January 2023 Book(s) of the Month – Sherlock Holmes: The Novels

I’ve been a Sherlockian since junior high school, and have re-read the original tales numerous times. Four Sherlock Holmes novels were written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle between 1887 & 1914. Of course he also wrote 56 short stories featuring Holmes, but we’ll talk about those in the future. For now let’s examine the novels.

A Study in Scarlet

I am a sucker for origin stories, and Scarlet is the genesis of the Holmes-Watson friendship. First published in 1887, it lays the foundation for everything we know about Sherlock Holmes…his physical features, his unique personality, his keen knowledge of certain subjects (and lack of familiarity with others), and the whole idea of deductive reasoning as it applies to crime solving specifically and assessing people & situations in general. Oh, and it also gives us the very first case that Holmes & Watson ever worked on together, as well as Dr. Watson’s first foray into chronicling their adventures. That mystery involves a double murder in which the catalyst is…of course…a woman. The middle section of the story takes us back to Salt Lake City a couple of decades earlier and promotes some rather harsh ideas about the Mormon religion. We must not overlook the success of A Study in Scarlet in stimulating the public appetite for Sherlock Holmes. He is a literary icon a century later in part because Scarlet provided such a great beginning.

The Sign of the Four

Three years after A Study in Scarlet and a year before the first of the short stories was published came this little gem. The story revolves around the mysterious death of a British Army officer and the disappearance of the treasure that he had absconded with from India. There is much more exposition about Holmes’ methods, philosophy, & attitudes, and the latter portion of the tale features a thrilling boat chase down the celebrated River Thames. In the middle we get another flashback scene, which slows the momentum of the story, albeit not too badly. The client who initially hires Holmes is Mary Morstan, who quickly falls for Dr. Watson and would go on to become his wife…one of them anyway. The opening & closing scenes of The Sign of the Four allude to Sherlock Holmes’ disturbing cocaine habit, one of the few controversial aspects of the canon, especially thru the prism of modern sensibilities.

The Hound of the Baskervilles

In 1893, after two novels and 24 short stories, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle decided to kill off Sherlock Holmes. However, the public clamored for more of the world’s greatest detective and in 1901 Doyle relented with this novel, set before Holmes’ alleged death at Reichenbach Falls in a battle with his archenemy Moriarty. It tells the tale of the mysterious death of a wealthy aristocrat in the south of England, possibly at the paws of a fabled demonic dog that is part of an old family legend. A new heir is set to inherit the family estate and all that comes with it, but strange things are afoot and the young gentleman’s life may also be in danger. Dr. Watson accompanies Sir Henry Baskerville to his new digs and Sherlock Holmes is actually MIA for a big chunk of the story, but eventually he arrives on the scene to unravel the mystery. The eight year break must have treated Doyle well because the writing here is stupendous. Hound is set in October and the author effectively fashions the setting of a dreary, foreboding autumn. Doyle makes one want to stay far far away from a British moor. There are several interesting characters and the mystery is more nuanced than most other Holmes stories…a beautifully written, intricately woven mystery. Most of the action takes place away from 221B Baker St., but if a Holmes story must be located somewhere other than foggy old London then the lonely, dank, sinister moor on which the Baskerville estate rests is a worthy substitute. Hound is probably the most popular Sherlock Holmes story, and has been adapted many times on film. However, one cannot get the full effect any other way than by reading Conan Doyle’s evocative prose. I suggest reading Hound in the autumn just before Halloween, not only because that is the timeframe of the novel itself, but because it conjures a mood impeccably aligned with the season. Hound was so well received that Doyle went on to write 32 more short stories and an additional novel.

The Valley of Fear

The final Sherlock Holmes novel was written in 1914, and it is more unpredictable & fresh than some may believe. Holmes & Watson are dispatched to investigate the brutal murder of an English country gentleman who turns out not to be quite so dead. As with A Study in Scarlet, a big chunk of The Valley of Fear is a flashback story that takes us two decades prior, when the protagonist was an alleged violent hooligan in America and part of a secret society modeled after the real life Molly Maguires. However, he was actually an agent of the famed Pinkerton Agency sent to infiltrate the society and bring them to justice. Unfortunately justice isn’t always perfect and one of the society’s more ferocious members only gets a few years in prison, thereafter chasing our hero all over the globe, ending up in England. Valley is notable for its extensive exposition about Professor Moriarty, a character that has risen to the high honor of being thought of as Holmes’ archenemy despite only being alluded to in a handful of the canon’s stories. In this instance Moriarty’s assistance is apparently sought by evildoers in hunting down the protagonist. At first it looks like the good guys have won, but by the end we learn the tragic news that the malevolent Professor has gotten the job done, much to the chagrin of Sherlock Holmes. The mystery is well-conceived, with twists & turns that keep the pages turning, although the flashback section that is devoid of our favorite detective, his trusty sidekick, or any of the ambiance of Victorian England doesn’t feel like a Holmes story at all.

Heroes & Heels – January 2023

In pro wrestling parlance a heel is the bad guy, just in case you’re curious. Also, long-standing citizens of The Manoverse may remember that this is actually a reboot of a feature we did way back when, but follow-thru was always an issue. I’ll try to do better this time. 

Greta Thunberg 

Some folks might think that a teenage climate activist is inspiring or heartwarming. I disagree not only because her agenda is garbage, but also I don’t believe for one second that her thoughts & opinions are her own. She is bought & paid for, controlled by somebody somewhere. Also, she’s creepy as hell. Seriously, the girl looks like a Bond villain. At any rate, on January 17 Thunberg was allegedly arrested in Germany for some kind of stupid protest. Here’s the thing though…it was a publicity stunt 😂. There is video of her blithely posing for pics with the German cops before the “arrest”. Idiot. 

Ivan Provorov

I’m not a hockey guy. Never have been, never will be. I’ve tried, but watching the Pittsburgh Penguins in the playoffs is about as much as I can take. Actually, it’s becoming more & more difficult to support any of the pro sports leagues, as they’ve become simps for political correctness & leftist woke culture, but it’s still possible to enjoy the games right now as long as one ignores the silliness. Anyway, earlier this month Provorov, who plays for the Philadelphia Flyers, received more media attention than he likely wanted, but not because of hockey. The NHL sponsored a Pride Night, with the expectation that all players would wear theme jerseys & utilize rainbow sticks in pre-game warmups. Provorov declined to participate, citing his religious beliefs. Good for him!! Predictably sports reporters & talking heads lost their shit, because they love groupthink & hate God. Look, I don’t care about your sexual preference. Live your life. Do your thing. I have friends of different persuasions, and as long as we all treat each other with kindness & respect it’s all good. What I do have an issue with is this whole “look at me” thing our society has embraced, wherein some folks don’t really want fairness & equality…they want to be celebrated & given special treatment. I have the kind of personality that rolls my eyes at people who draw attention to themselves, as I generally prefer to fly under the radar. 

Chelsea Handler 

I’ve never been a fan of “comedian” Handler. She’s simply not funny, and now we know she’s a moron. A couple of weeks ago, while a guest of Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show, Handler admitted that she thought…until she was 40 YEARS OLD 👀…that the sun & moon were the same thing. Y’all…I wish I was making that up!! Perhaps it would be prudent to mention that she grew up in New Jersey, so if anyone has friends there with children you might want to caution them about that apparently subpar school system. 

Medical Staff at University of Cincinnati Hospital & Paul Brown Stadium 

On January 2 Buffalo Bills DB Damar Hamlin suffered cardiac arrest on the field during a Monday Night Football game on live television. Now folks, I’m no medical expert, but I do have my opinions. However, that’s a can o’ worms we may or may not open on another day. Instead I am choosing to concentrate on the happy news that Hamlin is alive & well and recovering at home. I have no idea what his long term prognosis, short term limitations, or football future might be, but in the grand scheme of things it doesn’t matter. Hamlin is alive and has a future, and that is mostly due to the quick intervention of medical staff on hand in the stadium that night, as well as the care he received at the University of Cincinnati Hospital. I have spent way too much time in hospitals & dealing with medical professionals in my life, but kudos to them for the job they do saving lives on a daily basis. It’s no secret that otherwise healthy young(ish) people have inexplicably been dying suddenly the past couple of years, and most of those folks probably didn’t receive comprehensive medical care within seconds or happen to have an ambulance on the premises. I wish nothing but the best for the young man, and I sincerely hope he understands just how blessed he was in that moment.

2022 SAMMY AWARDS – PART III

Welcome back to the exciting conclusion of the 2022 Sammy Awards!! If you missed out on Part 1 or Part 2 please go back & check them out. Let’s give one more big round of applause for our host, comedian Jim Gaffigan!!!!

After more delightful stories from our host it’s time to greet the next presenter. Once upon a time he finished as the runner-up in the Heisman Trophy voting, then played in the NFL for five years. He segued into acting, with roles in a handful of movies no one has ever heard of, but made an impact on television, most notably portraying a cop for five years on Hill Street Blues. Please give a warm welcome to Ed Marinaro!! And the nominees are:

Favorite Movie

Being the Ricardos 

I know who Lucille Ball is, but I’m just a skosh too young to be a fan. Nevertheless, I enjoy a good biopic. I’ve never quite understood the appeal of Nicole Kidman…she’s not that attractive and has never been the reason I watched any movie. Despite an Oscar nomination for Best Actress I feel like Kidman is miscast, and the plot about Ball being an accused Communist is a total dud. I fell asleep in the middle of the film. 

The Tender Bar 

Here’s what I assume happened. Director George Clooney read the book this movie is based on & liked it. He decided he wanted to adapt it into a film, and because he’s George Clooney the green light was given, no questions asked. Clooney cast his buddy Ben Affleck in a pivotal role, and because Affleck is a much better actor than anyone gives him credit for he knocks it out of the park. As far as the story goes, it’s a coming-of-age tale about a kid growing up in the 70’s with his single mother, maternal grandparents, & a tavern owner uncle who fills the shoes left mostly empty by a deadbeat Dad. It’s well-written with solid performances, but honestly not that compelling or memorable. 

Dog

I’m a sucker for any movie starring a dog…or atleast I used to be. Since my Rocco passed a few years ago such fare is a bit tougher to watch, but I headed to the cineplex to check out this one, starring Channing Tatum as an injured soldier tasked with driving an unruly dog to his master’s funeral. It’s cute, occasionally funny, sporadically poignant, & makes a perfunctory attempt at being thoughtful. It has become a fairly common cinematic theme in recent years…films that can’t decide whether to be straight up comedy or inspirational & heartwarming, so they straddle the line between both and end up not really achieving either goal. 

Top Gun: Maverick 

I’ve never really felt the need…the need for speed. I’m built for comfort and drive like my Grandma. Anyway, I digress. The original Top Gun is an 80’s time capsule film for Gen-X, with its iconic soundtrack, remarkable supporting cast (Anthony Edwards, Val Kilmer, Meg Ryan, Tim Robbins), and megastar status of Tom Cruise, who was already box office gold when the movie hit theaters and has remained in close proximity to the spotlight for nearly four decades. Why didn’t they do an immediate sequel to the highest grossing film of 1986?? I’m sure the answer is available with some fairly painless research, but I’m not that energetic. Better questions would be “is 35 years later too late??”, or “at 59 years old is Tom Cruise too old to be an action star??”. Ehhhh…I’d answer “perhaps” to both queries.  The belated sequel finds Maverick still holding on as a test pilot, having never advanced in rank like one would expect. He’s called back to Top Gun to train an elite group of young pilots for a dangerous mission, but no one seems to really want him there, especially the grown son of Maverick’s late wingman Goose. Maverick fulfills its dual mission as popcorn cinema & stirring nostalgia. I suppose it would have made more logical sense a decade ago, but that’s a small nit to pick. 

