2021 Sammy Awards: Part III

If you have not seen Part 1 or Part 2 of the show please check them out now. We’ll  be here when you get back.

After a brief delay due to interruptions in the supply chain and, in an abundance of caution, following all health & safety protocols applicable to fake awards shows as recommended by the CDC, FDA, NASA, FCC, MADD, CNN, NRA, MCU, & NTSB it is time for the thrilling conclusion of the 2021 Sammy Awards. Please welcome back our host Dave Chappelle!!

We hope you enjoyed another hilarious comedy bit by Mr. Chappelle, and now it is time for our next award as we welcome a self-proclaimed “loud-mouthed New England Guido” whose social media fandom has grown exponentially in recent months. His unique perspective on current events provides the masses with some of the funniest yet caustic & insightful viral videos across all your favorite social media platforms. Please give it up for Bobby Sausalito!! And the nominees are:

The Twitter Award for Favorite Water Cooler Topic

#FreeBritney

Raise your hand if you knew what a conservatorship was a year ago.

Put your hands down liars!! In case you’re still a little behind the curve, a conservatorship is “a legal status to which a court appoints a person to manage the financial and personal affairs of a minor or incapacitated person”. In 2021 we learned that former pop princess Britney Spears’ life had been essentially controlled by helicopter Dad Jamie since 2008 when Britney faced some mental health issues. A decade later Daddy was still holding her hostage long after the conservatorship was supposed to have ended and Britney’s life had stabilized. A grass roots campaign involving fans & famous friends of the singer gained steam. In 2021 a documentary called Framing Britney Spears was released, and the movement reached a fever pitch, especially after Spears herself criticized the documentary and admitted that she felt the conservatorship had been a form of abuse by her family. By November 2021 a judge ended the conservatorship, freeing Britney Spears to live her life as she sees fit.

Masks

Are they useful?? Do they do all that much to prevent the spread of COVID?? Should schools, businesses, restaurants, sports arenas, concert venues, etc. mandate their use?? These questions were passionately debated in 2021. There aren’t really any bad people in the discussion no matter which side they fall on since we’re all just trying to muddle thru this pandemic as best we can by doing what we feel is right to protect ourselves & our families. Unfortunately, as with everything virus related, the messaging has been unclear and rife with self-interest, oftentimes causing the discussion to be more unpleasant than necessary.

Bill Cosby

On June 30, 2021 Cosby’s conviction on sexual assault charges was overturned. After spending three years in prison the 84-year-old comedian was released and can now enjoy as many Jello Pudding Pops as his heart desires.

Jeopardy!

Aaron Rodgers. Mayim Bialik. Dr. Oz. Anderson Cooper. Levar Burton. Ken Jennings. Joe Buck. Those are just some of the names that guest hosted during the process to find a successor to the late, great, irreplaceable Alex Trebek. At one point we thought the search was over, but stuff happened and that guy got “cancelled:” before he even started. The last time I checked a permanent host has yet to be decided upon, with Jennings & Bialik sharing the gig for the foreseeable future. Sadly, it just isn’t the same program without Trebek, and none of the temps have brought much to the table.

Big Tech

Social media is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it has become a significant part of our daily lives. On the other hand, I have become convinced that it may be one of the antichrists referred to in The Bible. It is a convenient way to stay in touch with old friends, former classmates & co-workers, and that gal you met once at a party eight years ago that now lives three states away. Taken at face value it is fairly innocuous entertainment. But is it really?? With the addition of “fact” checkers, community standards, data mining, alleged “misinformation”, & outright censorship of sociopolitical opinions the whole thing has become much more sinister that it was just a few years ago. When a platform has the power to silence the President of the United States perhaps it has turned into something we need less of in our lives.

Ross & Rachel

In May 2021 the cast of the iconic 90’s sitcom Friends reunited on HBO Max. The program itself was entertaining enough, but the headline was the revelation that Jennifer Aniston (aka Rachel Green) & David Schwimmer (aka Ross Geller) had been crushing on each other in real life back in the day, but never followed thru. However, a few months after the special aired rumors began to swirl that the two were now “hanging out” for real, which sounded kind of cool. Unfortunately, everyone involved threw water on the fire, so I guess Schwimmer is still Mayor of the Friend Zone.

GameStop

In January 2021 the stock price of the video game retailer inexplicably shot up 1500% in just three weeks. I am not a gamer, know very little about the stock market, and have never used Reddit, so I cannot intelligently opine about what happened, how it happened, or why it happened, but I guess a whole bunch of Wall Street types lost a ton of money.

Bernie Sanders

I’m never going to agree with much that the socialist Senator from Vermont says or does, but God bless him for saving the Presidential Inauguration. January 20, 2021 was, unsurprisingly, a chilly day in Washington DC. Sanders is 80 years old, so instead of dressing like a typical wealthy politician might he dressed for the weather and looked more like your spouse’s crazy grandfather preparing to do some ice fishing down at the local pond. Clad in a sensible yet drab coat that one might purchase from Eddie Bauer, the requisite face mask (even though he was outside), and hilarious mittens, Sen. Sanders looked like he couldn’t wait for the ceremony to end so he could get home, eat a hot bowl of soup, and watch old reruns of Bonanza on MeTV. His appearance at the Inauguration led to a wave of hilarious memes, making The Internet fun like it used to be for a few days.

#LetsGoBrandon

The mainstream American media has become an embarrassing enemy to the public it is supposed to serve. Perhaps Walter Cronkite was never as trustworthy as we imagined him to be back in the day, but atleast he was successful in selling that image. Nowadays the folks entrusted to report the news don’t even try to hide their agenda, and occasionally they blatantly lie to our faces, exposing just how stupid they really believe all of us to be. That was never clearer than on October 2, 2021 when a reporter was conducting a post-race interview with driver Brandon Brown. As had become the norm at sporting events the crowd began a quite audible chant of “Fuck Joe Biden” (you know…the Alzheimer’s patient who allegedly garnered a record 80 million votes in the last Presidential election). Instead of simply ignoring the situation the young lady tried to gaslight viewers into believing that the spectators were chanting “Let’s go Brandon”, but the joke is on her. “Let’s go Brandon” has become code, a more palatable way for folks to express how they feel about Sleepy Joe.

Bennifer 2.0

Nearly twenty years ago Ben Affleck & Jennifer Lopez had the kind of celebrity romance that fuels shows like Entertainment Tonight and tabloids like the National Enquirer, but eventually they broke up and married other people. However, 2021 found both single, so they have reunited. Good for them, I guess. Personally, I find Jennifer Garner a thousand times more attractive that J-Lo.

The Supply Chain

When the pandemic first began panic buying of toilet paper was a thing, but as we’ve settled in & adapted to the circumstances there has been less panicking. However, that doesn’t mean you’re going to find everything you want at the grocery store or retail outlet. Increased demand, labor shortages, reduced supply, and a whole lot of other things most of us will never understand have combined to make shopping much more adventurous than it was a couple of years ago. Fear not though…life may not be as convenient as it once was, but we’re not going to starve.

Squid Game

I don’t know…it’s some kind of television show. I have no idea.

Harry & Meghan

Seriously?? We’re still talking about these nimrods?? Damn you Oprah!!

Gabby Petito

Who needs fictional TV shows when real events are even more intriguing?? The disappearance of a young woman on a cross country vacation with her boyfriend captured the nation’s attention last summer. Sadly, her remains were found in a forest in Wyoming, and her boyfriend became an immediate suspect. A nationwide manhunt for him ended a few weeks later when his remains were discovered in Florida. He had strangled her, then when he was on the run from the cops shot himself. Personally, I find it odd & disturbing that these kinds o sad situations have become a form of entertainment to the masses.

Vaccine Passports/Mandates

First of all, I am not anti-vaccine, and I am fed up with the disdain shown toward alleged “anti-vaxxers”. I do have a lot of questions about a so-called vaccine that doesn’t seem to prevent the disease it was created to eliminate. I am distrustful of the moving goal posts, especially since the whole idea that “it won’t prevent you from getting COVID but it will prevent you from becoming really ill & dying” is also a lie. Fully vaccinated people are still ending up on ventilators and dying. Perfectly healthy people who believe they are doing the right thing are developing heart problems after receiving the vaccine & boosters. There’s just too much about all of this that doesn’t make much sense, and people in charge have done nothing to satisfactorily address those concerns. That being said, if you are more afraid of COVID than the vaccine and feel safer getting the shot, by all means please do. Go for it. God bless you. Unfortunately, the same kind of grace & understanding isn’t given to those on the other side of the discussion. People are losing their jobs for being unvaccinated. Performance venues, restaurants, sports arenas, & other businesses are requiring proof of vaccination. Do I believe the vaccine is the Biblical Mark of the Beast?? No, but I believe it is a pre-cursor…a test to see how easily people can be frightened & intimidated into submission and almost gladly surrender their rights & freedoms. Thankfully the populace is starting to catch on and the tide is turning. Perhaps one day a new & improved vaccine will be developed that actually prevents one from being infected with the virus and doesn’t cause otherwise healthy people to drop dead. When that time comes, I will happily get the shot.

Kimye Split

After seven years of marriage and producing four children Kim Kardashian & Kanye West ended their union. She has since taken up with Saturday Night Live’s Pete Davidson, who must have a gigantic schlong. That’s the only logical explanation.

Alec Baldwin

On October 21, 2021, Alec Baldwin shot & killed the cinematographer on a movie set. Yes, the shooting was accidental. No, I don’t believe Baldwin should go to prison. However, I am struck by the hypocrisy of a vocal anti-gun activist not only finding it acceptable to use weaponry in his job of playing make believe, but of now being responsible for more gun violence than 95% of the responsible gun owners whose Constitutional rights he’d gleefully take away in a nanosecond if he had the authority.

Spacemen Bezos, Branson, & Shatner

Rich & famous people get to do a lot more cool stuff than Average Joes, and I’m not going to whine & cry about that. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, business mogul Richard Branson, & Star Trek icon William Shatner all spent very brief amounts of time in outer space in 2021, and God bless them. I’d go up in a spaceship in a heartbeat if given the opportunity.

and the Sammy goes to…..

#LetsGoBrandon. I love a good rallying cry, especially when it happens organically and not as part of some kind of orchestrated marketing campaign. Your feelings about the slogan likely depend upon your political leanings, but I think it is undeniable that it’s about as mild & good-natured as any kind of non-violent protest you’ll come across. It certainly doesn’t compare with brandishing a person’s bloody, severed head or making a movie that fantasizes about someone being murdered.

If the pandemic has had any kind of positive effects one might be appreciation of live entertainment, especially music. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow called music “the universal language of mankind”. In celebration of that ideal The Sammys are proud to introduce one of the most talented & creative groups to turn the entertainment world on its ear in recent years. Composer Scott Bradlee created Postmodern Jukebox a decade ago, and they have since amassed millions of fans and their videos have been viewed literally billions of times across multiple social media platforms. Their ability to take modern songs by artists like Guns n’ Roses, Gwen Stefani, Britney Spears, Bon Jovi, U2, Metallica, Bruce Springsteen, and many others and give them a fresh twist with covers using jazz, swing, and any other genre you can think of is unique & fun, and we’re thrilled to have them here to entertain us on our fake awards show.

After a delightful mini-concert from PMJ it is time to present the final award of the evening, and we can think of no better person for the task than one of America’s most beloved actors. He began his career in the 1970’s on the educational children’s program The Electric Company and has since gone on to star in films like The Shawshank Redemption, Deep Impact, Batman Begins, & Ted 2. He has been nominated for five Academy Awards, winning once, and has one of the most intoxicating voices in the world. Get up on your feet and give a rousing ovation to Morgan Freeman!! And the nominees are:

Biggest News Story

COVID-19

A year ago when COVID-19 was the winner (and sole nominee) of this award I never dreamed it would still be such a dominant force in our lives throughout 2021. At the time I opined “I am hopeful that the day will come when we can all break bread together at a restaurant, greet each other warmly with a handshake or a hug at church, enjoy live music in a crowded venue, and venture out without a mask.”. To be fair much of that has kinda sorta happened. We have pressed on. We have adapted. We have gathered & celebrated. Yet this virus still hangs over our head like a dark cloud. I dealt with it in March 2021 and was blessed to have had a fairly mild case. I never lost taste or smell…I just slept a lot & drank more Gatorade than I ever have in my life. I had a low-grade fever and coughed constantly for several days. But I recovered. Some aren’t so fortunate. A former high school classmate of mine just passed recently after spending a month on a ventilator, and before that a former co-worker died from COVID. Both were around my age, and I believe both were fully vaccinated. I have come to the conclusion that COVID-19 is completely random. There are those who will live life as normal, go wherever they want unmasked (if permitted), not get any kind of vaccine, and COVID may never touch them. Conversely, some will take every known precaution and still lose their lives. Despite politicization of the issue from all sides it’s a very real & quite sad state of affairs.

