Points of Ponderation…..Episode 3.21


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

 

 

 

From the beginning of the pandemic I predicted that all would be well soon after the Presidential election, regardless of who won. That idea was poo-pooed by many who logically pointed out that the virus was affecting the whole world…not just the United States. I’m open minded enough to admit when I might be wrong, so I softened my stance. COVID-19 is undoubtedly very real, with actual people really getting sick & dying. But now, here we are post-election with President Trump getting run out of DC on a rail and Joe Biden taking the reins, and it occurs to me that it might be possible for something to be both real & a hoax concurrently. How else can one explain the sudden 180 of Democrat leaders in places like Chicago & New York City who now proclaim that shutdowns are bad and we need to open up the economy once again?? Donald Trump had been saying that for months and his opponents in Hollywood, DC, & the media excoriated him for it. There are two possibilities. The most likely is that COVID-19 was a conveniently timed crisis that leftists expertly used to their advantage because that’s what they do. The second option is much more evil…that the virus & its consequences were planned from the very beginning. After all, a couple million deaths worldwide might be considered acceptable collateral damage by some who want total control over the rest of us (control, by the way, that won’t go away just because the virus does). Sinister?? Obviously. Crazy?? Probably. I’m not all that comfortable with such conspiracy theories and usually dismiss them…but nowadays I’m not so sure. How far would they go?? I honestly don’t know the answer to that.

 

If every single conversation we have is nothing but you regurgitating what you watched on TV recently I’m going to lose interest very quickly and you need to get out & experience a little more of what the world has to offer.

 

 

 

No, I didn’t watch The Inauguration, and I don’t plan on offering too much political commentary the next few years. Of course that’s not really anything new…I’ve been shying away from opining for awhile. That being said, I cannot refrain from offering this thought. The past year has been extremely difficult for many reasons, and I have felt the sting of loneliness more than ever. I’ve never longed to have a wife & children more than in the latter half of 2020. But scrolling thru social media on Inauguration Day confirmed to me that perhaps God has done me a favor. Why?? Well, because posts from nearly every single 20/30-something woman that I might consider date-worthy (if they weren’t already taken 😬) kind of made me ill. I get it…first female Vice President. Glass ceiling shattered. Yada yada yada. But, is Kamala Harris…a woman who many believe blew her way to the top (and we’re not talking about bubbles)…really worthy of such hero worship?? It is a repeat of what happened with Barack Obama, who was elected President simply because of the color of his skin. Kamala Harris is a woman…that is her #1 qualification to serve as VP, and from what I am seeing that’s just dandy with most of my young-ish female friends. Identity politics is slowly destroying America. It no longer matters what you’ve accomplished or what your (bad) intentions are as long as you fit into some sort of protected minority demographic. Was America ready for a black President?? Of course. A female VP?? Sure. Contrary to what my leftist friends may believe it has nothing to do with racism, sexism, misogyny, or any other accusatory buzzwords they enjoy spewing. I am a straight white male and God knows I’m not qualified to be President of the United States. I don’t give a damn what color or gender a person may be as long as they do what’s good for America and lead us in the right direction. That’s what people don’t understand about Donald Trump, who, despite his many shortcomings, always tried to put our country & its citizens first. Unfortunately he was never a member of the club and they found a way to run him out of DC (clearly he couldn’t get out of his own way either, which didn’t help). At any rate…ladies, when the Biden/Harris agenda starts kicking into high gear and you suddenly realize what is really happening, I do NOT want to hear your whining & complaining. You reap what you sow.

 

 

One more politics-centric thought. The ground rules have become clear, and I shouldn’t be surprised. After 4+ years of Donald Trump & anyone supporting him being absolutely vilified by the media & leftists everywhere on a daily basis (even late night “comedy” shows became unwatchable), now Joe Biden is 100% untouchable. Nothing but sunshine & roses. TWICE on social media this week I’ve been rebuffed in reply to fairly innocuous comments. One was a simple prediction that gasoline prices would be raising soon, which was met with something like “I cannot believe there are people still defending Trump!!”. Hell, I didn’t even mention the guy!! The second was actually a conciliatory statement toward Biden, saying I feel bad for him due to his obviously diminished mental capacity. Trust me, if I were being up front & confrontational I could have legitimately said much worse, but I really was taking the high road. Big Tech is trying to silence conservatives and succeeding, but even amongst one’s own friends/classmates/coworkers/acquaintances/peers/colleagues interaction has become a landmine. I did my best for four years not to be haughty toward liberals because I understood that Donald Trump was imperfect and didn’t exactly feel like I occupied solid moral high ground, but obviously that’s not going to be reciprocated. The most prudent strategy is to go into sociopolitical hiding, because even relatively benign statements that could be interpreted as the least bit positive toward Trump or negative about Biden/Harris will be met with harsh rebuttal. Reasonable discourse is dead in America, and that’s too bad.

The 2020 Sammy Awards – Part III

Welcome to the exciting conclusion of The Sammy Awards. Please give a rousing ovation for the host of our show…legendary comedic actor Bill Murray!! And if you need to catch up on the proceedings thus far you may do so here & here.

 

We think The Manoverse could use a little more laughter, so let’s welcome an up & coming comedienne who y’all really need to check out. She hails from Knoxville, TN and the combination of a charming southern drawl and clean, relatable, slice-of-life comedy has made her a favorite of ours. Give a warm welcome to Leanne Morgan!!

 

 

To present our next award it is a true pleasure to welcome the star of soap operas like Days of Our Lives & General Hospital and a plethora of Hallmark movies. She’s got a smile that can light up the Vegas Strip…give it up for Jen Lilley!! And the nominees are:

 

 

Favorite TV/Radio Program

 

The World According to Jeff Goldblum

Jeff Goldblum is a national treasure. His filmography includes modern classics like The Big Chill & Independence Day, as well as a 1980 TV series called Ten Speed & Brown Shoe. In 2020 I discovered a program Goldblum hosted that had actually began on Disney+ in late 2019. Throughout the ten episodes Goldblum explores a variety of things like tattoos, coffee, & ice cream. We’ve seen similar shows on The History Channel, The Food Network, & Discovery, but Goldblum is such a unique personality that he is able to take a topic and make it fascinating with his quirky wit & singular cadence. So far Disney+ hasn’t produced a second season, but I’m confident we’ll get one in the near future.

 

NFL Redzone

I still don’t know whether it is a channel or a show unto itself, but I do know that there are few things more enjoyable than seven straight hours of commercial free football every Sunday afternoon in the autumn.

 

Cobra Kai

The Karate Kid ranked 7th on my list of favorite sports films five years ago, and unbeknownst to me a television show that catches up with Daniel LaRusso & Johnny Lawrence three+ decades later premiered on something called YouTube Red in 2018. Fortunately Netflix bought the show last summer, and it only took me two nights to catch up on the first two seasons. We find that Daniel has become a slightly cocky car salesman who capitalized on his karate exploits to succeed in business and become a local celebrity, while Johnny is down-on-his-luck, can’t hold a job, has an estranged son, and harbors no small amount of bitterness & resentment toward Daniel about all that happened between them back in high school. Reboots, remakes, sequels, etc. are dangerous ground to walk on, but Hollywood keeps on trying. Cobra Kai is well done. The writing is solid, the new characters we are introduced to are fun & interesting, and the juxtaposition in how we view Daniel & Johnny now versus back in the day is a nice twist. With the music & other nostalgia the show is a special treat for 80s kids, but it is accessible enough for anyone to enjoy.

 

WWE NXT

The pandemic has been tough on live music & sports, but pro wrestling has adapted well enough. I’m sure it isn’t intentional given WWE’s big money deal with Fox to air Smackdown and Raw’s standing as the company’s flagship program for nearly three decades, but for many die hard wrestling fans NXT has become the show to watch. It has the best product and the best athletes of any other wrestling show on television.

 

General Hospital

Yes, I still DVR “my stories”, but while The Young & The Restless has become a snoozefest and Days of Our Lives is just ridiculous at times, GH has maintained a consistent level of watchability.

 

The Rush Limbaugh Program

To be honest I have probably listened to Rush less in the past year than at any time since I discovered his brilliance back in the early 90’s. I’ve been laid up since May of last year and haven’t been driving my truck, which is usually when I’d listen. I’ve made no secret of my decreased interest in politics. Having said that, on the rare occasions that I do get to hear a little snippet of Rush’s insightful commentary I still find him to be compelling and smart. I am all too aware that I have many friends & family that might be horrified to find out that I am a Dittohead, but I find their political views just as disappointing, which is why it’s something I am very careful about discussing openly. I find it sad, but it really has come to that in America.

 

Jeopardy!

Unfortunately this might be the final time the show receives a Sammy nomination. I don’t think the format of the game will change, but so much depends on who is ultimately chosen to be the new host. Forgive me for not having a whole lot of confidence about that choice being a good one. I hope I am wrong.

 

 

 

and The Sammy goes to…

 

 

Cobra Kai. First, a shoutout to my friend Melanie who encouraged me to watch the show. Also, no disrespect to YouTube Red, but kudos to Netflix for giving it a much larger platform enabling so many more fans to discover it. Is Cobra Kai a perfect TV show?? No, it’s not. Perhaps only 80’s kids like me can really appreciate it. Younger folks may find it occasionally cheesy, but I’m okay with that. After all, how much respect do we owe generations that made boy bands, Twilight, and Taylor Swift successful?? It is still a little odd for me to binge an entire season in one night then have to wait several months for new episodes, but that’s just the way things work nowadays. Like most other programs that air on streaming services I don’t expect Cobra Kai to last any longer than 4 or 5 years, but that’s alright…nostalgia has a shelf life. I am one of those people who rails against the glut of sequels, remakes, reboots, et al indicating a lack of creativity in Hollywood, but I understand that view is hypocritical. When they revive something we love and do it well then it’s just dandy, right?? Such is the case with Cobra Kai.

 

 

To present our next award please welcome two of America’s most beloved game show hosts. First is a gentleman who has hosted Wheel of Fortune for nearly forty years. Please buy a vowel for Pat Sajak!! He is joined by an actor/comedian who has hosted Family Feud since 2010. Give it up for Steve Harvey!!

