…I didn’t go to the movies as often as I would have liked in 2014 and there were several films I didn’t get a chance to see. In a relatively whatifweak field What If stood out. Is it a bit derivative?? Sure. But that can be said about a lot of things. The fact is that the masses enjoy this kind of story and that’s why filmmakers keep churning them out. Many crash & burn, while some are just distinctive enough to carve out their own spot in the crowd. This is the latter. Don’t worry Harry Potter fans…Daniel Radcliffe is going to do just fine as a muggle.

 

 

 

 

To present our final award of the evening The Manofesto is honored to bring back a man that had so much fun presenting in 2012 that he called and asked if he gwbcould participate again. His presence has the added benefit of annoying liberals which is always fun. Please give a warm welcome to the former President of the United States…George W. Bush!! And the nominees are:

 

 

 

 

Biggest News Story

WV Water Crisis
In the early days of January 2014 there was a chemical spill into the Elk River in the capitol city of Charleston, WV. Nearly 300k residents in 9 counties were without drinkable water for several days. The owner of the plant where the spill occurred, Freedom Industries, filed for bankruptcy within a week of the incident.

 

Malaysian Airliner Mystery
2014 was a tough year for Malaysia Airlines. In March a plane carrying over 200 passengers disappeared mysteriously somewhere in the Indian Ocean. No debris was ever found and conspiracy theories popped up, mostly from people who had been a little too into that TV show Lost. Was the plane hijacked by terrorists?? Was North Korea somehow involved?? Are the passengers alive somewhere on an island hanging out with Gilligan, The Professor, and the dude from Cast Away?? We’ll probably never know. To make matters worse another Malaysia Airlines flight crashed in July, killing nearly 300 passengers. But atleast we know that plane was shot down by a Russian missile. The moral of the story is don’t ever fly Malaysia Airlines…like ever.

 

Ebola in America
Ebola is the kind of deadly Third World virus that we usually read about in National Geographic, but in 2014 it hit very close to home. About 10 people in the U.S. were diagnosed with ebola. Two people died. Most of those contracted the disease outside of America and a couple were nurses that contracted it while treating ebola stricken patients. Some say the concern was overblown, but it is human nature to fear what we do not know.

 

Ferguson, MO Race Riots
Back in August an 18 year old black man was shot & killed by a white police officer in Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis. Some say Michael Brown was a nice kid who was gunned down by a racist cop. Others believe that Brown was a thug and that Officer Darren Wilson was just doing his job after Brown had robbed a convenience store then resisted arrest and assaulted the officer. Unfortunately the former opinion touched off violent protests, vandalism, & looting that lasted for weeks. Ultimately Officer Wilson was not indicted by a grand jury but understandably resigned from the Ferguson PD.

 

Same Sex Marriage Spreads
Same sex marriage became legal in an additional 19 states in 2014, meaning that it is now legal in about 35 states. And that’s all I have to say about that.

 

Secret Service Ineptitude
Look, I’m no fan of President Obama, but that doesn’t mean I want to see him get kidnapped or murdered. The Secret Service is supposed to protect the President 24/7/365, but in 2014 there were…issues. There were atleast two incidents of unauthorized, ordinary people just waltzing into The White House unnoticed, while an unauthorized and armed security guard for the Centers for Disease Control somehow gained access to an elevator and took a little ride with the President while he was visiting Atlanta. Come on folks…get your stuff together.

 

Robin Williams’ Suicide
I have been a huge Robin Williams fan since I was a kid. He was a brilliant comedian and an even better actor that could do dramatic and funny roles with equal aplomb. I knew he had battled substance addictions in the past, but I wasn’t aware that he also suffered from severe depression. On 8/11/14 that vibrant, talented, complicated life came to an abrupt & all too premature conclusion when Williams ended his own life. I am usually not that invested in any actor/comedian/singer/celebrity. They come, they go. Their stardom shines bright for a short time and then it fades. But I have to say that I was rocked by this tragedy. Oh sure…not all of his movies were winners, but so many of them were and we assumed that there’d be more. I am not an expert on clinical depression, but I find it profoundly sad that someone who seemed to have it all didn’t feel his life was worth continuing. I am sad for his fans who will never be able to look forward to another awesome performance or even a funny appearance on a late night talk show, and I am sad for a family that has lost a husband & father.

 

ISIS
ISIS stands for Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. They are a group of Muslim terrorists that have a penchant for kidnapping people and then cutting off their heads. In 2014 ISIS beheaded atleast a couple dozen people, including a few Americans. I am sure the videos are available somewhere online, although I am not sure why anyone would want to see that. But don’t worry folks…Islam is a religion of peace. They mean no harm and there is nothing to be concerned about. And also I have some lovely beachfront property in South Dakota that I am willing to sell for three Hershey Bars and a tricycle. Call me!!

 

Mid-Term Election Republican Sweep
In November 2014 the Republicans gained control of the U.S. Senate, increased their majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, and gained an additional two governorships. Even here in WV Republicans took control of the legislature for the first time in…forever (I think). Unfortunately controlling the U.S. Congress won’t mean a thing as long as Rep. John “Tears” Boehner and Sen. Mitch McConnell are in charge and willing to bend over to kiss Obama’s…ring.

 

Veterans Administration Scandal
My father is a veteran and has received acceptable care with various issues from the local VA Hospital, but I guess not everyone has been so lucky. Apparently dozens of patients have died while trying to wade thru weeks & months of red tape & waiting lists in the past several years. Investigations are ongoing.

 

Terrorists Kidnap School Girls in Nigeria
In April 2014 nearly 300 teenage female students at a school in Nigeria were kidnapped by a Muslim terrorist group (them again) called Boko Haram. Months later only a few of the girls had been rescued. A couple escaped. A few were killed. Supposedly many of them have been taken to various other countries and sold into slavery. The inept Nigerian government has done basically nothing, and the only U.S. response was to express anger on Twitter (#BringBackOurGirls), as if that’ll accomplish anything.

 

 

 

And the Sammy goes to…..

Ferguson. I don’t know exactly what happened, but I do know a few things. I know that Michael Brown wasn’t an innocent kid. It’s simple…don’t commit robbery or ferg1any other kind of crime and the police won’t have the opportunity to shoot you. I know that the reaction was way way way over-the-top. I don’t get looting. People need to mind their own business. If a guy down the street from me gets beaten or shot by the cops…right or wrong…why in the world is that a reason for me to walk downtown, set fires & bust out windows, and steal a TV from the local electronics store?? It’s idiotic. As far as we’ve come with race relations in America in the previous 3 or 4 decades it feels as though we’ve gone backward in the past few years. I am sure that there are bad law enforcement officers out there, but I think the vast majority do a damn fine job. It’s not their fault that black males are about 6% of the American population but are almost half of the prison population in the U.S. ferg2That’s not racism…it’s fact. Yet we have whackjobs like pretty much the entire lineup of MSNBC talking heads that see racism in e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g, and people like “Rev.” Jesse Jackson & “Rev.” Al Sharpton (aka The Justice Brothers) that make a living out of stirring the pot. It’s pathetic and insulting. And while it is tragic that a young man lost his life in Ferguson it is also sad that a lot of other people lost businesses & property because people decided to use that tragedy as an excuse to act like animals and compound the issue exponentially. Can’t we all just get along??

 

 

 

 