President Biden

I don’t want to dump on the guy too much because I sincerely believe he is suffering from some form of mental decline. It’s pretty obvious to anyone with common sense & critical thinking skills. I don’t know who’s really in charge, but good Lord it can’t be him. As much respect as I have for the Founding Fathers and as much as I am a strict constructionist when it comes to The Constitution, the one thing I wish they would have done is add a maximum age limit to run for President as a bookend to the minimum age (35). I simply do not believe that any 79 year old person should be in charge of much of anything, let alone be Leader of the Free World. That includes Donald Trump, who will be 78 by the next election. I think perhaps 70 or 75 should be the upper limit, and that’s being generous. At any rate, we are stuck with what we are stuck with for now, and if you agree with the socialist agenda he is pushing I don’t know what to tell you because we just see the world very differently. I have never & will never defend Trump as being a paragon of virtue, but I don’t believe he did a fraction of the damage in four years that the Biden Administration has done in only one. Your mileage may vary and that’s okay. We can still be friends and I’ll still appreciate the positive qualities you bring to the table. To paraphrase the wisest man I know (my father, who voted for Biden), we can disagree without being disagreeable.

The “Insurrection”

First things first, to call what happened on January 6, 2021 an insurrection is intellectually dishonest. It wasn’t that at all. To allow it into the same conversation as 9/11 or Pearl Harbor is an absolute sign of mental illness. Seriously…anyone who says that should be sterilized immediately, and if they’ve already procreated CPS needs to intervene because those children’s lives are in peril. Having said that, the situation that occurred at the United States Capitol that day should have never happened. While I don’t disagree that people have the right to (peacefully) protest the fact is that it’s usually an exercise in futility, and when a large group of disgruntled people are gathered the potential for things to go sideways is always present. No matter how one may feel about the 2020 election the hard truth is that, whatever machinations were involved to achieve the desired outcome, it was successful. They pulled it off. That rally wasn’t going to change anything, and in the long run it made things much worse. The Left has used the situation to justify sinister things in the past year, and it became a convenient excuse to squash First Amendment rights & open discussion of important issues. If you don’t agree with the people in charge you are considered an enemy of the state, a domestic terrorist. It will take decades to repair the damage done, if that is even possible. Was it worth it?? I think not. Anyone that knows anything about sports will tell you that sometimes it’s just not your day. Occasionally you just have to gut it out, take the L, and live to fight another day. If only more people would’ve understood that before “The Insurrection” perhaps life in America wouldn’t have changed so much in the past year.

Chauvin Trial

Derek Chauvin was one of the Minneapolis, MN police officers charged in the May 2020 death of career criminal George Floyd that led to an entire summer of race riots & civil unrest across the country. Last Spring Chauvin was found guilty on multiple manslaughter & murder charges and has been sentenced to 22 years in prison thus far, which could be increased. I am not going to defend Chauvin as a good guy, but neither will I deify Floyd. The fact that someone made a George Floyd statue is sickening. He is neither a hero nor a martyr. Should he have died in the manner that he did?? Obviously not. However, putting aside the particulars of this one case, I believe we need to strike a balance. Criminals need to be held accountable and treated like criminals, but they should not needlessly lose their lives. Law enforcement needs to be held accountable for excessive use of force and unnecessarily harming perpetrators, but they also need to be able to do their jobs. I don’t know why anyone would choose to become a police officer in today’s sociopolitical climate. It has always been a dangerous job, but now the threat comes not just from the suspects they are chasing down, but from other entities as well.

Inflation

I hated economics class in college, but I know just enough to understand how things work. I certainly realize that my groceries, the gasoline I put in my vehicle, and the cost of everything else has risen exponentially in the past several months. There are many reasons for that, and very few of them are accidental. If you think the politicians in DC or the folks out in Hollywood give a damn about you struggling to make ends meet you’re a fool. They are much more interested in virtue signaling about climate change, allowing illegal immigrants to flood our borders, and destroying what they view as the evils of capitalism. Rising gas prices?? 100% intentional so that buying an electric car starts to seem like a good idea (it’s not). Rising food prices?? They’re millionaires who couldn’t care less if a gallon of milk is $3.99 instead of $2.99. They do not care that inflation in 2021 was the highest since 1982, and it will get worse. The only way to reverse course is at the ballot box starting in 2022.

Botched Afghanistan Withdrawal

I’m not a military expert, but I know a fiasco when I see it. American troops had maintained a presence in Afghanistan for two decades, but in August 2021 the remaining troops were removed. Unfortunately The Taliban didn’t get the memo and approximately 1000 United States civilians were left behind, which is disgraceful & perhaps treasonous. Also left behind was billions of dollars in weaponry & equipment, which is inexcusable. The entire operation was amateur hour and a prime example of why the current administration should have never been put in charge of anything. But hey, atleast Sleepy Joe doesn’t hurt anyone’s feelings on Twitter, right??

The “Vaccine”

Can we really call it a vaccine when it doesn’t actually prevent the disease it was created to eradicate?? I don’t think so. Of course now we’ve moved the goal posts, with leftists admitting that it doesn’t stop the spread of COVID-19, it just lessens the symptoms. Unfortunately, the fully vaccinated people who died anyway might disagree…if they were still alive. I had COVID in March 2021, and I am convinced that my symptoms were mild because I’d had a flu shot. I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV, but isn’t COVID essentially the flu with a really bad attitude?? That’s probably an epic oversimplification, but I stand by my logic. And you know what?? I receive a flu shot once per year. The “vaccine” apparently requires boosters every five freakin’ minutes and causes heart problems to boot. No thanks. If it gives you a (false) sense of security and you swell up with pride by posting a photo of your vax card on social media by all means please go for it. I will not attempt to dissuade you in any way. That’s not what I’m about. In return all I ask is the same respect.

Rittenhouse Trial

During the summer of race riots in 2020 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse fatally shot two men & injured another in Kenosha, WI. The men were chasing Rittenhouse and assaulted him with a skateboard. It was a clear case of self-defense, and one didn’t need to be an attorney to understand that, but it is a sad commentary on the state of our nation that the outcome of the trial was legitimately in doubt. Even more curious is the fact that the situation was framed as a racial crime even though Rittenhouse and all the victims are white. I am proud to say that I didn’t watch one second of the trial but will point out that Rittenhouse was simply a useful tool. What was really on trial was every citizen’s right to defend ourselves against violent criminals. It was an attack on our freedom, as many things have become in the past fifteen years. Thankfully Kyle Rittenhouse was found not guilty, so our beleaguered Constitution lives to fight another day.

Build Back Better

Sleepy Joe and his socialist friends have tried mightily to destroy America as we know it, and they’ve had an alarming amount of success. They hide their sinister plans behind positive words like “infrastructure” & “child tax credits”, but the real purpose is a radical climate change, social justice, & socialized medicine agenda that costs over $2 billion dollars and would destroy the economy even further. It’s bad enough that the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Act (a separate bill) did pass, as it contains a lot of the same hidden motives. Sadly too many Americans are more interested in who got voted off American Idol or what Lady Gaga wore on the red carpet, which allows wealthy, out of touch, bought & paid for politicians who are mere puppets for powerful special interest groups & even Communist China to control what happens in our lives while we’re looking the other way.

and the Sammy goes to…..

The “Vaccine”. I think I speak for a great deal of people who are not “anti-vaccine”…we are anti THIS vaccine. If it doesn’t prevent COVID and does not (as propenents would have you believe) eliminate the chance of death, then what exactly is the point?? If you are vaccinated then why do you care whether someone else is?? None of it holds water or makes any sense.

RIP

actress, comedienne, & cultural touchstone Betty White…..NFL Hall of Famers John Madden (broadcaster, video game guru, & former Oakland Raiders head coach), Floyd Little (Denver Broncos), Sam Huff (NY Giants), Curley Culp (Kansas City Chiefs), & Claude Humphrey (Atlanta Falcons)…..composer Stephen Sondheim (Sweeney Todd)…..controversial political pundit Rush Limbaugh…..actresses Betty Lynn (TAGS), Cloris Leachman (Young Frankenstein, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Facts of Life), Markie Post (Night Court, The Fall Guy, Hearts Afire), Arlene Golonka (TAGS, Mayberry RFD), Cicely Tyson (Roots, Fried Green Tomatoes), Tanya Roberts (Charlie’s Angels, A View to a Kill), Jessica Walter (TBBT, PCU), Gloria Henry (Dennis the Menace), Olympia Dukakis (Moonstruck, Steel Magnolias), Tawny Kitaen (Bachelor Party, music videos), Philece Sampler (Days of Our Lives), Bergin Williams (General Hospital), Lisa Brown (Guiding Light, As the World Turns), & Jeanine Roose (Young Violet Bick in IAWL)…..historic astronaut Michael Collins (Apollo 11)…..legendary basketball coach John Chaney (Temple Owls)…..casting director Don Phillips (Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Dazed & Confused)…..groundbreaking golfer Lee Elder…..children’s author Beverly Cleary…..film directors Richard Donner (Lethal Weapon series, Superman, Scrooged, The Goonies) & Robert Downey Sr.…..retired NFL referee Fred Wyant…..casino mogul Sheldon Adelson…..televangelist Ernest Angley…..musicians Dusty Hill (ZZ Top), BJ Thomas (Rain Drops Keep Fallin’ on My Head, Hooked on a Feeling, As Long As We Got Each Other), Chick Corea, Don Everly (The Everly Brothers),  Rusty Young (Poco), Lloyd Price (Stagger Lee), Bruce Conte (Tower of Power), Tom T. Hall, Charlie Watts (The Rolling Stones), Graeme Edge (The Moody Blues), Dave Frishberg (I’m Just a Bill), Billy Hinsche (The Beach Boys), & Michael Nesmith (The Monkees)…..infamous burglar, radio host, & former FBI agent G. Gordon Liddy…..former NFL coaches Marty Schottenheimer (Kansas City Chiefs), Jim Fassel (NY Giants), & Joe Walton (NY Jets)….. songwriter Jim Steinman (Total Eclipse of the Heart, Making Love Out of Nothing At All, I’d Do Anything for Love)…..former Secretary of State George Shultz, former Vice President & Presidential candidate Walter Mondale, former Secretary of State Gen. Colin Powell, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and former Senate Majority Leaders Harry Reid & (also Presidential candidate) Bob Dole…..former MLB managers Joe Altobelli (San Francisco Giants), Ray Miller (Baltimore Orioles), & Bill Virdon (Houston Astros)….. journalists Roger Mudd & Lloyd Dobyns…..college football coaches Bobby Bowden (Florida State), Howard Schnellenberger (Miami (FL), & Terry Donahue (UCLA)…..novelist & Oscar winning screenwriter Larry McMurtry (Lonesome Dove, Terms of Endearment, The Last Picture Show) and author Anne Rice (Interview with the Vampire)…..NBA Hall of Famers Elgin Baylor (LA Lakers), Paul Westphal (Phoenix Suns), & Sam Jones (Boston Celtics)…..Nobel Peace Prize winning civil rights leader Bishop Desmond Tutu…..actors Gavin MacLeod (The Love Boat, TAGS, The Mary Tyler Moore Show), Stuart Damon (General Hospital), Ed Asner (The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Elf), Peter Scolari (Bosom Buddies, Newhart), Hal Holbrook (All the President’s Men, North & South, The Firm), Charles Grodin (Seems Like Old Times, Midnight Run, My Summer Story), Ned Beatty (Deliverance, Stroker Ace, Rudy), Frank Bonner (WKRP in Cincinnati), John Reilly (General Hospital), Dustin Diamond (Saved by the Bell), Christopher Plummer (The Sound of Music, The Thorn Birds), Gil Rogers (Guiding Light), Yaphet Kotto (Alien, Midnight Run), George Segal (Just Shoot Me), James Hampton (Teen Wolf, The Longest Yard, F Troop), Norman Lloyd (St, Elsewhere, Dead Poets Society), Clarence Williams III (The Mod Squad), John Gabriel (Ryan’s Hope), Charlie Robinson (Night Court), Michael Constantine (Room 222, My Big Fat Greek Wedding), Jackie Mason (Caddyshack II), Michael Nader (Dynasty, All My Children), Norm MacDonald (Saturday Night Live), Willie Garson (Sex & The City), Michael Tylo (Guiding Light), James Michael Tyler (Gunther on Friends), Peter Aykroyd (Saturday Night Live), Dean Stockwell (Quantum Leap), Jerry Douglas (The Young & Restless), Art LaFleur (Field of Dreams, The Santa Clause Trilogy), Eddie Mekka (Laverne & Shirley), and prolific character actors Ernie Lively & Walter Olkewicz…..broadcasting legend Larry King…..rappers DMX & Biz Markie…..triathlete, marathon runner, & Super Dad Dick Hoyt…..former Green Bay Packers GM Ted Thompson…..marketing guru JD Power…..porn king Larry Flynt…..attorney & civil rights leader Vernon Jordan, attorney F. Lee Bailey, & Roe v. Wade attorney Sarah Weddington…..MLB Hall of Famers Hank Aaron (Atlanta Braves), Tommy Lasorda (LA Dodgers), & Don Sutton (LA Dodgers)…..Emmy winning TV producer Allan Burns (The Munsters, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, also created Cap’n Crunch)…..World Trade Center engineer Leslie Robertson…..boxing champions Leon Spinks & “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler…..infamous record producer Phil Spector…..former football players Tim Lester (Pittsburgh Steelers), Vincent Jackson (San Diego Chargers), Colt Brennan (Washington Redskins), David Patten (New England Patriots), Tunch Ilkin (Pittsburgh Steelers), Tom Matte (Baltimore Colts), & Demaryius Thomas (Denver Broncos)….. Britain’s Prince Philip…..pro wrestlers “Beautiful” Bobby Eaton, Butch Reed, Dominic DeNucci, Barry Orton, New Jack, Don Kernodle, “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff, Jody Hamilton, Daffney Unger, Angelo Mosca, Jimmy Rave, Corporal Kirchner, and promoter Jim Crockett Jr……TV announcer Alan Kalter (Late Show w/David Letterman)…..former baseball players Rennie Stennett (Pittsburgh Pirates), Grant Jackson (Pittsburgh Pirates), Rheal Cormier (Philadelphia Phillies), Julio Lugo (Tampa Bay Rays), & LaMarr Hoyt (Chicago White Sox)…..notorious Wall Street trader Bernie Madoff….. labor leader Richard Trumka…..former basketball players Granville Waiters & Eric Mobley…..inventor & infomercial guru Ron Popeil …..auto racing legends Bobby Unser & Al Unser Sr……former President of South Africa FW de Klerk…..legendary weatherman & Ronald McDonald creator Willard Scott