 

The Charles Barkley Role Model Award

 

Alex Trebek

 

I’ve told this story before elsewhere, but the day my mother ended up in a vegetative state that would lead to her death a few days later she fixed a good supper for me & my Dad. As a matter of fact, she had answered the bell, so to speak, for more than twenty years, getting up every day and taking care of her family even when she didn’t feel a bit good. So I have tremendous respect for Alex Trebek, who after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the spring of 2019, continued to show up for work for the next year & a half. Anyone watching Jeopardy! during that time never would have guessed what he was going thru because he did his job with the grace, class, & professionalism that he’d always shown since he’d began hosting in 1984. Jeopardy! is by far the greatest game show of all time, and even though Trebek was a low key guy who never wanted the focus on himself the fact is that we are about to find out just how important his silky delivery & subtle humor was to the show. Alex Trebek even loved Will Ferrell’s hilarious impression of him in Saturday Night Live sketches that were a pop culture phenomenon back in the late 1990s because he was a man who didn’t take himself too seriously. I like people who are comfortable enough to laugh at themselves. Soon I will be reading Mr. Trebek’s autobiography that was published less than five months before his death, and I’m really looking forward to learning more about a man that I’ve admired since I was a teenager. I’ll give a fair chance to whoever ends up being named the new host of Jeopardy!, but that person will have to be extremely good to even approach the awesomeness of their predecessor. My father always says that death is part of life, but just because it’s true doesn’t make it easy. Godspeed Alex Trebek, and thank you.

 

 

To present our next award it is a pleasure to welcome a man who we’ve thought about inviting to be part of the show for a long time, but usually he is busy this time of year. His spies have already told him who the winner is. Give a polite golf clap to the head coach of the New England Patriots…Bill Belichick!! And the nominees are:

 

 

The Agony of Defeat Award

 

Antonio Brown

What the hell happened to Antonio Brown?? He was an All-Pro wide receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers until he lost his damn mind and burned a ton of bridges. He bounced from the Steelers to the Raiders to the Patriots. He was suspended for the first half of the 2020 season before making his debut with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It makes me sick that he has been rewarded for all his foolishness by ending up on a team quarterbacked by Tom Brady that could actually wind up in the Super Bowl.

 

MLB Sign Stealing Scandal

I don’t know if the 2020 MLB season will be remembered half as much as the scandal that rocked the league in its offseason. It was discovered that in 2017 & ’18 the Houston Astros used a method involving video cameras in the outfield and players on the bench banging on trash cans to tip off their batters to what kind of pitch to expect. Whatever they were doing worked since the Astros won the World Series in 2017. Houston bench coach Alex Cora became manager of the Boston Red Sox the following season and they proceeded to win the World Series, and though they were absolved of cheating accusations by MLB there are those that say they did the same kind of thing the Astros had done, just not as much. At any rate, neither team was stripped of their championship, but both Cora and Astros’ skipper AJ Hinch lost their jobs. Cora has since been rehired, while Hinch has been named the new manager of the Detroit Tigers.

 

Kobe Bryant

On January 26, 2020 a helicopter crash claimed the life of 41 year old Bryant and eight others, including his 13 year old daughter Gigi. Bryant had retired from the Lakers in 2016.

 

March Sadness

Of the many COVID-related sports casualties last year perhaps the most significant was the NCAA Basketball Tournament. The Super Bowl had already taken place, and the World Series, Stanley Cup playoffs, and NBA playoffs all still happened. Other events like the Kentucky Derby, The Masters, & Indianapolis 500 were delayed but were held eventually. March Madness wasn’t so fortunate. That all went down way back at the beginning of the pandemic when everything was new and we were all just flying by the seat of our pants. Thankfully the sports world adapted and most everything else has gone on as scheduled, albeit without fans in attendance. I think the cancellation of the basketball tournament was one of the first indications that the whole virus situation is very real and quite serious.

 

Bubba’s “Noose”

My relationship with NASCAR has been a roller coaster for a number of years. I went from catching every race each Sunday to not watching at all for a couple of seasons to a happy medium where I watch occasionally, neither boycotting it altogether nor being all that invested as a fan. Bubba Wallace has won zero races in four years, and his entire existence in NASCAR revolves around identity politics. Last summer, as race riots rocked the nation, Bubba seized on the opportunity by claiming he’d found a noose in his garage at Talladega. As it turns out it wasn’t a noose at all…it was a garage door pulley that had been there for years. Of course if you present the media with a divisive narrative they will pounce and squeeze every ounce of drama out of it, and Bubba Wallace lost all credibility when he chose to perpetuate the lie instead admitting he was wrong.

 

 

and The Sammy goes to…

 

 

Kobe Bryant. I wasn’t a huge Kobe fan when he was playing. As fans we choose who we cheer and who we boo for a variety of reasons, some of which aren’t necessarily rooted in logic. However, one of the fascinating things that occurs with sports fandom is that oftentimes, as a player ages, our opinion of them becomes a bit more conciliatory. We begrudgingly recognize their greatness and appreciate the fact that we were around to witness it. I remember watching Kobe’s final game in 2016. He dropped 60 points on the Utah Jazz, including the game winning shot. It was a meaningless game since the Lakers were terrible and not going to the playoffs, but as far as storybook endings in sports go it ranks near the top, and I was glad to see it. In retirement Kobe’s image had softened as he embraced the role of #GirlDad, and chances are Gigi was destined to become a college & WNBA superstar. Most if not all plane/helicopter crashes are tragic, but this one…this one might have been the most depressing in recent history. Children died…kids whose lives were just beginning. And Kobe?? He may have been retired and considered old within the realm of sports, but he was only 41 years old. 41! Who knows what his second act may have been. Broadcaster?? Coach?? Team owner or executive?? Perhaps he would have found success outside of basketball. Sadly we will never know what might have been.

 

 

Are you ready for the final award of the evening?? Well you better check yourself because our next presenter is for real and he’s prepared to go to war!! Don’t even think about messing with him!! He has spent more than two decades as a public school teacher in the inner city and he will not tolerate anyone being insubordinate or churlish. Please answer “Present!” as the roll is called by Mr. Garvey!!

 

 

Most Significant News Story

 

The Sickness

 

Should there be other nominees?? Perhaps. 2020 saw the President of the United States impeached, months of race riots, a significant change in the Supreme Court, and a Presidential Election. In a normal year any of those could justifiably win this award. But raise your hand if you ever thought you’d be alive to witness a global pandemic. Whether you call it Coronavirus, COVID-19, the China Virus, the Kung Fu Flu, or anything else, the fact is that nothing we have faced in my 40+ years on the planet has affected so many in such a variety of ways. Worldwide two million people have lost their lives, with almost 400k deaths here in America. It has devastated economies, shuttered businesses, and destroyed dreams. It has altered the way we live our daily lives. Masks, social distancing, working from home, distance learning, empty sports stadiums, online church services, curbside pickup at restaurants, and a variety of other things have become the norm as we adapt because that’s what human beings do…we find a way to move forward and live our lives. Whatever you may believe about the origin of the virus, how our leaders handled the crisis, the media’s role in propagating fear, or what the best path may be in the immediate future, the fact is it is real. Like many others I didn’t take it seriously at first, and to be honest I haven’t feared it all that much because I’ve been on the shelf…quarantined in my own odd way…since May 2020. That being said, I know people who have had the virus. I have heard about their battle, and it doesn’t seem fun at all. The good news (maybe) is that a vaccine has arrived, though I will take a raincheck on offering an opinion about that until there is more data. 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. When will that be?? I don’t know.

 

 

 

2020

2020

 