 
rip

actor/comedy legend Robin Williams…retired Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Chuck Noll…actor/writer/director Harold Ramis (Caddyshack, Ghostbusters, National Lampoon’s Vacation, Groundhog Day, Animal House, Analyze This)…radio personality (and voice of Scooby Doo’s pal Shaggy) Casey Kasem…baseball Hall-of-Famer Tony Gwynn…SNL announcer Don Pardo…retired boxer Rubin “Hurricane” Carter…comedians Sid Caesar, Tim Wilson, Joan Rivers, & David Brenner…NBA Hall of Fame coach Jack Ramsay…former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon…entertainment columnist Marilyn Beck…pro wrestlers Nelson Frazier Jr. (aka Mable, Viscera, Big Daddy V) & Sean O’Haire…S. Truett Cathy (founder of Chick-fil-A)…sportswriter Bill Conlin & Bryan Burwell…actresses Lauren Bacall (Key Largo, The Shootist, All I Want for Christmas), Shirley Temple, Carmen Zapata (Santa Barbara, Sister Act), Ruby Dee, Ann B. Davis (Alice on The Brady Bunch), Polly Bergen, Elaine Stritch, Marcia Strassman (Welcome Back Kotter), Elizabeth Pena (La Bamba), Jan Hooks (Saturday Night Live), Carol Ann Susi (The Big Bang Theory), & Mary Ann Mobley (Diff’rent Strokes)…baseball Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner…author Gabriel García Márquez (100 Years of Solitude)…singers Phil Everly (1/2 of The Everly Brothers), Jerry Vale, Jimmy C. Newman, Pete Seeger, Jimi Jamison (Survivor), & Joe Cocker…former Haitian President Jen-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier…WV businessman & philanthropist “Buck” Harless…former mayor of Pittsburgh, PA Sophie Masloff…actors James Garner (The Rockford Files), Mickey Rooney, Phillip Seymour Hoffman (Scent of a Woman, The Big Lebowski, Almost Famous), James Rebhorn (Scent of a Woman, Meet the Parents), Bob Hastings (General Hospital, McHale’s Navy), Russell Johnson (The Professor on Gilligan’s Island), Dave Madden (Reuben on The Partridge Family), Maximilian Schell (Judgment at Nuremberg, Deep Impact), Ralph Waite (The Waltons), Richard Bull (Little House on the Prairie), Efrem Zimbalist Jr., Bob Hoskins (Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, Hook), Meshach Taylor (Designing Women), Eli Wallach (The Godfather Part III, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps), Charles Keating (Another World), Sir Richard Attenborough (Jurassic Park, Miracle on 34th Street remake), Ed Nelson (Peyton Place, Capitol), Ken Weatherwax (Pugsley on The Addams Family), & Edward Herrmann (Gilmore Girls, narrator for History Channel)…retired MLB players & managers Don Zimmer & Jim Fregosi…former Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee…producer/writer Arthur Rankin Jr. (Rankin/Bass Productions)…retired U.S. Senator Jim Jeffords & Congressman James Traficant…musicians Tommy Ramone, Paul Revere, & Johnny Winter…Hall of Fame pro wrestlers Ultimate Warrior, Ox Baker, & Mae Young…journalist Garrick Utley…NFL owners Ralph Wilson (Buffalo Bills) & William Clay Ford (Detroit Lions)…former White House press secretary Jim Brady…Ken Forsse (creator of Teddy Ruxpin)…retired race car driver Gary Bettenhausen…poet Maya Angelou…MLB player Oscar Taveras…game show hosts Jim Lange (Name That Tune, The Dating Game) & Geoff Edwards (Chain Reaction)…retired pro wrestlers Billy Robinson & Jimmy Del Ray…TV sports director Sandy Grossman…Watergate conspirator Jeb Stuart Magruder…retired NFL players Earl Morrall, Rob Bironas, Orlando Thomas, & Robert Newhouse…voice actor (Tony the Tiger) & pro wrestling announcer Lee Marshall…songwriter Arthur “Guitar Boogie” Smith (Dueling Banjos)…former Cy Young Award winning pitcher Bob Welch…former Senate Majority Leader & White House Chief of Staff Howard Baker…former Baltimore Orioles GM Frank Cashen…fashion designer Oscar de la Renta…retired tennis player & instructor Vic Braden…Marshall University President Stephen Copp…crackhead & mayor of Washington, DC Marion Barry…director Mike Nichols (The Graduate, Biloxi Blues, The Birdcage)

The 2014 Sammy Awards – Part II

SammyAwardWelcome to Part 2 of the 2014 Sammy Awards. Please take a moment to check out Part 1 if you have not already done so.

 

 

 

 

After another brief song & dance by our host Billy Crystal it is time to present our next award. Please welcome an old-fashioned yet still moderately amusing leno tuxcomedian that NBC helped make disappear almost a year ago. Give a warm welcome for the former host of The Tonight Show…Jay Leno!! And the nominees are:

 

 

The DB Cooper Award (For the Person Who Most Needs to Disappear)

 

 

Justin Bieber
I keep nominating him but he just won’t go away. But now not only is Bieber an affront to those with good taste in music, but he has evolved into a menace to society off stage as well. Last January he was arrested for a DUI because he was gooned on pot & pills. Last summer he was charged with vandalism after throwing eggs at a neighbor’s house (what is this guy…8 years old??). Then in September Bieber was arrested in Canada for reckless driving & assault. At this point even Lindsay Lohan is probably like “Dude…chill out. Lay off the booze & drugs. Act like an adult.”

 

 

Carter Bays & Craig Thomas
Bays & Thomas are the creators & executive producers of How I Met Your Mother, which was a pretty great show. Atleast it was good right up until these idiots ruined the ENTIRE series during one final episode. More on that later, but for now I’ll just say that karma is…not very nice. The duo created a spinoff show called How I Met Your Dad, which I had already decided I wouldn’t bother with since I was so disappointed with the HIMYM finale. However, it seems as if the show isn’t going to make it on the air at all. You reap what you sow…morons.

 

 

Debbie Wasserman-Schultz
This “lady” is the chairperson of the Democratic National Committee and…frighteningly enough…a U.S. Congresswoman. The problem is that she is an idiot. I will not rehash her stupidity because I realize that a majority of The Manoverse doesn’t care. Suffice to say that almost every time Ms. Schultz (I don’t do obnoxious hyphenated surnames) appears on TV she embarrasses herself, her constituency, & her party. Surely the Democrats can do better.

 

 

Mayor Rob Ford
It’s unfortunate that comedic actor Chris Farley died in 1997 because he would be the perfect choice to play Mayor Ford in an SNL skit or maybe even a parody film. Ford is the former mayor of Toronto (that’s in Canada for those who are spending their first day out of the holler at The Sammy Awards) and is an admitted crackhead & boozehound. Late night TV hosts have had a field day the past few years poking fun at Ford, who still retains a seat on Toronto’s city council. The jokes are funny, but it is kind of sad that such a lost soul can be elected to political office in the 21st century.

 

 

The Duggar Family
We were first introduced to the Duggar family back in 2008 as a part of some stupid reality show. I’ve never watched it, but apparently the hook is that these people have 19 kids. I don’t even want to know why anyone would subject themselves to that kind of insanity. Anyway, I guess a few of the kids have grown up now and are dating and even married. Again…I don’t care, but I suppose someone out there does because we hear about it every time someone in this family makes a move, no matter how insignificant it may be (hint…it’s always insignificant). I am tired of hearing about what they watch or don’t watch on TV, what kind of clothes they will or won’t wear, & all about their sexual morality. Look, I am glad that they are servants of the Lord. Their beliefs are just dandy, but the world doesn’t need to be informed about everything that’s going on in their lives. I despise reality television and am a little suspicious of anyone who would sign up for that kind of gig. In light of their stated religious faith it seems a bit duplicitous.

 

 

Selena Gomez
Is she still dating Bieber?? Who knows & who cares. Anyone with that kind of poor taste in men needs help. Plus she isn’t all that talented at singing or acting. But hey…atleast she is hot, which is something I guess.

 

 

Melissa Harris-Perry
What is it with raging liberals and hyphenated last names?? I suppose it’s a feminazi thing. At any rate, this “journalist” is employed by MSNBC, which tells you all you need to know. I run across a story online atleast a couple of times per week in regards to the latest asinine thing she has said. It seems like MSNBC goes out of their way to hire folks like this who can’t simply report the news with some degree of intelligence. Look at your horrific ratings MSNBC…the proof is in the pudding. No one is buying what you’re selling, and providing a forum for laughably vapid mental midgets like Melissa Harris-Perry to spew her silliness has made you the laughingstock of TV news.

 

 

Jesse Ventura
I always liked Jesse “The Body” Ventura. He was a pro wrestler when I was a kid and then became a rather good wrestling announcer. He even acted a bit. When he ran for Governor of Minnesota in 1998 and won I thought it was pretty cool. But then Ventura left the reservation. He became a talk show host & conspiracy theorist, as well as…much to my surprise…a whackjob liberal. A couple of years ago Ventura sued noted sniper & American hero Chris Kyle for a story Kyle wrote about Ventura in his autobiography. Then in 2013 Kyle was murdered. The honorable thing to do would have been to drop the lawsuit, but Ventura persisted and won the suit in 2014. So now he is seeking to extract nearly $2 million from Kyle’s widow. I don’t know whether the incident occurred or not. All I know is that after Chris Kyle’s tragic death the matter should have been dropped. The financial situations of those involved is unknown to me, but I suspect that Ms. Kyle and her children need that money much more than Ventura. Gov. Ventura is a classic bully & narcissist, and I have lost all respect I ever had for him.

 

 

Gwyneth Paltrow
I was never a huge fan, but I never really minded Paltrow, especially in decent flicks like Seven, Shakespeare in Love, Shallow Hal, & Iron Man. But it is with a heart full of sadness that I have decided to consciously unfan Gwyneth because she is an out-of-touch twit who equates her tough life as a spoiled actress with things that soldiers face during war and believes that President Obama should be given as much power as he wants to do whatever he pleases. I guess they don’t teach kids about The Constitution in Hollywood.

 

 

Rep. John Boehner & Sen. Mitch McConnell
The Republicans may have taken solid control of both houses of Congress after the November elections, but it will be meaningless as long as these two sellouts remain in power. Boehner, the presumed new Speaker of the House, and McConnell, the apparent incoming Senate Majority Leader, don’t have the cahonas to stand up to President Obama and he knows it. The results of the election were a clear mandate by the American people to stop the Obama agenda, but Boehner & McConnell are more concerned with compromising, reaching across the aisle, and protecting their own careers. We’ll see how that works out for them the next time they are up for re-election.

 

 

 

And the Sammy goes to…..

 
Bieber. I am tired of hearing about him. I am tired of having to nominate him for this award year after year. Hey…The Hohan had a quiet enough 2014 that we didn’t biebernominate her this time…maybe Bieber can stay out of the spotlight in 2015.

 

 
To present our next honor The Sammy Awards is pleased to bring back a young man that hosted the show just last year. He is an award winning singer and a timberlakemarginally talented actor. Please welcome back Justin Timberlake!! And the nominees are:

 

 

 

Favorite Radio Show

 

 

 

The Rush Limbaugh Show
I’ve been a Dittohead for over two decades. I agree with most of what Rush says and oftentimes laugh at those who criticize him because they are usually either outright lying or just don’t get Rush’s unique brand of humor and how he intentionally goads the liberal media. Having said all that, I have listened to Rush far less in the past couple of years than I once did. I just get too worked up about what President Hussein Obama has done to our country and I choose to avoid the strife as much as possible. I still tune in occasionally, but I don’t ever see myself getting back into being a hardcore daily listener again.