2021 Sammy Awards: Part Deux

Welcome back to The Sammys!! If you missed out on Part 1 please check it out then join us right back here. Give a rousing ovation to our host, renowned comedian Dave Chappelle!!

After some thought-provoking comedy from our host it’s time for our next award, and making his debut on our stage is a driver in NASCAR’s Xfinity Series. He has won only one race in 119 starts in the course of six years, but he’s only 28 years old and we feel like his future is bright. It was that single win in October 2021 that made him marginally famous, albeit not for the reason he likely preferred. Y’all know what to do as we proudly introduce Brandon Brown!! Let’s go Brandon!!!! And the nominees are:

The Thrill of Victory Award

Brady Wins Another Super Bowl

On February 7, 2021 Tom Brady’s decision to leave New England after two decades paid off, as he led his new team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, to a convincing 31-9 victory over the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs. Brady earned his seventh Lombardi Trophy and was the game’s MVP for the fifth time.

The Tide Rolls…Again

On January 11, 2021 the Alabama Crimson Tide won their sixth National Championship in twelve years by administering a 52-24 beatdown to the Ohio St. Buckeyes, who shouldn’t have been in the playoff in the first place.

Baylor’s Madness

After COVID forced the cancellation of March Madness in 2020 the tournament returned a year later, with Gonzaga, Houston, Baylor, & UCLA ending up in the Final Four. The Baylor Bears beat the previously undefeated Gonzaga Bulldogs on April 5, 2021 to earn their first ever National Championship.

Helio’s 4th Indy 500

COVID also affected the Indianapolis 500 in 2020, causing it to be delayed until August. I missed it because I completely forgot about it being rescheduled. Thankfully the Indy 500 returned to its familiar Memorial Day Weekend spot in 2021, with dynamic 46 year old Brazilian Helio Castroneves following in the footsteps of legends AJ Foyt, Al Unser Sr., & Rick Mears by capturing his fourth Borg-Warner Trophy.

Milwaukee Wins NBA Title

In July 2021 (because the season was delayed slightly & reduced by ten games) the Milwaukee Bucks defeated the Phoenix Suns in six games (4-2) to win their first NBA title since Lew Alcindor (aka Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) had led them to a championship in 1971. “The Greek Freak” Giannis Antetokounmpo was named Finals MVP, fulfilling the potential so many had seen in him throughout his nine year career.

Braves Win Another World Series

Selective memory is funny. I really thought the Braves had won several World Series back in the 1990’s when I truly despised them. However, it turns out that in five appearances they only won once in that time span (they’d won the Series two previous times decades before I was born). That made their 2021 victory more palatable, and it also helped that they defeated the Houston Astros, who I still consider cheaters that should’ve been stripped of the championship they “won” in 2017. To be honest I didn’t watch much of this Series, which the Braves won in six games, 4-2.

and the Sammy goes to…..

Milwaukee Bucks. It was just nice to have a Finals that didn’t include the LA Lakers, Golden St. Warriors, Cleveland Cavaliers, San Antonio Spurs, or Miami Heat. Lebron James was nowhere to be found. It was a fresh matchup involving teams that aren’t usually around at the end. The Bucks hadn’t won a title in fifty years, so kudos to them.

To present our next award we are happy to welcome a young lady who has been enjoying her freedom the past few months. She may never recapture the success or popularity that she enjoyed two decades ago, but seems to be in a good place in her life. She’s a pretty decent follow on Instagram and we sincerely hope her loneliness is no longer killing her. Get on your feet for Grammy Award winning pop princess Britney Spears!! And the nominees are:

Favorite Podcast or Viral Videos

Broken Skull Sessions w/ “Stone Cold” Steve Austin

Former WWE Champion “Stone Cold” Steve Austin has segued nicely from opening up a can o’ whoopass in the wrestling ring to a variety of entertainment projects that keep him in the pop culture consciousness. While I don’t particularly care for his Broken Skull Challenge on CMT or Straight Up Steve Austin on USA Network, I do like his Broken Skull Sessions, which is just a conversation between Austin and another wrestling legend or current star. I you’re a wrestling fan it’s not a bad way to spend 60-90 minutes of your evening.

Tipsy Bartender

Bartender Skyy John is still slinging drinks online. Sometimes his creations are kind of wacky, and lately he’s altered his format a bit, but I still must give him a shoutout. If he eliminates the stupid music that’s all the sudden become a thing and gets back to entertaining us with his infectious personality while preparing those crazy concoctions that’d be nice.  

Oral Sessions w/ Renee Paquette

Formerly known as Renee Young in WWE, Paquette has moved on but hasn’t totally escaped pro wrestling. That’s probably not going to happen since she’s married to AEW star Jon Moxley (aka Dean Ambrose) and the couple welcomed a baby girl just a few months ago. Oral Sessions differs from Austin’s show in that occasionally Paquette will interview someone outside of the wrestling realm, usually an MMA fighter, although she had her mother on once as well.

Men with the Pot

Calm down, it’s not what it sounds like…it is a cooking show, but can’t be compared to anything you’ll see on Food Network. These are simple, brief, minimalist videos made by two Polish dudes in Ireland. They’re usually about 5-10 minutes in length and show some tasty vittles being cooked out in the wild, almost like a virtual camping trip. Unlike most food-centric programs that focus on the personality of the host (I’m looking at you Guy Fieri, Emeril Lagasse, & Bobby Flay) Men with the Pot doesn’t even show us who’s cooking. Perhaps we’ll see a hand or a leg, but otherwise there is no talking, no music, and no other sounds besides veggies being chopped, meat sizzling in an iron skillet, the gentle flow of a babbling brook, and the lovely chirping of birds. Oh, and the food always looks amazing!!

Food Dolls

Another cooking show that’s also rather austere & oddly soothing. The two hosts are lovely Egyptian-American sisters who would most certainly thrive as phone sex operators if this gig ever falls thru. The videos are usually a minute or less, meaning you’ll need to hunt down the recipe if you actually want to make the dish yourself. That being said, I don’t know about y’all, but as much as I enjoy watching other people cook on television or online I rarely attempt to actually cook the food they make. I don’t know why I enjoy such programs, but I do.

and the Sammy goes

Men with the Pot. I’m going to contradict myself. With Tipsy Bartender it’s all about the host and his extroversion. However, sometimes the direct opposite is a nice change of pace. Have you ever listened to ambient music to fall asleep?? Thunderstorms. A crackling fireplace. Gentle rain. Men with the Pot is exactly like that, only with food. Its charm is the lack of a host…no one talking or laughing or yelling or drawing attention to themselves. The food is the focus, and it’s mesmerizing.

To present our next award we thought “what the hell” and decided to utilize NASCAR driver Brandon Brown for a second time. Let’s go Brandon!!!! And the nominees are:

The Agony of Defeat Award

Simone Biles

I don’t generally pay attention to gymnastics, and I assume I’m not alone. It’s something we notice every four years when The Olympics come around. If you were to ask me who the best gymnast of all time is I’d throw out names like Mary Lou Retton (total WV bias) & Nadia Comaneci (because I’m old), but this past summer talking heads really tried to sell the idea that the title should belong to 24 year old Simone Biles. I guess recency bias is a real thing. But something odd happened on the way to immortality…saying she “felt the weight of the world” on her shoulders (which is sort of the whole point of Olympic competition), Biles withdrew from the team finals, individual all-around finals, and almost all the individual event finals that she’d qualified for, although she did end up winning a bronze medal in the balance beam competition. Team USA won the team silver, which likely would have been a gold medal had Biles led the group like she was supposed to do. Every talking head & soccer Mom jumped to the defense of Simone Biles and discussion of mental health issues came to the forefront (the only good thing to come out of the situation), but the only thing I could think was how I had never seen a world class athlete fold like a cheap suit on such a grand stage. Quite frankly it was embarrassing. We’ve all heard the phrase “if you can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchen”, and Simone Biles couldn’t so she did. She quit on her team & her country. I wish the young lady well in her future. I’m sure she’ll be fine, but sadly her legacy is forever tarnished.

The Cleveland Guardians of the Galaxy

The PC Police continue to destroy American culture piece by piece, and in 2021 it was MLB’s Cleveland Indians turn to be cancelled. The franchise announced that they’d be abandoning the Indians nickname and become the Cleveland Guardians, which is about as stupid of a choice as they could have possibly made.

Urban Meyer

He may be a good football coach, but to call Urban Meyer enigmatic would be kind. He’s well-travelled, which is a nice way of saying he’s an unreliable job hopper who bolts at the first sign of trouble. However, his departure from the Jacksonville Jaguars before the end of his first season at the helm was not Meyer’s choice. In October video of the coach being a bit too cozy with a woman other than his wife in a Columbus, OH restaurant went viral. To make matters worse, the Jags had just lost a game in Cincinnati, but Meyer didn’t go back to Jacksonville with the team, which is why he was in Columbus. Then in December accusations of mistreatment of players emerged, most notably former kicker Josh Lambo saying that Meyer literally kicked him in the leg. That was the final straw and the team decided to cut its losses. Will Urban Meyer land on his feet?? Probably. Some college team will give him another chance eventually, or he’ll land a TV gig.