iconic TV host Regis Philbin…record setting test pilot Brigadier General Chuck Yeager…Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg…NBA Hall-of-Famers Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers), Jerry Sloan (Utah Jazz), & Wes Unseld (Washington Bullets), & KC Jones (Boston Celtics)…actor (The Dick Van Dyke Show, History of the World Part 1, the Ocean’s trilogy) & director (Oh God!, The Jerk, Summer School) Carl Reiner…NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson…legendary soccer player Diego Maradona…National Lampoon publisher & film producer Matty Simmons (Animal House, the Vacation series)…acting coach & TV host James Lipton (Inside the Actors Studio)…former boxing champion Roger Mayweather…film director Joel Schumacher (St. Elmo’s Fire, Falling Down, Batman Forever, A Time to Kill, Batman & Robin) & producer Charles Gordon (Field of Dreams, Die Hard 2, October Sky)…controversial civil servant Linda Tripp…comedian Norm Crosby…former MLB managers Jim Frey (Chicago Cubs, Kansas City Royals) & John McNamara (Boston Red Sox)…authors Mary Higgins Clark, Elizabeth Wurtzel, Clive Cussler, John LeCarre, & Winston Groom…Reese Schonfeld (founder of The Food Network)…race car driver John Andretti…game show hosts Alex Trebek (Jeopardy!) & Tom Kennedy (Password Plus)…soap opera producer Lee Phillip Bell (The Young & the Restless, The Bold & the Beautiful)…Harlem Globetrotters legend Curly Neal…singers/musicians Eddie Van Halen (Van Halen), Kenny Rogers, Helen Reddy, Joe Diffie, Charlie Daniels, Neil Peart (Rush), Bill Withers, Ellis Marsalis Jr., Bonnie Pointer (The Pointer Sisters), Adam Schlesinger (Fountains of Wayne), John Prine, Little Richard, Jack Sherman (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Tommy DeVito (The Four Seasons), Mac Davis, Billy Joe Shaver, Nikki McKibbin (American Idol), Chad Stuart (Chad & Jeremy), KT Oslin, & Charley Pride…Kentucky Derby winner War Emblem & Belmont Stakes winner AP Indy…televangelist Jack Van Impe…football coaches Don Shula (Miami Dolphins), Johnny Majors (Pitt Panthers, Tennessee Volunteers), George Perles (Pittsburgh Steelers, Michigan St. Spartans), Sam Wyche (Cincinnati Bengals), Woody Widenhofer (Pittsburgh Steelers, Detroit Lions), Pat Dye (Auburn Tigers), & Ray Perkins (New York Giants)… businessman & former Presidential candidate Herman Cain… Olympic gymnast Kurt Thomas & decathlon champion Rafer Johnson… former U.S. Attorney General & Governor of Pennsylvania Dick Thornburgh…actresses Olivia de Havilland (Gone with the Wind, The Adventures of Robin Hood), Dawn Wells (Gilligan’s Island), Marj Dusay (Guiding Light, Capitol, Santa Barbara), Paula Kelly (Night Court), Naya Rivera (Glee), Kelly Preston (Jerry Maguire), Conchata Ferrell, & Elsa Raven (Back to the Future, Titanic)… magician Roy Horn… journalists Jim Lehrer, Bob Ryder,  & Hugh Downs…Academy Award winning screenwriter Bruce Jay Friedman (Splash, Stir Crazy)…Hall of Fame college basketball coaches John Thompson (Georgetown Hoyas), Eddie Sutton (Kentucky Wildcats, Arkansas Razorbacks), Lute Olson (Arizona Wildcats), & Lou Henson (Illinois Fighting Illini), & Billy Tubbs (Oklahoma Sooners)… former FBI Director William Sessions & former National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft…world renowned golf course designer Pete Dye… fashion designer Pierre Cardin… famed TV executive Fred Silverman…former MLB players Bob Gibson (St. Louis Cardinals), Tom Seaver (New York Mets, Cincinnati Reds), Joe Morgan (Cincinnati Reds), Phil Niekro (Atlanta Braves), Lou Brock (Chicago Cubs, St. Louis Cardinals), Don Larsen (New York Yankees), Tony Fernandez (Toronto Blue Jays), Claudell Washington (Atlanta Braves, Oakland Athletics), Whitey Ford (New York Yankees), & Dick Allen (Philadelphia Phillies)… Joe Clark (school principal depicted in the film Lean On Me)… songwriters Phil Phillips (Sea of Love), Kenny Young (Under the Boardwalk), & Johnny Nash (I Can See Clearly Now)…former NFL players Gale Sayers (Chicago Bears), Paul Hornung (Green Bay Packers), Chris Doleman (Minnesota Vikings), Willie Wood (Green Bay Packers), Tom Dempsey (New Orleans Saints), Bobby Mitchell (Washington Redskins), Tarvaris Jackson (Seattle Seahawks, Minnesota Vikings), Willie Davis (Green Bay Packers), Reche Caldwell (San Diego Chargers, Washington Redskins), Jim Kiick (Miami Dolphins), Carleton Haselrig (Pittsburgh Steelers), Fred Dean (San Diego Chargers, San Francisco 49ers), Herb Adderley (Green Bay Packers, Dallas Cowboys), Lorenzo Taliaferro (Baltimore Ravens), & Kevin Greene (Pittsburgh Steelers)… Rep. John Lewis (Georgia)…former NBA Commissioner David Stern…Mad magazine artist Mort Drucker… broadcasters & Miss Americas (1971) Phyllis George & (1993) Leanza Cornett… scandalous teacher Mary Kay Letourneau…actors Kirk Douglas (20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, Spartacus), Sean Connery (portrayed James Bond in seven films), Jerry Stiller (Seinfeld, King of Queens), Fred Willard (This Is Spinal Tap, Best in Show, Anchorman, American Wedding, Real People), Chadwick Boseman (Draft Day, 42, Black Panther), Buck Henry (Saturday Night Live, Grumpy Old Men), Jack Burns (The Andy Griffith Show), John Karlen (Cagney & Lacey), Terry Jones (Monty Python), Edd Byrnes (Grease), Orson Bean (Being John Malkovich, Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman), Robert Conrad (The Wild Wild West), Roscoe Born (One Life to Live, Santa Barbara), Max Von Sydow (The Greatest Story Ever Told), Lyle Waggoner (Wonder Woman, The Carol Burnett Show), David Schramm (Wings), Brian Dennehy (First Blood, Tommy Boy, Presumed Innocent), Ken Osmond (Leave it to Beaver), Sir Ian Holm (Lord of the Rings & The Hobbit trilogies), Richard Herd (TJ Hooker, Seinfeld), Wilford Brimley (Cocoon, The Natural, Our House), Raymond Allen (Sanford & Son), Trini Lopez (The Dirty Dozen), Kevin Dobson (Knots Landing), Tiny Lister (No Holds Barred), & David Lander (Laverne & Shirley)…famed businessman Jack Welch (former Chairman & CEO of General Electric) & Sumner Redstone (Chairman Emeritus of Viacom)…former Chicago Bears executive Michael McCaskey…editor Christopher Tolkien (son of The Hobbit & Lord of the Rings author JRR Tolkien)…pro wrestlers Pat Patterson, Road Warrior Animal, Kamala the Ugandan Giant, Rocky Johnson, Bullet Bob Armstrong, Rip Oliver, Shad Gaspard, Mr. Wrestling II, Killer Tim Brooks, Danny Hodge, Brodie Lee, Tracy Smothers, and ring announcers Howard Finkel & Joe Pedicino…New York Yankees owner Hank Steinbrenner… former NY City Mayor David Dinkins… astrologer Jackie Stallone (mother of Sylvester & Frank)…former NBA players Tommy Heinsohn (Boston Celtics) & Clifford Robinson (Portland Trailblazers)

 

 

 

2019

 

businessman & former Presidential candidate Ross Perot…Vera Clemente (widow of baseball HOFer Roberto Clemente…TV producer Lee Mendelson (A Charlie Brown Christmas, It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown)…radio shock jock Don Imus…comedian Rip Taylor…renowned auto executive Lee Iacocca…NASCAR team owners J. D. Gibbs (co-owner of Joe Gibbs Racing & son of legendary football coach Joe Gibbs), Junior Johnson, & Glen Wood (co-founder of Wood Brothers Racing)…Wild Kingdom co-host Jim Fowler…actresses Carol Channing (Hello Dolly), Valerie Harper (The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Rhoda, Valerie), Verna Bloom (Animal House), Julie Adams (The Andy Griffith Show), Carmen Duncan (Another World), Katherine Helmond (Soap, Who’s the Boss?), Diahann Carroll (Dynasty), Georgia Engel (The Mary Tyler Moore Show), & Peggy Lipton (The Mod Squad)…authors Herman Wouk (The Caine Mutiny, The Winds of War), Jean Edward Smith (noted political biographer), W. E. B. Griffin (military fiction), & Toni Morrison (Beloved)…directors Stanley Donen (Singin’ in the Rain), John Singleton (Boyz n the Hood, 2 Fast 2 Furious), & Franco Zeffirelli (Romeo & Juliet)…former NFL players Bart Starr (Green Bay Packers), Wade Wilson (Oakland Raiders), Sam Davis (Pittsburgh Steelers), Bob Kuechenberg (Miami Dolphins), Turk Schonert (Cincinnati Bengals), Russell Gary (Philadelphia Eagles), Eric Moss (Minnesota Vikings), Forrest Gregg (Green Bay Packers), Willie Brown (Oakland Raiders), Charles Rogers (Detroit Lions), Reggie Cobb (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), Gino Marchetti (Baltimore Colts), Jared Lorenzen (New York Giants), Cedric Benson (Chicago Bears), & Cliff Branch (Oakland Raiders)…consumer reporter David Horowitz…prominent business executives T. Boone Pickens & Barron Hilton…Oscar winning composer André Previn (Porgy & Bess, My Fair Lady)…former U.S. Surgeon General  Robert N. McClelland…pro sports team owners Larry Weinberg (Portland Trailblazers), Bill Bidwill (Arizona Cardinals), & Pat Bowlen (Denver Broncos)…infamous game show contestant Charles Van Doren…former public officials Senator & Governor of South Carolina Fritz Hollings, US Senator (Indiana) Richard Luger, Congressman John Dingell (Michigan), Congressman John Conyers (Michigan), Senator & Congressman Thad Cochran (Mississippi), Congressman Elijah Cummings (Maryland)…sportscasters Jack Whitaker, Rod Bramblett (Auburn Tigers), & Chet Coppock… actors Tim Conway (The Carol Burnett Show),  Bill Macy (Maude), Albert Finney (Scrooge [1970], Murder on the Orient Express, AnnieErin Brockovich, Ocean’s Twelve), John Witherspoon (Friday), Bob Einstein (aka Super Dave Osbourne), Kristoff St. John (The Young & The Restless), Rip Torn (The Larry Sanders Show, Dodgeball), Nathaniel Taylor (Rollo on Sanford & Son), Morgan Woodward (Dallas), Jan-Michael Vincent (Hooper, Airwolf), Luke Perry (Beverly Hills 90210), Jed Allan (Days of Our Lives, Santa Barbara), Ken Kercheval (Dallas), René Auberjonois (Benson, Deep Space Nine, Boston Legal), Flash Jenkins (Fletch, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off), John Clarke (Days of Our Lives), Peter Mayhew (Star Wars’ Chewbacca), Max Wright (ALF), Arte Johnson (Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In), Eddie Jones (Lois & Clark), Rutger Hauer (Blade Runner), Danny Aiello (Do the Right Thing), Philip McKeon (Alice), Ron Leibman (Norma Rae, Friends), & Peter Fonda (Easy Rider)…NBA Hall-of-Famer John Havlicek (Boston Celtics)…political activist Lyndon LaRouche…football coaches Hayden Fry (Iowa Hawkeyes), George Welsh (Virginia Cavaliers, Navy Midshipmen), Herman Boone (portrayed by Denzel Washington in Remember the Titans), Dick Tomey (Arizona Wildcats), George Chaump (Marshall Thundering Herd, Navy Midshipmen), Gunther Cunningham (Kansas City Chiefs, Detroit Lions), Walt Michaels (New York Jets), John Ralston (Denver Broncos), Pat Sullivan (Auburn Tigers), & Darryl Drake (Pittsburgh Steelers)…musicians Eddie Money, Ric Ocasek (The Cars), Daryl Dragon (Captain & Tennille), James Ingram, Mac Wiseman, Peter Tork (The Monkees), Dick Dale, Earl Thomas Conley, Leon Redbone, Dr. John, & Dave Bartholomew…baseball legends Frank Robinson (Baltimore Orioles), Bob Friend (Pittsburgh Pirates), Mel Stottlemyre (New York Yankees), Don Newcombe (Los Angeles Dodgers), Bill Buckner (Boston Red Sox), & Jim Bouton (New York Yankees)…journalists Jack Perkins & Cokie Roberts…Hall of Fame hockey player Ted Lindsay…Beth Chapman (wife of Dog The Bounty Hunter)…retired golfer Gene Littler…former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens…pro wrestling stars  “Mean” Gene Okerlund, Les Thornton, Pedro Morales, Salvatore Bellomo, King Kong Bundy, Silver King, Moondog Rex, Ashley Massaro, Max Muscle, Perro Aguayo, Rick Bogner, & Eddie Marlin…retired NFL referee Red Cashion…economist & former chairman of the Federal Reserve Paul Volcker…infamous marathoner Rosie Ruiz… fashion designers Gloria Vanderbilt & Karl Lagerfeld…champion boxer Pernell Whitaker… James H. Shepherd (founder of Atlanta, GA’s Shepherd Center rehabilitation facility)…former NASA flight director Chris Craft…sportswriter Don Banks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 2020 Sammy Awards – Part II

Annnnnddd we’re back!! The 2020 Sammy Awards continues with some amusing comments from our host Bill Murray, and if you missed Part 1 now would be the time to catch up.