 

 

Intelligence For Your Life w/John Tesh
Most remember Tesh as the co-host of Entertainment Tonight from 1986-96. However now he hosts a syndicated radio program where he imparts bits of helpful wisdom to parents, spouses, employees, pet owners, students, and those looking to improve their health. Most of the factoids mentioned are from studies, polls, articles, & interviews that Tesh’s researchers track down. He is kind of like a DJ in that he only speaks briefly between songs. I listen to the show on my way to church on Sunday mornings but I believe it airs a few times during the week.

 

 

Soap Box w/ Lilly & Martha
My sister & I had a babysitter when we were kids that got us hooked on soap operas. 35 years later I still watch Days of Our Lives, General Hospital, & The Young and the Restless. Last summer I discovered an online network called TRadioV. All the shows are radio shows that also air on “online” TV. There are several programs on TRadioV, but I instantly became a fan of Soapbox, which is basically two former soap stars talking about soap related news and interviewing various soap opera actors. Unfortunately they haven’t aired a new show since October so I don’t know what’s up with that.

 

 

Metronews Hotline w/Dave Weekley
This is a statewide show here in West Virginia. Weekley has been a news personality at various places in the state for about 30 years. I remember him as a sports anchor at one of the local stations when I was a kid. A couple of years ago he got the dream job that I never knew I always wanted. Hotline airs from 3-6pm each weekday and is the kind of eclectic show that appeals to a wide audience. It covers news, sports, pop culture, finance, and anything else that Dave deems appropriate. He even has a segment called Beer Friday in which he interviews an enthusiast on the subject each week. My favorite daily segment is called In or Out in which Dave, a news reporter, & the show’s producer Coop give a thumbs up or down to various things.

 

 

 

And the Sammy goes to…..

 

 

 

Hotline. Like I said, I realize when I am listening that it is exactly the kind of thing that, had I been exposed to it as a youngster, I might have said “That seems cool. That’s the kind of job I want.” The show is laid back, as opposed to more sociopolitical programs, and I love the fact that it has such an assortment of subject matter. When it first aired it replaced Sean Hannity on my local radio station and I was rather upset, but hindsight is 20/20 and I am so glad the change occurred. I’m not nearly as into politics as I was a couple of years ago, and I’d much rather listen to an easygoing discussion of sports, pop culture, & a little bit of news. I don’t listen every day and certainly not for the whole three hours, but the little snippets I catch here & there are a pleasant diversion and absolutely better than most of the “music” on the radio.

 

 

 

To present our next award please welcome actor, writer, producer, and one of the most popular stand-up comedians in the world. Give it up for Louis CK!! And thelouisck nominees are:

 

 

 

The Twitter Award for Most Interesting Water Cooler Topic

 

 

 

Minimum Wage
The first minimum wage in the United States was passed into law in 1938 and was 25 cents/hr. There have been incremental increases over time and the federal minimum wage is currently $7.25/hr. Of course the problem is that costs oftentimes rise faster than wages. A gallon of milk in 1938 cost 50 cents/gallon and movie tickets were a quarter. In 2014 those two things cost an average of $3/gallon and $8.50 respectively. Anyway, the minimum wage was a hot topic for debate in 2014. Various states and even some cities have passed their own minimum wage laws. Seattle, WA approved a plan to phase in what will eventually be a minimum wage of $15/hr. That sounds good, but we all know that bean counters & management types always figure out a way to tip the balance sheet in their favor. How many employees will lose their job?? How much will prices be raised for the consumer?? Technology allows some jobs to be done by machines now, so there will be employers that will explore such options rather than pay workers more money. It’s a slippery slope and an interesting discussion.

 

 

The Walking Dead, Sons of Anarchy, Orange is the New Black, Scandal, True Detective, Game of Thrones, Downton Abbey, American Horror Story, Veep, House of Cards, Revenge
These are all the TV shows that I constantly hear people raving about. I’ve never watched a single episode of any of them. Either I am missing out or I have better taste than the masses. I suppose I just march to the beat of a different drum machine.

 

 

Pot in Colorado & Washington
These two states passed laws in 2013 that legalized marijuana. Those laws went into effect in 2014, making those two states the butt of many comedians’ jokes. I have no idea how it’s going in those places because I live far far away. And I don’t smoke pot (anymore).

 

 

HIMYM Finale
How I Met Your Mother was a really enjoyable sitcom on CBS for 9 seasons. The framing device was a father (narrated by Bob Saget) telling his children (in the future of course) how he met their Mom way back in the day. Hardcore fans debated, deciphered, & dissected every episode in order to figure out which one of Ted’s various girlfriends would ultimately be The One and become The Mother. We finally met her near the end of season 8 (and she was enchanting) and waited anxiously for Ted to meet her in season 9, which he did. And then in a flash forward during the series finale the writers all-too-casually had The Mother die. It turns out that the whole framing device was just Ted trying to work up the courage to ask his teenage kids if they’d be offended if he got back together with his old girlfriend Robin. One of the biggest storylines during the last few seasons was the love story between Robin and notorious womanizer Barney, who eventually married only to all-to-casually get divorced in the finale, with Barney returning to his lecherous ways (and fathering a child with the 31st woman he’d slept with in a single month) and Robin eventually reuniting with widower Ted. The audience was split about 60/40, with the majority hating the last episode. The writers had planned the ending a decade earlier and stubbornly stuck with their plan instead of assessing how the show had evolved. It is one of the biggest blunders in television history and the reason why I will NEVER watch a HIMYM repeat.

 

 

Dying With Dignity
Typically nominees for this award lean toward more lighthearted & superficial subject matter, but in 2014 this was a thing. Why?? Well, back in the fall the world was introduced to 29 year old Brittany Maynard, an Oregon woman with a brain tumor who announced her intention to take a physician prescribed pill that would end her life before she began to suffer debilitating pain & anguish. Maynard became an advocate for “dying with dignity” and was regarded by many as a hero before indeed ending her life on November 1st. Of course the other side of the debate is that ending one’s own life under such circumstances is “playing God”. I can see both sides. My faith & beliefs tell me that it is wrong. However it is far too easy for others to criticize when most of us haven’t had to face such unique circumstances. I’ll just say this. Brittany Maynard made a choice. It isn’t up to me or anyone else to decide whether she was right or wrong. That is between her & The Lord. It is a free country and she did something that was legal where she resided. However, I think we need to be very cautious when referring to that choice as heroic or inspirational. She took the easy way out. I realize that sounds harsh but it isn’t meant to be. It’s human nature. Most folks spend their entire lives looking for the easiest possible way to get things done on a multitude of levels and that’s okay…it just isn’t brave or noble. What would you do in a similar situation?? What would I do?? To be honest I’m not sure I know that answer.

 

 

Kim Kardashian’s Ass
Speaking of superficial. Kardashian is well known for being a useless waste of oxygen. Anyone whose claim to fame is a sex tape and who then goes on to marry & generate offspring with a piece of garbage like Kanye West isn’t a person I’d want to know. Anyhow, I guess Kim was feeling a little ignored so she decided to grab the spotlight again the only way she knows how…by taking her clothes off. A few months ago a now infamous photograph was published in some snooty magazine (they still have those??) that featured KK’s much talked about backside. It was all oiled up and everything!! I’ll give that family credit for one thing…they know how to create publicity and keep that cash rolling in. All I know is that the generations of my grandparents & great-grandparents would be horrified by the type of inelegance that has made the entire Kardashian clan famous for no apparent reason.

 

 

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge
For about 6 weeks last summer one couldn’t peruse The Internet for longer than five minutes without seeing a video of someone accepting the Ice Bucket Challenge. The setup was simple…shoot a video of yourself having a frigid container of ice water poured over your head and then publically challenge a few friends to do the same. It was to raise awareness about amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, which by all accounts is a horrifying & debilitating disease that sometimes gets lost in the shuffle amid concerns about cancer, AIDS, whatever weird version of the flu is freaking everyone out at the moment, & a dozen other maladies. Those who did the “fun” part of the challenge were also supposed to send a donation to the ALS Association, which did see contributions of over $40 million in just a month compared to less than $20 million during the entirety of 2013. In other words it worked. Using social media to get people involved by doing something silly & pretty easy is pure genius. There were some folks that had an issue with the idea that people were having fun with the challenge and forgetting about the reason behind it, and I am sure there were many people who dumped water on their head but didn’t bother to write a check. However, the proof is in the pudding and the whole thing obviously worked…atleast in the short term.

 

 

Clooney & Pitt Marry
No…not to each other. The ladies’ favorite bachelor George Clooney married some Lebanese babe this past autumn, while Brad Pitt finally made an honest woman out of Angelina Jolie in August after they’d lived in sin for a decade and adopted an entire litter of those children that Sally Struthers used to cry about on television.