Elvis 

Is it an Elvis biopic…or the story of Col. Tom Parker?? It’s kind of both. We get a perfunctory glimpse of young Presley’s modest childhood in Mississippi & his fascination with blues & gospel music, then skip quickly to his early days as a singer, which is when Parker becomes enamored & decides to make the lad a star. Most folks know how the rest of the story goes. I had low expectations going into the movie because I’m not a fan of director Baz Luhrmann’s unique & flamboyant style, but his ostentatiousness works quite well in this case. Obviously the music is fantastic…that’s a given. I fully expect Austin Butler to receive an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Elvis Presley, and you either like or hate Tom Hanks’ interpretation of Col. Parker. I don’t hate it & think Hanks will be Oscar nominated for the seventh time. 

Hocus Pocus 2

1993’s Hocus Pocus was a box office flop, but in recent years it has evolved into a family friendly Halloween cult classic. The sequel is surprisingly decent, with a similar vibe as its  predecessor. It starts out a little slow, but once The Sanderson Sisters are back on the scene business picks up exponentially. The only nit to be picked is that the filmmakers couldn’t find some way to include any of the other original cast members, which is certainly a missed opportunity. 

The Batman 

I lowered my expectations. I scoffed at casting the guy from Twilight as The Caped Crusader. But I’ll be damned if it didn’t exceed the low bar I’d set. It’s a very atmospheric film…less hellbent on the “realism” of the Dark Knight movies, but grittier than the Tim Burton/Joel Schumacher efforts that put Gotham City back in the spotlight three decades ago. Setting the action at a time when several key characters…Batman, Riddler, Joker, Jim Gordon, Catwoman…are (in the story) yet to become the deeply established icons we know they will be gives them room to grow & breathe. There is significant potential for a long running series if all the major players agree to remain involved. 

Marry Me

I’m a rom-com guy, I really am. Some of my most favorite movies (When Harry Met SallySleepless in Seattle) are romantic comedies. I just can’t buy into this one though, as much as part of me really wants to do so. Owen Wilson & J-Lo are undeniably charming leads, but the premise is so preposterous (pop singer marries random dude in the middle of a concert) that the whole film doesn’t quite click for me. It comes close. I don’t hate it, but it misses the mark. 

A Christmas Story Christmas 

It’s a bit tedious at first, but by the end recaptures just a hint of the magic of the perennial Christmas classic. The recast of the mother doesn’t work for me, but it was nice to see several other original cast members. It’s a little too focused on callbacks to the first film, although I understand that. I just would’ve preferred a more original story versus obsequious fan service to its predecessor. 

and the Sammy goes to…..

Top Gun: Maverick. This was a tough choice. Nostalgia was big in 2022, but Maverick did it with panache. The story made sense, the cinematic experience was unparalleled, and as much grief as a lot of people (including yours truly) likes to give Tom Cruise, the truth is that he’s good at what he does. Maverick is popcorn cinema at its best, and there’s not a damn thing wrong with that.

Ed Marinaro wanted to present the next award, but the NFL warned us about him, so security has intervened.

At the young age of 22 our next presenter has built quite a following on social media. We normally mock “influencers”, but that’s because so many have so little to offer. However, a former leftist radical “woman of color” who saw the error of her ways and now allows the masses access to her unique point of view via viral videos is an “influencer” worthy of attention & respect. She’s smart, she’s fun, and she has tremendous potential to be a significant voice to an entire generation that has been led down the wrong path & lied to by too many people entrusted with guiding them in the right direction. Please give a warm welcome to Amala Ekpunobi!! And the nominees are: 

GlugGlug Award for Favorite Water Cooler Topic 

Whoopi Goldberg 

Can someone please explain to me how this woman is still employed?? As an actress she used to be entertaining, but as a talk show host she’s an ignorant, mean spirited blowhard. Last January Goldberg actually opined on The View that The Holocaust was “not about race”. Not even ABC could ignore the negative reaction, and she was suspended from the show. It wasn’t the first idiotic thing Goldberg has said, and it won’t be the last. Heck, she reiterated her Holocaust comments not long ago, but no action was taken. The hatemongers at Disney seem to welcome inflammatory rhetoric, as long as the offender shares the “correct” sociopolitical beliefs. 

Coca-Cola Starlight 

It’s supposed to taste like space. I don’t know. Just give me a Pepsi.

Wordle

Wordle captured the attention of the masses last year, becoming an online sensation as folks shared their results daily on social media. The game involves six attempts to guess a five-letter word, with the only clues being green tiles when you have the right letter in the right space, and yellow tiles when you have the right letter in the wrong space. I had a 200 word streak going before deciding to retire after about seven months of daily wordplay.

Johnny Depp & Amber Heard 

I’ve never really understood the hype around Johnny Depp. He’s a decent actor that’s been in some reasonably entertaining films, but that’s about as far as it goes. Anyway, last spring Depp & his former girlfriend Amber Heard (ostensibly an actress herself) faced off in court for reasons unclear to me. It was as if the American public was once again chasing an elusive high we haven’t felt since the OJ Simpson trial nearly three decades ago. From what I gathered (because it was impossible to totally ignore) neither Depp or Heard came off all that well. Who cares?? Read a freakin’ book folks.

Spotify 

I use Amazon Music myself. At any rate, last January Spotify came under fire for Joe Rogan’s podcast because he was allegedly disseminating Covid 19 misinformation (i.e. the truth). To their credit the platform declined to remove Rogan’s show, so a bunch of over-the-hill musicians who haven’t been relevant in decades (Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, & Nils Lofgren to name a few) decided to boycott Spotify. To my knowledge Spotify found the strength to soldier on, and Rogan’s podcast is as popular as ever. You showed them Neil Young!! Way to go!! Keep up the good work!! 🙄

Will Smith & Chris Rock at The Oscars

It was the Slap Heard ‘Round the World. I haven’t watched The Academy Awards in many years, and 2022 was no exception. But as I was working on other things that night I began to see stories & comments pop up on social media about The Fresh Prince bitch slapping the SNL alum. Needless to say it got my attention, and I quickly caught up with what was going on. Nearly a year later I still can’t believe that actually happened!! 

Monkey Pox

They tried. The fear mongers attempted to sell us on another deadly disease that would lead to more power & control for them over us, but thankfully we’ve wised up just a bit.

Kanye West 

For God’s sake why won’t this piece of dung go away?? He changes his name every five minutes. He inserts himself into politics. We are all way too familiar with his personal life. He says outrageous things on social media & in interviews. Bro…your wife ditched you for a mediocre comedian who looks like a homeless guy!! Look in the mirror. Search your soul. But please do it out of the public eye cause we’re done with your shenanigans.

Bennifer 2.0

Twenty years ago the romance of marginally talented singer Jennifer Lopez & deceptively capable actor Ben Affleck captured the hearts of a nation. But they broke up & moved on to other lovers (in her case…several others). Good news though!! In 2022 they reunited and got married!! Hope really does spring eternal, especially if you’re ridiculously good looking, super wealthy, & really famous. 

and the Sammy goes to…..

Chris Rock. Only Rock receives the award, because we don’t reward violence here. He deserves a trophy for dealing with the situation in a calm, professional manner. How many would have fought back and started a melee on live television?? I bet the vast majority of us would have reacted that way. I understand that some conspiracy theorists think it was all a setup, perhaps even planned by the powers-that-be to ignite interest in The Academy Awards, which has had poor TV ratings & been bleeding viewership for several years. I’m not buying that. Was it compelling television?? Sure. Hell, we’re still talking about it nearly a year later, right?? But I think it was very real. My issue is that the folks in charge should’ve called an audible and NOT handed an Oscar to Will Smith that same night. The optics were horrendously bad.

To present our last award of the evening we’d like to welcome an actor & social media star who had parts in movies like CasinoOnce Upon a Time in America, and Nixon. He has received two Academy Award nominations, and now has finally made it to the Sammy stage. In recent years he has become an outcast in Hollywood because of his sociopolitical views, but we are happy to welcome him with open arms. Please get up on your feet for James Woods!! And the nominees are!!

Biggest News Story 

Russia/Ukraine Conflict 

Russia doing Russian things. Are we surprised?? The situation has actually been ongoing for awhile, but escalated last February when Russia full on invaded Ukraine. Since then Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has become a folk hero & the United States has sent hundreds of billions of dollars (of OUR money) to support the underdogs in this fight. Our “leaders” are more concerned with border security in Ukraine than they are America. 

The Clot Shot 

Otherwise healthy 20/30/40-somethings dropping dead has become all too common. World class athletes keeling over isn’t normal. Big Pharma is making billions of dollars but is somehow insulated from legal consequences. We have a “vaccine” that doesn’t cure what it allegedly was invented to cure, and the argument that it minimizes symptoms & prevents the illness from being deadly doesn’t hold water since we all know fully vaxxed & boostered people who died anyway. Something is rotten about all of it, especially the media & our government running cover for the whole deal. I’m much more scared of the “cure” than the disease. 

Midterm Elections 

What a disappointment. I don’t understand how anyone with common sense & critical thinking skills can look at what’s been happening the past two years and think the status quo is good. Conservatives should’ve practically swept both houses of Congress. Instead, Democrats held onto the Senate while Republicans barely gained a small majority in the House of Representatives. I understand that Dr. Oz wasn’t the best candidate, but what in the hell were Pennsylvania voters thinking by voting for a recovering stroke victim unable to string together a coherent sentence, who dresses like a homeless beggar, and clearly isn’t physically or mentally capable of holding public office?? The “red wave” so many of my Republican friends were excited about became an underwhelming red trickle, and I think a little self-reflection is in order to figure out exactly why.

Canadian Freedom Convoy 

In January 2022 over a thousand vehicles formed convoys from several points in Canada to protest Covid 19 restrictions that threatened the livelihoods of truck drivers, which in turn affected the supply chain in Canada & the United States. They traveled thru multiple Canadian provinces before converging on the capital city of Ottawa. Sadly, the protesters didn’t accomplish their mission, as the maniacal dictatorships in Canada & America united to squash the rebellion. Hundreds were arrested, and eventually the media stopped talking about it.

Roe v. Wade 

I never thought it would happen, but it did. Should the landmark 1973 decision have been overturned?? It’s a discussion full of nuance, which isn’t something we’re very good at in modern America. Too many of us look at things thru the prism of black/white, right/wrong, right/left. We prefer a “one size fits all” solution, but the truth is life is rarely that easy. We like to deal in absolutes, but almost everything has grey areas. 

Gun Control 

It ebbs & flows. Everyone stops talking about it for awhile, then something happens and the histrionics begin anew. On May 24, 2022 an 18 year old former student went into a grade school in Uvalde, TX and killed 19 kids & two teachers. School staff had inadvertently left an outside door open allowing easy access, and it was later proven thru video footage that law enforcement lacked urgency in their response (and that’s being kind). What is the right way to deal with these kinds of tragedies?? Well, we’re back to the whole black & white, cut & dried thing. On one hand, no one…and I mean absolutely no normal, sane person…thinks mass shootings are okay. However, on the flip side, some folks need to read The Constitution. Not just read it, but comprehend it. Emotional responses to these shootings, especially when children are involved, are completely understandable. That being said, if we let the powers-that-be continue to chip away at our rights soon we won’t have any. It’s another complex issue made more difficult by deceitful media & self-serving, traitorous politicians.

J6 Hearings 

I can’t believe we’re still talking about “The Insurrection”. As stated a year ago, it should have never happened, it was a bad idea, and it was an exercise in futility. That being said, it’s been blown way out of proportion. There has likely been a traffic accident within a ten mile radius of your house in the past month with more loss of life. Unfortunately, the Democrat controlled Congress couldn’t let it go. They have been hellbent & determined to put President Trump in prison, and used the debacle as an excuse to spit on The Constitution, because that’s what Democrats do. For seemingly endless months in 2022 they conducted Congressional hearings, mostly out of spite. I don’t know what they hoped to accomplish, but most Americans would prefer they get back to work addressing legitimate issues that affect average citizens on a daily basis. That’s what a representative government is supposed to do. 