 

 

It’s time for our next award, and to do the honors it is a pleasure to welcome a jack-of-all trades. He’s best known as a rapper, but he’s also tried his hand at pro wrestling, acting, cooking tasty vittles with his pal Martha Stewart, sports commentating, and pitching all sorts of products in commercials. Please welcome to the hizhouse Snoop Dogg!! And the nominees are:

 

The Twitter Award for Best Water Cooler Topic

 

Harry & Meaghan

America’s fascination with the British Royal Family endures, except she’s not British and apparently neither are royal anymore. I have no idea how any of that works. Anyway, the younger son of Prince Charles and the late & nearly deified Princess Diana married marginally famous American actress Meaghan Markle in 2018. In 2019 they had a son. In 2020 they ditched the whole royal thing and moved to Canada then California. I don’t know. I don’t care. Whatever.

 

Hamilton

I’ve never been to New York, but if I ever make it there I’ll be sure to catch a Broadway show or two. Fortunately with technology & a plethora of entertainment options many of the best plays & musicals can be viewed from the comfort of our own living room nowadays. Hamilton has been a sensation ever since it opened in 2015, and in July 2020 a filmed performance was made available on Disney+. I watched it and found the show quite entertaining, with a plethora of catchy tunes.

 

Jeopardy GOAT

Back in January 2020 Jeopardy aired a week long battle between its three greatest champions: Ken Jennings (appeared initially in 2004, winning 74 games & $2.5 million…both are still records), Brad Rutter (after his first appearance in 2000 he came back for multiple Tournament of Champions events and ultimately won over $4 million), and James Holzhauer (won over $2.4 million in 33 games in 2019 then won that year’s Tournament of Champions). The GOAT tournament was won easily by Jennings, with Holzhauer winning just one game and Rutter being practically invisible.

 

Toilet Paper Shortage

No one knew what to expect at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. We were told that if we simply self-quarantined for a couple of weeks everything would be fine. That, of course, was a big fat lie, and one of the byproducts was a toilet paper shortage that is still kind of a thing 9 months later. We encounter this issue almost every winter when the local meteorologist announces a big snowstorm is coming. People rush to the grocery store and panic buy as if they’re going to be trapped in their house for weeks, and toilet paper is always at the top of the shopping list.

 

J-Lo & Shakira

2020 can be divided into two eras…pre-pandemic and mid-pandemic, with the former feeling like it belongs in a previous decade. The Super Bowl took place pre-pandemic, and the halftime show featured Jennifer Lopez & Shakira in a provocative performance that had Boomers longing for the good ol’ days of folk music & The Rat Pack. Churchy types immediately condemned the two women to the fiery pits of Hell and doused themselves in holy water just for watching it on TV. Their music isn’t really my cup o’ tea, but I wasn’t especially offended by it.

 

Murder Hornets

2020 was such a terrible year that people began wondering what might befall us next. Like the plagues described in the Biblical book of Exodus we were prepared for anything from frogs to locusts to the killing of our firstborn children. It is my understanding that murder hornets are actually real, but fortunately they didn’t swarm the United States like some sort of cheesy 70’s horror movie…yet.

 

The Last Dance

Full disclosure…I haven’t seen the 10 part documentary about the end of Michael Jordan’s dynasty with the Chicago Bulls. I have no excuse. I’ve had plenty of time to watch it but just haven’t. Someday I will though…I hear it is quite good.

 

State of the Union

On February 4, 2020 President Trump gave what we now know was his final State of the Union address. I don’t usually watch, but that night I did and, objectively speaking, thought it was a good speech. Trump isn’t the best public speaker in the world, but I thought he was quite effective. He probably introduced too many special guests during the nearly hour & a half speech and it felt a bit gimmicky, but it’s a small nit to pick. I was especially touched when he presented Rush Limbaugh with the Presidential Medal of Freedom because Rush had just announced his lung cancer diagnosis the day before. I know a lot of people had an issue with it, but since previous recipients include Wendy’s founder Dave Thomas, blues legend BB King, cellist Yo Yo Ma, college basketball coach Dean Smith, actor Robert Redford, and Satan’s favorite talk show host Oprah Winfrey I see no problem with giving it to Rush Limbaugh. After the speech was over Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi famously tore up her paper copy on national television, and whether you cheered her on or thought it was a childish act showing no class likely depends on your political leanings.

 

Tiger King

Yeah, I haven’t seen it either. I guess it was on Netflix, and it spawned Halloween costumes & landed one of the people featured a gig on Dancing with the Stars. I briefly thought about checking it out, but I’m not usually one to follow the crowd.

 

 

and The Sammy goes to…..

 

 

 

Toilet Paper. Oh the memes!! One of the few silver linings in the early days of the pandemic were the parody songs & memes. Okay, I get it…toilet paper is important. But is it that important?? Why were people hoarding it?? If you run out can’t you use paper towels or notebook paper or leaves off the tree in your backyard?? Is toilet paper more valuable than food?? And why the panic buying?? Did people honestly believe that the grocery stores were ever going to shut down?? Restaurants can close. We can live without retail shops, movie theaters, & bars for a bit. But people have to eat, so there was never any reason to go crazy over toilet paper, yet people did and it was kind of hilarious.

 

To present our next award we are pleased to welcome the nation’s unlikeliest Governor. Straight from the hills of West Virginia you better follow the f#*&(@g guidelines for Gov. Jim Justice!! And the nominees are:

 

 

 

App of the Year

 

Twitter

At the moment The Manofesto hasn’t been banned, but stay tuned.

 

Facebook

It seems like more & more social media platforms are popping up, but as much as people keep threatening to ditch Facebook the truth is most haven’t and won’t until something better comes along, which hasn’t happened…yet.

 

Words with Friends

It’s like an old friend you may not talk to for awhile but you know will always be there. I might go days without playing a game…or I may have five games going at once.

 

Zoom

Seriously…had anyone even heard of Zoom before 2020?? It has apparently been a thing since 2011, but really hit its stride this past year, making working from home much easier. Just make sure you’re dressed appropriately and not doing anything naughty on camera.

 

Amazon Music

I’ve always loved music, but this past year it has really been a vital part of everyday life. No matter what kind of sadness or chaos surrounds us, no matter how lost we may feel at a particular moment in time, music can always soothe a troubled soul.

 

Instagram

I finally joined the Instagram party in August 2020. I use it strictly for funny or thought provoking memes, though I am aware there are other ways one can utilize it. There are those who use the platform quite effectively, and I envy the proficiency they display.

 

Spades Royale

I’m still playing Spades. I was especially thankful for it in 2020 when the game provided brief intervals of relaxation and centered me during a rather stressful & lonely stretch of time.

 

TikTok

Like Zoom this is something that burst on the scene in the absence of normalcy. I’ve never used it and likely never will, but any technology that can provide amusement in an increasingly unamusing world deserves kudos.

 

Pinterest

Social media has become a landmine where relationships can be destroyed & lives negatively impacted by one provocative post, but the most controversial thing you’ll find on Pinterest might be a list of banned books or a recipe that doesn’t seem particularly appetizing. It isn’t really a place I can waste hours of time, but it’s good for an occasional brief distraction.

 

FB Messenger

I actually use Messenger more than Facebook now. I’d much rather interact with people on Messenger than on the phone or even thru text.

 

 

and The Sammy goes to…..

 

 

Zoom. I haven’t had the pleasure of using it because my job isn’t important like that, but I am aware that it has become a valuable tool and may permanently alter how business is conducted, even post-pandemic.

 

 

We couldn’t think of a better person to present the next award than Buzz Lightyear himself. He has been tickling our funny bones for decades on TV shows like Home Improvement & Last Man Standing, and has starred in memorable movies like the Toy Story series, Galaxy Quest, and the Santa Clause trilogy. Please grunt in appreciation for Tim Allen!! And the nominees are:

 

 

 

Buzzword of the Year

 

Social Distancing

Hopefully it’s something we can stop doing in the near future, but staying home and keeping six feet apart when forced to be out in public was a defining characteristic of 2020.

 

“With an abundance of caution…”

When you hear that phrase you know some event is about to be cancelled and something you’ve been looking forward to isn’t going to happen.

 

The New Normal

I don’t like the “new normal”. I want my old normal back!!

 

Hydrochloroquine Phosphate

Did I spell it correctly?? I hope so. Apparently it’s a medication that’s been around for awhile treating other conditions and showed some promise in minimizing COVID-19, but as soon as President Trump sang its praises the media and all their leftist buddies started hating on it. After all, we wouldn’t want to screw poor Bill Gates out of the billions he’s probably going to make from a government approved vaccine.

 

Contact Tracing

I’m not sure exactly what it is or how it works, but the whole idea seems a bit creepy.

 

Essential Employees

Is it better to be considered essential and have to put your health at risk going to work, or be classified as non-essential meaning you can hole up in the safety of your home but you lose the ability to provide for yourself & your family?? Whatever one’s thoughts might be on the subject there is no denying that 2020 made it clear what is really important and who is truly responsible for making our lives better.

 

Defund the Police

It’s a stupid idea no matter how you present it. Are there bad cops out there?? Sure. But you don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater. If someone wants to talk about police reform I’m all ears. Nothing is perfect and it’s a great idea to implement positive changes. However, I’m sick & tired of the hatred that has been shown toward law enforcement.