147th Kentucky Derby

In 2020 the Kentucky Derby was another sporting event impacted by COVID, as it was delayed from its usual spot on the calendar in early May until September, and even then there were no fans in the stands, which was weird. 2021 saw a return to relative normalcy (Churchill Downs allowed 60% capacity). Unfortunately the outcome was marred by controversy, as winner Medina Spirit tested positive for an illegal substance after the race. An investigation is still ongoing (why such a process takes more than eight months is baffling) and sadly the horse died in December.

The Olympics

The “2020” Summer Olympics in Tokyo were delayed until 2021 (I’ll give you three guesses as to why and the first two don’t count), and the event was made even less interesting than usual by the fact that no spectators were allowed at the venues. I don’t think I watched one second of The Olympics, and I don’t feel bad about that.

NIL & The Transfer Portal

In case you’ve been curious, NIL stands for “name, image, & likeness”. Last summer the NCAA instituted new rules that allow collegiate athletes to be paid thru marketing deals in which they can now take advantage of whatever level of fame they have achieved. The transfer portal was actually created in 2018, but didn’t cause much of a buzz until 2021 when additional rules went into effect allowing any athlete to transfer without having to sit out a year. For now they’re allowed to transfer once, but I expect that to be tweaked in the future. Essentially this is collegiate free agency, with the additional carrot of getting paid being dangled just to make things interesting. And while I believe that these rules were created with the best of intentions what we are now seeing are unintended, chaotic consequences, like Oklahoma’s freshman QB Caleb Williams entering the portal despite having supplanted a presumed Heisman candidate under center and leading his team to an 11-2 record. There are so many tentacles to this thing that recruiting has been rendered moot. It doesn’t matter what team lands a kid out of high school because that player can ditch his team for a better deal, whether that means more playing time, a higher profile program, or a better marketing deal. College sports are farm clubs for the NFL, NBA, & (to a lesser extent) MLB now. That’s probably been true for awhile, but they aren’t even pretending to hide it anymore.

MLB All Star Game

Thanks to ESPN and other sports media the worlds of sports & politics collide more & more these days. The 2021 All-Star Game was scheduled to be played in Atlanta, but then Georgia had to go & pass an election integrity law requiring voter ID and other measures to ensure fair elections. Integrity & fairness are abhorrent ideas to liberals, so heads exploded. Somehow this turned into MLB moving the All Star Game to Denver. I didn’t watch, I don’t know who won, and I don’t care.

Tiger Woods

We all know it’s been a rough decade for Tiger Woods. His personal life got messy and various ailments derailed his legendary golf career. At one time it seemed like a lock that he’d shatter Jack Nicklaus’ record of winning 18 major titles (U.S. Open, The Masters, British Open, PGA Championship). When everything imploded for Tiger in 2009 he had won 14 majors in twelve years. He had begun to make a bit of a comeback, culminating in winning his fifth Masters in 2019 at age 43. That victory provided a glimpse of the old Tiger and made us believe that maybe…just maybe…he still had an opportunity to catch The Golden Bear. Unfortunately, on February 23, 2021 Tiger rolled his vehicle near Los Angeles and suffered significant injuries to both of his legs. Even Woods himself admits now that his days as a full-timer on the PGA Tour are over and, though he’ll likely still play in as many majors as possible, his pursuit of Nicklaus will probably fall short.

and the Sammy goes to…..

NIL & The Transfer Portal. The guise of “student-athletes” has been laughable for a long time, but it was still fun to pretend that these young people were amateurs. That’s finished now, atleast when it comes to football & basketball. High school quarterback Quinn Ewers matriculated to Ohio St. and was so highly touted that he signed a $1.4 million NIL deal. He got into one game with the Buckeyes…two snaps in garbage time…and was beaten out for the starting gig by redshirt freshman CJ Stroud, who was a Heisman finalist. So Ewers took his ball & went home to play for Texas, where he’ll probably be the starter next season. But don’t worry, cause he’s sitting on a million Gs after accomplishing literally NOTHING. Does anyone see an issue with that?? NFL legend Deion Sanders is now the head coach at 1-AA/FCS Jackson St., and Coach Prime made waves by recruiting five-star cornerback Travis Hunter. To the surprise of almost everybody Hunter chose Jackson St. over Florida St., Alabama, Georgia, Michigan, Oklahoma, and others. Rumors have swirled that he also has a $1.5 million NIL deal on the table, although that is unconfirmed. Does anyone actually think the young man will stay more than a year at Jackson St.?? I’ll be shocked if he doesn’t enter the portal a year from now and end up at one of the elite schools that recruited him in the first place. It’s crazy. It’s a free-for-all. And I don’t think any of it is good for collegiate athletics.

To present our next award The Sammys are turning to a trio of actors known primarily for their television work, specifically in daytime dramas. Two gentlemen left their longtime roles on ABC’s General Hospital after Disney (perhaps the world’s most evil corporation, ironically) imposed silly vaccine mandates and they refused to bow to the pressure. They are joined by a beautiful young lady whose departure from General Hospital in 2020 was not her choice. She has since become one of my favorite follows on Instagram, especially after her family adopted a beautiful pug puppy that reminds me so much of my dearly departed Rocco. You may know them as Jasper Jacks, Jason Morgan, & Lulu Falconeri, but we’re pretty excited to give it up for Ingo Rademacher, Steve Burton, & Emme Rylan!! And the nominees are:

Favorite Movie

Coming 2 America

The long overdue sequel to the 1998 classic starring Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall, & James Earl Jones finds Prince Akeem of Zamunda returning to New York City to find the son he never knew he produced. Hilarity ensues…kind of. I didn’t hate it, but it doesn’t measure up to its predecessor. Is nostalgia a good enough reason to create…anything?? I don’t know, but it’s an interesting question to ponder. At any rate, Murphy isn’t as funny as he might have been three decades ago, but I’ll take Eddie Murphy at half speed over most of the people kids believe are funny nowadays.

The Addams Family 2

The Addams Family has spawned TV shows, cartoons, movies, and just about everything else you can imagine. In 2019 they returned to the big screen in computer animated form, and this is the sequel to that film. It’s mildly entertaining but mostly forgettable. My perspective is biased by the fact that, right around the time this movie hit theaters, our local community theater produced a high quality stage production of The Addams Family Musical that had been nominated for a Tony Award in 2010. The musical I saw (twice) was far superior to this movie.

Spider-Man: No Way Home

The third installment of Marvel’s Spider-Man franchise dives into something called The Multiverse. I’m not a comic book nerd so I can’t give you a detailed explanation, but I’ll just say it’s pretty trippy. I have never seen any of the MCU movies other than the Spider-Man flicks, all three of which I have enjoyed immensely. At this point I am sure most everyone has either seen the movie or read spoilers, but I won’t go there. Suffice to say that it is well-written with fine performances, has a lot of action, and isn’t a bad way to spend a couple of hours. It is exactly what good popcorn cinema should be.

American Underdog

I’m a sucker for a good biopic, and I understand why some would think Kurt Warner’s story is interesting enough to be made into a movie. That being said, despite the fact that Warner is an NFL Hall-of-Famer, two-time League MVP, and one time Super Bowl MVP, my initial reaction to hearing about the film was “They made a movie…about Kurt Warner??”. That’s a good thing though because I set the bar low and didn’t have any kind of grand expectations, making it that much easier for the finished product to exceed them, which it did. American Underdog isn’t going to be remembered in the same conversation with the greatest sports movies or even the best biopics, but it’s entertaining enough.

King Richard

As much of a sports nut as I am tennis has never frosted my cupcake. I know just enough about the game & its personalities to carry on a reasonably intelligent conversation, but that’s about it. However, you’d have to have been living under a rock the past couple of decades not to have heard of Venus & Serena Williams, who have become two of the best players of all time. The movie isn’t about them though…not really. Their father, Richard, is the ultimate helicopter parent, but he is portrayed in such a way that we don’t hate him. He dreams up a life plan for his girls when they are just babies, and he’s hellbent & determined to follow thru. He wants them to be professional tennis players and is willing to make sacrifices to make that happen. We’ve seen similar stories, but usually the parents are depicted as self-centered & borderline abusive. Richard Williams isn’t either of those things really…he’s just doggedly single-minded and sort of crazy, but in a sympathetic, non-threatening way. Is the film an accurate portrayal of Richard?? Who knows?? It is a really good movie though, and if Will Smith doesn’t win the Academy Award for Best Actor it will be a crime.     

Tom & Jerry

If you are of a certain age and grew up watching Tom & Jerry cartoons you’ll enjoy it well enough, but that’s as far as I can go. The technology is cool, putting the titular twosome in real world places & backgrounds that are not animated. The issue I have is that Tom D. Cat and Jerome A. Mouse are supporting characters in their own movie. The plot revolves around a down-on-her-luck 20-something who deceives her way into a job at a swanky hotel just as it is preparing to host a lavish celebrity wedding. The whole thing could’ve been a lighthearted rom-com without any critters and not changed all that much. But their cat & mouse game (I could NOT help myself) does drive the story to the point that the wedding is destroyed (literally), so I suppose that’s the idea. At the end of the day though there is way too much humanity for an alleged animated film.

In the Heights

Lin-Manuel Miranda could retire as the dude who gave us Hamilton and that would be enough, but he’s back with what can best be described as a love letter to the Latino community, specifically Washington Heights in New York City’s Upper Manhattan. The music is lively & fun, and the performances are fantastic. I am sure those from a similar background that identify closely with the story love the movie more than me, and I mean that respectfully. I enjoyed it and liked the music, but understand completely that I am not the target audience. Miranda set the bar impossibly high with Hamilton, and while In the Heights tries mightily, it falls short of the mark.

and the Sammy goes to…..

King Richard. I’m not really a huge Will Smith fan. His filmography is hit & miss for me, but when he hits he knocks it out of the ballpark. I think it helps that I’m not really into tennis, know very little about the lives of The Williams Sisters, & had no preconceived notions about Richard Williams. That being said, I found Smith’s performance enthralling and the tale itself fascinating. Rotten Tomatoes has it rated 91% fresh, and I have to agree.

It’s time or another break, but we’ll be  back soon with the exciting climax of the 2021 Sammys!!

2021 Sammy Awards: Part 1

A dozen years ago we transformed a simple Year in Review into the world’s coolest fake awards show. There have been a couple of off years, making this presentation the Tenth Annual Sammys!! Because your humble Potentate of Profundity is a man ahead of his time this show was pandemic proof long before there was a pandemic. We have no live audience & no acceptance speeches. Everything is not only virtual, it is completely imaginary. Having said that, please feel free to mask up, sanitize your laptop, tablet, or mobile device, and even head to a local medical facility to get tested once the show is over. As always The Sammys are way more groovy than the Oscars, Emmys, Grammys, Golden Globes, or anything MTV produces. We have fun when appropriate but also pay proper respect to subjects that have earned it. Hope springs eternal, so we still believe that the show is worthy of some kind of television deal, although having an online presence might actually be just as valuable nowadays. So slip into your most comfortable sweats & rattiest old t-shirt, grab a beverage & enough snacks to last for awhile, make one final trip to the loo (that’s British), and hunker down as we enjoy one final reminiscence of the year that was while simultaneously praying for good things to come.

To host this year’s show we have called upon one of America’s most popular yet enigmatic comedians. He has won five Emmy Awards & three Grammys, but The Sammys are undoubtedly his career pinnacle. In October 2021 he came under fire for some jokes that hurt the feelings of certain special interest groups, people that are apparently unfamiliar with the history of stand-up comedy. Fortunately for us he stared cancel culture in the face and flipped it the bird, which makes it an immense pleasure to welcome Dave Chappelle!!

After a brief yet wickedly funny & edgy opening monologue it’s time for our first award, and we are thrilled to welcome a lady who wasn’t so successful in beating back cancel culture. Last Spring she was fired from daytime snoozefest The Talk after being one of the co-hosts for over a decade. No matter where you stand on that particular issue The Sammy Awards believes in both free speech & redemption, so please give a warm welcome to one of the most famous rock star wives in the world…Sharon Osborne!! And the nominees are:

Favorite TV Show

Cobra Kai

I’m not a binger. I am an 80’s kid used to television shows premiering in September, airing a couple dozen episodes, and concluding their seasons in May. Summertime was nothing but reruns. All those rules have changed though, and I find myself caught between adapting and eschewing television altogether. One program I am willing to adapt for is Cobra Kai, the continuation of The Karate Kid film trilogy that introduced us to Daniel LaRusso & Johnny Lawrence. Cobra Kai catches up with Daniel & Johnny three decades later and integrates a whole new generation of youngsters into their story. The show does a nice job of balancing nostalgia & teen angst, as well as juggling drama, action, romance, & humor.