Inflation 

I hated economics in school. I’m not a numbers guy. However, it doesn’t take a PhD to know that we’re paying double or even triple what we paid for things like gas, food, appliances, clothes, etc. than we did two years ago. The Biden Administration tries to gaslight the American people by blaming everything else but their misguided policies & woke agenda that bows at the altar of climate change & identity politics, and sends hundreds of billions of dollars to Ukraine. Sadly their strategy seems to work. 

Twitter & Elon Musk 

Billionaire Elon Musk began flirting with the idea of buying social media giant Twitter last January, and after many stops & starts he actually did the deal in October. The acquisition was quite a saga, but the aftermath has been even more sensational, though you won’t hear much about it from your legacy news outlets. Musk has exposed just how corrupt social media has become, showing us that the Second Amendment isn’t the only part of The Constitution under attack. It is alarming to realize just how much social media has framed & controlled public discourse on topics like elections & Covid 19. Alarming, but hardly surprising. Newspapers & television have been doing the same thing for decades…controlling the narrative, steering things in the direction the power brokers want them to go. Elon Musk, like President Trump before him, simply shined a spotlight on just how dirty those entities are and how much they truly influence nearly everything. You’ve read 1984, but you didn’t realize you were living it…until now.

Farewell Queen Elizabeth 

Elizabeth Windsor Mountbatten was crowned Queen of the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales, & Northern Ireland) at the age of 25 after the death of her father, King George VI. Queen Elizabeth II reigned until her death at the age of 96 this past September. The United States gained our independence from England more than two centuries ago, so I couldn’t possibly care less about the British monarchy, but it is a noteworthy story. 

and the Sammy goes to…..

Roe v. Wade. In the wake of the stunning reversal on the case I saw posts from otherwise intelligent individuals pushing the narrative that women would now be imprisoned for having a miscarriage. That’s the kind of insanity that this whole thing inspired. It is probably healthy for us to have the discussion, but hopefully we’ve gotten much of the crazy filtered out of it by now. All that (most) opponents of Roe v. Wade ever wanted was for young women perfectly capable of carrying a child to go thru with the pregnancy, and then once the child is born to either raise it themselves or put it in the hands of someone willing & able, through legal channels like adoption. I don’t believe that is too much to ask in most cases. Having said that, there are so many layers to the debate that it is important to have meaningful, intelligent discourse. Those arguments are likely more productive at the state & local level, which is the actual point of overturning Roe v. Wade. Debate at the state & local level allows you & me to have a voice, which we really don’t when it comes to federal law or court decisions that become law. Abortion didn’t suddenly become illegal in 2022…it just became more challenging. Is that good or bad?? That’s a great question. 

 

legendary Pittsburgh Steelers running back Franco Harris…Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II…Boston Celtics Hall-of-Famer Bill Russell…historian & writer David McCullough (TrumanMornings on HorsebackJohn Adams)…renowned actress & singer Olivia Newton-John (Grease)…iconic sports broadcaster Vin Scully…actor & beloved hunker downer Leslie Jordan…MLB Hall-of-Fame pitcher Gaylord Perry…former Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev…soccer legend Pele…comedians Gilbert Gottfried, Judy Tenuta, & Louis Anderson…pro wrestlers Antonio Inoki, Scott Hall, Rocky King, Sara Lee, commentator Don West, and referees Tim White & Dave Hebner…television producer Burt Metcalfe (MASH)…former Philadelphia Phillies executive Lee Thomas & former San Francisco 49ers GM John McVay…actresses Maggie Peterson (The Andy Griffith Show), Nichelle Nichols (Star Trek), Angela Lansbury (Murder She Wrote), Kirstie Alley (CheersSummer School), Kathryn Hays (As the World Turns), Liz Sheridan (ALFSeinfeld), Estelle Harris (Seinfeld), Farrah Forke (Wings), Barrie Youngfellow (It’s a Living), Marnie Schulenburg (As the World Turns), Anne Heche (Another World), Virginia Patton (It’s A Wonderful Life), Louise Fletcher (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest), Rita Gardner (The Wedding Singer), and Sonya Eddy (General HospitalSeinfeld)…sports reporters & ESPN personalities John Clayton & Hank Goldberg and CNN sportscaster Fred Hickman…former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, former National Security Advisor Robert McFarlane, and former U.S Senator Orrin Hatch (Utah)…retired boxer Earnie Shavers…songwriters Jerry Allison (That’ll Be the DayPeggy Sue) & Lenny Lipton (Puff the Magic Dragon)…Hall of Fame golfer Kathy Whitworth…journalists Barbara Walters (ABC), Bernard Shaw (CNN) and Bill Plante (CBS)…NFL players Dwayne Haskins (Washington Redskins, Pittsburgh Steelers) & Jaylon Ferguson (Baltimore Ravens)…talent manager George Shapiro (managed Andy Kaufman & Jerry Seinfeld)…film directors Peter Bogdanovich (The Last Picture ShowWhat’s Up Doc?), Ivan Reitman (StripesTwinsKindergarten CopDraft Day),  & television director Marvin Chomsky (Star TrekWild Wild WestRoots)…football coaches Dan Reeves (Denver Broncos), Greg Robinson (Syracuse Orangemen, Denver Broncos), Stan Parrish (Marshall Thundering Herd, Kansas St. Wildcats, Ball St. Cardinals), Gary Moeller (Michigan Wolverines), Gary Gaines (Permian Panthers, made famous in the book Friday Night Lights), Ernie Zampese (Dallas Cowboys), Frank Cignetti (West Virginia Mountaineers), Mike Leach (Texas Tech Red Raiders, Washington St. Cougars, Mississippi St. Bulldogs), and Vince Dooley (Georgia Bulldogs)…country music broadcasting legend Ralph Emery (Nashville Now)…model & businesswoman Ivana Trump…baseball writer Roger Angell…political commentators Bob Beckel & Mark Shields…famed animator & TV producer Jules Bass (Rudolph the Red-Nosed ReindeerFrosty the Snowman)…boxing referee Mills Lane…dancer & TV personality Twitch (The Ellen DeGeneres Show)…Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI…former football players Ross Browner (Cincinnati Bengals), Daryle Lamonica (Oakland Raiders), Gino Cappelletti (New England Patriots), Marion Barber III (Dallas Cowboys), Robert Alexander (LA Rams), Tony Siragusa (Baltimore Ravens), Charles Johnson (Pittsburgh Steelers), Gavin Escobar (Dallas Cowboys), Jim Sweeney (Pittsburgh Steelers), and Ronnie Hillman (Denver Broncos)…actors Sidney Poitier (In the Heat of the NightLook Who’s Coming to Dinner), Bob Saget (Full HouseAmerica’s Funniest Home Videos), James Caan (The GodfatherElf), Ray Liotta (Field of DreamsGoodfellas), John Aniston (Days of Our Lives), Howard Hesseman (WKRP in CincinnatiHead of the ClassOne Day at a Time), William Hurt (The Big ChillBroadcast News), Jerry VerDorn (Guiding LightOne Life to Live), Paul Sorvino (GoodfellasThe Firm), Fred Ward (TremorsThe Right Stuff), Dwayne Hickman (Dobie Gillis), Peter Robbins (original voice of Charlie Brown), Bo Hopkins & Mike Hagerty (character actors who appeared in a plethora of TV shows & movies), Morgan Stevens (The WaltonsMelrose Place), Conrad Janis (Mork & Mindy), Mitchell Ryan (Lethal WeaponDharma & Greg), Emilio Delgado (Sesame Street), David Birney (St. Elsewhere), Charles Siebert (Trapper John MD), Phillip Baker Hall (best known for an hilarious appearance on Seinfeld), Tony Sirico (GoodfellasThe Sopranos), Jason David Frank (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers), Taurean Blacque (Hill Street Blues), David Warner (TitanicA Christmas Carol [1984]), Tony Dow (Leave it to Beaver), Roger E. Mosley (Magnum P.I.), Joe E. Tata (Beverly Hills 90210), Robert Lupone (All My ChildrenOne Life to Live), Robert Clary (Hogan’s HeroesDays of Our Lives), Robbie Coltrane (the Harry Potter film series), Clarence Gilyard (Die HardWalker: Texas RangerMatlock), Quinn Redeker (Days of Our Lives, The Young & Restless), and Kevin Conroy (Search for TomorrowBatman: The Animated Series)…basketball coaches Joe B. Hall (Kentucky Wildcats), Bill Fitch (Houston Rockets, Boston Celtics), Gene Shue (Washington Bullets), Pete Carril (Princeton Tigers), and Paul Silas (Charlotte Bobcats)…writer & pundit PJ O’Rourke…The Improv founder Budd Friedman…musicians Meat Loaf (aka Marvin Lee Aday), Loretta Lynn, Mickey Gilley, Naomi Judd (The Judds), Taylor Hawkins (Foo Fighters), CW McCall, Bobby Rydell, Jim Seals (Seals & Crofts), Ramsey Lewis, Coolio, Aaron Carter, Irene Cara (FlashdanceFame), Jeff Cook (Alabama), Christine McVie (Fleetwood Mac), Anita Pointer (The Pointer Sisters), and Jerry Lee Lewis…baseball players Gerald Williams (New York Yankees, Atlanta Braves), Ralph Terry (New York Yankees), David West (Minnesota Twins, Philadelphia Phillies), and Tom Browning (Cincinnati Reds)…comic book artist Neal Adams (DC Comics)…infamous attorney Ken Starr…NFL Hall of Famers Len Dawson (Kansas City Chiefs), Hugh McElhenny (San Francisco 49ers), Ray Guy (Oakland Raiders), and Don Maynard (NY Jets)…NHL Hall of Famer Guy Lafleur, NBA Hall of Famer Bob Lanier, and MLB Hall of Famers Maury Wills & Bruce Sutter

2022 SAMMY AWARDS – PART II

Welcome back to the 2022 Sammy Awards, a final look back at the year that was, and the people & stories that shaped our perception of it. If you missed Part 1 it’s not too late to catch up. As always The Sammys are far more fun than the austere Oscars, and much more in touch with what matters to real, normal people than the Golden Globes, Grammys, or anything produced by MTV. We’re also pandemic proof, which has come in handy the past couple of years. The CDC isn’t going to shut this fake show down!! Let’s give a warm ovation to our host Jim Gaffigan!!

After some delightful comedy from our host it’s time to give out some more awards!! Our next presenter is a lovely actress & up-n-coming director who has starred in memorable flicks like The Girl Next DoorLove the Coopers, & The Incredible Burt Wonderstone. Well okay, perhaps her directing career will be more…impressive. But hey, atleast she’s pretty, right?? That’s something!! Give a rousing ovation to Olivia Wilde!!!! And the nominees are:

Tim Taylor Award for Biggest Tool

Howard Stern 

What the hell happened to Howard Stern?!?!?!?? He used to be so rebellious. He was a modern day counterculture folk hero. He was funny & cool in an oddball sort of way. Now?? Apparently he’s just another wealthy, out of touch, crazy leftist who sits in his bully pulpit talking down to all of us peons, saying things like “When are we going to stop putting up with the idiots in this country and just say it’s mandatory to get vaccinated?” Perhaps when they come up with a vaccine that doesn’t kill people you assclown 🤷. “Fuck their freedom” says Howard Stern, who can’t see the forest for the trees. “If you didn’t get vaccinated & you got COVID, you don’t get into a hospital. Go fuck yourself, you had the cure and you wouldn’t take it.” Cure?!?!?!?? Really?!?!?!?? 🤦🏻‍♂️ “We have places, like shitholes that have like 300,000 people, and they get two senators.” Allow me to translate. First, Howard Stern needs to read The Constitution. Secondly, he thinks he’s better than you because he lives in California, which to my knowledge is the real shithole. He doesn’t think people in Wyoming, Alaska, Vermont, or the Dakotas should have as much say in the direction of the country. I don’t know that he’s said it, but I’m going to go out on a limb & assume he’d abolish the electoral college. Look, I am willing to have an intelligent discussion with anyone that holds opposing views. I have friends & even family that don’t share my opinions. However, I’m pretty sick & tired of rich & famous types who use their platform to insult & dismiss a huge portion of the country, who clearly think that they are superior. Kiss my ass Howard. 