 

Flatten the Curve

When all of the craziness began last spring the goal was allegedly to calm things to the point that hospitals weren’t overwhelmed. That has been proven to be a lie, as hospitals in most places have been more than capable of handling COVID-related spikes.

 

Asymptomatic

So even if you’re not sick you may still be sick. Alrighty then.

 

PPE

Personal protective equipment. Masks, face shields, etc. Hey, if it helps that’s awesome, but Good Lord…I feel so bad for folks that have to wear that stuff for 8-12 hours every time they go to work.

 

“These unprecedented times…”

Yeah, yeah…we know. We got it. You can quit saying it everytime you want to sound self-important and reflective. None of us expected to be living thru a global pandemic.

 

Quarantine

Human beings need interaction. We are social creatures. We crave contact, whether it be a handshake, hug, high five, or the communal experience of sitting in a crowded restaurant or attending a show at a packed theater. Sure it’s nice to sit at home reading a book or mindlessly scrolling thru our phone, but someday it’s going to be glorious to be out & about again enjoying life as it is meant to be.

 

Herd Immunity

I’m not a doctor and I don’t play one on TV, so I will refrain from offering an uninformed medical opinion. But it is interesting to ponder the idea of how things may have turned out if we’d skipped all of this panic and just let things play out like we usually do with the latest dangerous illness. Would the death toll have been much worse?? Have all of the steps we’ve taken (destroying the economy & people’s lives in the process) actually helped?? We’ll never know, will we??

 

Panic Buying

We’ve already talked about toilet paper. I remember going to the grocery store back in May of last year before I encountered my own health issues, and the bare shelves really struck me. Yes, there have been some shortages and some interruptions in the supply chain, but anyone who thought grocery stores were going to shut down and we wouldn’t have access to food or other necessities has probably watched Red Dawn too many times.

 

Distance Learning

More than ever this past year I have been confronted with the loneliness that comes with being single & childless, but I must admit that I’m glad not to have kids in school in the midst of all of this, and even happier not to be a schoolkid myself. Kudos to the parents, teachers, & students who have somehow kept things going. I know it can’t be easy.

 

Contactless Delivery

My father has been kind enough to pick up groceries that I order online while I’ve been laid up, and he commented that I spend more buying stuff than he does. It dawned on me that it is because I’m not eating out like I usually do. Having said that, I do occasionally order Chinese or a pizza, and most places offer the option of paying online and having the delivery person just leave the food at your door. It is a sign of the times…both resourceful & sad.

 

Super Spreader

As time has dragged on people have become weary of everything that has happened. They just want their lives back. So folks have begun to rebel, whether it be college students gathering for a keg party, churches ignoring protocols to worship together, or families having a birthday party or celebrating Thanksgiving. Unfortunately it only takes one contagious person to spread The Sickness to everyone they may have encountered at such an event.

 

 

and The Sammy goes to…..

 

 

 

Social Distancing. It seems like an oxymoron, and I suppose it kind of is. Last St. Patrick’s Day I went to a local restaurant for some tasty Irish vittles, and they had a popular local band there doing an acoustic set. It had been announced that the next day all bars, restaurants, & various other businesses would be closing for awhile. At the time no one knew what we might be facing, but there was a vibe there that night. I was by myself but struck up a conversation with a couple sitting next to me. I enjoy live music and became a bit verklempt because I had a feeling I might not be able to have that experience again for a bit. I enjoyed the energy in the room even if I didn’t personally know anyone. In a strange way I have felt almost lucky these past several months because I haven’t been missing anything. I’ve been laid up & unable to go anywhere, but there hasn’t been anywhere to go anyway. Someday in the not-too-distant future I will be healed and able to get back out & about, and I hope soon thereafter normalcy will return. I don’t want to stay six feet away from people. I want handshakes & hugs. I want to go to a crowded bar or the local theater just up the street and enjoy live music. I want to feel good vibes again. And when that day comes I just might weep.

 

 

 

 

Let’s take another break. Please stay tuned for the exciting conclusion of The Sammy Awards…coming soon!!

 

 

Points of Ponderation…..Episode 2.21

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

 

 

 

I am well aware that a) my sense of humor can be strange, and b) sometimes humor doesn’t always translate well in written form. Having said that, I become quite perturbed when allegedly intelligent people don’t get something obviously meant in good fun. I use my Instagram strictly for memes, and twice in recent weeks funny memes have elicited comments from people who took them way too seriously. I know both commenters quite well. One is a person that was a good friend for three decades until we had a falling out a few years ago. I’m sure he would tell you it was over political differences, but the truth is I got fed up with his attention seeking and the total lobotomizing of his funny bone. This is a man who used to be the class clown but now gets offended about everything like the fragile snowflake that has come to symbolize his ilk. The other commenter was an even closer friend until he stopped talking to me for reasons that are still a mystery. I sure wish I could’ve had some insightful discussions with him last year. He always has been a bit more on the serious side, so I wasn’t as taken aback by his reaction to my post…just disappointed because I thought he understood me better. At any rate, the point is that perhaps we all need to lighten up and laugh more. Stop taking everything so seriously. 2020 was a total dumpster fire, and the new year is starting out just a little shaky…we need to take refuge in God (obviously) and try our best to have some fun. If you aren’t willing or capable of doing that then maybe it’s best I keep my distance.

 

 

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…I’m not a protest kind of guy. I’m just not. Neither am I a mathematician, but I do understand the Law of Averages, and when you have a large gathering of people it doesn’t matter how peaceful the protest is meant to be or how respectful it begins…eventually the old saying “it only takes one bad apple to spoil the whole bunch” comes into play, which is unfortunate. I simply do not believe protests, in general, are productive. A group of people get together, make speeches, chant, sing songs, or whatever else (it’s not a situation I am familiar enough with to know exactly what goes on)…to what end?? Are people under the delusion that they’re righteous anger will change anything?? One of my favorite Dadisms from my father is “you may not get your way but you can have your say”, and I agree. However, there is a way to do that and a way not to do it. I am not opposed to a little rebellion on occasion…sometimes one just has to raise some hell. But mostly I believe in protocol & process. The problem is that even the most noble purpose loses the moral high ground when such events turn violent, which recent history tells us happens more often than not. And that’s all I have to say about that.

 

 

Webster defines escapism as “diversion of the mind to purely imaginative activity or entertainment as an escape from reality or routine”. It’s something we all need on occasion, and it comes in different forms. During the pandemic I have noticed several of my more outdoorsy friends getting out into nature…hiking, fishing, hunting, boating, etc….and I really wish I could do more of that. Sadly, my disability precludes participation in many such activities, so for me books, TV, music, & movies have always provided the necessary distraction. The issue…for several years now…has become the compulsion for such entertainment to dip their toe into the pool of reality. After the recent hullabaloo at the U.S. Capitol in DC I decided to tune into The Tonight Show, knowing exactly what to expect. Jimmy Fallon did a cold open full of hand wringing, indignation, & faux sadness. He began by saying something to the effect of “these are difficult times to do an entertainment show”, and I thought to myself “No…it’s really not. You go out there and tell jokes. You make us laugh. That’s why you make the big bucks…because it is allegedly what you are good at.” And to be fair, Fallon is generally quite good at it, moreso than any other current late night host. It was predictable but aggravating, because it seems like nowadays, when we really need that escape, when, as Billy Joel might say, we need to “forget about life for awhile”, the people who we count on to help us do that are more interested in virtue signaling and making speeches. I haven’t been as much of a bookworm the past few years as I had been, but perhaps now is the time to read more.

The 2020 Sammy Awards – Part I

Awards Season has arrived!!

Greetings Manoverse, and welcome to the 2020 Sammy Awards!! It is with no small amount of trepidation that we take a look back at a year that most would likely just as soon forget, but after taking a hiatus from these awards in 2019 the decision has been made to press on. We’ll do the best we can to do our little tongue-in-cheek review of all the ups & downs of the past twelve months with as much positivity & mirth as possible, while also treating certain subjects with the respect & gravitas they deserve.

 

This actually seems like the perfect time to bring back The Sammys. After all, it’s a fake awards show, so there is no social distancing or masks required, although if you feel it necessary to get tested for Covid-19 when we are done that is your decision. This year’s show would obviously be broadcast on Zoom and perhaps Facebook Live, although those damn “fact” checkers might be a problem (thanks to that affluent douchebag Zuckerberg). At any rate, as always, we consider The Sammy Awards to be much cooler that The Oscars or The Grammys, and much more relevant than anything presented on MTV.  We originally invited the lovely Hilaria Baldwin (wife of actor Alec Baldwin) to be our host, but unfortunately she is quarantining after contact tracing determined she may have been exposed to The Coronavirus (or, as she is calling it, The “Spanish” Flu). Fortunately we found a last minute replacement (actually a major upgrade), and it is a huge honor to welcome an Academy Award nominated actor and star of legendary films like Caddyshack, Groundhog Day, & Scrooged. Please give a warm welcome to Bill Murray!!

 

After an amusing opening monologue from our esteemed host it is time to present our first award. To do that we are thrilled to welcome back not only a former NFL lineman & Hall-of-Fame broadcaster, but the winner of multiple Sammy Awards who recently departed ESPN (he’s a white male so he no longer aligns with their wokeness) after two decades of awesomeness. Eat a donut in honor of Mike Golic Sr!! And the nominees are:

 

 

The Thrill of Victory Award

 

Las Vegas Raiders

I’m not sure on field expectations were all that high for the Raiders coming off a 7-9 record in 2019, their third losing season in a row. However, everyone associated with the team and the entire fanbase had to be psyched about a change of scenery to Sin City. Then Covid-19 happened, so instead of playing in front of 65,000 screaming fans at the brand spanking new Allegiant Stadium the Raiders got to play in an empty or nearly empty venue (the rules seemingly differed for each team and changed weekly). But while that is sad there is hope for the future. The Raiders finished 8-8, nearly making the playoffs. America’s Playground will bounce back, and there are strong reasons to believe their new hometown football team will be part of the recovery.

 

LSU’s National Championship

It seems like a lifetime ago, but the Bayou Bengals beat Clemson on January 13, 2020 to claim their fourth National Championship in football. Unfortunately they were unable to follow-up on that success this season and finished with a 5-5 record.