 

 

Late Night TV Changes
Citizens of The Manoverse know that their humble Potentate of Profundity loves late night talk shows. Unfortunately 2014 saw the landscape change dramatically and I am not sure it was for the better. Jimmy Fallon replaced Jay Leno on The Tonight Show, while SNL alum Seth Meyers took Fallon’s old 12:30am spot on Late Night. Sure Leno was kind of old-fashioned, but I still thought he was funny. The masses rave about Fallon, but I have been disappointed. I really enjoyed him on Late Night, but his version of Tonight seems narcissistic. I can’t imagine that many of the celebrities that come on the show are interested in playing some silly game when they are there to be interviewed about & promote their latest project. Not only did Fallon not tone down his act for the 11:30pm time slot…he’s actually become more hyper & turned the volume up to 11. Meanwhile Meyers is…okay. He’s more of a traditional late night host, but unfortunately that translates into him being kind of forgettable and only mildly amusing. Call me old school, but the more laid back show with customary interviews focusing on the guests should be at 11:30, while the wackier program that colors outside the lines should be on later. I also don’t care for Meyers’ sidekick…fellow SNL refugee Fred Armisen. I don’t get Fred’s shtick at all and don’t find him the least bit funny. I watched Meyers for the first couple of months he was on but got bored and decided to check out CBS’ Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. I had decided years ago that Ferguson wasn’t my cup of tea, but it turns out I was wrong. I am so mad at myself for not discovering his brilliance until less than a year before he too left his gig. Some British dude I have never heard of will take over the Late Late Show this spring, and since I learn from my mistakes I suppose I’ll give the new guy an chance. David Letterman is still around but he has already announced his impending retirement. Stephen Colbert is getting that gig, which doesn’t impress me since I have never really cared for Colbert. I think I see the day coming when I won’t have much of a reason to stay up past 11pm, which kind of makes me sad.

 

 

Bill Cosby
Who knew that lovable Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable…Fat Albert…the guy who made us all crave Jello Pudding Pops…was a total perv?? Well okay…nothing has been proven and it never will be because the things that allegedly occurred happened far enough in the past that statutes of limitations have all run out. However, I am one who believes that where there is smoke there is fire. We could shrug off one or two allegations, but in the latter few months of 2014 several women came forward and accused Cosby of drugging & raping them. So far Cosby has said very little. It is doubtful he ever will, although I have this terrible feeling that if he does decide to speak out Oprah will somehow be involved. At any rate, the damage is done. Bill Cosby’s reputation as a legendary comedian and America’s favorite TV Dad has been irrevocably damaged, which also makes me sad.

 

 

The Latte Salute
To say that I am not President Obama’s biggest fan would be a huge understatement. A few months ago he proved (for the thousandth time to those paying attention) what kind of man he is. Upon exiting Marine One after it had landed in New York the President saluted the serviceman standing beside the helicopter’s stair. However, the hand that he saluted with also held a cup of coffee (or possibly hot tea) and the Commander-in-Chief strutted by the young soldier as if he was gum under the Presidential shoes. The incident quickly went viral and reactions fell predictably among party lines. Conservatives saw it as additional confirmation of the person we believe Obama to be, while liberals were quick to draw (idiotic) comparisons between The Latte Salute and former President George W. Bush saluting a soldier with one hand while holding his dog in the other. In the grand scheme of life it doesn’t really matter, but the whole situation got some major play online and on TV for several days.

 

 

JK Rowling Pontificates
I, like millions of others, loved the Harry Potter books. I enjoyed the movies too…just not as much as the books. Fictional characters have a way of becoming living, breathing entities to fans, as if they really exist(ed). Santa Claus, Sherlock Holmes, Deputy Barney Fife, Huckleberry Finn, Batman, Mr. Spock…the world would be a better place if these were real people, but atleast we have the pleasure of enjoying their make-believe adventures. Harry Potter, along with his pals Hermione Granger & Ron Weasley, can be counted amongst these types of beloved characters. Universal Studios spent hundreds of millions of dollars to bring the world that author JK Rowling created to life in the form of a state-of-the-art theme park. Fans know the books and they know the movies. The problem is that Rowling won’t shut up and move forward. She continues to ponder what she should have done differently even though absolutely no one wants to hear it. Last February she caused an uproar amongst Potter fans by saying that Harry & Hermione should have ended up together instead of Hermione & Ron. That’s like saying that Darth Vader shouldn’t have been Luke Skywalker’s father or that Marty McFly should have never made it back to 1985. It’s heresy. Yes these are fictional characters…but they’re real to us dammit!! It isn’t the first time Rowling has added unnecessary context to something that wasn’t broken. Several years ago she tried to kiss the tushies of the PC crowd by saying that Professor Dumbledore was gay, even though neither the books nor movies come close to going there. So why say these things?? Please Ms. Rowling…just be quiet and let us enjoy this wonderful thing you produced that has been treasured by millions for many years.

 

 

Common Core
Common Core is an educational initiative that aims to define what exactly schoolchildren should know and when they should know it. Personally I thought we had all that ironed out decades ago, but apparently some bureaucrats got bored and decided to re-invent the wheel. The problem is that when government gets involved in things they tend to become completely screwed up. I don’t have any kids (that I know of) so I’m not exactly sure what all the issues are, but my perception is that Common Core has made both teaching & learning far more complex than necessary. Parents don’t like it, teachers don’t like it, students don’t like it. Some states have already opted out of it. It sounds like something that sounded good in theory but in practice doesn’t work as intended. I could be wrong. I don’t know.

 

 

 

And the Sammy goes to…..

 

 

 
The Ice Bucket Challenge. It was fun. It was goofy. It gave people the opportunity to do two things they love…be on camera and challenge others. More ibcimportantly, it achieved its stated goals of raising money for & awareness about ALS. Many took the opportunity amid the irreverent silliness to talk about their personal experiences with the disease, and anyone who took the time to hear or read those stories couldn’t help but be touched. I don’t know what the future holds for the ALS Association. I suspect their fundraising won’t be quite as robust in 2015, which is unfortunate. Something like the Ice Bucket Challenge can’t really be effectively repeated although I am sure some will try. We’ll just have to hope & pray about the future, but we can atleast look back at those few weeks in the summer of 2014 and be happy that an impact was made.

 

 

 

 

This seems like the appropriate place to take another break. Please stay tuned for the exciting conclusion of the 2014 Sammy Awards!!

Trivia Tuesday…..Chapter 1.15

It’s a new year and I have decided to add a little something different to The Manofesto. I am a fountain of useless information and enjoy learningknowledge interesting things even if it doesn’t provide any tangible benefit to my life. To that end, each Tuesday I will be bringing some knowledge up in here. Maybe it will be valuable…oftentimes I suspect it will not. But hopefully it will always be interesting. I toyed with different ways to do this but ultimately decided the interactive approach was too risky. I could throw questions out to The Manoverse, but would anyone answer them?? Would there be prizes?? How could I be sure folks wouldn’t just utilize appropriate 21st century technology to find the answer?? Nah…too complicated. So what we are going to do is this. I will provide five factoids each week, selecting from 7 categories: Sports & Games, History & Geography, Movies & TV, Books & Music, Food & Drink, Plants & Animals, and Potpourri. I may add additional categories in the future. Simple. Nothing deep. Nothing controversial. Just something fun and slightly educational. There are worse ways to waste 10 minutes, right?? Comments & ideas are appreciated, and as always thanks for stopping by. So…let’s get started!!

 

 

 

 

 

books&musicViolins (from the Latin vitula, meaning “stringed instrument”) are constructed from 70 separate pieces of wood…typically spruce or maple.

 

 

 

plants & animalsA group of toads is known as a knot. A group of unicorns is known as a blessing. A group of ravens is called an unkindness. A group of crows is referred to as a murder. A group of frogs is called an army.

 

 

 

potpourriThe fear of being buried alive is called taphephobia.

 

 

 

sportsThe marathon is named after a town in Greece where a battle was fought in 490 B.C. during which the Athenians fought off an attack by the Persians. A courier named Pheidippides ran from Marathon to Athens to spread the news of Athens’ victory. After completing his mission Pheidippides immediately collapsed & died.

 

 

 

potpourriThe tiny plastic covering of the tip of a shoelace is called an aglet. It keeps the fibers of the laces from unraveling and makes them easier pull through the grommets, which are the little holes in a shoe.

The 2014 Sammy Awards – Part I

SammyAwardBefore we get too far into 2015 it is time to take one final look back at the year that was 2014. Welcome to the 5th annual Sammy Awards, an introspective review of the previous year, as well as the world’s coolest imaginary awards show. I like to think of The Sammys as an eclectic remix of real awards shows…classier than anything MTV offers, not as pretentious as The Oscars & Grammys, and more engaging than the plethora of offerings (The SAGs, The Tonys, The ESPYs, The People’s Choice Awards, etc.) that no one watches. There are no acceptance speeches and many of the nominees aren’t even in the audience (for obvious reasons). The pace is brisk because shows like these tend to drag on and no one pays attention if the event lasts too long. I have always said that the show would be broadcast on HBO, but I would be open to options like Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon. Show me the money!!

 

Please give a warm welcome to the host of the 2014 Sammy Awards. He is an actor, comedian, & veteran of hosting awards shows. He has won Emmys, crystalGrammys, Golden Globes, & Tonys in the course of a legendary career that has spanned four decades. It is a deeply sincere honor to introduce Billy Crystal!!