The “Ladies” of The View 

To call The View unwatchable would be an understatement. Well, anyone with functioning brain cells wouldn’t be watching it anyway. I haven’t even attempted it in years, but the show is constantly going viral as the hosts apparently get crazier with each passing day. How in the world does Whoopi Goldberg still have a job?!?!?!?? Don’t misunderstand…the morons around the table are entitled to their deranged opinions. It’s (allegedly) a free country. What pisses me off is the attempt to soft sell the gaslighting of an entire audience by marketing it as an entertainment program. The same thing is happening on late night “comedy” shows. It’s appalling, not to mention deceitful. Leave the punditry & sociopolitical commentary to the folks at CNN, FOX, MSNBC, et al.

Justin Trudeau 

I don’t know how anyone is willingly residing in Canada anymore. Is free healthcare that meaningful?? Trudeau is nothing more than a smarmy dictator wannabe. He’s the kind of guy that probably got picked last for teams in gym class & grew up with simmering rage just below the surface because the cool kids didn’t let him hang out with them. Now he’s in a position of power and he relishes the opportunity to jerk people around, stripping citizens’ rights like a madman, all with an insincere smile on his face as he tries to tell everyone it’s “for the greater good”. Good luck with that Canada. Maybe one day you’ll pry your collective head out of your clueless ass. 

Stephen Colbert 

He’s basically a male, late night version of the shrews from The View. Late night television makes me sad nowadays. Johnny Carson would roll over in his grave. OG David Letterman (before his brain turned to mush) would be horrified. Back in the summer of 2022 Colbert actually sent a crew to DC who illegally breached the U.S. Capitol, but unlike another more infamous incident in that same location Colbert’s antics quickly faded from public consciousness. People were arrested, but of course the corrupt Justice Department declined to prosecute. Do you think anyone associated with Tucker Carlson or Tomi Lahren would’ve escaped so easily?? Of course not. Because our entire government is dirty to its core. 

Jen Psaki & Karine Jean-Pierre

I didn’t think any White House Press Secretary could be worse that Psaki, but Jean-Pierre is just as bad. It’s not even the lying that bothers me. Part of the job is massaging the truth. It’s the fact that they’re so ridiculously bad at it that it’s insulting, and also that they’re both woefully unprepared. Did they blackmail Biden into giving them the job?? Or does Sleepy Joe & his inner circle get their jollies trolling American citizens by purposely hiring the most inept & ill-equipped people?? 

Robert DeNiro 

DeNiro is pathetic. He’s completely lost touch with reality. Last summer he went on Colbert’s show and, with a straight face, opined that the Alzheimer’s patient in the White House is “doing a very good job” & has “got us into calm waters”. My first instinct was that it was totally delusional to say that. However, I realized a couple of things. First, DeNiro doesn’t give a damn about gas prices, food prices, inflation, etc. He’s rich & doesn’t give a damn about you & me. Secondly, it really does not matter to him & his ilk that they installed a President who doesn’t know where the hell he is half the time & most certainly isn’t really in charge of anything. They want a puppet who’ll rubber stamp a bunch of tyrannical policies that worship at the altar of climate change, open borders, identity politics, and other leftist agendas, and they want someone who’ll do it quietly. They want someone who speaks softly and tells folksy stories. They want “calm waters” so they can dive deep without anyone noticing them fundamentally destroying the nation they despise. The sad part is they are succeeding.  

Pat Benatar 

In a pitiful attempt to hang on to whatever shred of relevancy remaining from a career that peaked four decades ago the aging rocker announced last summer that she’d no longer perform arguably her best known hit song Hit Me With Your Best Shot because of mass shootings or some such nonsense. First of all, meaningless virtue signaling makes me want to vomit. Get over yourself. Secondly…TRUST ME Pat Benatar…NO ONE has EVER associated that song with gun violence. Absolutely no one. Not even stupid people. Honestly this might be the dumbest news story of 2022. 

Joy Reid 

I don’t watch television news all that much. Maybe the local news occasionally, but certainly not the national news. However, if I were forced to watch a news program I promise you this…ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, Fox…they’d all be choices I’d consider before MSNBC, which is the television equivalent of dumpster diving. However, even though I actively avoid TV news shows somehow I can’t escape Reid because she constantly says such idiotic things that she’s viral nearly every day. Maybe that’s the scam…I don’t know. 

and the Sammy goes to…..

All of Them. Anyone who’s been watching The Sammy Awards thru the years saw this coming a mile away. There are no winners in this category. They all tie for Biggest Loser, and we’re not talking about weight loss. 

We asked Olivia Wilde to stay, but she was handed some papers and had to leave, so to present our next award we are excited to introduce an alleged actor who found himself in the news an awful lot in 2022. Perhaps it was the five movies he starred in, which nobody could name if their life depended on it. Or maybe it was his Netflix comedy special y’all weren’t even aware existed. No…I don’t think it was either of those things. What was it?? Does it matter?? Anyway, please give a long, hard ovation to former Saturday Night Live cast member Pete Davidson!!

Fred Berry Award for Excellence in Syndication or Streaming

The Office 

When I was a child television worked a certain way. The new season would premier in September. There’d be a little more than a couple dozen episodes (give or take), with the season finale in May. Throughout the summer you’d get reruns until the new season debuted. A great show would last 7-10 seasons, while less than great shows ended much quicker. That’s how it worked…back then. We’re in a whole new world now, one to which I am still adjusting. However, one thing hasn’t changed. Reruns are still a thing, it’s just that we view them more purposefully & have control over what we consume & when. I didn’t watch The Office when it aired on NBC from 2005-13. Not one single episode. I had convinced myself that I didn’t like single camera shows with no studio audience or laugh track, and I’m pretty sure something else I liked aired in the same time slot. Fast forward to 2020. There’s a pandemic. Everything is shut down. There’s much more time to binge TV shows. I’m not a binger, but I decide to check out The Office on Netflix, and am immediately hooked. I can’t believe what I was missing all those years. Having worked in office environments it seemed familiar, only with the wackiness turned up to 11. I can’t say that I’ve ever had a boss exactly like Michael Scott, but recognized bits & pieces of former bosses in him. I’m a sucker for a good romance, especially when unrequited love is actually returned (which never happens in real life), so I was really rooting for Jim & Pam. It took me awhile to warm up to oddball Dwight Schrute, but the humor eventually clicked for me. Here’s the cool thing…unlike my childhood when I had to rely on random reruns popping up on television, now I’m able to rewatch whatever episode I want whenever I choose as often as I like. That’s the true power of streaming. The Office has now moved to Peacock, and traditional reruns do air on Comedy Central & Freeform. I am sure I’m in good company when I say I’ve watched all 200 episodes multiple times. The downside to streaming is that I really don’t give new TV shows a fair chance because I am endlessly entertained by old stuff I’ve watched over & over for years, which is a nice option. I am convinced that someday The Office will be rebooted, and I’d probably give that a whirl. Unfortunately, for various reasons, I don’t think it could ever live up to its predecessor. It may have taken me a decade to catch up with what I missed, but I’m so glad I did. Thanks to the Dunder-Mifflin crew & the folks in Scranton, PA. Think of this as one final Dundie-seque pat on the back for a job well done.

After bleaching his hair Pete Davidson has nothing else better to do so we’ve asked him to present the next award. And the nominees are:

Most Overused Word

Hate 

Just because it’s an opinion or worldview that disagrees with yours doesn’t mean it’s hate. Take a chill pill. 

Privilege 

Are there people that have “privilege” due to their station in life?? Sure. But not as many as you think, and certainly not because of their skin color. I am a white male, and trust me…if you knew the things I’ve dealt with in my life & what I have overcome you’d understand why I have an issue being thought of as privileged by anybody.

Cisgender 

I think you mean normal 🤔.

Ableist 

I am disabled. I was born with spina bifida and have used a wheelchair my entire life. However, I laugh at stupid buzzwords. I have probably experienced ableism as much as anyone, but never felt the need to attach a cutesy label to it. Isn’t the term discrimination good enough?? 

Disinformation 

Define it. Go ahead…you can’t. Again, just because someone provides a different perspective or a viewpoint with which you disagree doesn’t make them automatically dishonest or wrong. How many “conspiracy theories” have been proven right in the past year?? Elon Musk is still busy exposing lies, coverups, deceit, coercion, and censorship by some of the individuals who were screaming “disinformation” the loudest. It’s becoming harder & harder to trust anything we’re told by government officials or the media, in part because they get angrier as more of their lies are uncovered with each passing day.

Cringe 

If you’re watching an old TV show or movie and using this word to describe it please just sit down & shut your yapper. Everything is a product of its time. Societal norms evolve, so what was acceptable 20 years ago or 50 years ago might not be looked at the same way now. That’s cool. Just move on. 

Patriarchy 

How do so many women who openly hate men end up in serious relationships?? Why would I date you if you are offended that I’m a man?? Look, I get it. Minorities…including women…have been treated unfairly. But ladies… it’s the 21st century. You’re free!! You can do anything you want. No one is making you stay in a loveless marriage & pop out 15 babies while your man goes out & earns a living. You don’t have to spend the best years of your life barefoot & pregnant, slaving away in a hot kitchen being subservient. Women are smart. Women are beautiful. Women can do anything they damn well please. There isn’t a secret committee of (white…probably) guys sitting around figuring out ways to ruin your life.

Inclusion 

It doesn’t mean what you think it means. It sounds awesome on the surface. Everyone wants to be included, right?? Sadly though, life isn’t fair, and overt attempts to force entities to “even the playing field” often backfire. For me it’s simple…most things should be a meritocracy. You earn what you get, and the best & brightest rise thru the ranks. Managers should hire the best person for the job. Scholarships should be given to the best students. Quotas are discriminatory. I don’t believe the “everybody gets a trophy” mentality works in the long run. It inadvertently makes people weak & lazy. I am not suggesting we shouldn’t lend a helping hand or allow someone in need to lean on a generous shoulder. I am simply suggesting that the old maxim about the road to Hell being paved with good intentions shouldn’t be ignored. The best way to include people is to teach them how to achieve success & earn everything they have.

and the Sammy goes to…..

All of Them. We’ve become a society that enjoys creating a buzzword for everything. When you add that to a society that goes out of our way to be offended it’s a bad combination. Can’t we all just get along?? We keep letting the powers-that-be divide us, and they are laughing all the way to the bank.

Okay, Pete Davidson has gotten way too comfortable & won’t leave. I’m pretty sure he was acting inappropriately in a gender neutral restroom a few minutes ago. We don’t want any trouble, so we’re just going to allow Pete to hand out one more award. And the nominees are:

Favorite Viral Videos 

Definitely Not Gourmet

Bartender Skyy John has redeemed himself. His Tipsy Bartender videos eliminated the godawful music that cost him this award a year ago, and now there’s a lady with a charming British accent holding the camera & offering an occasional comment or question. That being said, I like to eat much more than I like to drink, so I have become intrigued by Skyy’s other videos, in which he cooks tasty vittles that he calls “dumb but delicious”. 