 

Kansas City Wins Super Bowl

QB Patrick Mahomes was the 10th choice in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft, meaning nine teams passed on him. In just his third season Mahomes made those nine teams look totally foolish when he led the Chiefs to a win over the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl to claim their first Lombardi Trophy in a half century.

 

Dodgers Win World Series

The Sickness negatively affected sports in a multitude of ways in 2020, and one result was a truncated 60 game MLB regular season. To be honest I was facing my own challenges last summer and paid very little attention to baseball, but the Dodgers beat the Tampa Bay Rays in a World Series that no hardcore fan outside of Los Angeles will ever remember with much reverence or respect. Congrats I guess.

 

Brady’s Move

Regardless of what the talking heads say I will never recognize Tom Brady as the GOAT, but I was thankful to see him leave the hated New England Patriots after two decades and six Super Bowl victories. His move to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers gave us the opportunity to find out who was more responsible for the Pats’ success…Brady or head coach Bill Belichick. The result?? New England missed the playoffs for only the second time since 2000 (the first was 2008 when Brady went down with a torn ACL in the opener and missed the rest of the season), while Tampa finished 11-5 and will be making their first playoff appearance since 2007. I have to admit I am somewhat surprised how it all shook out.

 

Lebron Gets Another Ring

The NBA had their season interrupted by The Sickness and had to play the entirety of their playoffs in a “bubble” in Orlando, FL. At the end of the day the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Miami Heat to win their 17th title. Lebron James is now 36 years old and has played in the NBA nearly half his life, winning four rings in the process. He may not be the greatest player on the planet anymore, but he’s still better that 95% of the league.

 

Tyson’s Comeback

Mike Tyson last fought professionally in 2005, losing to a guy no one had ever heard of. It was an ignoble ending to the legendary career of The Baddest Man on the Planet. Flash ahead to November 2020 when Tyson fought an 8 round exhibition against former Olympian Roy Jones Jr. The bout was scored a draw, but the sad part is that it took place at L.A.’s Staples Center in front of no fans. Under normal circumstances one can reasonably assume a raucous packed house would have made the event truly special, but it wasn’t to be. At 54 years of age it is unlikely that Tyson will receive many more opportunities, but it would be great to see him go out with a big crowd in attendance.

 

 

and The Sammy goes to…..

 

The Kansas City Chiefs. 2020 was a pretty tough year for sports. Events were cancelled. Players & coaches tested positive for the virus and had to miss games. Seasons were abbreviated. Stadiums were empty. Fortunately KC won their championship before all of that was an issue. And it probably isn’t the last time they’ll be competing in the Super Bowl. The Chiefs look like they could be a team to be reckoned with for many years to come.

 

We feel like 2020 was such a traumatic experience that some cathartic laughter might be a good idea. To help us do that it is a pleasure to welcome back God’s Comic Brad Stine!!

 

 

After Brad Stine has tickled our funny bone with his unique brand of clean comedy it is time to present our next award. To do that it is a pleasure to welcome one of America’s funniest character actors. He has had roles in a variety of television shows, including Hearts Afire (a 90’s sitcom starring John Ritter & Markie Post), Reba, and Boston Legal, but his fame rose to new heights during the pandemic by way of hilarious & heartwarming viral videos, providing us all a chuckle when we really needed it. Please show some love for Leslie Jordan!! And the nominees are:

 

 

Favorite Viral Videos

 

Tipsy Bartender

Skyy John is an actor/bartender from The Bahamas. Apparently he has been doing Tipsy Bartender videos for several years but I am a little late to the party. The videos themselves are pretty short, but they are the perfect blend of informative & entertaining. I knew I was going to like Skyy when he made his affection for blue curacao (an orange liqueur) evident because Blue Hawaiians were one of my favorite drinks back in college.

 

Family Feud

Nothing is more of an indicator of the shifting winds of entertainment than Family Feud. How so?? Well, while I am rarely inclined to sit down & watch an entire half hour episode I’m more than happy to watch brief videos highlighting a particularly amusing question or a totally stupid answer that elicits a hilarious response from host Steve Harvey. I’m old enough to remember original host Richard Dawson kissing every female contestant on the lips…something that would be considered weird & inappropriate by modern standards. Instead, Harvey’s charm & comedic chops make the program entertaining, especially in small bites.

  

BatDad

Back in 2013 Blake Wilson purchased a Batman mask from a Target in Florida and began posting Vines of himself interacting with his wife & children while wearing the mask and talking in the low pitched throatiness popularized by Christian Bale’s version of The Caped Crusader in the Dark Knight movies. Seven years later Vine no longer exists and BatDad is divorced from his seemingly unamused wife Jen, but the videos are still going strong.

 

The Holderness Family

Penn & Kim Holderness used to be talking heads on TV news programs, but soon after posting some videos on YouTube in 2013 they became a lot more famous. Their videos consist of parody songs and other comedy bits poking fun at slice-of-life Americana like Hallmark Christmas movies & of course dealing with quarantine. They are quite talented & funny, and their two children seem to enjoy being part of the show.

 

The Williams Sisters on Instagram

Kimberly Williams-Paisley & her sister Ashley Williams are both actresses. These days they mostly star in television movies, but Kimberly’s very first acting gig was in 1991’s Father of the Bride (one of my favorite movies of all time), while I still remember Ashley from the sitcom Good Morning Miami that only lasted one season almost twenty years ago. During the pandemic they have been going live on Instagram once a week, and it’s just a conversation between two sisters. They cover a wide array of subjects, laughing hysterically the entire time. Ashley especially has an infectious laugh. I have come to appreciate simplicity, and the charm of two sisters just having fun talking to each other and letting us eavesdrop is undeniable.

 

 

and The Sammy goes to…..

 

Tipsy Bartender. I don’t even drink anymore. I sowed my wild oats in college, but now, more than two decades later, you are much more likely to see me drinking skim milk or iced tea than liquor, and my favorite kind of beer is root beer. Mixology has always intrigued me though, so I enjoy watching various concoctions being created even if I know darn well I’ll never drink it myself. It’s kind of like my affection for The Food Network despite the fact that my own culinary efforts rarely go beyond throwing something in the microwave or cooking spaghetti then tossing a jar of sauce over it. If you enjoy an occasional adult beverage these videos are fascinating and a lot of fun.

 

 

Our next award is a very special honor being given to a person who has been an influence in my life for thirty years. To make the presentation we are pleased to welcome two young ladies who have likely looked to our honoree as an inspiration in their own careers as political pundits and will carry on his legacy for many years to come. Please give a warm welcome to Candace Owens & Tomi Lahren!!

 

 

The Duffer-Herrell Lifetime Achievement Award

 

Rush Limbaugh

 

When I was in college my best friend Greg gave me a book entitled The Way Things Ought to Be. I had heard a little bit about Rush Limbaugh, but I thought he was a shock jock that I’d not find entertaining at all. I was wrong. I read Rush’s book and it was a revelation. He made so much sense, opening my eyes to ideas I’d never known I always believed. Over the next two decades I was an avid listener of his daily talk show, and really enjoyed the TV show he hosted all too briefly in the early 90’s. I am well aware that many people don’t like Rush at all, but I think a lot of those folks are misinformed. Though he has mellowed in recent years I readily admit that back in the day he could be quite abrasive, oftentimes intentionally offensive, and definitely not everyone’s cup of tea. However, I believe his reputation for being outrageous has always been overblown. More than once I have encountered people who claim they hated Rush but hadn’t actually listened to his program…something I’ve always found to be intellectually dishonest. You might not agree with his political beliefs, but Rush is hardly Satan’s evil minion. To be honest I think he was ahead of his time. People weren’t quite ready for his brutal honesty, refusal to kowtow to opposing ideas, and faux bravado three decades ago, but now everybody is copying his shtick and turning the volume to 11. Rush was a major player in the conservative movement of the mid-1990’s, and the Clinton years when Slick Willie was the perfect adversary for Rush to play off of were definitely the golden age of his reign over talk radio. I haven’t listened to his show all that much the past several years because I am not as into politics as I used to be. I no longer have the stomach for intense debate with people who will never try to see my point of view no matter how conciliatory I am toward them. The ballyhooed mean-spiritedness assigned to Rush pales in comparison to how divisive and malicious people can be these days. He’s kind of like the classic horror movies from the 1930’s…sure they are horror films, but they aren’t nearly as gory & violent as modern horror films. In that same way Rush’s alleged malevolence almost seems quaint when compared to what is presented every day & night on the cable news channels. At any rate, I spent countless hours thru the years learning from Rush, being entertained by him, and awakening to the indoctrination pervasive in so many powerful entities that shape & dictate our lives. Sadly Rush Limbaugh’s time in the public arena is coming to a close. He is battling lung cancer and has already lived longer than expected. I am sure there are people who will celebrate his demise, but I am not one of them. If you are I will say a prayer for you. To Rush all I can say is godspeed and thank you for everything you have meant in my life.

 

 

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 1.21

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

 

 

 

Facebook sure has changed in the last several months. I distinctly recall being savagely attacked by friends of a friend (well, he’s not my friend anymore…his loss) during a sociopolitical…discussion…a few years ago. I was called fat, stupid, a Nazi, and various other things by people who didn’t even know me. Where were Facebook’s “community standards” back then?? Apparently they didn’t exist. But you know what…that’s okay. I’m a grown ass man. I took a licking and kept on ticking. Flash forward to the present and I’ve been in “Facebook Jail” twice in the past few weeks, the first time for 24 hours & the second for three days. I deserved the first one and I’ll admit it, but I don’t even know what I did the second time. I’m not usually the paranoid conspiracy theory type, but I feel like I’m being targeted since my beliefs tend to lean to the right and I espouse conservative Christian values (most of the time…I’m not perfect). I am convinced that Facebook & other social media platforms are limiting free speech and exhibiting unprecedented control over the populace. They are silencing perspectives with which they do not agree, and sadly it is working. I am the administrator for two pages other than my personal page, and I don’t want those organizations to lose their platform. I stay in contact with friends & family across the country and beyond as well as utilize Facebook as an online photo album and a place to promote my blog, and I don’t want to lose those options either. So you know what?? You win Facebook. You have (mostly) silenced me. Going forward I will be even more selective about what I post and extremely careful about threads I comment on. I’ll stick to clicking the “like” button or replying with a funny GIF. It’s just not worth the hassle to go beyond that. Isn’t it ironic that a social media site is so arbitrary in the way it administers “justice” (to adults who should be able to post anything we want) that it actually persuades people to be less interactive 🤔.