 

 

 

 

After an inspiringly funny song & dance number by our host it is time for our first award. Please welcome the cast of one of the most underrated sitcoms of the late 70’s/early 80’s…WKRP in Cincinnati. Give it up for Howard Hesseman, Loni Anderson, Tim Reid, Jan Smithers, Gary Sandy, Frank Bonner, & Richard Sanders.

hessmanandersonreidsmitherssandybonnersanders

 

 

 

 

And the nominees are:

 

 

 

Favorite TV Show

The Big Bang Theory
Not only does CBS continue to air original episodes (the show is currently in the midst of its 8th season), but TBS airs multiple repeats several nights per week. One can see how the series has evolved. I realize that there are some that believe that the quality of the writing has gone downhill and that the original nerd concept has somewhat softened into what is essentially a Friends rehash. That idea isn’t completely off base, but I feel like TBBT is still performing at a high level and is better than any sitcom that’s come down the pike in the past decade.

 

Gotham
I am a certified Batmaniac!! I love everything Batman. The concept of this show however is less about Batman and more about Gotham City as a lawless wasteland. It shows us James Gordon as a young, fresh, idealistic cop that is partnered with cynical veteran Harvey Bullock. It just so happens that the first case the duo is assigned is the murder of Thomas & Martha Wayne (aka Batman’s parents). Along the way we are given origin stories for some of Batman’s most infamous foes…Catwoman, Penguin, Poison Ivy, Scarecrow, Riddler, & Two-Face (so far). We also meet young Bruce Wayne and his butler Alfred, but they are in the background. In some ways Gotham is not unlike your typical police procedural…Law & Order, CSI, NCIS, etc…but with the framework of the Batman mythology, solid performances, & fantastic writing it stands out from the crowd. It is a bit too violent at times for my taste, but I can live with that if the stories are great.

 

Mike & Mike in the Morning
The four time winner of this award has secured another nomination. However, I must say that it’s been a tough year for Greeny & Golic. The sports world has had more than its fair share of controversial, sociopolitical issues and oftentimes while the guys are discussing these kinds of topics I find myself realizing that they lean pretty far to the left. I understand that it is tough for the talking heads on ESPN and elsewhere. They can’t just ignore stories like Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, Donald Sterling, or the Washington Redskins nickname. But I found myself changing the channel a lot in 2014. I’ve curtailed my exposure to politics and other kinds of stressfully provocative programming, and when that stuff seeps into my sports I find it even more important to seek alternative entertainment. The Mikes are still very funny & enjoyable much of the time, but I don’t find myself getting up early or otherwise going out of my way to watch the show like I did in the past. Maybe 2015 will provide less contentious sports stories and we can all go back to relaxing and having fun with Mike & Mike. I hope so anyway.

 

The Herd
Everything I said about Mike & Mike applies to Colin Cowherd as well. However, I do find Colin to be less…weasely…than Mike Greenberg and much more intellectually stimulating than Mike Golic. I don’t always agree with his opinions, but I respect the thought that goes into them and the articulate way in which they are presented. Cowherd can be a funny dude too, and he mostly does the show himself, with minimal help from guests.

 

Highly Questionable
Thankfully ESPN has settled on a time slot for this show (4pm on ESPN2), but I still feel like it gets pre-empted an awful lot. Hosts Dan Lebatard & Bomani Jones are acquired tastes that may not appeal to everyone, but I find them rather entertaining in small doses. And I love Dan’s father Gonzalo (aka Papi), a 70 year old Cuban immigrant who inexplicably reminds me of my 100 year old (if he were still alive) Italian grandfather. The show is briskly paced, which means the hosts don’t have time to dive too deep into controversy, a fact that serves them well (especially during a weird sports year like 2014). It’s informative & fun, kind of like a mid-afternoon snack that won’t curb your hunger completely but will tide you over until dinner.

 

Girl Meets World
I wasn’t the target demographic for the parent show Boy Meets World in the 1990’s, so I am most certainly not the audience this program is going for, which I am assuming is young teenage girls. However, I always liked Boy Meets World. It was the kind of lighthearted, family friendly show that ABC specialized in at the time (other examples: Step By Step, Perfect Strangers, Full House, & Family Matters). Girl Meets World re-introduces us to Cory & Topanga Matthews, who have now been married for 14 years and have two children. One of those kids…young teenager Riley…is the focus of the show. I think Girl Meets World…like its predecessor…will evolve & mature over time. There is a nostalgia factor right now, which is why people like me tune in. But that can’t last forever. The acting is a bit over-the-top, I don’t know what the heck Ben Savage did to his nose, & one can certainly tell the difference between a program airing on a broadcast network like ABC and a show like this that is on The Disney Channel. We’ll see where Girl Meets World is at in a year or two, but at the moment I am giving it a tentative thumbs up.

 

 

And the Sammy goes to…..

 

 
The Big Bang Theory. Kudos to TBS for the abundant re-runs. I have probably seen every episode of the show’s first seven seasons atleast 2 or 3 times. I can’t tellbbt you how many lonely & tedious evenings in the past year have been made tolerable by the presence of TBBT on my television. Oh I still like the new stuff that airs on CBS each Thursday evening, but it was the repeats that secured the award.

 

 
sternTo present our next award The Manofesto is pleased to welcome the world’s foremost “shock jock”. Give a warm welcome to radio & TV personality Howard Stern.  And the nominees are:

 

 

 

Biggest Non-Sports Sports Story

Michael Sam
Defensive end Michael Sam is gay. Did you know that?? If you watched ESPN this past spring you surely did know since the entire cast of talking heads yapped about it every 5 minutes for months. Sam was the only 7th round draft choice I have ever seen that had cameras in his house when he got the phone call. And then all the way thru training camp with the St. Louis Rams his every move was reported by the press. Sadly the liberal narrative took a hit when he proved himself not good enough to play in the NFL. But then Jerry Jones came to the rescue and the Dallas Cowboys signed Sam to their practice squad. Eventually they released him too but by then the sports media had moved on and last I heard the young man was whining that he didn’t receive a fair shake because he is gay. Dear liberals: You can’t have it both ways. You can’t say it’s no big deal when a Democrat manwhore President cheats on his wife in The White House because “it’s just sex” and then turn around and act like the world owes someone fame & fortune because of their chosen sexual preference. Michael Sam was ultimately judged on his talents & abilities on the football field and he simply didn’t have what it takes to make it at the highest level.

 

The Washington Redskins
I have no doubt that someday owner Dan Snyder (or whomever he eventually sells the team to) will be forced to change the team’s name, and that will be a sad day. I detest political correctness and that is all this “controversy” is. I never heard of anyone having an issue with the term Redskins back in the 80’s when Washington was winning Super Bowls, and multiple polls have shown that only a very small minority of the general population as well as an equally small number of Indians…oops, I mean Native Americans…have a problem with the name. This is a media driven story that a handful of glory seeking politicians leech onto occasionally when they get bored. It’s idiotic.

 

Tony Stewart Kills A Man
Tony Stewart has been my favorite race car driver ever since the tragic death of Dale Earnhardt Sr. over a decade ago. Smoke is brash & outspoken but is rarely a jackass about it like Kyle Busch. He’s a throwback to when racing wasn’t quite so corporate and isn’t a polished pre-fab pretty boy like Jimmie Johnson or Jeff Gordon. However, this past summer he found himself at a low point when he was moonlighting at a dirt track in central New York. Things got a little heated on the track (as they sometimes do) and a young driver got out of his car and walked into the middle of the track where he was inadvertently struck by Stewart’s car. The young man died and for awhile it looked like Stewart may face criminal charges. I never for one second believed that the incident was intentional, and it was later discovered that the deceased driver had been high on ganja. Smoke took a few weeks off and a grand jury found no cause for an indictment. Tony Stewart finished the NASCAR season, but unfortunately he will have to live with what happened for the remainder of his life, as well as deal with the judgment of those who think they know more than multiple levels of a legal establishment that decided this was nothing more than a tragic accident.

 

NFL Thuggery & Ineptitude
It all started last February when Baltimore Ravens’ RB Ray Rice knocked his wife out in an Atlantic City elevator. A video was released showing Rice dragging the young woman out of the elevator and the NFL responded by suspending him for three games. Several months later additional video footage from inside the elevator was released and all hell broke loose. The NFL & the Ravens acted stunned by what the video showed, even though Rice had admitted what he’d done and what the second video showed was 100% totally NOT a surprise. In a purely PR move the league suspended Rice indefinitely and the team released him immediately. As if that wasn’t enough, at around the same time that the NFL was completely bungling the Rice fiasco Minnesota Vikings RB and noted manwhore Adrian Peterson was arrested for beating his 4 year old son with switches to the point that the child had multiple bruises and lacerations. This is the same guy who has six children by multiple women. One of those children died when he was two years old in 2013 after the babymomma’s boyfriend beat him up. No big deal for AP though. He’d never even met the kid and didn’t know he even existed until shortly before the child’s death. A few days after the infant died Peterson was treated like a conquering hero when he overcame his “grief” and played on Sunday. At any rate, the NFL acted swiftly…kind of…this time, suspending Peterson for the remainder of the season. Almost as noteworthy as the incidents themselves is the complete incompetence shown by NFL Commissioner Roger “Fidel” Goodell, one of the most evil people in the history of sports. There was brief talk that Goodell may lose his job, which would have been awesome. Unfortunately for the game that will eventually be flag or two-hand touch football he retained his position and will likely continue on his path of destruction for several years.