WWE Raw/NXT/Smackdown

I’ve been a pro wrestling fan for probably four decades, and it tends to be rather cyclical. Stars come & go, promotions rise & fall, and the presentation evolves. To be honest the product seems to be in a bit of a lull right now, but I still watch, and despite its various issues & no shortage of competition WWE is still on top, mostly due to superior production value and the best television deals. One competitor…Impact Wrestling…has had a half dozen obscure television homes in the past 15 years and currently airs on something called AXS TV, a channel I have but forget that I do. Conversely, WWE Raw & NXT both air on USA Network, while Smackdown is on Fox. Wrestling isn’t “Must-See TV” as much as it used to be, and there are nights I doze off while watching, but it’s been a part of my life since I was a pre-teen and that’s probably not going to change.

General Hospital

When I was a kid there were about a dozen soap operas on television, and at one time or another I probably checked out most of them. Today though, only four remain, and only one has kept my interest. It’s not always compelling, but GH has retained a certain level of quality thanks to solid writing and good performances. Soaps receive their fair share of ridicule and deservedly so, but when you consider some of the names that got their start on daytime dramas…Meg Ryan, Kevin Bacon, Tommy Lee Jones, Alec Baldwin, Demi Moore, John Stamos, Marisa Tomei, Julianne Moore, David Hasselhoff, Robin Wright (just to name a few)…perhaps the genre deserves a bit more respect.

NFL Redzone

From September thru December there is nothing I enjoy more than hunkering down in my humble abode on Sunday afternoons and watching “seven hours of commercial free football”. It has spoiled me to the point that spending three hours at other times watching just one game feels odd. I wish someone would borrow the concept for college football, although there are probably too many moving parts & competing interests involved for that to work.

and the Sammy goes to…..

General Hospital. Here is the issue with Cobra Kai (as well as many other streaming shows): Netflix released Season 3 on New Year’s Day 2021, and then Season 4 didn’t come along until New Year’s Eve a year later. Conversely, General Hospital airs Monday thru Friday year-round. Sometimes I watch, sometimes I don’t. Occasionally I’ll DVR it, while oftentimes I don’t. More frequently than fans would prefer it gets pre-empted by breaking news. Sometimes the storylines are riveting, other times they are cringeworthy. Yet, despite all the inconsistency, the fact is GH is (almost) always there, which is the essence of soap operas. We literally watch these characters grow up over the course of many years. We invite them into our homes, and in return they share their dysfunctional families, wild adventures, illicit activities, forbidden affairs, rocky romances, and crazy (fictional) lives with us. Are there better ways to spend one’s time?? Of course, and if I had a more…consequential…life perhaps I wouldn’t waste my time on such tomfoolery, but sadly that’s not the case.

To present our next award we are intrigued to welcome a man who probably never thought of himself as a villain. Unfortunately for him the powers-that-be at ABC/Disney disagreed, and in March of last year he “departed” The Bachelor (and its spinoffs) after nearly two decades. His crime?? Suggesting mercy & grace be extended to a young woman who made the heinous mistake of attending a politically incorrect party when she was an 18 year old college student. While The Bachelor (and its spinoffs) might be the most mind-numbingly asinine franchise on television and has undoubtedly contributed to the decline & eventual fall of civilization, it is equally true that Harrison did absolutely nothing wrong. Therefore we are happy to extend mercy & grace to him, so please give an enthusiastic welcome to Chris Harrison!!  And the nominees are:

The Joker Award for Villain of the Year

Lebron James

Basketball fans can debate all they want about the greatest player of all time…is it King James or Michael Jordan??…and that’s fine. I will always choose Jordan for various reasons, and unfortunately one of them has little to do with basketball. Social media and the influence of ESPN has allowed & encouraged players to not “stick to sports”, which isn’t a good thing in my opinion, and Lebron James is one of the more vocal offenders. President Lincoln famously advised “better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt”, but with Twitter, 24/7 sports & news channels, and various other technologies it is nearly impossible for fans not to know the thoughts & beliefs of sports stars, actors, musicians, and others who we simply want to entertain us with their transcendent talent & skill. Sadly it is a Pandora’s Box that cannot be closed.

Rep. Nancy Pelosi

I’ve never been to California, and don’t have any desire to visit after seeing the kind of garbage it produces. Pelosi has represented her district (mostly San Francisco) for nearly 35 years and has spent much of the past 15 years as the first & only female Speaker of the House of Representatives. Normally that’d be an accomplishment to be celebrated, but the problem is this woman is absolutely batshit crazy, which leaves me with the impression that her constituents are insane as well. Anyone can make a mistake. It’s easy for a politician to beguile voters, but one would think that once that elected official proves themselves to be completely off their rocker a change would be made. I am a proponent of term limits anyway, but without that safety net I just can’t help but wonder what kind of clueless sheep keeps voting for this lush?? And how in the hell does she keep getting re-elected Speaker??

Dr. Anthony Fauci

Look, I have tremendous respect for doctors. Having had more than my share of health issues thru the years I am grateful to the medical community for saving my life multiple times. I am sure that Dr. Fauci is a brilliant man, and I understand that we’ve all been flying by the seat of our pants in the midst of a global pandemic. That being said, from Day 1 Fauci’s messaging has been…to be kind…confusing & contradictory. I have gotten bad vibes from him for awhile. I don’t know who bought & paid for him, but at best he is a useful tool, and at worst he is in the thick of sinister machinations. Oftentimes a coach will be fired because he/she has “lost the team” and the organization needs “a new voice”. Such is the case with Fauci. A significant portion of the American public is not only really tired of dealing with virus related issues, they have lost trust in Dr. Fauci. It’s time for him to go.

Kamala Harris

Much like Pelosi, one would hope that the first female Vice President (a “woman of color” no less) would be an historic milestone to honor, and it would be…if she wasn’t a terrible person doing a horrible job. From the get go Harris’ only qualifications were her gender & race, which regrettably is enough for too many people. I think we need to aim higher when it comes to the most prominent public offices in the nation, but that seems to have been an issue for the past few decades. Kamala Harris is a cackling fool who shouldn’t be in charge of anything, and honestly that’s the nicest thing I can say about her.

Bill Gates

Credit where it is due…Gates has been at the forefront of computer technology for decades, and we salute him for that. However, I must have missed the part where he received his medical license. As with Fauci’s inconsistent & dubious communication on the virus front, the vaccine has suffered from bad PR, starting with Computer Guy being one of its chief proponents & leading spokesmen. It just seems odd. Let’s face it…we’ve all been on edge the past couple years, and when it feels like a billionaire is pushing something that is out of his wheelhouse because he has skin in the game the collective thought process that perhaps we’re all being played makes a lot of sense. You want to deal with the problem of “vaccine hesitancy”?? I’m not sure of the answer, but the genesis of the problem may have been Bill Gates.

Don Lemon

No one cares about his race, nor do people dislike him based on his sexual preference. Those are convenient excuses. No…a lot of people despise Lemon because he is a smug, angry, vile, divisive, deceitful douchenozzle masquerading as a “journalist”. Gone are the days when folks on the news tried to maintain the guise of impartiality. I can deal with that. But anyone who has ever watched The Food Network knows that presentation is important, and all you need to know about CNN is that they are okay with someone as disingenuous & loathsome as Don Lemon representing their brand.

The Cuomo Brothers

At the beginning of 2021 Andrew Cuomo had been the Governor of New York for a decade, while younger brother Chris was another face of CNN. By the end of the year both were unemployed. I was a big fan of their father Mario when I was a kid. He was Governor of New York in the 1980s and delivered a riveting keynote address at the 1984 Democratic National Convention. 40-something year old Me may have different views than 12 year old me, but I am still somewhat surprised that Cuomo the Elder raised such twatwaffles. Andrew Cuomo resigned his office in August amid multiple sexual misconduct allegations, and if that wouldn’t have brought him down it would’ve been his gross mishandling of COVID in New York that was so egregious it makes Fauci look like a Boy Scout. A few months later CNN fired Chris Cuomo when it was discovered that he was using his job & his contacts to aide his brother’s defense. It was always an unusual situation…one brother in the media, the other holding a significant political office…but it worked until it didn’t. Perhaps if both men led their lives with honor & integrity instead of being the abhorrent human beings that they are both would still have their jobs.

and the Sammy goes to…..

All of Them. It’s a seven way tie. I cannot differentiate between them. A few simply need to stay in their lane, while we’d all be better off if the others would go away forever, never to be heard from again. I’ll leave it up to you to decide which is which.

Our next presenter knows a thing or two about excellence. He escaped the coal fields of southern West Virginia in the 1960s and went on to become an aerospace engineer at NASA, eventually seguing into a literary career. He has written multiple best-selling books, most notably 1998’s Rocket Boys, which was adapted into the film October Sky a year later. It is an honor to welcome distinguished military veteran & fellow West Virginian Homer Hickam Jr.!! And the nominees are:

The Bruce Wayne Award for Excellence

Governor Ron DeSantis

Rarely will I ever pat any politician on the back. Democrat. Republican. Independent. It doesn’t really matter, especially if they’ve enjoyed the spotlight a little too long. That being said, Gov. DeSantis seems like the kind of leader others should emulate. I’ve never been to Florida, so I am not familiar with that political scene or how DeSantis got to where he is right now. I do know that he has served as Governor since 2019 and is a former Navy SEAL who spent some time in Iraq. He has stepped onto the national stage by keeping Florida open during the pandemic and foregoing the scare tactics that have brought several other places to a virtual standstill the past couple of years. The numbers rise & fall almost daily, so I won’t bore y’all with statistics, but my understanding is that places like California & New York with quite stringent COVID restrictions aren’t better off than Florida, which returned to relative normalcy a long time ago. DeSantis could be a future Presidential candidate…one that promotes conservative policies that a lot of folks would support sans the kind of baggage & dysfunction that has been emblematic of recent years.

Tucker Carlson

Rush Limbaugh died nearly a year ago, leaving a void in the sociopolitical discourse. There are plenty of conservative voices out there willing to take up the mantle, but none will ever truly meet the standard. I am not suggesting that Carlson is the one to step into Rush’s shoes because I simply don’t believe that is possible, but of all the contenders he is the one I have enjoyed the most. I don’t watch his television show every night, and I don’t think I have ever seen the entire hour. I am just not the same political enthusiast that I was two decades ago. However, in small doses…perhaps an interview here & there or his opening monologue…Carlson is more than palatable.

Elon Musk

We are at a place in American history when we are encouraged to hate “rich people”, especially ultra-wealthy billionaires. However, is that the right mindset?? Perhaps, instead of jealousy & derision, we should show such individuals respect, striving to learn what makes them tick and why they are so successful. Elon Musk is the 50 year CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, which seems to have done more space exploration than NASA in recent years. He is allegedly worth $300 billion, making him the richest person in the world at the moment (maybe that’s why Bill Gates is hellbent & determined to profit from the pandemic). Musk is difficult to pigeonhole, having expressed a variety of opinions that would land him all over the political spectrum. I hope that he stays out of that arena in the future because his contributions in the private sector are much more valuable. We all know how that goes though, right?? If he’d decide to jump into the fray his name recognition & vast wealth would make him a legit force, especially since there is a blueprint for such a path. We’ll see.

and the Sammy goes to…..

None of Them. First of all, it saddens me that there are only three nominees for this award. Every effort will be made to focus more in 2022 on acknowledging those who make a positive impact on the world. As much fun as The Sammys have poking fun at absurdity and ridiculing outright foolishness, we don’t seek to be excessively negative. All of these nominees made a productive contribution in 2021, but none stand out or feel worthy of such recognition.

This feels like a good place to pause, but please stay tuned for Part 2 of The Sammy Awards…coming soon!!

POINTS OF PONDERATION…..EPISODE 8.21  

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

As a society we frown on the concept of being abrupt. It is perceived as rude and I’m not here to dispute that. However, perhaps a little more abruptness in our lives would be…functional. When it’s time to leave how bout just leaving instead of lingering at the door or in the parking lot, saying goodbye only for the conversation to last a few more minutes necessitating another goodbye. Or what about what I call “false goodbyes” during a phone conversation?? You know what I mean…goodbyes are said only for a new topic to be introduced and the tedious yapping lasts another half hour. Just stop!! End it!! Be abrupt. Say goodbye and go. Hang up the damn phone. Life is too freakin’ short!!!!!