Men with the Pot 

I discovered the proper terminology: ASMR, which means “autonomous sensory meridian response”. More specifically it is the tingling sensation some experience when listening to certain audio stimuli. Last year, while giving this award to these videos, I described them as being filled with sounds like “veggies being chopped, meat sizzling in an iron skillet, the gentle flow of a babbling brook, and the lovely chirping of birds”, only I didn’t know that had a name. To be honest I haven’t watched as many of the videos as I did in 2021, but they’re still out there. 

State of Mind 

General Hospital actor Maurice Bernard has been open about his bipolar disorder, and he hosts a podcast in which his friends & colleagues sit down for a conversation about their own mental health struggles. It’s informative, not too heavy, and the kind of discussion we should be more comfortable having with our loved ones. 

Tucker Carlson 

I still haven’t run across anyone that comes close to replacing my man Rush Limbaugh, although that’s probably because sociopolitical debates now leave a bad taste in my mouth. Occasionally though my itch needs scratched, and short clips of Carlson’s soliloquies do the trick. 

Louder with Crowder 

I actually need to watch Crowder’s podcast more often this year. He’s part commentator, part comedian, so he presents things in a more lighthearted, humorously sarcastic way. Much like Carlson I don’t think I have the interest level to hang for an entire show, but I could stand a bit more. 

and the Sammy goes to…..

Definitely Not Gourmet. I wonder how Tipsy Bartender would feel about defeating himself?? Although I guess technically he didn’t since the bartending videos weren’t even nominated this time. Again, let me re-emphasize, that’s the personal choice of someone who enjoys food more than booze. He makes things like bacon sushi, breakfast pizza, giant pancake burgers, and all kinds of crazy desserts. Have I ever made any of the recipes I’ve seen?? No, cause that’s how I roll. But atleast the videos are fun to watch. 

This seems like a good time to pause once again. Please stay tuned for the exciting conclusion of the 2022 Sammy Awards!!

2022 Sammy Awards – Part 1

Greetings Manoverse, and welcome to the 2022 Sammy Awards!! It has been a tradition here since 2010 for us to welcome a new year by saying a fond farewell to the old year. We look back at the key moments, people, & topics that made the past 12 months what they were. We celebrate the highlights & allow ourselves to lament the lowlights. A wise teacher once said “Those who fail to learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them”, and we believe it is good to remember what happened and give those stories kudos or derision…whichever is appropriate. So sit back, grab some popcorn & your beverage of choice, and enjoy the world’s most irreverent fake awards show!! 

To host the festivities it is our pleasure to welcome one of our most underrated comedians. He has received multiple Grammy nominations, is known for working clean, and offers low key, relatable observations on topics with which we are all familiar. Please welcome to the stage Jim Gaffigan!!

After some hilarious opening comments from our host it is time to hand out some hardware!! To do the honors we are excited to welcome a beloved actor from the 1970s. He starred in one of the few romantic dramas about a blind ice skater, the 1978 classic Ice Castles, as well as Ode to Billy Joe, in which he hurls himself off a bridge after having sex with Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane from The Dukes of Hazzard. Give a rousing ovation for the very much alive (who knew??) Robby Benson!! And the nominees are:

Favorite TV Show

The World According to Jeff Goldblum 

Quirky actor Goldblum returned to Disney+ with fresh episodes examining topics like dogs, fireworks, & motorcycles. He doesn’t necessarily break new ground on these subjects, but does approach them from a distinct perspective. 

General Hospital

Yes, I still watch “my stories” (as my grandmothers used to call them). However, not only are there only four soap operas remaining, just one feels worthy of recognition. I’ve been a fan of GH since the early 80s, and still look forward to watching it whenever time permits (which is often enough since I have no life {I’m “producing” a fake awards show for God’s sake}). 

Cobra Kai 

The 4th season was released on NY’s Eve 2021, and in a pleasant surprise Season 5 came along just months later in September 2022. It’s still a compelling story for those old enough to have enjoyed the Karate Kid films back in the day, and I suppose it’s a good enough show to have attracted younger fans not as familiar with the movies. That being said, it feels like the upcoming season (which may not arrive for another year) should be the end unless they do some sort of time jump. It’s more difficult to get away with having 20-somethings portray high school students than it used to be. 

The Santa Clauses

This was a nice little holiday treat. Tim Allen returned for a six episode series on Disney+ in which Santa Claus (fka Scott Calvin) decides to retire, chooses a successor, and things go awry. Y’all should check it out while you’re still in the holiday spirit.

WWE Raw/NXT/Smackdown 

Am I as big of a wrestling fan as I used to be?? No. I ponder the question of whether the product just isn’t as captivating as it was in the heyday of Hulk Hogan & Ric Flair or The Rock & “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, or if perhaps I’m just not the same person I was in my youth. Either way, I still watch the shows, but don’t find them as interesting as I did once upon a time. 

and the Sammy goes to…..

General Hospital. For the second year in a row consistency wins. I still haven’t totally bought into the whole streaming thing, and I’m not sure I ever will. I like having new episodes to look forward to. I don’t really enjoy binging everything in a few days then having to wait months for my next fix. GH continues to be well written with a great cast. It may not be your cup o’ tea and that’s okay, but having grown up with the show the fine folks in Port Charles, NY almost seem like family. Dysfunctional?? Sure, but that’s fine. 

To present our next award we are happy to have two characters that underwent a bit of a makeover in 2022. In an effort to be inclusive or whatever…some kind of PC bullsquat…Green M&M was stripped of her lip gloss, high heeled boots, & long eyelashes, and instead given sneakers & a plain face, apparently to appease female gym teachers & golfers on the LPGA Tour. Not to be outdone, Disney decided to toss Minnie Mouse’s iconic red polka dot dress and pander to Hillary Clinton voters by putting Minnie in an unflattering black & blue pantsuit. We don’t play those kind of silly games here at The Sammys. We love women & embrace femininity, so we are happy to welcome to the stage OG Green M&M and Minnie Mouse!! And the nominees are:

Favorite App

Words with Friends 

Full disclosure…I became bored by Words in the latter half of 2022. I’m pretty sure that the plethora of challenges I received daily were from bots rather than real people, and I decided to step away for awhile. I’ll probably return soon enough. 

Instagram 

In less than three years I have posted over 12k memes on Insta. It’s usually the first thing I do when I wake up. Weird?? Kind of sad?? Yes & yes, but atleast I’m honest.

Amazon Music 

I’d rather listen to music than watch television most of the time. I am very moody when it comes to the tunes I enjoy. What I’m into might change on a daily basis. However, I’ve never been unable to find what I’m looking for on Amazon Music. It’s $10/month well spent.

Pic Stitch 

I take a lot of photos whenever I attend a social event. I might take a hundred pics but end up with 35 good ones by the time I filter out blurry or repetitive shots. This app allows me to be even more efficient by stitching together two or more photos so that out of the original 100 I end up posting maybe 15 or 20 to social media. 

TextArt

I’ve segued into creating my own memes!! Sometimes I see a quote I like or an existing meme that just seems too busy, so I take the basic concept & create a better version the way I want it. Perhaps I missed my calling as a graphic designer. 

Air Brush 

I see memes or picture quotes all the time that just need something unnecessary erased out of them. It’s not always as tight & precise as I’d prefer, but it is usually adequate for my purposes. 

Infinity 8 Ball

I went thru my Spades phase, but now I’ve moved on to billiards. Thus far I’ve played over 1400 games and have fallen just below a 60% win rate. 

and the Sammy goes to…..

Amazon Music. After being nominated a couple of times in the past Amazon Music finally earns the prize. You may use Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora, iHeart Radio, or any of the plethora of music apps available, and that’s cool. I’m sure they’re all great. For me Amazon has been a reliable & functional tool that’s become an indispensable part of daily life.

To present our next two awards it is a pleasure to welcome a former NFL punter and current ESPN & WWE commentator whose charisma & liveliness infuses any program he’s part of with more of an energy boost than you’ll get from the entire Starbucks menu combined. Get up on your feet for the inimitable Pat McAfee!! And the nominees are:

The Thrill of Victory Award

Georgia’s National Title

In January the Georgia Bulldogs destroyed Alabama to claim their third National Championship. They’ll have an opportunity to add to the trophy case soon. 

The Super Rams

On February 13, 2022 the Los Angeles Rams beat the Cincinnati Bengals to win their second Lombardi Trophy.

Golden St. Is Golden Again  

After a couple of lean years the Warriors returned to the top of the mountain in 2022, defeating the Boston Celtics in six games to win their 7th NBA title and the fourth since 2015.

LIV Golf

Don’t look now golf fans, but the PGA Tour has some competition. It is in its infancy & needs better television deals, but stalwarts like Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia, & Dustin Johnson joined up, seduced by huge money & shorter tournaments with no cuts.

Kansas Wins The Madness 

It was a Battle of Bluebloods when the Kansas Jayhawks defeated the North Carolina Tar Heels to win their fourth National Championship. 

Novak Djokovic

Still one of the top tennis players in the world, Djokovic won at Wimbledon for the 4th consecutive year.

and the Sammy goes to…..

Los Angeles Rams. They couldn’t follow up this season, but on that February night in their home stadium the Rams rose to the occasion late in the 4th quarter. It was nice to see QB Matthew Stafford achieve success after a dismal decade+ in Detroit.

He’s just so damn entertaining that we asked Pat McAfee to stick around & hand out the next prize as well. It looks like he’s made himself comfortable. And the nominees are:

The Agony of Defeat Award

Big Ben’s Retirement

After 18 years as the quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers Ben Roethlisberger was gently pushed into retirement. His arm strength had noticeably diminished & his unique escapability had virtually disappeared with no help from a porous offensive line, but the disappointment of his last couple of seasons doesn’t detract from a memorable Hall of Fame career. 

Antonio Brown 

We’ve known for awhile that the former Steelers wide receiver is mentally unstable. After an acrimonious departure from Pittsburgh a few years ago Brown bounced around a bit before seeming to find a soft landing spot in Tampa. He even won a Super Bowl ring with the Buccaneers. However, that relationship crashed & burned late in the 2021 season, with our last image that of Brown taking off his jersey & leaving in the midst of a game. Since then he has engaged in sophomoric online shenanigans implying he’s been gettin’ busy with Tom Brady’s now ex-wife and been accused of domestic violence as well as improper conduct toward a woman in Dubai. 

The Olympics 

Another year, another Olympic Games no one cared about. This time it was in Beijing, China. I would literally rather sit in a dark room staring into space than watch the Winter Olympics in Communist China with no spectators in the stands because of a disease they created. Actually I probably did some of that while this was going on.

MLB Lockout 

The start of the baseball season was delayed by a week thanks to yet another disagreement between owners & players. Two notable outcomes: universal DH & an expanded playoff format. Designated hitters became a thing for National League teams in 2022, which I hate. I always liked that there were differences between the American League &  National League. Both leagues also added an extra wildcard team to the playoff bracket, which I didn’t mind.

Coach K’s Swan Song 

In 4+ decades as the head basketball coach for the Duke Blue Devils Mike Krzyzewski won more than 1000 games, 15 ACC tournament titles, and 5 National Championships. His teams made the NCAA Tournament nearly every year & played in 13 Final Fours. Coach K also won three Olympic gold medals. He’d announced before the 2021-22 season that it would be his last, and the Blue Devils won 32 games. Unfortunately they lost Coach K.’s home finale to North Carolina, lost the ACC title game to Virginia Tech, and fell once again in the Final Four to the Tar Heels. I’m a sucker for storybook endings and was pulling for him to finish on top.