 

 

I utilize my Instagram as a Meme Zone. Nothing but memes. All memes all the time (sadly even those have been “fact checked” a couple of times). Most are funny, while some are meant to make one stop & think. I ran across this one that someone else had posted, but it gave me pause. It’s a nice idea and a pleasant thought, but I don’t believe it to be true. My father told me often as a child that even though people would stop, pat me on the head, & be briefly concerned about the “poor little crippled boy”, the fact is that ten seconds later they’d forgotten all about me because everyone has their own lives and their own problems. Dad has imparted much wisdom thru the years, but that particularly sage counsel has always stuck with me more than anything else. So forgive me if I don’t believe that coworkers, classmates, random little kids & old women, or the waitstaff at my favorite restaurant love me. I don’t even think it is true in regard to my extended family. I’ve been laid up for nine months (hospital, “skilled” nursing facility, homebound), and trust me…I rarely receive phone calls, texts, emails, or instant messages from anyone outside of a select few (and damn do I appreciate those folks). I have been quite lonely & distraught. Some evenings I have simply laid here & wept. I would never take the ultimate drastic action because I cannot fathom devastating my father & sister in that way and my faith, though shaky at times, is deeply rooted. But make no mistake…certain things have run across my mind in moments of despair. Obviously I don’t feel particularly loved or lovable. I think a more accurate word would be likable. I know people like me. I have a few good qualities…a decent sense of humor, fairly intelligent, a good listener, polite (most of the time), reliable, generally honest. But lovable?? Nah. It may seem silly to some, but one of the more devastating things that has happened in the past several months is a lovely gal that I have admired from afar for awhile was briefly single but has now apparently found the love of her life, all while I was immobile & otherwise distracted. It was a pipe dream anyway…she’s completely out of my league. However, what the situation made clear to me is that I have absolutely nothing to offer a potential mate, and at a time in my life when I have way too much time to spend in my own head that realization has been heartbreaking. At any rate, I will continue to be a “nice guy” to friends, neighbors, the drive thru people at Burger King, customer service reps at local retail outlets, and anyone else I encounter…but I labor under no delusion that they love me or that I am worthy of that level of admiration.

 

 

I’m sure y’all read stories recently about Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Missouri) finishing a closing prayer on the first day of the new Congress with “amen & awoman”. Actually what he said was “And dare I ask, oh Lord, peace even in this chamber now and evermore. We ask it in the name of the monotheistic god, Brahma, and god known by many names by many different faiths. Amen and awoman.”  Okay…this is so stupid I don’t even know where to start. The word “amen”  is an Abrahamic declaration of affirmation used in Jewish, Christian, & Islamic worship as a response to a prayer. It means verily, truly, or so be it. In other words, it has absolutely NOTHING to do with gender!! Congressman Cleaver was so hellbent & determined to prove his wokeness, but instead he exposed his own mental illness. Also, in case you are wondering, Brahma is the Hindu god. Folks, I don’t have an issue with inclusiveness & all that jazz. I am a Christian, but I have friends who are Jewish and others that range from “spiritual” to “questioning”. I am not personally acquainted with any atheists or Muslims and certainly have my opinions about each, but hey, if you respect my faith I’ll respect yours. Having said that, I think there are common sense parameters, and recognizing the Hindu god in a prayer in the United States Congress or any other public arena simply isn’t normal. I’ve always known that politicians in general are corrupt, greedy, & morally ambiguous, but I’m starting to get a real sense of evil emanating from Washington DC. There’s so much more I could say, but I’m trying to remain positive and not elevate my blood pressure.

Points of Ponderation…..Episode 3.20

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

So I ran across this lil gem…

“Cynicism can actually be damaging to one’s heart, according to the National Institute of Health. A study previously published by the agency’s National Center for Biotechnology Information concluded that cynical, hostile attitudes toward others can be connected to cardiovascular disease”.

I’m so screwed 👀.

 

 

“Speak softly & carry a big stick”. That’s a philosophy famously promoted by President Theodore Roosevelt, and I believe it’s a good rule of thumb. Unfortunately, with social media nowadays it’s really easy for people to not speak softly. In The Godfather Michael Corleone instructs his younger brother Fredo to “never let anyone outside The Family know what you are thinking”, which is another excellent maxim we should follow, but of course we don’t because there are just so many ways to let everyone know exactly what we think about any subject imaginable. I mention all of this because I see some common themes pop up amongst several of my female friends out there in cyberspace. Many of them are divorced and have been screwed over in one way or another. They talk about “reclaiming their power”, being fierce, & “straightening each others’ crowns”. They use terms like “gaslighting”, “my truth”, “mansplaining”, “self care”, “empowerment”, “patriarchy”, “narcissist”, “toxic masculinity”, & “lovebombing”. They’re really into being independent, strong, no longer staying quiet or falling in line with societal expectations, and being bold & fearless. Most are really liberal and all about being “woke”. Look, I’m not saying any of that is necessarily bad, and to be honest I prefer strong, intelligent, independent women. I am simply opining that constantly talking in those terms feels a bit disingenuous, as if a scared child is trying to psych herself into facing a difficult situation but not really believing in themselves. It also seems like such women kind of hate men, and as a man why would I possibly want to become involved on any level with someone who hates me?? I think most of us can agree that the old-fashioned notion of women staying home, being barefoot & pregnant, doing all the housework & taking care of the kids 24/7, and being submissive to their man is no longer appropriate, if it ever was in the first place. I would love to find a wife, and I would like that person to be my equal, my helpmate, my partner, strong, intelligent, and even a badass. But I’m not sure I could deal with someone who expects me to “check my privilege” (whatever the hell that means) and walk on eggshells in fear of offending her at every turn. Many of the ladies I see embracing these ideas are beautiful, successful, & strong. They are great mothers and fantastic people. They already embody the passion, courage, & tenacity they seem to desire so badly. Why would such a lovely & valuable treasure intentionally present themselves as unapproachable & morose??

 

 

Earlier this year I started binge watching The Office. I loved it. I enjoyed the Jim & Pam romance and fixated on Jim as my favorite character. Then stuff happened. You don’t need to know the details, but suffice to say I cannot bring myself to finish watching the series, and I freakin’ despise Jim Halpert. I’d run over that sonofabitch with my truck. Life is funny. Maddening, frustrating, & depressing…but funny.

 

 

So…do I believe there was all sorts of chicanery involved in the 2020 Presidential Election?? Hell yes. I’m not much on conspiracy theories, but I have zero doubt that The Left’s virulent hatred for President Trump led them to hatch a nefarious plot a few years ago, a plan they executed well enough. How did the global pandemic play into it?? I’m not sure. Was it simply a convenient disaster that they were smart enough to take advantage of…or is the truth even more sinister?? Who knows?? We’ll probably never get the real story, and I’m not the kind of person who will lose sleep or drive myself mad focusing on the whole deal. I’m certainly not the protest/riot type. I will just continue to quietly go about my business and lead my boring little life, enjoying what I can when I am able to do so. I certainly have some thoughts about America’s future under a new administration. Perhaps I’ll express those opinions…or maybe I won’t. Let’s just say that I have some level of concern about what is going to happen, but I don’t feel like it would be wise or productive to dwell in a place of negativity. My faith is bigger than my politics, and I have learned to embrace a “one day at a time” mindset.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Is Understood Need Not Be Discussed

“Music, when soft voices die, vibrates in the memory.” ―Percy Bysshe Shelley

 

 

I’m not a listener of Howard Stern’s radio show, but I do follow him on Instagram and have seen bits & pieces of his recent interview with Wolfgang Van Halen. Following that interview young Wolfgang released a poignant video tribute to his father, and that is the kick in the pants I needed to proceed with my own eulogy, something that has been on my mind for weeks, but y’all know how I get. I really thought I’d be much more prolific in the midst of a global pandemic, but instead I’ve gone in the opposite direction, not reading or writing nearly as much as I should have the past several months.  

 

At any rate… We lost Eddie Van Halen several weeks ago, and as I have done in the past with Whitney Houston, Robin Williams, & Glenn Frey I feel it necessary to do a bit more than just note his passing in the RIP portion of The Sammy Awards. Hero worship isn’t my cup o’ tea for many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that so many creative geniuses…actors, writers, musicians…are flawed human beings just like any other person. However, as I’ve grown older I’ve learned to have mercy and overlook such things, choosing instead to focus on the talent and an individual’s contribution to the world. The cool thing about these folks is that they leave a legacy the rest of us can enjoy forever. We read books written by people that died centuries ago. There are movies & TV shows whose entire cast has been gone for decades, yet we still watch. Music may go in & out of style, constantly evolving thru the years…but for most of us, once we become fans of a particular band, performer, or genre, we are fans for life. Personally, though I am openminded and occasionally hear new stuff that I enjoy, when I settle in with my ear buds & Amazon Music app (as if Bezos needs a free plug) I almost always end up chillin’ out with tunes I’ve listened to countless times over many years…and I’m okay with that.  

 

I don’t remember exactly when I became a Van Halen fan, but it was probably when I was about 12 years old and their mega hit album 1984 hit the shelves of my local record store. MTV was still fresh & fun and actually aired music videos, and everyone remembers David Lee Roth doing air splits in spandex pants. Jump was and always will be Van Halen’s signature song, but they were so much more than that. They were bigger than Roth, who thought he was good enough to go solo not all that long after the success of 1984. He was wrong, because he didn’t understand what all of us eventually came to realize…the core of Van Halen was Eddie himself. To be honest I enjoyed the second incarnation of Van Halen even better because Sammy Hagar is a much more talented vocalist than Roth. I hate the fact that Eddie & Sammy had a falling out, but I appreciate the fact that they made peace months before Eddie’s death. Still, it pains me to think of the two+ decades of fantastic music we missed out on.  