Most people don’t mind paying for a product or service if they feel like they are receiving good value. Even if there is a reasonable price increase the vast majority will understand and remain loyal to the brand, company, store, etc. But…the minute someone feels like they’re being screwed they will almost certainly bolt. It’s pretty simple really…treat customers fairly, do business with a high level of integrity, and don’t take advantage of anyone because there’s a good chance that plenty of viable options are available.

I love it when people post about controversial or moderately disputable topics on social media then when someone engages they say “I wasn’t looking for a debate”. Yes, yes you were. And that’s fine. Sadly we’ve lost the ability as a society to have intelligent, productive discussions, which is ironic given the fact that technology allows for it more than at anytime is history. For that reason I completely understand being hesitant to dive down the rabbit hole, only don’t tell me you weren’t looking for a debate. Trust me, I’ve been that guy. In posting such things one is seeking something, whether it is validation from those who agree with your perspective, or to start an argument with those who don’t. I had an old friend who did both. His posts were intentionally contentious on a daily basis because he craved the (positive & negative) attention. That’s okay too if it’s how you roll…just be intellectually honest about it. Those who enjoy that kind of thing will feed the monster, while others who don’t have the stomach for it will exit. I used to be the former, but these days (most of the time) I am the latter.

Ray Bradbury is my spirit animal…..

I don’t understand why certain people think their mundane stories are appropriate topics of conversation. Hey Bro, your life is even more monotonous & inconsequential than mine (and that’s saying something 😬)…I don’t need you to fill me in on the details for a freakin’ hour. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…there is a scarcity of meaningful & enlightened interaction in my life, atleast the kind of deeply fulfilling connection I so deeply desire.

Tying Up Loose Ends: Complete Listings of My 100 Memorable Film Characters & 100 Memorable TV Characters

I was doing some editing & routine maintenance here on the site and something occurred to me. Back when I finished the 100 Favorite Movies series I posted a follow-up with a complete list of the films. I decided that I needed to do the same for the recently concluded 100 Memorable Movie Characters, then realized that I hadn’t done it for the 100 Memorable Television Characters project that I finished a few years back (I also needed to make some necessary edits to that series). I have cleaned up those oversights here. If you want to read my thoughts on any particular character please use the handy dandy search feature and that particular entry should be easy enough to find. Enjoy. 

100 Memorable Television Characters

1 Deputy Barney Fife (The Andy Griffith Show)

2 Cosmo Kramer (Seinfeld)

3 JR Ewing (Dallas)

4 Captain Kirk & Mister Spock (Star Trek)

5 Arthur Fonzarelli (Happy Days)

6 Archie & Edith Bunker (All in the Family)

7 The Dynamic Duo (Batman)

8 Dr. Frasier Crane (Cheers & Frasier)

9 George Costanza (Seinfeld)

Michael Scott (The Office)

10 Rev. Jim Ignatowski (Taxi)

11 Gomer Pyle (The Andy Griffith Show & Gomer Pyle, USMC)

12 Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane (The Dukes of Hazzard)

13 Dr. Sheldon Cooper (The Big Bang Theory)

14 Ari Gold (Entourage)

15 Louie DePalma (Taxi)

16 Fred Sanford (Sanford & Son)

17 Chandler, Monica, Ross, Rachel, Joey, & Phoebe (Friends)

18 Cliff Clavin (Cheers)

19 Les Nessman (WKRP in Cincinnati)

20 Mork from Ork (Mork & Mindy)

21 Sherlock Holmes (Sherlock Holmes)

22 Shaggy Rogers (Scooby Doo)

23 Luke Spencer (General Hospital)

24 Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy (Star Trek)

25 Alex P. Keaton (Family Ties)

26 Charlie Brown (Peanuts)

27 Stefano DiMera (Days of Our Lives)

28 Capt. Jean-Luc Picard (Star Trek: The Next Generation)

29 Kermit the Frog (The Muppet Show)

30 Sheriff Andy Taylor (The Andy Griffith Show)

31 Dr. Niles Crane (Frasier)

32 Fred Flintstone (The Flintstones)

33 Dr. Heathcliff & Claire Huxtable (The Cosby Show)

34 Bo & Luke Duke (The Dukes of Hazzard)

35 Capt. Hawkeye Pierce (MASH)

Dwight Schrute (The Office)

36 Linus Van Pelt (Peanuts)

37 Wayne Campbell & Garth Algar (Saturday Night Live)

38 Norm Peterson (Cheers)

39 Dr. Johnny Fever & Venus Flytrap (WKRP in Cincinnati)

40 President Jed Bartlet (The West Wing)

41 Otis Campbell (The Andy Griffith Show)

42 Dorothy, Rose, Blanche, & Sophia (The Golden Girls)

43 Daisy Duke (The Dukes of Hazzard)

44 Frank Costanza (Seinfeld)

45 Balki Bartokomous (Perfect Strangers)

46 The Riddler (Batman)

47 Opie Taylor (The Andy Griffith Show)

48 Matt Foley (Saturday Night Live)

49 Lenny & Squiggy (Laverne & Shirley)

50 Beavis & Butt-Head (Beavis & Butt-Head)

51 Jack Tripper (Three’s Company)

52 Dawson Leery & Joey Potter (Dawson’s Creek)

53 Latka Gravas (Taxi)

54 Dick Loudon (Newhart) & Dr. Bob Hartley (The Bob Newhart Show)

55 Johnny Drama (Entourage)

56 Gordon Shumway (ALF)

57 George & Weezie Jefferson (The Jeffersons)

58 Vinnie Barbarino (Welcome Back Kotter)

59 Major Frank Burns (MASH)

60 Larry, Darryl, & Darryl (Newhart)

61 Sam Malone (Cheers)

62 Felix Unger & Oscar Madison (The Odd Couple)

63 Dwayne Schneider (One Day at a Time)

64 The General Lee (The Dukes of Hazzard)

65 Howard Wolowitz (The Big Bang Theory)

66 Arnold Horshack (Welcome Back Kotter)

67 John Walton Jr. (The Waltons)

68 Toby Ziegler (The West Wing)

69 The Church Lady (Saturday Night Live)

70 Dan Fielding (Night Court)

71 Coach Ernie Pantuso & Woody Boyd (Cheers)

72 Barney Stinson (How I Met Your Mother)

73 Jack & Rebecca Pearson (This Is Us)

74 Denny Crane & Alan Shore (Boston Legal)

75 The Castaways (Gilligan’s Island)

76 Luther Van Dam (Coach)

77 The Clampetts (The Beverly Hillbillies)

78 Isaac, Doc, & Gopher (The Love Boat)

79 Herman Munster (The Munsters)

80 Aunt Esther (Sanford & Son)

81 Jefferson Davis “Boss” Hogg (The Dukes of Hazzard)

82 Carlton Banks (The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air)

83 Gomez Addams (The Addams Family)

84 Elaine Benes (Seinfeld) 

85 Charles Ingalls (Little House on the Prairie)

86 Mr. McMahon (WWE)

87 Endora (Bewitched)

88 Dr. John Becker (Becker)

89 Eric Matthews (Boy Meets World)

90 Al Bundy (Married with Children)

91 Mary Katherine Gallagher (Saturday Night Live)

92 Flo Castleberry (Alice)

93 Bill McNeal (NewsRadio)

94 Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte, & Miranda (Sex & the City)

95 Steve Urkel (Family Matters)

96 Topanga Lawrence (Boy Meets World)

97 Lowell Mather (Wings)

98 Hank Hill (King of the Hill)

99 Cody Lambert (Step by Step)

100 Sheriff Jack Carter (Eureka)

100 Memorable Movie Characters


1 Michael Corleone (The Godfather Trilogy)
2 Atticus Finch (To Kill A Mockingbird)
3 Rick Blaine (Casablanca)
4 Darth Vader (The Star Wars Series)
5 Rocky Balboa (The Rocky Series)
6 Marty McFly & Doc Brown (The Back to the Future Trilogy)
7 Gordon Gekko (Wall Street)
8 Batman, Superman, & Spider-Man (various films)
9 Dorothy Gale (The Wizard of Oz)
10 Forrest Gump (Forrest Gump)
11 Willy Wonka (Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory)
12 Han Solo, Princess Leia, & Luke Skywalker (The Star Wars Series)
13 Dracula & Frankenstein (various films)
14 Don Vito Corleone (The Godfather & The Godfather Part II)
15 Khan Noonien Singh (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)
16 Ferris Bueller (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off)
17 Harry Potter (The Harry Potter Series)
18 Inspector Jacques Clouseau (The Pink Panther Series)
19 Lt. Col. Frank Slade (Scent of a Woman)
20 Captain Quint (Jaws)
21 The Wicked Witch of the West (The Wizard of Oz)
22 Sherlock Holmes (various films)
23 Kirk, Spock, & Bones (The Star Trek Series)
24 Lt. John McClane (The Die Hard Series)
25 Mickey Mouse (various films)
26 Obi-Wan Kenobi & Master Yoda (The Star Wars Series)
27 Jason, Michael, & Freddy (slasher flicks)
28 ET (ET: The Extra-Terrestrial)
29 The Cowardly Lion, The Tin Man, & The Scarecrow (The Wizard of Oz)
30 Professor Severus Snape (The Harry Potter Series)
31 Jake & Elwood Blues (The Blues Brothers)
32 Hannibal Lechter (Silence of the Lambs)
33 The Shark (Jaws)
34 Bluto Blutarsky (Animal House)
35 The Dude (The Big Lebowski)
36 The Joker (various films)
37 Elwood P. Dowd (Harvey)
38 Biff Tannen (The Back to the Future Trilogy)
39 Ron Burgundy (Anchorman)
40 Abbott & Costello, The Three Stooges, Laurel & Hardy, and The Marx Brothers (various films)
41 Jeff Spicoli (Fast Times at Ridgemont High)
42 Riggs & Murtaugh (The Lethal Weapon Series)
43 Fredo Corleone (The Godfather Trilogy)
44 Jack Torrance (The Shining)
45 Vincent Gambino & Mona Lisa Vito (My Cousin Vinny)
46 Mr. Miyagi (The Karate Kid)
47 Annie Savoy (Bull Durham)
48 Jefferson Smith (Mr. Smith Goes to Washington)
49 Lord Voldemort (The Harry Potter Series)
50 Scout Finch (To Kill A Mockingbird)
51 Laurie Strode (Halloween)
52 Ellis “Red” Redding (The Shawshank Redemption)
53 Billy Madison & Happy Gilmore (eponymous films)
54 R2D2 & C3PO (The Star Wars Series)
55 Buck Russell (Uncle Buck
56 Moses (The Ten Commandments)
57 Bo “Bandit” Darville (Smokey & The Bandit)
58 Godzilla (various films)
59 Sonny Corleone (The Godfather Trilogy)
60 Beetlejuice (Beetlejuice)
61 John Bender (The Breakfast Club)
62 Austin Powers & Dr. Evil (The Austin Powers Series)
63 Hermione Granger (The Harry Potter Series)
64 Carl Spackler (Caddyshack)
65 Dr. Frederick Frankenstein (Young Frankenstein)
66 John Doe (Se7en) & Keyser Soze (The Usual Suspects)
67 Clark Griswold (The Vacation Series)
68 Robin Hood (various films)
69 Rhett Butler & Scarlett O’Hara (Gone with the Wind)
70 Ace Ventura (Ace Ventura: Pet Detective)
71 Mickey Goldmill (The Rocky Series)
72 Edward Scissorhands (Edward Scissorhands)
73 Lt. Dan Taylor (Forrest Gump)
74 Inigo Montoya (The Princess Bride)
75 Woody Pride & Buzz Lightyear (The Toy Story Series)
76 Euphagenia Doubtfire (Mrs. Doubtfire)
77 Inspector Harry Callahan (Dirty Harry)
78 Jenny Curran (Forrest Gump)
79 Jack Dawson & Rose DeWitt Bukater (Titanic)
80 Capt. Louis Renault (Casablanca)
81 Walter Sobchak (The Big Lebowski)
82 Deputy U.S. Marshal Sam Gerard (The Fugitive)
83 Tony Montana (Scarface)
84 Larry Talbot (The Wolf Man)
85 Tommy DeVito (Goodfellas)
86 Mick “Crocodile” Dundee (Crocodile Dundee)
87 Dr. Frank N. Furter (The Rocky Horror Picture Show)
88 Raymond Babbitt (Rain Man)
89 Thelma Dickinson & Louise Sawyer (Thelma & Louise)
90 Ma & Pa Kettle (various films)
91 Peter Gibbons Bill Lumbergh (Office Space)
92 Max Goldman & John Gustafson (Grumpy/Grumpier Old Men)
93 The Hanson Brothers (Slap Shot)
94 Napoleon Dynamite (Napoleon Dynamite)
95 Alex Forrest (Fatal Attraction)
96 Joan Crawford (Mommie Dearest)
97 Lt. Col. Bill Kilgore (Apocalypse Now)
98 Catherine Trammell (Basic Instinct)
99 Shooter McGavin (Happy Gilmore)

100 James Bond (various films)

A Word About Spina Bifida

I have referenced my disability once or twice in this space, but I usually don’t go into much detail. October is Spina Bifida Awareness Month and all I’ve really done the last couple of years is post a meme/banner on my Facebook page. Then, all the sudden, it occurred to me…I have this space on the interwebs where I can write about anything I want. I’m a little slow sometimes y’all. 