Phil Mickelson 

All the sudden my man Phil has become the black sheep of golf. It started with his controversial defection to LIV Golf last spring, accompanied by disparaging comments about PGA leadership. Mickelson skipped The Masters & the PGA Championship. At age 52 & clearly past his prime I can’t be too hard on the guy for being seduced by the huge money & reduced schedule offered by LIV, but it may have cost him the legacy he’d built during a fantastic three decade+ career. 

Brady’s Gone!! Nevermind, He’s Back 😖

Y’all know I despise Tom Brady. He’s like an evil serial killer in a slasher movie that won’t freakin’ die!! I thought our long nightmare was finally over when Brady announced his retirement back in February. Remember the Bible story about Jesus battling Satan in the desert for 40 days?? Imagine if Satan had won. That’s what it felt like when Brady ended his retirement after 40 days. Yes…he did that, and you can’t convince me it wasn’t on purpose. His decision proved costly, as he ended up divorced, but on the bright side (atleast for him) he’s led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the playoffs, and if the dude wins yet another damn Super Bowl I might just have to look into this soccer thing. 

Washington Commanders 

After years of pressure from the PC Police the Redskins nickname was finally scrapped a few years ago. After that they were awkwardly known as the Washington Football Team for a couple of seasons because apparently it’s harder to name a sports franchise than anyone realized, even though this change was on the cusp of happening for a long time. At any rate, the powers-that-be narrowed the field down to a few choices, including Armada, Brigade, and Defenders. Commanders is better than any of those, although I preferred Red Wolves.

Flores’ Lawsuit 

Former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores filed a lawsuit against the NFL in February alleging racial discrimination in hiring practices & that Dolphins’ ownership had asked him to tank games to get higher draft picks. To my knowledge the suit has not been resolved, but Flores landed with the Steelers as a defensive assistant (they should elevate him to defensive coordinator).

LIV Golf

Don’t look now golf fans, but the PGA Tour has some competition. The problem?? It is funded by the rulers of Saudi Arabia, a country well known for human rights violations & other nefarious activities, in a transparent PR attempt to change the narrative. Think of Michael Corleone trying to make The Family legitimate by giving a bunch of money to The Vatican in The Godfather Part III. Same kind of thing, only without murder & mayhem (we hope). 

Novak Djokovic

While it is true that Djokovic won Wimbledon for the fourth straight year, he was unfortunately prohibited from competing in the Australian Open & U.S. Open due to draconian & misguided Covid restrictions. He stood strong in his steadfast refusal to get “vaccinated”, a decision that cost him some money but perhaps saved his life.

and the Sammy goes to…..

LIV Golf.  Is it a real threat to the PGA Tour?? I don’t think so. I am reminded of the original USFL, which briefly seemed like a solid alternative to the NFL. They too made a big splash by signing Heisman Trophy winners Hershel Walker, Doug Flutie, and Mike Rozier, as well as QBs Jim Kelly & Steve Young. But the USFL made some missteps & only lasted a few seasons. LIV has wooed enough PGA stalwarts to grab our attention, and there’s certainly enough cash behind the effort. However, I’ll be surprised if the whole thing is anything more than a memory five years from now.

To present our next award we are pleased to welcome one of the most underrated actors of his generation. He has appeared in blockbuster films like Ghostbusters, Crocodile Dundee, and Turner & Hooch, and is a beloved holiday icon who played a pivotal part in saving hundreds of lives on Christmas Eve in Die Hard. He then went on to star in one of the most cherished sitcoms of the 1990’s, Family Matters, a show that might’ve only lasted a month instead of airing for nine breathtakingly hilarious seasons if not for his star power & skills as an actor. It is indeed an honor to welcome Reginald VelJohnson to present a very special tribute.

Duffer-Herrell Lifetime Achievement Award 

Bruce Willis 

Moonlighting.

The Christmas classic Die Hard (and it’s plethora of sequels). 

Look Who’s Talking

Striking Distance.

Armageddon.

The Whole Nine Yards.

Those episodes of Friends when he ended up dating Rachel.

That album he put out in the late 80s.

Bruce Willis has done a little bit of everything in his amazing career spanning more than four decades. Sadly that journey seems to be over, as it was announced back in March that he is retiring due to aphasia, which is an inability to comprehend or formulate language because of damage to specific brain regions. Willis is 67 years old, which in the 21st century means we thought we had many more years to enjoy new performances. I had even read rumors of one final Die Hard, which would’ve been great, especially if it was a good movie on the same level as the first three. Sadly that won’t be happening. Of course in the grand scheme of things that’s not really important. Bruce Willis is still alive, and that’s what matters to his loved ones. For the rest of us we’ll always have his body of work. Is he the greatest actor that ever graced the big screen?? No, but who cares?? Years from now our grandchildren will be telling their grandchildren about a decent actor who made a memorable impression and entertained millions. Each December, along with George Bailey, Ebenezer Scrooge, Ralphie Parker, and The Whos down in Whoville, Detective John McClane will continue to be a key player in Christmas celebrations everywhere. That’s a damn fine legacy, and for that The Sammys are proud to recognize the contributions of Bruce Willis to popular culture. 

This seems like a good place to pause. Please stay tuned for Part 2 of the 2022 Sammy Awards. 

2022 PIGSKIN PICKS OF PROFUNDITY…WEEK 20

Folks, before we get down to business let’s address the elephant in the room. Zach & I both love football. We’ve both been hardcore Steelers fans our entire lives (my life being just a bit longer than his). Once, when I was a boy in the early 80’s, Pittsburgh lost the last game of the season (I’m not sure which year) and missed the playoffs. I cried like a baby. There are few things more enjoyable for me than vegging out in front of the TV on autumn Saturdays to watch college football from morning until the last west coast game ends around 1am, then watching “seven hours of commercial free football” on NFL RedZone Sunday afternoon. I started doing these picks several years ago because it combines a few things that I love: writing, football, and acting as if I know what the hell I’m talking about. Having said all of that, we are well aware that there’s a real world out there full of serious issues & life changing decisions. Football is usually an escape from those unpleasant realities, but it’s not breaking news to most that football & real life collided a few days ago. I’m not going to offer any medical opinions or hot takes, just sincere good mojo for Damar Hamlin, best wishes for the Buffalo Bills as they move thru the playoffs, and a tip of the cap to coaches, officials, league brass, & even TV talking heads who handled an unprecedented situation in a mostly professional & fair manner. 

Okay, so…we are tied coming into this final week. Zach was 3-1 last weekend, while I was 1-3. It goes without saying that the Bills-Bengals game we picked doesn’t count since they didn’t finish it. For our finale we are doing bonus picks…obviously…with each game having some kind of playoff implication. Watch the games. Enjoy them. Don’t feel guilty for doing so. But also don’t forget to call, text, or visit friends & family and tell them you love them. Distractions are fantastic, but reality can be pretty cool as well.

My Season: 54-59

Zach’s Season: 54-59

Tennessee at Jacksonville (-6.5)

This is a Saturday night game on ESPN, and Tennessee will have had a couple extra days of rest since they played on Thursday last week. The winner wins the AFC South. The Jags could win it outright, while the Titans have a better divisional record & would win the tiebreaker. Theoretically Jacksonville could still earn a wildcard berth even with a loss, but too many dominoes would have to fall perfectly, so it’s not a realistic scenario. I told you before the season that “the Jags could be headed in the right direction”, but they have exceeded expectations. The Titans have lost six in a row and simply have too many injuries. Even if RB Derrick Henry plays & looks good I don’t believe they’ll get the job done. Zach concurs. 

My Pick: Jacksonville (21-13)

Z’s Pick: Jacksonville (28-17)

Baltimore at Cincinnati (-7)

I’m not sure how the NFL is going to handle this situation. Assuming the “postponed” game is not made up the Bengals will have played one less game, so if they lose they’d be 11-5 and the Ravens would be 11-6. However, in that scenario Baltimore would’ve won both meetings this season, and I suppose it’d make sense that they be declared division champions. Cincinnati could make it easy by winning the game and clearly earning a division title. QB Lamar Jackson has missed the last four games with a knee injury, and it is unknown if he’ll be available for the underdogs this week. It feels like Cincy is peaking at the right time after winning seven in a row. Who am I to question Big Mo(mentum)?? Zach sees it as a contrast of styles…Baltimore’s ball control offense vs. the Bengals’ big play potential…and he thinks the defending AFC champs have a great shot to make another deep run. 

My Pick: Cincinnati  (27-17)

Z’s Pick: Cincinnati (35-20)

Seattle (-6.5) at LA Rams 

The Seahawks need to win and hope Green Bay loses. That would get them the 7th seed in the NFC. A week ago I had too much faith that the defending champion Rams would rekindle some of that fire from last season, but instead they got blasted by the Chargers. Lesson learned. They may not make it far, but it’d be nice to see QB Geno Smith lead Seattle into the postseason. Zach agrees.

My Pick: Seattle  (31-17)

Z’s Pick: Seattle (31-10)

New England at Buffalo (-7.5)

The Steelers need New England to lose (seems like old times). That’s good enough for me. Hopefully by the time this one kicks off the outlook for Damar Hamlin will be more encouraging and the Bills will be invigorated to kick ass in his honor. Zach hasn’t lost faith in Pats’ QB Mac Jones, but thinks the rest of the team is a mess. 

My Pick: Buffalo (28-10)

Z’s Pick: Buffalo (28-7)

NY Giants at Philadelphia (-14)

Much to my surprise the Giants are playoff bound, and they are locked into the 6th seed. Philly is headed to the playoffs too, but they would prefer to be the NFC East champions, the conference’s top seed, and have a first round bye. That makes this a must win. Having said that, the points are redonkulous. These are not the Giants that I predicted to go 1-16 👀…these Giants are 9-6-1 and want to go to the postseason with momentum. They might not win, but it’ll be closer than two TDs. Zach is on the same page. 

My Pick: NY Giants   (21-30)

Z’s Pick: NY Giants  (20-24)

Dallas (-5.5) at Washington 

This rivalry was more fun when it was Cowboys vs. Indians. Anyway, Dallas is also battling for a division crown & the NFC’s #1 seed, but they have to win first. The Commanders were eliminated from playoff contention last weekend, but I have to assume they’d relish the role of spoiler. I don’t have much faith in the Cowboys making a deep playoff run, but I’d be surprised if they don’t go to DC & handle business. Zach concurs. 

My Pick: Dallas  (34-14)

Z’s Pick: Dallas (28-13)

NY Jets at Miami {even}

It should be one of the most intriguing games of the day, even with both teams limping a bit. The Jets’ quarterback situation has been a mess, and I don’t think it matters whether Zach Wilson, Mike White, or Joe Flacco is the starter. Similarly, the Dolphins have seen starter Tua Tagovailoa battle concussion issues and lost backup Teddy Bridgewater to a finger injury. Third stringer Skylar Thompson was a 7th round pick out of Kansas St. and certainly looked like it last week (Thompson was chosen 15 spots ahead of 49ers QB Brock Purdy…think Miami would like to have a do-over??). There’s a chance Bridgewater might be available, which could help the home team. With so many variables in play it comes down to this for me: my Steelers need the Dolphins to lose. Zach agrees. 

My Pick: NY Jets  (16-14)

Z’s Pick: NY Jets (17-14)

Detroit at Green Bay (-4.5)

I said five months ago that “the surprise of the division might be Detroit”, and here we are with the Lions not only having an opportunity to snag a playoff berth, but eliminate the Packers in the process. For Green Bay it is simple…win & they’re in. Detroit has to win and hope that Seattle loses. This is the Sunday night contest on NBC, so the Lions will know the outcome of the Seahawks game by the time they kick off. I said a couple of weeks ago that “battling Aaron Rodgers with his back against a wall is dangerous”. The Pack has won four in a row and I don’t think that stops now. Detroit has a bright future and should be congratulated on their significant improvement, but I think their season ends on The Frozen Tundra. Not only does Zach believe Green Bay will win this game, but he thinks they are a legit Super Bowl contender. 