 

Jim Kelly’s Cancer Battle
Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly led the Buffalo Bills to four consecutive Super Bowls in the early 90’s. Losing all four of those games might have been tough, but Kelly has dealt with worse. In 2005 his 8 year old son Hunter died of a rare nervous system disease. And then in 2013 he was diagnosed with jaw cancer. After treatments Kelly was cancer free, but in 2014 the cancer recurred. The sports media followed the story closely and the way Jim Kelly and his family handled the situation was inspiring. In August, after more chemo & radiation he was again declared cancer free. I have never met the man, but he seems like a solid guy. We should all say a little prayer occasionally that Jim Kelly remains healthy and gets to enjoy a long & happy life.

 

Donald Sterling
At the beginning of 2014 Donald Sterling was the owner of the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers. However, due to his own stupidity he no longer retains that title. Last spring Sterling was caught on video saying some disparaging things about NBA legend Magic Johnson specifically and black people in general. It didn’t take long for the story to blow up, especially since Sterling has previously been sued for racial discrimination and sexual harassment. The NBA has long known that this isn’t a good person, but now they were obliged to do something about it. The league banned Sterling for life and likely would have eventually voted to make him to sell the Clippers, but he agreed to sell without the league formally taking that step. I am somewhat uncomfortable that a business owner can be forced to sell his property simply because people disagree with something that he said in a private conversation. The Clippers employ black players, coaches, and management personnel, so there wasn’t any outright discrimination. It is a slippery slope that we must be cautious of in the future. However, Donald Sterling is the kind of out-of-touch whack job that is easy to root against. And we shouldn’t feel too sorry for him. The team that he bought for $12 million in 1981 was sold for $2 billion. Of course since we are talking about an 80 year old man the real winners are his family that will eventually inherit that fortune.

 

 

 

And the Sammy goes to…..

 

 

 
The NFL. Times are tough for football at all levels. Increased education & awareness about the effects of the sport on players’ health combined with the ever nfl-footballgrowing PC Police in America has the entire industry against the ropes. The last thing football needed was this kind of drama. Let’s be honest…there have always been thugs in sports. Just because a guy can run fast and do athletic things with a ball in his hand doesn’t automatically make him a good person. Fame & fortune not only doesn’t always translate into decency, but we have learned over the decades that it oftentimes has the opposite effect. We also know that people look at various crimes differently. Had Ray Rice & Adrian Peterson been caught smoking pot or speeding no one would have cared. Even if they would have held up a liquor store or ran someone down while driving drunk there might have been a collective yawn from the masses and some measure of sympathy. But one guy punched a woman in the face and the other physically abused a child. We aren’t quite as forgiving when it comes to those crimes. The NFL wasn’t blameless either, as they showed a shocking level of ineptitude in handling the situation…especially the Rice case. It seems as if the league suits are more contemptuous of cornerbacks & linebackers who might (GASP!) tackle a “defenseless” receiver (whatever that is) or sack a quarterback just a bit too hard than they are toward hooligans like Rice & Peterson.

 

 

 

This seems like the appropriate place to take a break. Please join us again soon for Part II of the 2014 Sammy Awards!!

Pondering A New “A Christmas Carol” Film

cc1I recently shared with The Manoverse my favorite film adaptations of the Charles Dickens classic A Christmas Carol. In the process of producing that piece a few things became clear. First of all, there has been no perfect version of the story made for the big screen. Older movies leave too much out in an effort to be “family friendly”. Newer attempts lean toward either animation or modernization of the story so that it isn’t really a straight-up translation but something that is merely inspired by the Dickens book. Few have had well-known stars in lead roles. Secondly, some of the better takes on the story have actually been made-for-television movies. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I think A Christmas Carol deserves a faithful, big budget, live action film with all the bells & whistles…a star-studded & talented cast, superior production values, a top shelf director, and Oscar buzz. Hollywood specializes in remakes, right?? They remake classics that didn’t need remade like Footloose, The Poseidon Adventure, Halloween, The Karate Kid, Arthur, The Pink Panther, Miracle on 34th Street, & Psycho, as well as movies that few gave a darn about in the first place like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Red Dawn, Total Recall, Robocop, & The Manchurian Candidate. But while all these lukewarm pieces of crap litter our cinemas the fact is that a non-gimmicky big screen adaptation of A Christmas Carol hasn’t been made in over 60 years. It’s time for that to change.

 

First though, there needs to be a few rules. This would be a live action film. No animation. As much as I like The Muppet Christmas Carol and the 2009 Jim Carrey cc2motion capture movie that kind of thing isn’t what I’m going for here. Besides, it’s been done and probably can’t be done much better. This would not be a musical. I’m not necessarily anti-musical, although they aren’t really my thing. However, making a Carol musical is just another gimmick that has been done so there’s no need to go there. This would be an authentic version of the novella. Too many films leave things out, add things in, change names for no apparent reason, gender bend, & make other unnecessary alterations. I am by no means a film production or screenplay writing expert, but I don’t see why it’d be so difficult to translate a hundred page novella into a two hour movie without pointless modifications. And finally, the cast would be comprised completely of British actors & actresses. Charles Dickens was British. A Christmas Carol is set in London. Scrooge, Marley, Bob Cratchit, & all the other characters are British. I don’t care how talented Tom Hanks, Leonard DiCaprio, Sandra Bullock, Kevin Spacey, or Meryl Streep may be…they are American and should not star in A Christmas Carol.

 

pjI’ve given a lot of thought as to who the director should be, and while I do not have an encyclopedic knowledge of every filmmaker out there and all of their work I do, as a movie fan, have a passing familiarity with many of the more prominent modern auteurs and their styles. In pondering the issue one name kept creeping into my mind…Peter Jackson. Jackson, of course, is best known for spending most of the past 15 years bringing author JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit to life on the big screen. I believe he could make the kind of epic version of A Christmas Carol that I envision, and he could do it while showing immense respect to the source material. He has the skill to capture the dark tone of much of the story while infusing the film with lighter moments that’d make an audience smile. Jackson isn’t British and prefers to work in his native New Zealand, but I am confident a solution could be negotiated in which most of this movie would be shot in London. Hopefully he wouldn’t try to make A Christmas Carol into a trilogy.

 

Now…onto the main cast…..
As mentioned I believe that this needs to be a strictly British group. As much as I love Robert Downey Jr. it bothers me tremendously that he has portrayed Sherlock Holmes on the big screen. Do you realize that America’s most beloved trio of superheroes…Batman, Superman, & Spiderman…have all most recently been played by three British actors (Christian Bale, Henry Cavill, & Andrew Garfield)?? It’s not that these capable performers have done a bad job. Bale, in particular, was quite good in his role as The Caped Crusader. I just think that it takes a contemporary moviegoer, with all we know about the moviemaking process due to The Internet and other accessible & informative technologies, out of the realm of fantasy & imagination when we know “Hey…that dude is using a fake accent!! He’s from another country!!”. I am only mildly neurotic and most of my fixations are kind of trivial…this just happens to be one of them. Fortunately there is a plethora of very gifted British actors to choose from and I think we can put together the best cast of any A Christmas Carol adaptation ever made:

 

 

Ebenezer Scrooge – Daniel Day-Lewis
Lewis, with his three Oscars for Best Actor, adds instant gravitas to our film. To be honest I am not a huge fan of most of his work. His movies justdaniel-day-lewis aren’t my thing. However, I did enjoy his performance in 2012’s Lincoln in which he was mesmerizing as our 16th president. Dickens describes Scrooge as having “old features”, a “pointed nose”, “thin lips”, & a “wiry chin”. He is generally thought of as skinny, which makes sense since he only eats “a small saucepan of gruel”…a porridge/oatmeal type of substance typically eaten by peasants…for supper. Lewis fits the bill physically and at 57 years old the transformation into an elderly miser wouldn’t be all that difficult.

Bob Cratchit – Simon Pegg or Martin Freeman
peggI would be fine with either of these two gentlemen in the role of Scrooge’s overworked & underpaid clerk. Bob is freemanmarried and has 6 children, the eldest of whom is said to be an apprentice at a milliner (hat maker) shop. This means she is probably a teenager, which puts Bob somewhere in his 30’s or 40’s. He is generally depicted as a mistreated milquetoast who doesn’t dare challenge his nasty boss Mr. Scrooge, but then when he gets home is a devoted father & husband who tries to make the best life possible for his family despite a decided lack of resources. Pegg is best known as Scotty in JJ Abrams’ Star Trek reboot films, while Freeman stars as Dr. Watson in the British television update of Sherlock Holmes and as Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit trilogy. Both actors could portray the lighthearted, doting, & generally content Cratchit while not ignoring the underlying pathos present in a character who is abused at work, is very poor, and has a young son on the verge of death.

Mrs. Cratchit – Emily Blunt
This is a relatively minor role. Mrs. Cratchit is Bob’s supportive spouse who nevertheless isn’t afraid to call a spade a spade when it comes toblunt Ebenezer Scrooge. She appears to be a traditional wife & mother who loves her family, but with just the tiniest bit of spunk. Blunt isn’t as well-known as she probably should be due to her eclectic career choices, having done a whole spectrum of movies from rom-coms to action-adventure to drama to Shakespeare…few of them being all that great or profitable. She may be a tad young to play a mother of 6, but I think she could pull it off and add some much needed refreshing beauty to what can largely be a bleak story.