Want to hear something funny?? My father’s name is Jerry, so I am quite literally one of Jerry’s kids. That was pretty amusing back in the day when the Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon was a thing. Unlike muscular dystrophy though spina bifida has never gotten its own TV show. Honestly I didn’t even know that the Spina Bifida Association or Spina Bifida Awareness Month existed until fairly recently. I recall being involved with the March of Dimes a little bit as a kid, but it seems that other maladies like multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, & down syndrome are more commonly discussed & understood by the masses, which is fine. When I attended basketball games in college they seated all of us wheelchair folks together anyway, as if we were all supposed to know one another. At any rate, I’m glad there is an organization and a whole month dedicated to awareness. Knowledge is rarely a bad thing. 

I don’t talk too much about my…situation…here or anywhere else, for multiple reasons. First, it’s my life…has been since Day 1. I am perfectly aware that I’m not “normal”, but my daily routine is what it is, and for me it really isn’t…noteworthy. Secondly, there’s a saying that I’ve heard in multiple arenas that is basically “why fit in when you were born to stand out” or something to that effect, which is pretty much diametrically opposed to how I do business. I understand the sentiment, but when one “stands out” for being the guy in a wheelchair it’s not a positive. All I’ve ever really wanted was to fit in, although as I’ve grown older I’ve come to understand that no one is really like everyone else and the definition of “normal” is most certainly wide open. And finally, I don’t talk about my disability because I absolutely do NOT want anyone to feel sorry for me. I like people. I enjoy making friends. But I want others to actually like me for all the reasons someone usually likes another person, whatever that may be. I have never sought out sympathy or pity. I’d rather someone leave me alone than feel sorry for me. It should be noted that also applies to this particular epistle. I wish to inform & enlighten…that’s it.

Having said all of that, I must tell you a story that may seem a bit contradictory. When I was in 5th or 6th grade there was a girl that I liked, inasmuch as an 11 year old kid understands such yearning. Unfortunately this girl would not talk to me, and I didn’t know why. Luckily a buddy of mine was her neighbor so I had him do some reconnaissance. He reported back that she was afraid to talk to me because I am in a wheelchair and was concerned that she might say something wrong. In that moment I decided two things: 1) I would never be easily offended by anything, and 2) I would always be the first person to make a completely inappropriate cripple joke. More specifically on the second point I am not the least bit upset by questions and gladly tell anyone what they want to know. Women still tend to steer clear of me, but there are many reasons for that other than my disability. 

I am not a physician or scientist, and I assume there aren’t many of those in The Manoverse, so I’ll try to explain spina bifida (Latin for “split spine”) in the simplest way possible. What it really boils down to is a hole in the spine. There are varying degrees of severity, largely depending on where the spine is open. My “hole” was in the small of my back. A few inches higher and I may not have lived. An inch lower and I may have been able to walk. The cause?? I don’t know. I used to joke that my mother had done drugs in the 1960’s, but anyone who’d ever met her knew that was far from the truth. I’ve also been known to state that I was born in a wheelchair which was extremely painful for my mother. I told you…I’m politically incorrect & mildly inappropriate. At any rate, 1400 babies in the United States annually are born with spina bifida these days. In comparison the CDC estimates as many as 8000 babies are born with fetal alcohol syndrome.

So what does spina bifida mean in practical terms?? How has it affected my life?? 

Doctors told my parents when I was born that I would be paralyzed from the waist down, but actually I do have sensation down to my knees. Obviously I cannot walk and utilize a wheelchair, which means accessibility is an issue I cannot ignore. Stairs are not my friend. Since the pandemic began awhile back I’ve observed many of my social media contacts really enjoying the great outdoors, which is pretty easy to do here in West Virginia…unless one is in a wheelchair. Hiking, boating, fishing, skiing, hunting, swimming, yada yada yada…all rather difficult options. Are they possible if I was really hellbent on it?? Yes, but I’ve never felt the urge to be that outdoorsy anyway. 

Accessibility affected my education as well. I could not matriculate where I was supposed to because the grade school was old & had a bunch of steps to even get to the front door. The board of education had no idea how to handle the situation, and they also assumed that because I was physically disabled I must be mentally impaired as well. They were wrong. There’s no need to dive into the details, but I was bounced around multiple schools for a few years and never attended school in my district. Unlike most kids my classmates & my neighbors were completely different groups of children. It didn’t hit me how odd this was and how much I missed out on until many years later. It is my understanding that things are much better for disabled students nowadays, which is awesome. 

My collegiate experience was far different. I had an older acquaintance who told me when I was first considering college that West Virginia University, which is less than an hour from here, isn’t a good choice because of accessibility (that may have changed by now, but this was three decades ago). That led me to Marshall University where the campus is smaller & flatter. It was there that a buddy from high school invited me to join his fraternity, one of the best choices I’ve ever made. For the first time in my life I was one of the guys. I had friends. I drank, partied, went to football games, & did stupid stuff just like everyone else. Did I neglect my studies and fail to effectively plan for my future as an adult?? Perhaps, but I wouldn’t change much about that time. 

As a matter of fact, I have to tell another story.

One night a bunch of us were going to a place called the 1896 Club. It was an old house that’d been converted to a bar. As a group of my fraternity brothers headed up the steps into the club I was like “Ummm…hey guys”. One of them came back, and though I can’t recall who said it I remember what they said, which was something to the effect of “I’m sorry Sam. Honestly, I just forget that you’re in a wheelchair. You’re just Sam to me.” To this day it is one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me. Luckily the bar had an accessible back door. Maybe that’s why I don’t remember anything else about that night. 

I won’t bore you with a bunch of medical stuff, but there are several secondary affects of spina bifida, things that have impacted my life significantly. I’ve spent way too much time in hospitals and lost count at 30 surgical procedures. Someone once asked me if I’d ever considered becoming a doctor, and I just laughed. Well okay, I may have rolled my eyes too, which is a little unfair. The inquiry was well intended and the person was being complimentary of my intelligence, which I appreciate. However, I hate hospitals. I respect the job that medical professionals do, but never had the desire to be one of them.

Yes, I can drive. Hand controls are actually fairly simple. I just pull down for the gas & push in to brake. I cannot drive a standard because there is no way to control a clutch. Getting my big ol’ butt and my wheelchair in & out of a vehicle is the more complex issue. Four doors are a no go since getting the wheelchair in would be impossible. I am hopeful that my next vehicle will be a van with a lift, but those are costly and not as available as other cars & trucks. 

Can I procreate?? I think so 🤷🏻‍♂️. No one ever told me I couldn’t. I suppose there might be some medical hoops to jump thru, but it’s kind of a moot point anyway. I’ve never gotten to the point where marriage & fatherhood were on the table, and although it’d be easy to blame that on my disability it really would be an unfair cop-out. I’ve made a lot of mistakes & poor choices that have negatively affected me professionally & romantically, and very little of it is directly connected to spina bifida. That being said, women aren’t typically all hot & bothered by a dude in a wheelchair, and I don’t blame them. Would I like to find someone, settle down, and do the whole white picket fence thing?? Sure, but it doesn’t seem to be in the cards for me and that’s okay. At this point I’d just like to find someone with whom to have dinner, see a show, or simply hang out & watch the ballgame with besides my goofy neighbor (who’s a dude by the way). 

Speaking of propagating the species…

I give all the credit for the positive aspects of my existence to my parents. Today spina bifida can be diagnosed in utero and can sometimes be minimized or fixed…I think 🤔(reminder: I’m not a medical expert). That wasn’t the case when I was born, and I have occasionally pondered my parents at that moment…mid 20s, three year old daughter, their whole life in front of them, at the peak of happiness…and then I came along. Thankfully they rose to the task, never allowing me to feel weird or excluded, and always treating my sister & myself fairly & equally. It couldn’t have been easy. 

It’s called Spina Bifida Awareness Month and I think I’ve accomplished that, so I shall wrap this up. It is always my intention to keep these little ditties easily digestible, although I’m well aware of my own verbosity. Anyway, hopefully y’uns know more about the subject now than you did a few minutes ago, so you got that going for you, which is nice. 

POINTS OF PONDERATION…..EPISODE 7.21 

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

What is the difference between apple juice & apple cider?? 

Apple cider is made from apples that are ground into a mash similar to applesauce. The mash is then wrapped in cloth and pressed into fresh juice, which does not go thru a filtration process. Conversely, apple juice is filtrated to remove pulp then pasteurized to extend shelf life. Vacuum sealing & additional filtering help it stay fresh even longer. Juice can sit unopened in your pantry for months, while cider is perishable and should be refrigerated. Unpasteurized cider will ferment and turn “hard” over time, which means it’ll get you snockered.

Can we all agree that the whole concept of a “YouTube Star” or, even worse, a “TikTok Star” is just dumb?? Look, I realize that I shouldn’t cast aspersions. My life has devolved into a meaningless waste of time and I haven’t accomplished jack squat. But in a vacuum it seems a bit much to call anyone a star whose only claim to notoriety comes from posting silly videos online. It is insulting to any athlete, actor, writer, musician, etc. who has combined natural talent, hard work, mastery of skill, and perhaps a few beneficial turns of fortune into a certain level of fame & prosperity. 

I’ve seen this pop up on my Facebook feed multiple times, and I am always fascinated by the ignorance displayed in the comments. For the record my choice is Starbucks because a) I’m not much of a coffee fiend anyway, b) there are local shops I prefer to support when I do drink coffee, & c) the coffee at Starbucks is overpriced & not that good. At any rate, I am surprised at the vitriol hurled at Chick-fil-A. Well okay…not that surprised by the vitriol, but bemused by how many people are so misinformed. The folks that run Chick-fil-A have publicly commented on their Christian beliefs, which is why their restaurant isn’t open on Sunday. They have also made monetary contributions to Christian charities. Unfortunately, since God & Christianity are increasingly despised in modern society Chick-fil-A’s support of such organizations has somehow evolved into the whole chain & all of its patrons being hateful, bigoted, & homophobic. The fact is that anyone who has ever eaten there knows the food is top notch, the service is excellent, & it is a first class (fast food) dining experience. No one asks about your sexual orientation when you walk in the door or pull up to the drive thru. I am quite positive that people of all creeds, persuasions, & worldviews eat there and probably even work there. There is no hate or bigotry displayed. People really need to jump off their self-righteous high horse and just enjoy some good food in the same way that more conservative folks like yours truly often choose to overlook an actor/singer/athlete’s questionable real life actions and simply be entertained.