My Pick: Green Bay  (27-20)

Z’s Pick: Green Bay (28-20)

Y’all may have noticed that, for the first time ever, we predicted final scores. That’s because we agreed on the outcome of all eight games, meaning that we’re going to end up tied no matter what. Therefore, we are doing a “closest to the hole” tiebreaker. The lesser point differential for each game (regardless of the outcome) wins that game. Zach agreed to those terms, and I think it’ll make watching each game even more fun.

POINTS OF PONDERATION…..EPISODE 7.22

A semi-regular attempt to address some of life’s minutiae that might otherwise be overlooked…..

On 12/8/21 I bought a dozen eggs at the grocery store for $1.29. That same purchase right now costs $3.49. Someone needs to inform the deranged leftist dictator currently occupying the Oval Office that Americans care much more about this problem than we do about Ukraine, climate change, a “vaccine” that not only doesn’t work but is probably killing people, transgender BS, or anything else his evil administration has been gaslighting us with the past two years. 

I’m not interested in a ten minute story about your cat. Please shut your piehole 🙄.

I saw this post in a couple of Facebook groups and didn’t feel like I could freely express my opinion since the “January 6th” silliness has been used as a convenient excuse to turn social media into a fascist dictatorship in which any opinions the “fact” checkers disagree with is suppressed. At any rate, let’s be honest…this list was obviously compiled by an airheaded black millennial. 12 out of the “top” 18 shows have black leads and/or a predominantly black cast. There’s nothing wrong with that, except it is intellectually dishonest to call entrants like MartinGirlfriendsBlack-ish, & Living Single great in any way, shape, or form. The Cosby Show was fantastic, as was The Jeffersons. I won’t even push back too much on Sanford & Son or Diff’rent Strokes, although they are ranked far too high. Also, where is The Andy Griffith ShowFrasier, either of Bob Newhart’s two sitcoms, MASH, and a plethora of others more deserving than half of the shows listed?? Look, I realize these things are largely a matter of opinion, and we are all a product of our generation & our worldview. That being said, perhaps anyone compiling such a list should feel somewhat compelled to respect the readers, respect the genre they’re writing about, and have a shred of common sense.

I still have no idea what the hell pickle ball is 🤷🏻‍♂️🤔🥒.

I can’t respect the thought process of anyone who thinks drag shows are acceptable entertainment for children and refuses to admit that it is blatant grooming. I respect a person’s right to have an opinion, but that does not extend to the opinion itself. It is particularly troubling when someone who holds such beliefs has daily access to large groups of young people. Public schools in America need investigated & reformed. They’ve become breeding grounds for intellectually vacant activists who seek to normalize deviance for kids. Whatever happened to reading, writing, math, history, & science?? That’s what used to be taught in schools. 

2022 PIGSKIN PICKS OF PROFUNDITY…WEEK 19

We’re in the home stretch, and there are a few things to consider. My season lead is only two games. Razor thin. Both of us are under .500, and though it won’t be easy finishing above that mark is always a goal. The NFL playoff picture has become pretty clear, though there are a couple of spots up for grabs and seeding to be determined. As always we strive to offer some variety and not pick games involving the same teams every week, but that becomes difficult late on the season since we logically focus on playoff drama. At any rate, Happy New Year Manoverse. I’m not into making resolutions & don’t believe everything is magically different on January 1st than it was on December 31st. However, I do think there’s something to be said for fresh starts & new beginnings. Hope is a powerful thing, so if you’re heading into 2023 with positivity & confidence I wish you all the best. 

My Season: 53-56

Zach’s Season: 51-58

Dallas (-10) at Tennessee 

I really thought the Titans would have double digit victories & win their division comfortably. Instead they are 7-8 and in a dogfight to even make the playoffs. Conversely, the Cowboys are 11-4 & will make the playoffs, though the Eagles will win the division. Tennessee has lost five in a row & QB Ryan Tannehill was lost to an ankle injury a couple of weeks ago, so it’s an uphill climb to be sure. Having said that, I’m not buying what the Cowboys are selling and haven’t since Day 1. They may win the game, but it’ll be a lot closer than the oddsmakers believe. Zach is feeling frisky and has more faith in Dallas QB Dak Prescott than the Titans defense. 

My Pick: Tennessee 

Z’s Pick: Dallas

Jacksonville (-4) at Houston 

No one expected much from either club coming into the season, but the Jags are in the playoff hunt, and despite the Texans probably having a shot at the #1 overall pick in next year’s draft they have become a team no one wants to play after beating Tennessee and giving both Dallas & Kansas City all they could handle. I like the upward trajectory Jacksonville is on their way up, but I don’t believe they’re there quite yet. Houston has embraced the role of spoiler, and I think they’ll get the job done on their home turf. Zach thinks it’ll be close, but believes the visitors will overcome all obstacles late in the second half. 

My Pick: Houston 

Z’s Pick: Jacksonville 

Cleveland at Washington (-2.5)

If the Commanders win their final two games they’ll be in the playoffs. They won’t be mathematically eliminated with a loss, but it would certainly complicate things. Conversely, the 6-9 Browns are exactly who I thought they were. I foresee an easy win for the home team.  Zach concurs. 

My Pick: Washington 

Z’s Pick: Washington 

LA Rams vs. LA Chargers (-6.5)

The Battle of Los Angeles sure would be alot more fun if the Rams were better than 5-10. Meanwhile, the 9-6 Chargers have clinched a wildcard berth. With nothing to play for except pride I think the defending Super Bowl champs will somehow find a way to win. Conversely, Zach thinks the Rams have too many injuries to key personnel to stay competitive. 

My Pick: LA Rams 

Z’s Pick: LA Chargers 

Buffalo (-1) at Cincinnati 

Both teams will playing in the postseason, but that doesn’t mean this game is meaningless. The Bills are battling the Chiefs for the AFC’s top seed & a first round bye, while the Bengals will either win the AFC North or earn a wildcard berth. It’s basically a pick ‘em, and think I like Buffalo given the revenge factor dating back to last years conference title game. Zach boldly predicts a game winning drive led by Joe Burrow, ending with a dramatic score with under a minute remaining. 

My Pick: Buffalo 

Z’s Pick: Cincinnati 

2022-23 COLLEGE FOOTBALL BOWL-A-PALOOZA (Part Deux)

I haven’t been keeping close track of the early results, but I don’t think I’ve been doing too well with these bowl picks. To be honest I haven’t actually watched many games thus far, and it’s not because I’m super busy…I am not. Perhaps the latter half of the slate will hold more interest for me. I hope The Manoverse had a very Merry Christmas, and whatever you have planned for New Year’s festivities be safe, end 2022 on a high note, and turn the page with hope, faith, kindness, and a renewed spirit.

WEDNESDAY, DEC. 28

Military Bowl
Duke vs. Central Florida 
2pm/ESPN – Annapolis, MD

Everyone knows Duke is a basketball school, but the football team has done fairly well in recent years. They come into this game 8-4, having won three out of their last four. The Knights are 9-4 but got blasted in the AAC title game. I have always opined that UCF is a sleeping giant, something they’ll have an opportunity to prove when they join the Big 12. This could be a sneaky good game, and I think UCF prevails. Conversely, Zach believes the Blue Devils will win easily. 

My Pick: UCF

Zach’s Pick: Duke 

Liberty Bowl
Arkansas vs. Kansas
5:30pm/ESPN – Memphis, TN

I see what the cunning linguist bowl organizers did here!! I’m actually low key excited about this one. The Jayhawks started out hot at 5-0, but faded fast, losing six out of their last seven. The Razorbacks almost tracked the same, showing flashes of being good, but not nearly enough. I think both teams are better than the records indicate, and I think we’ll see Kansas recapture some of that early success in late December. Zach, on the other hand, sees speed as a key factor and likes Arkansas.

My Pick: Kansas

Zach’s Pick: Arkansas 

Holiday Bowl
Oregon vs. North Carolina
8pm/Fox – San Diego, CA

Perhaps the most underrated game of the postseason. The 9-3 Ducks were six total points away over two games of playing field the PAC 12 title, but of course we all know close doesn’t cut it. Meanwhile, the Tar Heels lost their final three games, including the ACC title game. I think UNC will hang tough for awhile, but look for Oregon to pull away in the 4th quarter. Zach thinks it’ll be a shootout and doesn’t have much faith in Carolina’s defense. 

My Pick: Oregon 

Zach’s Pick: Oregon 

Texas Bowl
Texas Tech vs. Ole Miss
9pm/ESPN – Houston, TX

I don’t know…I’m having a hard time getting juiced about two middle of the pack teams in their respective conferences facing off in the fourth game of the day. I think there will be alot of scoring (definitely take the over), but ultimately the Red Raiders will pull away for a double digit victory. Zach thinks rumors of head coach Lane Kiffin bolting for Auburn factored into them losing 4 out of 5 games down the stretch, and now that the issue has been put to rest they can focus on winning. 

My Pick: Texas Tech 

Zach’s Pick: Ole Miss 

THURSDAY, DEC. 29

Pinstripe Bowl
Minnesota vs. Syracuse
2pm/ESPN – NY, NY

It’s a matchup of two underrated teams. Three of the four Gopher losses came consecutively during a rough October, although it should be noted that they played neither Ohio St. nor Michigan. Syracuse started 6-0 before dropping five straight games. Cold weather in The Bronx shouldn’t bother either club, but ‘Cuse will have more fans in the stands. I foresee a low scoring grinder in which Minnesota controls the clock in the 4th quarter to secure a close win. Zach agrees.

My Pick: Minnesota  

Zach’s Pick: Minnesota 

Cheez-It Bowl
Florida State vs. Oklahoma
5:30pm/ESPN – Orlando, FL

Five years ago this would have been a marquee matchup. My perception is that Florida St. is a team on the rise, while Oklahoma is a team in transition. I think it’ll be a rather comfortable victory for the Seminoles. Zach feels that it’ll be close, but foresees the same outcome. 

My Pick: Florida St. 

Zach’s Pick: Florida St.

Alamo Bowl
Washington vs. Texas
9pm/ESPN – San Antonio, TX

It could be a pretty good game. Maybe. I hope. The 10-2 Huskies were back-to-back mid-season losses away from playing for the PAC 12 title, while the 8-4 Longhorns are trying to claw their way back to relevancy before heading to the SEC in the near future. Obviously the crowd will be strongly pro-Texas, but I think Washington will find a way to  snag victory from the jaws of defeat late in the contest. Zach sees Texas outscoring their opponents in a high scoring contest. 

My Pick: Washington 

Zach’s Pick: Texas 

FRIDAY, DEC. 30

Orange Bowl
Tennessee vs. Clemson
8pm/ESPN – Miami, FL

Okay, now we’re getting to the good games. Both teams coulda/woulda/shoulda been in playoff contention, but things happened & they fell short. Vols fans are probably still flummoxed by the ass whoopin’ their guys received from South Carolina in mid-November, while the 11-2 Tigers aren’t in the playoff for a second consecutive season after six straight appearances. I’d love to see Tennessee win the game, but after losing QB Hendon Hooker to a torn ACL late in the season I don’t think this one will be particularly close. Zach thinks defense & coaching are the difference makers, which favors Clemson. 

My Pick: Clemson  

Zach’s Pick: Clemson 

Duke’s Mayo Bowl
North Carolina State vs. Maryland
Noon/ESPN – Charlotte, NC

I prefer Miracle Whip, but I suppose that doesn’t matter. The 8-4 Wolfpack fell short of my expectations, while the 7-5 Terrapins get lost in the Big Ten shuffle & really should consider another conference. NC St. might have a bit of a “home” field advantage, and I  think that’ll be enough. Zach disagrees and thinks those Tagovailoa genes matter. 