Jacob Marley – Alan Rickman
Marley, as you’ll recall, is Scrooge’s business partner who is “dead as a doornail”. He shows up in ghost form to tell Scrooge how he has completely rickmanscrewed up his entire life and to warn him of the impending visit of three spirits. It is a relatively small yet vital role. Rickman is best known for playing bad guys like Hans Gruber in the original Die Hard and, more recently, Professor Severus Snape in the Harry Potter series. Marley isn’t necessarily a bad guy I suppose. It seems that, when alive, he was as much of a ruthless & greedy businessman as Scrooge, but now he is a sad & pathetic figure, doomed to roam the Earth in the afterlife bearing the burden of the chains that he forged in life. He is in only one scene, but it is important and sets the tone of the entire film. Anyone who has seen Rickman’s work knows that he could pull off the scary spectral figure of Jacob Marley.

Fred – Benedict Cumberbatch
Fred is Ebenezer’s nephew and the antithesis of his grouchy uncle. He is friendly, jovial, & full of Christmas spirit. He genuinely cares for his uncle and cbatchcontinues to attempt to have a relationship with him despite Scrooge’s perpetual rejection. Cumberbatch has seen his career trajectory rise exponentially since playing Sherlock Holmes in the contemporary BBC television show, but it seems like he is often cast as the villain otherwise. He played Khan in 2013’s Star Trek: Into Darkness and voiced the dragon Smaug in The Hobbit trilogy. I think it would be interesting to see him go against type and play a cheerful & approachable character. This is another small but key role, and Cumberbatch would undoubtedly be a tremendous addition to the cast.

Tiny Tim – unknown British child
I don’t know enough about child actors in general, let alone specific British child actors, to pull a name out of the hat. However, I will tinytim_optopine just a bit. We don’t know exactly what disease young Tim suffers from, but we know that he will die without proper treatment which Bob Cratchit cannot afford to provide, and that he walks with the aid of a single crutch. Tiny Tim should be portrayed as a loving child with a positive attitude and faith in God. At one point in Dickens’ novella it is said that Tim “hoped the people saw him in the church because he was a cripple, and it might be pleasant to them to remember upon Christmas Day who made lame beggars walk and blind men see.” However, I believe it is unnecessary and counterproductive to have Tiny Tim be an incessantly jolly child. That is just annoying and does the story no favors.

Fezziwig – Robbie Coltrane
When Ebenezer Scrooge was a young man just starting out in the business world he worked for Mr. Fezziwig, who we can assume was in the samecoltrane “money-lending” profession as his young apprentice. Fezziwig is portrayed as the kind of employer we all wish we had, a kindhearted man who has his priorities straight and treats people with warmth & respect. He is generous, loyal, & presumably successful. Fezziwig’s benevolence is a stark contrast to Scrooge’s malicious attitude and serves to show us who Ebenezer could have and probably should have become had he allowed Fezziwig to be more of an influence in his life. Coltrane is best known nowadays as the gregarious Rubeus Hagrid in the Harry Potter series, and he immediately sprang to mind as I pondered this role. In addition to Harry Potter, Coltrane has been in a couple of James Bond films as well as forgettable movies like Nuns on the Run, Message in a Bottle, & Van Helsing. Fezziwig is another brief but vital part in a story that seems to be full of them.

Young Scrooge – Daniel Radcliffe
The Ghost of Christmas Past takes Ebenezer Scrooge back in time to a few significant moments in his life, one of those being when he was a young radcliffeman just beginning his career and facing the choice between love and professional achievement. Radcliffe, of course, is best known for his role as the titular character in the mega-successful Harry Potter series, and I think he vaguely resembles a young Daniel Day-Lewis. It is tempting to overlook such a small role in what I visualize as a grand film, but I believe it would be a mistake to cast a marginal talent in the part. This is when we see who Ebenezer Scrooge used to be and gain some insight as to what went so terribly wrong. It is a turning point, and a youthful but skilled actor like Radcliffe adds credibility that lets critics & audiences know that this film is legit.

Belle – Carey Mulligan
If you meet a man who is cynical, angry, bitter, & kind of a jackass there is a good chance that there is a woman somewhere in his past that is partly to mulliganblame. Okay okay okay…I’m kidding…sort of. At any rate, Belle is a young lady that Scrooge meets at one of Fezziwig’s Christmas parties. They fall in love and become engaged. Eventually Belle breaks up with Scrooge because of his obsession with money. Remember, The Bible says in 1 Timothy 6:10 that “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil”. While Scrooge goes thru life brokenhearted & lonely Belle eventually finds love again, marries, and has a happy life with several children. Mulligan is best known for her roles in Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps and as Daisy Buchanan in the 2013 adaptation of The Great Gatsby that starred Leonardo DiCaprio as Gatsby. She is quite fetching but also tough, like the kind of person who wouldn’t hesitate to kick her fiancée to the curb when he becomes selfish, greedy, & narcissistic.

Christmas Past – Tilda Swinton
Dickens describes The Ghost of Christmas Past thusly: “A strange figure—like a child: yet not so like a child as like an old man, viewed through some swintonsupernatural medium, which gave him the appearance of having receded from the view, and being diminished to a child’s proportions. Its hair, which hung about its neck and down its back, was white as if with age; and yet the face had not a wrinkle in it, and the tenderest bloom was on the skin. The arms were very long and muscular; the hands the same, as if its hold were of uncommon strength. Its legs and feet, most delicately formed, were, like those upper members, bare. It wore a tunic of the purest white; and round its waist was bound a lustrous belt, the sheen of which was beautiful. It held a branch of fresh green holly in its hand; and, in singular contradiction of that wintry emblem, had its dress trimmed with summer flowers. But the strangest thing about it was, that from the crown of its head there sprung a bright clear jet of light, by which all this was visible; and which was doubtless the occasion of its using, in its duller moments, a great extinguisher for a cap, which it now held under its arm.” It is further said that “its belt sparkled and glittered now in one part and now in another, and what was light one instant, at another time was dark, so the figure itself fluctuated in its distinctness: being now a thing with one arm, now with one leg, now with twenty legs, now a pair of legs without a head, now a head without a body: of which dissolving parts, no outline would be visible in the dense gloom wherein they melted away. And in the very wonder of this, it would be itself again; distinct and clear as ever.” Various adaptations have shown Christmas Past as an angelic female, an elderly man, & an “androgynous” figure of unspecified age. The 2009 Disney motion capture film comes the closest to bringing Dickens’ unique vision to fruition. Obviously with CGI we could do something similar even in a live action movie. However, I think what might work best is a combination of computerized magic and a performance by a real actress. Swinton not only has a unique look, but she is another Academy Award winner to add to our fully loaded cast.

Christmas Present – Sir Anthony Hopkins
Dickens describes The Ghost of Christmas Present as “a jolly giant” clothed in a green robe with white fur and sitting upon a throne of various kinds of food (yum…my kind of throne!!). Most films represent the spirit fairly accurately. However, many don’t present the events of the story faithfully. hopkinsChristmas Present takes Scrooge into the streets of London on Christmas Day, to Bob Cratchit’s house, to see a poor miner’s family celebrating in their little shack upon a lonely moor, to visit two men keeping watch in a lighthouse, out to sea where the crew of a ship (possibly a fishing boat…the book doesn’t specify) is quietly remembering Christmas amongst themselves, & to his nephew Fred’s house where he and a group of friend’s are making merry. For some reason the visits to the lighthouse, the miner’s shack, & the ship are often left out of A Christmas Carol movies. We would not allow that in our version. Christmas Present also reveals to Scrooge two “wretched, abject, frightful, hideous, miserable” children hiding under his regal robes named Ignorance & Want. It is a disturbing scene rife with social commentary and is too often left out of movies. Not this one though. At any rate, when pondering the casting decision my mind immediately fell upon Academy Award winner Sir Anthony Hopkins. We associate him most with the role of evil Hannibal Lecter, so I think it would be really interesting to see him instead play a character that is ebullient & gregarious. Christmas Present ages as the night goes along, and we undoubtedly could pull that off as well.

Christmas Yet to Come – Andy Serkis
Dickens describes Christmas Future as a “draped and hooded” phantom “shrouded in a deep black garment, which concealed its head, its face, its serkisform, and left nothing of it visible save one outstretched hand”. Essentially it is The Grim Reaper, and almost all film versions of A Christmas Carol depict it as so. The spirit doesn’t actually speak…it just points a lot and acts menacing. This is a tough one from a casting standpoint, but I immediately thought of Andy Serkis. That name might not ring a bell because he isn’t a well-known actor in the traditional sense. His specialty is giving voice and physicality to computer generated characters like Gollum in the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the titular character in King Kong (a lukewarm 2005 film directed by…Peter Jackson). We could certainly go the CGI route here, but I think Serkis’ unique talent adds a level of je ne sais quoi that would elevate our movie to another strata.

 

Ideally this film would be released in early December so that it could be enjoyed by audiences looking for some holiday cheer at their local cineplex in the midst of their Christmas shopping. Hopefully it would get lots of love from Hollywood during its awards season. What do you think?? Do we need another A Christmas Carol movie?? Did I do a good job of casting?? Does this look like a film you might be tempted to check out?? As always your comments & feedback are welcome. Merry Christmas Manoverse…and God bless us everyone!!