I’m fascinated by the term “accidental overdose”. Don’t misunderstand…I have a certain level of empathy for anyone battling addiction. While I have never had to deal with alcoholism and drugs weren’t ever my thing (thankfully) I am obese and fight the urge to eat things that I shouldn’t every day (obviously I haven’t been too successful). Anyway, I find it a bit confusing when a person’s demise is determined to be caused by an “accidental” overdose. Okay, sure…perhaps they didn’t intend to kill themselves. But they knowingly injected/ingested some combination of heroin, pills, cocaine, etc. It was a conscious decision that person made. So why not simply state that it was an overdose?? 🤷🏻‍♂️

Until recently I was the administrator of my church’s Facebook page, and since I’ve had a surplus of free time for way too long (if you know you know) I usually posted a couple of things every day. I had an entire folder of memes & scripture saved that I added to constantly. I never would have run out of content. Then I posted the meme you see here. Anyone with a sense of humor and a passing familiarity with 80’s movies will get it, and it’s actually a subtle commentary on eternal life. Unfortunately someone didn’t see the humor and asked an intermediary to remove it. I have no issue with that second person. I’ve known her my entire life and she only did what was requested. But, the offended party (who I’ve never met) apparently also stated that the content is “questionable” & “that’s not what our church is about”. So this dude who’s been there for five minutes has the gall to lecture me, who grew up in that church and has been part of the community my entire life, about the church’s values. He also suggested to my friend that perhaps they could visit with me together. Now I’ve been out of commission, so to speak, for a year & a half and have had almost no personal interaction from anyone in the church, but all the sudden a freakin’ meme might necessitate some kind of intervention?? Nope. I’m smart enough to know when something is legit offensive and usually wise enough not to pass it on. I also believe that we’d all be better off if people learned to lighten up & laugh a little. Churches especially would benefit from that lesson, because while faith is to be taken quite seriously and the goal is to example Christ, humbly serve the community, and ultimately spend eternity in Heaven with Our Father, there’s no reason why we should be perpetually miserable in the process. 

Music, Laughter, and Sunshine: Honoring the Victims & Families of 9/11 

Have you forgotten how it felt that day to see your homeland under fire and her people blown away?? Have you forgotten when those towers fell we had neighbors still inside going through a living hell?? Have you forgotten all the people killed, some went down like heroes in that Pennsylvania field?? Have you forgotten about our Pentagon, all the loved ones that we lost, and those left to carry on?? – Darryl Worley 

Amongst the plethora of wisdom my father has taught me in this life is the fact that you usually don’t have to look very far to see someone in worse circumstances than you. That’s good advice to keep in mind on those rough days when you’re lonely, not feeling well, or hating yourself for being out of shape, financially deficient, professionally unaccomplished, and any of the myriad ways we tell ourselves we are not good enough & our life is terrible.

I’ve had more of those kind of days in the past year & a half than I care to admit, but you know what?? I am alive, which means that as many regrets  as I have (unlike Frank Sinatra there are more than a few) the fact is that I am doing better than the 3000 people that died on September 11, 2001. 

My family & I have had twenty Thanksgivings & Christmases together that those individuals never got to celebrate. I have enjoyed twenty warm & beautiful summers that they never got to see. On a daily basis I get to read interesting books, listen to beautiful music, & eat delicious food that those folks can no longer savor. I still have my father & my sister, which is more than can be said for thousands of people who lost their parent or sibling two decades ago.

These are not things that I dwell on often…that would be crazy. However, in the years since 9/11/01 I have watched documentaries & read stories about the events of that day. Tales of heroism. Wild conspiracy theories. Interviews with people who were there. History that is concurrently heartbreaking & inspiring. 

Unfortunately most of us tend to look at the big picture. We focus on politics. We lament that our nation, so united back then and supportive of first responders & our armed forces in the months following the attacks, has splintered into various opposing factions in the ensuing years. We celebrate the recent military withdrawal from Afghanistan while forgetting the reason they were there in the first place. Too many show disdain for law enforcement, which then causes others to argue with those that exhibit such contempt. 

I am not saying that any of those subjects are wrong to ponder or discuss. There are valid issues worthy of intelligent debate. However, perhaps we should spend a little more time thinking about the lives lost, the families affected, and the communities impacted by the attacks. Maybe we should get back to respecting the police and our men & women in uniform. And we absolutely need to be more appreciative of every precious moment that we draw breath. 

Twenty years ago 3000 people woke up to a lovely September morning. They got dressed, had breakfast with their families, kissed their spouse, dropped the kids off at school, and went to work at the various offices inside the World Trade Center & the Pentagon or reported for duty at firehouses, airports, & police precincts. They had no way of knowing that they would never return home. To be honest, each of us faces the same potential fate every single day, maybe not from planes crashing into buildings, but from a million other things that we never consider lest we drive ourselves mad.

Life is amazing. Occasionally mundane?? Sure. Oftentimes frustrating, sad, and exhausting?? Yes. But priceless nonetheless. I am reminded of Tom Hanks in Cast Away when he says “l gotta keep breathing, because tomorrow the sun will rise, and who knows what the tide could bring??”. So today, on this melancholy anniversary, hug your loved ones, laugh with your kids & grandkids, smile at your neighbors, value your job, call an old friend, listen to some music, delight in the sunshine, watch a good movie, read a book, eat something tasty, enjoy whatever makes you happy, and appreciate life. By doing that you honor those that can no longer do the same. 

Connect or Disengage: Perspective on Social Media

By now most of us have developed a love/hate relationship with social media. What started out as a fun way to keep in touch with friends far & wide has somehow deteriorated into a dystopian experiment gone horribly awry, because that’s what humans too often do…we take something perfectly delightful and ruin it with greed, politics, envy, pettiness, & lack of self control. Some folks have the wherewithal to disengage completely, although oftentimes the people who leave are the ones with class, intelligence, good humor, & a moral compass. Isn’t it sad that the exact people who have something decent to offer to the medium, the ones who we really want to continue connecting with, are the ones we tend to run off??  Many that remain tread lightly because we sure don’t want to offend people who may disagree with our worldview, and God forbid we piss off the power behind the curtain that has suddenly become quite bold in censoring opposing views and using misguided algorithms to erroneously parse language deemed hurtful. 

Even considering all that, most of us choose to stay. Why?? Well, I think I may have the answer. I stumbled upon a post from an old high school acquaintance, and what she wrote pretty much hits the nail on the head, so much so that all I can do is second that emotion.

“Thank you for seeing me. I know people use Facebook for different things, and plenty of people might argue that the platform is unhealthy or biased or for ‘old people’.

I don’t love Facebook but I’d say the lot of you have provided more than half of my social need for human connection over the past decade, and moreso during this pandemic. So thank you for listening to my musings and sharing your majestic human stories with me. 

Thank you for the pictures and stories of your children, grandchildren, & dogs. Thank you for the videos of you roller skating, swimming in a river, twirling fire nunchucks, or jumping on a trampoline with your kid.  Thank you for sharing your moments of accomplishment, your railing rants, your art, your music, and your poetry. You guys are totally awesome as a digitally aggregated community that pretty much exists in my phone and my mind.” 

Can’t put it much better than that 🤷🏻‍♂️.

A few of you are friends, neighbors, & family that I see or talk to with some frequency, while many are former classmates or co-workers that I haven’t seen in person in decades. Some are acquaintances that I’ve met thru various social interactions and would enjoy getting to know better. Hell, there are atleast a half dozen people on my friends list who are dead, but it feels like as long as their Facebook page is still there they remain present in some intangibly tangible way. Regardless of how we met or how often we interact I hope you know that I’m glad for it. A year ago I expanded my social media presence to Instagram. All I do there is post memes. It’s less interactive than Facebook, but I find it oddly enjoyable. I peruse Twitter occasionally but it’s much less interesting. Ditto for Tik Tok. Sometimes I’ll run across a funny video or two, but overall it is overrated and God knows there’s little chance I will ever actually post a video myself. 

I suppose the point is that we have a choice when it comes to social media. Those that have left it in the dust have their reasons and I respect that. For those that remain, we can choose to get down into the muck and participate in meaningless arguments. We can choose to moan & whine about ‘FB Jail’, ‘fact’ checkers, community standards, and all the other associated negativity. Or, as my old classmate so eloquently states, we can be thankful for the connection, the stories, the photos, the music, the laughter, & the community. It’s up to you. 

Points of Ponderation…..Episode 6.21

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

 

 

 

 

I’m not one to copy & paste because I have my own unique thoughts & opinions, but I saw this on FB & it’s too spot on not to steal:

I still love my Democrat friends & family, but you see it your way and I see it mine. You saw Trump’s arrogance, I saw Trump’s confidence. You saw Trump’s nationalism, I saw Trump’s patriotism. You heard Trump’s unsophisticated words, I heard Trump’s honesty. You saw Trump’s racism, I saw Trump’s words being misconstrued & twisted by the media daily to fit their narrative. You saw Trump as a Republican, I saw Trump as a Patriot. You saw Trump as a dictator, I saw Trump as a leader. You saw Trump as authoritarian, I saw Trump as the only one willing to fight for our freedoms. You saw Trump as childish, I saw Trump as a fighter, unwilling to cave to lies. You saw Trump as an unpolished politician, I saw Trump as a breath of fresh air. You believe Trump hates immigrants, I know Trump married an immigrant. You saw Trump putting an end to immigration in America, I saw Trump welcoming immigrants to America legally. You saw Trump’s cages at the border, I saw Obama’s cages at the border. You saw Trump with a struggling economy, I saw Trump with an amazing economy until Democrats shut it down. You saw violence in the streets and called it Trump’s America, I saw violence in the streets of Democrat run cities. You wanted someone more “Presidential”, I’m happy we had someone who finally didn’t  just talk the talk but actually walked the walk. You & I? We see things very differently.

 

 

I try. Atleast in my head I try. Perhaps my effort could be much much better. I know my life would be significantly easier if I could lose weight. A lot of weight. 100 lbs. And while I try to always look in the mirror and blame myself first it has to be said that friends & family bringing me things like 2 lbs of bacon (I live alone), fast food I didn’t ask for, entire pies, boxes of donuts & cupcakes, and greasy pepperoni rolls DO NOT HELP. Are people oblivious?!?!?!?!?? Why are you enabling me?!?!?!?!?? Obviously I have a sweet tooth, lack self control, & have made a lifetime of poor choices. That’s on me. But what kind of people look at the 300 lb. guy in a wheelchair and decide that shoving more bad choices in front of their face is a good idea?? Humanity really needs to reevaluate what being nice means. Offering unhealthy food to an already unhealthy person is NOT being nice…it’s pushing them into the grave. Would you buy a carton of cigarettes for someone diagnosed with lung cancer?? Would you hand a loaded gun to someone with clinical depression?? Would you push a person who cannot swim into a river?? Would you help a drug addict score their next fix?? But it’s okay to keep giving the unhealthy obese person junk food?? You’re actually an accessory to murder, and I wish people were smart enough to understand that.

 

 

Okay, while I’m at it I may as well borrow this one too:

I was in Dollar Tree last night and there was a lady & two kids behind me in a very long line. One was a big kid, one was a toddler. The bigger one had a pack of glow sticks and the baby was screaming for them so the Mom opened the pack and gave him one, which stopped his tears. He walked around with it smiling, but then the bigger boy took it and the baby started screaming again. Just as the mother was about to fuss at the older child, he bent the glow sticks and handed it back to the baby. The baby noticed that the stick was now glowing and his brother said “I had to break it so you could get the full effect from it.” I could hear God saying to me, “I had to break you to show you why I created you. You had to go through it so you could fulfill your purpose.” That child was happy just swinging the “unbroken” glow stick around in the air because he didn’t understand what it was created to do which was “glow”. There are some people who will be content just “being”, but some have been chosen by God to be “broken”…to get sick, lose a job, go through divorce, suffer with addiction, bury a spouse, parent, best friend, or child because in those moments of desperation God is breaking us. But when the breaking is done we will be able to see the reason for which we were created, so when you see us glowing just know that we have been broken but healed by His grace & mercy.

I saw that story posted on FB a couple of times and it really touched me. The truth is that I’ve felt broken for a long time…almost half of my life. I had such high hopes when I was a teenager and even in my college years, but then life happened…poor choices, a car accident that left psychological scars I’ve never gotten over, declining health, loneliness, family deaths that I never quite dealt with properly. The challenges I’ve faced aren’t unprecedented, but if I may make a sports analogy, I’ve seen the losses pile up for quite awhile, to the point that I think I stopped participating in the game. Having said all that, I don’t feel like I’ve ever completely given up. I still believe God has a purpose for me. I still see occasional opportunities to glow. Perhaps I’ll never get the dream job or have a lot of money. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’ll probably never marry or have children. My life hasn’t turned out the way I once thought it could, but if my brokenness can prove beneficial in some way I’d be just fine with that.