My Pick: NC St.

Zach’s Pick: Maryland 

Sun Bowl
UCLA vs. Pitt
2pm/CBS – El Paso, TX

The Sun Bowl remains one of the few bowl games not controlled by the Disney Machine. UCLA comes into the game having lost 2 of the last 3 games, while the Panthers are riding a four game winning streak. Normally I’m a big momentum guy, but I think the Bruins find a way to pull this one out. Zach concurs.

My Pick: UCLA

Zach’s Pick: UCLA

Gator Bowl
South Carolina vs. Notre Dame
3:30pm/ESPN – Jacksonville, FL

I had the Gamecocks in my preseason poll, and though they are unlikely to finish in the Top 15 I believe they will be close with a victory. Certainly their wins over Clemson & especially Tennessee were impressive. The Irish haven’t been as good as I thought they’d be, but the back half of they improved in the back half of their schedule. This is what a bowl game should be…an opportunity for two teams that rarely play one another but have something to prove as they build for the future to make a statement. I see bright things ahead for South Carolina, and this could be an important moment for them. Zach, on the other hand, doesn’t think the Gamecocks have any magic left in the tank.

My Pick: South Carolina 

Zach’s Pick: Notre Dame 

Arizona Bowl
Ohio vs. Wyoming
4:30pm/Barstool – Tucson, AZ

Okay, this is weird. Apparently the game isn’t being broadcast on television at all. I am only vaguely familiar with Barstool Sports, but they’ve expanded into streaming live events now. If you’re a really big fan of either team I am sure you will be able to look around & find it, but one can assume that most casual fans won’t bother. At any rate, I think Wyoming has a more explosive offense and will score on a few big plays. Zach agrees.

My Pick: Wyoming 

Zach’s Pick: Wyoming 

SATURDAY, DEC. 31

Fiesta Bowl – Playoff Semifinal
Michigan vs. Texas Christian 
4pm/ESPN – Glendale, AZ

We made it. We’ve finally gotten to the only games that really matter. I know Zach will pick Michigan, and honestly I can’t disagree. The Horned Frogs have had a great season & deserve all kinds of kudos, but the Wolverines are really good. They have better depth & athleticism. I cannot foresee any circumstance, after falling short against Georgia a year ago, in which Michigan fails to get to the next step. To be honest I wouldn’t totally be shocked if it’s not particularly competitive, although as a football fan I’d prefer a close, exciting game. Zach has decided to be conservative and predict a Michigan victory with a late field goal.

My Pick: Michigan 

Zach’s Pick: Michigan 

Peach Bowl – Playoff Semifinal
Georgia vs. Ohio State
8pm/ESPN – Atlanta, GA

At this moment it looks like I’ll be home on New Year’s Eve, and I’ll probably be hanging with my crazy neighbor who is a big Ohio St. fan. Can they beat the defending champions?? I don’t know. Both teams are loaded with NFL caliber talent. I think I’d give the coaching edge to Georgia, but I like the Buckeyes’ QB a little better. It’s going to come down to discipline & the mental aspects of the game…turnovers, penalties, & clock management. Obviously the Bulldogs will enjoy a huge “home” field advantage. Is that enough?? I really hope this isn’t one of those disappointing games that is built up to be so fantastic only for it to be a blowout that is essentially over by halftime, although it wouldn’t shock me that much. The Buckeyes played in the 2020 National Championship but a) they lost to Alabama & b) many people thought they didn’t belong anyway because of their Covid shortened season, so perhaps they feel like they have something to prove. Not surprisingly, Zach is predicting a blowout win for Georgia.

My Pick: Ohio St.

Zach’s Pick: Georgia 

Music City Bowl
Iowa vs. Kentucky
Noon/ABC – Nashville, TN

These teams deserve more respect. First, everyone will be buzzing about the semifinal games later in the day, plus Alabama is playing on another channel at the same time, and y’all know how that goes. The 7-5 Hawkeyes had a tough stretch in October and are better than the record indicates. The 7-5 Wildcats started strong but faded fast. They’ll be without the services of QB Will Levis, who is hoping to be a Top 5 NFL Draft pick. I think Iowa controls the clock with good ol’ fashioned smashmouth football and grinds out a win. Zach concurs. 

My Pick: Iowa 

Zach’s Pick: Iowa 

Sugar Bowl
Alabama vs. Kansas State
Noon/ESPN – New Orleans, LA

I’m not a gambler and haven’t researched it, but I’d almost guarantee ‘Bama is a heavy favorite and most of the “experts” aren’t giving K-St. a snowball’s chance in Hell. That’s not how I roll though. I believe the Wildcats have an opportunity to improve the collective opinion of the masses about their program and the Big 12 conference. Does that mean I think they’ll win?? No. However, don’t be surprised if the outcome is in doubt much deeper into the fourth quarter than anyone expected. Zach, though he agrees on the outcome, falls in line with the masses in predicting a huge & fairly easy Tide win. 

My Pick: Alabama 

Zach’s Pick: Alabama 

MONDAY, JAN. 2

ReliaQuest Bowl
Mississippi State vs. Illinois
Noon/ESPN2 – Tampa, FL

Because the NFL takes precedence on Sunday the traditional New Year’s Day college games are happening the next day. This was formerly known as the Hall of Fame & then the Outback Bowl. In case you are curious ReliaQuest is a cybersecurity company in Tampa. Obviously the big storyline will be the recent passing of Bulldogs coach Mike Leach, and I have to think that every football fan outside of Champaign, IL will be pulling for State. The Illini had a six game hot streak in the middle of the season but lost 3 out of their final 4. Mississippi St. is 8-4 in a roller coaster year. The X’s & O’s don’t really matter, because we all know the best outcome is a State victory in honor of Coach Leach. Zach is confident Illinois can slow the pace of the game to their comfort level & grind out a victory. 

My Pick: Mississippi St.

Zach’s Pick: Illinois 

Citrus Bowl
LSU vs. Purdue
1pm/ABC – Orlando, FL

The Bayou Bengals are unpredictable to say the least. At 9-4 they had the opportunity to win the SEC & maybe sneak into the playoff, but they also lost to 5-7 Texas A&M. Which LSU team will show up?? The Boilermakers are another overlooked Big Ten team that were never in the playoff hunt but did earn a spot in the conference title game. This has the potential to be a fantastic game, but I think LSU has the edge in speed & big play ability. Zach doesn’t think it’ll be particularly competitive.

My Pick: LSU 

Zach’s Pick: LSU 

Cotton Bowl
Southern California vs. Tulane
1pm/ESPN – Arlington, TX

The Trojans would’ve been playoff bound had they not screwed the pooch against Utah in the PAC 12 title game. Tulane has had a nice 11 win season, including an AAC Championship, but let’s be real…this might be one of the worst bowl matchups in recent memory. Southern Cal will be playing third stringers by halftime and still win by atleast three TDs. Zach agrees.

My Pick: USC 

Zach’s Pick: USC 

Rose Bowl

Utah vs. Penn State
5pm/ESPN – Pasadena, CA

I have to give the Rose Bowl credit…even in a playoff obsessed environment they’ve figured out how to remain relevant & make the game still feel like an event. Or maybe I just perceive it that way because I am of a certain age and embrace the history & pageantry of college football. It doesn’t hurt that the Big Ten & PAC 12 are deep leagues with several talented teams. Utah might be the most dangerous team out there. I guarantee none of the four playoff contenders would want to face the 10-3 Utes. The Nittany Lions won’t be intimidated though. Their only two losses were against Michigan & Ohio St., which is nothing to be ashamed of obviously. I really like Utah and believe they could be a playoff team next season, so why not get the party started early?? Zach thinks it will be close, but agrees on the outcome. 

My Pick: Utah  

Zach’s Pick: Utah 

MONDAY, JAN. 9

National Championship Game

Michigan/TCU vs. Georgia/Ohio State 
7:30pm/ESPN – Los Angeles, CA

I’m looking at a Michigan-Ohio St. matchup, while Zach thinks it will be Michigan vs. Georgia. Either way it’s going to be a tough task for the Wolverines. The Buckeyes have tremendous offensive prowess, while Georgia is an intimidating defensive force. Michigan marched into Columbus at the end of November and left with a huge 3 TD+ victory, but the stakes are much higher now. At the end of the day I’m not sure the Wolverines are there quite yet. I think they might have to wait another year to get over the hump. Surprisingly Zach agrees, although he thinks it’ll be the defending champs going back-to-back by defeating his beloved Wolverines. 

My Pick: Ohio St.  

Zach’s Pick: Georgia 

Holiday Evolution 

On Christmas Eve I attended a little get together with my neighbors. I made an entire chocolate peanut butter poke cake and ended up bringing 2/3 of it back with me, so that tells you everything you need to know about that shindig. It was a good idea in theory, but a total bust. That’s Christmas in The Manoverse nowadays. 

I’ve written about the traditional Italian Fish Fest that was a Christmas Eve constant throughout my childhood and into middle age, first at my grandparents house then hosted by my aunt for the past couple of decades. Sadly that gathering “ended” a few years ago…my inclusion in it anyway. I’ll leave it at that. C’est la vie. I always hoped I’d find a lovely wife, have a couple of kids, and serve fish to our extended family at my house, but that dream never came true, which is my responsibility.

In 2021 I attended a couple of quite lovely church services on Christmas Eve, and had intended to go to one this year. Unfortunately Mother Nature decided to rear her ugly head. I am not a fan of cold, ice, & snow. They say discretion is the better part of valor, so I decided to be mature & stay home. Or maybe I’m just trying to justify being lazy. I hope God understands. 

Instead of venturing out into the wintry landscape I stayed home with RedZone & my Steelers. There was a full slate of games in the afternoon, then the Steelers played the Raiders in the nightcap, celebrating the 50th anniversary of The Immaculate Reception & retiring the recently departed Franco Harris’ #32 in the process. They won with a thrilling last minute touchdown, which sadly was the highlight of my Christmas weekend. 

It wasn’t the Christmas Eve I loved for most of my life, but it wasn’t too bad. Christmas Day?? Well, that was kind of tough. 

I don’t want to paint the wrong picture of my nuclear family. We love each other, and we’re close. That being said, a variety of circumstances have altered our Christmas celebration thru the years. I won’t bore y’all with details, but suffice to say I spent the day in solitude watching Christmas movies and a little bit of football. No one is at fault…it’s just how life has happened. 

Having said all of that, my mind wanders to much sadder holidays spent in hospitals & “skilled” nursing facilities. As uneventful as it was this year was so much better than any of that. My father has always opined that there is a difference between being alone & being lonely. Am I lonely?? Perhaps a little. Do I wish I had a lovely lady in my life & some kids running around?? Sure. Would it have been fun to attend a big gathering full of food, music, and mirth?? Of course. But that’s not my life, and that’s okay. The choices are looking pretty slim for New Year’s as well, so I’ll probably end up doing the same thing, which is fine. I really do think God has an impish sense of humor. I captioned a photo of my goofy neighbor last New Year’s Eve “I’m hoping for a younger, prettier, more feminine date next NY Eve”, but the joke’s on me…even he has plans this year, so it’s either go to a party by myself or stay home & watch the College Football Playoff.

At any rate, I feel oddly peaceful about these circumstances because I understand how much worse it could be. I am also blessed to know that Christmas isn’t about gifts or any of the other stuff we get caught up stressing over. Christmas is about the birth of Jesus Christ, who would grow up to permanently change the world & die for my sins, paving the way for an eternal life I certainly do not deserve. Come on…the Steelers, eggnog, Ralphie Parker & George Bailey, eternity with Jesus…how cool is that?? It was certainly a Christmas worthy of celebration.