Superfluous 7 – Favorite A Christmas Carol Adaptations

CTVIt has become an annual tradition the past few years for me to kvetch about the peculiar entertainment options offered on TV during the Christmas season. If I were to own or run a station like American Movie Classics or Turner Classic Movies the entire month of December would be dedicated almost exclusively to the plethora of holiday favorites that have been produced over the past several decades. Instead what has become the norm for these channels is to show a meager smattering of Christmas films here & there while still using the majority of their time to broadcast movies that have absolutely no relationship to the holiday season. Who in the heck wants to turn on a classic movie channel in December and watch some crappy 90’s rom-com, a western, or anything starring James Dean?? Not this humble Potentate of Profundity. Anyway, one holiday classic that you will usually see somewhere every year is A Christmas Carol, based on Charles Dickens’ wonderful 1843 novella. The question is which adaptation is being shown?? And for the purposes of this exercise a more important query is which version is worth watching?? In an effort to clarify the matter The Manofesto presents…..

 

 

 

from the home office in Dickens, TX…..

 

 

 

The Superfluous 7 Best Adaptations of A Christmas Carol:

 

 

 

 

 

7 Scrooge (1970) starring Albert Finney
I know a lot of people love this version. I like it well enough. However, there are issues. The music isn’t horrible, but no one in the cast is especially talented at ScroogeAFsinging. They are the kind of vocalists that get laughed at during the auditions on America Idol. When we are introduced to young Ebenezer’s girlfriend Belle it is said that she is Fezziwig’s daughter. The source material never states that and it seems like an unnecessary alteration. When Scrooge meets the Ghost of Christmas Present it is said that the year is 1860. The book was published in 1843 and almost all other films acknowledge that. Why change it?? The Ghost of Christmas Present sequence leaves out the child specters of Want & Ignorance and also skips over visits to a lighthouse, coal mining shack, & a ship at sea…omissions that aren’t uncommon among Carol films. And let’s talk about Scrooge’s visit to Hell. What kind of cheesy sci-fi schlock is that? However, all things considered, this is an entertaining movie that retains the essence of the story even if it is a bit liberal with the details. Albert Finney was only 34 years old when this film was made yet plays a fairly convincing Scrooge. Sir Alec Guinness…known primarily nowadays as Obi-wan Kenobi in Star Wars…plays the ghost of Jacob Marley, a bit of trivia that I find rather amusing.

 

 

 

6 A Christmas Carol (1999) starring Patrick Stewart
I am a self-proclaimed Trekkie, so of course any adaptation starring Captain Picard is going to make the cut. Stewart has done a one man stage production of Carol ScroogePSin the UK for many years, therefore it makes sense that he’d star in a full scale movie. This was a made-for-TV film on TNT about 15 years ago, and unlike another television version we’ll get to eventually this one feels…small. The supporting cast is fine but not particularly notable. Stewart’s performance is extraordinary…as are most Stewart performances…but still not especially memorable. It is a fairly faithful re-telling of the story and even includes the scene where the Ghost of Christmas Present shows Scrooge people celebrating Christmas in a lighthouse, on a ship at sea, and a small cabin with coal miners. That is a part of the book left out of too many film adaptations for no particular reason. If you’re a Patrick Stewart fan you’ll probably like this movie. If you’re not a Star Trek: TNG enthusiast and have little affinity for Stewart you may be unimpressed.

 

 

 

5 A Christmas Carol (1938) starring Reginald Owen
This particular adaptation of the story is what most will remember as the cheery one. Some might say it is a bit too jovial, which is seemingly intentional on the part ScroogeROof the filmmakers. Tiny Tim is quite peppy for a terminally ill child and Bob Cratchit looks pretty content & well-nourished for a man who can barely feed his family and is constantly on the verge of losing his job. At worst he’s kind of a jittery guy, like someone who might want to consider downsizing his daily caramel macchiato from venti to grande. Melancholy aspects of the tale like Scrooge’s fiancée that dumps him when he becomes a greedy money-loving jackass and the ghastly child apparitions of Want & Ignorance are not in the film at all. This is definitely a sanitized version of Carol, but on some level it still works. Owen’s take on Scrooge isn’t particularly noteworthy but neither is it dreadful. I seem to recall seeing this movie on TV a lot as a child which probably explains my affection toward it.

 

 

 

4 Disney’s A Christmas Carol (2009) starring Jim Carrey
This version hasn’t really had time to find a foothold in the collective pop culture consciousness just yet. It may get there one day or maybe it won’t, but I assume it ScroogeJCwill receive ample opportunity in the next several years due to its $200 million budget and the hours of effort & skill it had to have taken to put together such a high tech project. I saw the film in a theater upon its release in 2009 and it is a dazzlingly beautiful piece of work from director Robert Zemeckis, the man who gave us the brilliant Back to the Future trilogy. I am a big fan of motion capture animation, and although this movie doesn’t measure up to 2004’s The Polar Express one can clearly see how much the technology has advanced over the years. Jim Carrey…much like what Tom Hanks did in Express…plays multiple roles and does a nice job. I like animated Carrey a lot more than I do real Carrey. The movie stays quite true to the book and that fact alone probably makes it more appealing to me. It is actually a rather dark film at times because the format allows the ominous aspects of the story to be portrayed more artistically than a live action movie might allow. It is kind of surprising how menacing some scenes are. This isn’t a kids’ movie. The filmmakers probably had a little too much fun with their toys and there are moments when I wish they would have dialed it back just a bit, but it’s a small nit to pick.

 

 

 

3 A Christmas Carol (1984) starring George C. Scott
It is my humble opinion that legendary British characters…Sherlock Holmes, James Bond, Harry Potter, & yes, Ebenezer Scrooge…should be portrayed by British ScroogeGCSactors just as beloved American characters…Huck Finn & Tom Sawyer, Jay Gatsby, Batman, Superman, & Spiderman…should be played by American actors. It’s kind of a hang-up with me. That being said, due credit must be given to George C. Scott for a portrayal of Scrooge that has aged quite well and has been shown on television with some frequency only since 2007 when Mr. Scott’s estate sold the rights. Perhaps that two decade time lag is what makes this one of the lesser appreciated versions of Carol. Originally a TV movie on CBS, it has a big screen vibe that makes it feel significant. Scott’s Scrooge is more of a cunning & merciless business tycoon than a bitter old geezer, a subtle yet intriguing departure. It is a fairly austere, decidedly gimmick-less version, which is a refreshing rarity. There are minor omissions & variations from the source material, but nothing that is glaring or unforgivable.

 

 

 

2 The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
I pondered whether or not to include this movie at all, but ultimately decided that its magnetic charm cannot be overlooked. My preference for the perfect A ScroogeMCChristmas Carol adaptation is a straightforward, high quality, authentic rendering of Charles Dickens’ story. No animation. No song & dance numbers. No gender bending. No omissions of key characters or plot points. No additions or “fleshing out” of things barely alluded to in the book. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, that seems to be an almost impossible task to accomplish. Having said that, I have, over the years, opened my mind just a bit and accepted some unique interpretations on their own merits. Those of us that grew up in the 70’s & 80’s were blessed to have Jim Henson’s Muppets as a ubiquitous part of our childhood, and probably one of the greatest Muppet productions of all time is this take on A Christmas Carol. Is it faithful to the book?? Well…more than one might expect. I mean sure…it is so family friendly that it makes the 1938 Reginald Owen version look like a snuff film from Sam Peckinpah, but that’s okay. It’s fun, which isn’t a bad thing. I love the narration & running commentary from Gonzo the Great (as Charles Dickens) and Rizzo the Rat. Kermit the Frog is a fine Bob Cratchit. Michael Caine…one of the few “real” actors in the film…gives quite possibly one of his best performances as Ebenezer Scrooge. Music adds some unobtrusive levity yet the dark nature of the original story isn’t completely lost. Like most Muppet movies this one is amusing & will warm the cockles of even the coldest heart.

 

 

 
1 Scrooge (1951) starring Alastair Sim
This is generally considered one of the best adaptations of the Dickens novella by most critics…whoever “they” are. For me it rises to the top spot kind of by default.ScroogeAS I won’t award an animated/musical/cartoon version the #1 spot. I just can’t do it. That narrows it down quite a bit. The 1938 Reginald Owen movie leaves too much out and gives the source material a tonal lobotomy. It is a fine film on its own merits but cannot be #1. It is a testament to George C. Scott’s brilliance that his Ebenezer Scrooge is thought of by many as definitive, however I cannot give the honor to a made-for-TV movie that was largely inaccessible to the public for over two decades and stars an American actor in a uniquely British role. So we are left with the film that would probably win most polls anyway. However it is not without flaws. An entire subplot is added in which young Scrooge & Marley thrown in with a shady businessman named Mr. Jorkin and leave old Fezziwig in the dust. Later on the crooked Jorkin’s legal problems lead to success for Scrooge & Marley. It’s not horrible background material…it just isn’t in Dickens’ novella. For some reason Scrooge’s maid Mrs. Dilber gets a lot of airtime in the movie as well. Again it isn’t necessarily bad character development…just not faithful to the book. And for no apparent reason whatsoever young Scrooge’s fiancee’s name is Alice instead of Belle. I am sure that someone somewhere had a reason for making that change 65 years ago, but I hate stuff like that. It makes it seem as if the people who were getting paid to make the movie couldn’t be bothered to read the book first. At any rate, even with those issues this is still a great film. It retains the solemn (at times forbidding) tone of the story, and Sim is uniquely memorable in the titular role. He has a singular appearance that allows him to convincingly exhibit both sides of the Scrooge coin…the bitter & lonely old miser who is then transformed and joyously embraces a second chance. The supporting cast is solid if not all that remarkable. If/when Hollywood ever decides to do another big screen remake of A Christmas Carol this is the one they should emulate.