 

I was blessed to see Van Halen on their Balance tour shortly after I graduated college. I’ve heard many of my contemporaries jokingly say that they’re glad social media wasn’t around back then to capture some of our more unsavory exploits, and I understand the sentiment. However, I wish I had more photos & videos of such fun times. The magic of The Internet allows me to know that Van Halen played at The Charleston (WV) Civic Center on Sunday April 23, 1995 (the same day Howard Cosell died). They opened with The Seventh Seal (which is the fifth best song from the Balance album at best), closed with Right Now, and played a two song encore of Don’t Tell Me What Love Can Do and Panama. They didn’t even perform Jump. It’s hard to believe that night was more than 25 years ago, and I would love to have pics & videos of it, but sadly it lives on only in my memory. I may not have gotten to see Van Halen at their peak, but I’m so thankful I got to see them in concert. History tells us that the band would break up shortly thereafter. Van Halen brought in Gary Cherone to sing on one album, but it just didn’t work out. Cherone is a fine performer, and I don’t hate Van Halen III, but Hagar’s departure and the years that followed were all products of Eddie’s “demons”. Van Halen reunited with Roth, then with Hagar, then with Roth again, but most fans acknowledge that, for all intents & purposes, Balance was pretty much the end of the road. The band never produced anything noteworthy afterward, although what they gave us in those first two decades is more than enough, and thank God for that.  

 

In keeping with the general premise of Superfluous 7 I have decided to offer up…in no particular order…my favorite Van Halen songs. But since the band’s legendary career is almost always thought of in two distinct eras I have decided to present seven Roth tunes and seven Hagar tunes. What they all have in common is Eddie…in my opinion the best rock guitarist of all time. Just click on the song & listen to…..        

 

 

from the home office in Amsterdam, Netherlands…..

 

 

The (Supersized) Superfluous 7 Favorite Van Halen Songs:

 

 

Roth Era

Jump

Panama

Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love

I’ll Wait

Dance the Night Away

Unchained

You Really Got Me

 

Hagar Era

Best of Both Worlds

Dreams

5150

When It’s Love

Not Enough

Take Me Back (Deja Vu)

Why Can’t This Be Love

 

The Rocco Chronicles…..Chapter 4

There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love.Washington Irving

 

 


Are dogs psychic??

That is a question I have pondered a bit in the past several months. Of course I am pretty sure the answer is no (I’m not even sure human psychics are legit, let alone dogs), but I’m amused by the idea that Rocco checked out before the turmoil that has plagued 2020 was thrust upon the rest of us.

Procrastination has always been a thing for me, and since I have been dreading this day for awhile it comes as no surprise that I’ve waited until the last minute to do what I’ve always known I needed & wanted to do, which is honor Rocco’s memory on the one year anniversary of his departure from this mortal coil. Dog people refer to it as “crossing the rainbow bridge”, whatever that means.

As odd as it may sound I went to the mall the day Rocco died. My neighbor & I had already made those plans before Rocco took a turn for the worse, and as we left the vet’s office after the pet crematorium had taken him away I made the decision to follow thru. I don’t even remember what we did there or if there was any specific reason why we had decided to go in the first place. What I do recall is seeing my apartment building on the horizon that afternoon as we approached home. Naturally I had openly wept that morning when I held Rocco in my arms as the life left his ailing little body, but I had kept it together at the mall, which I suppose was the whole point. I needed a distraction, if only for a couple of hours. However, as I was driving along and got close to home I had a sudden realization that would shortly be confirmed.

As I’ve gotten older I have learned to embrace stillness and enjoy solitude. It is not unusual for me to turn the television off and just enjoy some peace & quiet. But that day…my God, the silence was deafening. Anyone who has ever spent any time with pugs knows that they are constantly snorting, breathing loudly, and making various other noises that take some getting used to, and I had been living with those charming sounds for 12 years. I was taken aback by just how quiet my humble abode had suddenly become and by the overwhelming loneliness that I felt. Those first few days weren’t much fun.

Life moves on though, right?? There was work, and soon enough the holidays were upon us, then a new year…and then springtime brought a global pandemic. On top of all that I ran into a significant health issue, spending several weeks in the hospital and several more weeks at a “skilled rehab” facility (at which there was very little rehab and not much skill on display, but that’s a whole other story). It’s not that I’ve ever forgotten about Rocco…I just didn’t dwell on the situation all that much.

Having said that, there have been a couple of evenings since I got home in August when Rocco weighed heavily on my heart & mind and the tears flowed once more. I suppose there were multiple factors involved since this year has been such an epic imbroglio, but for some reason on those nights I missed him as bad as I did last October.

I had always thought that when something happened to Rocco I’d want to get another dog in short order, but life events in the past few years changed that train of thought. Despite my disability I have always been mostly healthy. However, that’s not necessarily true anymore. In late 2015 I was in the hospital for a couple of months, but my sister was able to take care of Rocco. Then last summer I was in the hospital for several weeks, and I sincerely believe that led to Rocco’s demise. My sister had moved into a place that didn’t allow pets, so the only thing I could do was leave Rocco in my apartment and have a couple of my neighbors look in on him, feed him, etc. They were with him a couple of times a day for a few minutes, but he was mostly alone. I try to avoid wondering what he must have been thinking, but I know he had to feel alone & abandoned, which makes me sad. This summer I was again in the hospital and a “facility”, and I am grateful that Rocco wasn’t around. As much as I would love to have another furry creature to love on I know it’s not fair to them. A possible workaround was recently suggested to me, and I am going to research it a bit, but for now no more pets in The Bachelor Palace. We’ll see.

At any rate, I just felt like it was important to mark this occasion. I realize that I’m not the first or only human being to lose a pet. I am sure if I was married and had children the loss might not feel quite so profound. As my father says “it is what it is and was what it was”. I am thankful for the 12 years I had with Rocco, and I can’t help but think of what Tom Hanks said in Cast Away: “I know what I have to do now. I’ve got to keep breathing. Because tomorrow, the sun will rise. Who knows what the tide could bring??”.

    

 

 

A Glimmer of Hope

When I was in high school I took a psychology class that was really interesting, so I briefly toyed with the idea of choosing that career path. I didn’t end up following thru, but I have retained a passing interest in the field, which is why I am borrowing & expanding on an idea I saw on a friend’s Facebook page. We all know that triggers are psychological stimuli that prompt recall of traumatic experiences. It can be anything that provokes fear or distressing memories, from people & places to particular dates on the calendar or times of the year to smells, tastes, sounds, & textures. Obviously a trigger is a bad thing, but what about a glimmer?? What’s a glimmer?? Well, it is essentially the opposite of a trigger. While triggers make one feel anxious & withdrawn, glimmers make us feel safe & connected. Triggers are the autonomic nervous system’s response to cues of danger. Conversely, glimmers make one feel grounded, centered, and maybe even warm & fuzzy. So the question is what are your glimmers?? Obviously I can’t answer that for you, but I thought it might be fun to identify my own glimmers. I’m all about self-reflection, and especially at this moment of my life I need to focus on whatever will take me to my happy place, even if it’s just in my mind.

 

 

 

Laughter

I write a lot about movies here at The Manofesto, and tend to have more of an interest in comedies than anything else because I enjoy laughter. Life can be difficult way more often than we’d like, and I really do believe that laughter is the best medicine. I’m sure a brain expert could explain things in great detail, but I’ve never really understood people who enjoy cop shows or medical dramas or…God forbid…”reality TV”. Those folks are just wired differently, or perhaps they’ve been blessed enough to lead a relatively stress free life and need something artificial to get their blood pumping. I don’t know…to each their own. Mark Twain went so far as to say that “Humanity has unquestionably one really effective weapon…laughter. Power, money, persuasion, supplication, persecution…these can lift at a colossal humbug, push it a little, weaken it a little, century by century, but only laughter can blow it to rags & atoms at a blast. Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.” Big time truth from Twain. And by the way, it’s not only my own selfish desire to laugh…I enjoy the laughter of others. There’s nothing cooler than a person with a really great laugh.

 

Books

An old friend (who sadly no longer communicates with me) once observed that I essentially live in a library, which is true. In my humble Bachelor Palace I have no fewer than nine bookshelves packed with everything from classic literature to political & sports biographies to other assorted oddities. Admittedly I haven’t read every book I own, but I’m comforted by their presence and knowing I can read them whenever I choose. I honestly believe that’s one of the weird things making me so unhappy at the moment…being far away from home and my books, with the exception of a few I was astute enough to bring with me. I don’t read as much as I once did, but on the rare occasion I can force myself to stop overthinking all of the bad stuff in my life long enough for a book to sink its claws into my consciousness and distract me it is a true pleasure.

 

The Smile of a Beautiful Woman

Guys are often asked what the first thing they notice about a woman is, and of course we take note of a great rack or a fine booty. Any man that tells you otherwise is lying. However, those of us of a certain age have come to realize that the importance of such…assets…should be a bit lower in the hierarchy. I’m a big fan of a lovely smile (which includes the eyes!!). Bonus points if that gorgeous beam of happiness is emanating from a woman who has been thru some stuff because not only does she have a pretty smile but she’s tougher than a two dollar steak and has overcome adversity, which is unbelievably attractive. A woman can be as flat as the The Great Plains in the aforementioned bodily areas, but if she’s got a great smile I won’t even notice.

 

Music

I’ve always enjoyed music, but since the pandemic began and especially since I’ve been physically laid up the past couple months I’ve listened to an incredible amount of music. I certainly have my favorites, but I listen to a lil bit of everything…jazz & blues, classic rock, oldies from the 50’s & 60’s, grungy alternative from my college days, classical (I love Chopin), big band, swing music. It just depends on my mood. I am fascinated with the talent & skill it takes to play an instrument, sing well, & of course write memorable lyrics. I wish I would have been gifted with that kind of aptitude and the dedication it takes to hone the craft, but I wasn’t, so it makes me happy to listen to others do so. One of the worst byproducts of this pandemic is the loss (for now) of live music, which is such a treasure. I look forward to the opportunity to gather once at a local club or other venue when “social distancing” is a thing of the past. That’ll be a good day.

 

Words with Friends & Spades Royale

You might laugh, but allow me to explain. I’ve never been much of a gamer. I think the last game system I owned was a Sony DreamCast about 20 years ago. I’m not into first person shooters at all and always preferred sports games like Madden, but with new consoles coming out every year at $500+ and games themselves costing more than $50 I just kind of gave up. At any rate, smartphones have put a whole new spin on gaming, but I’m still pretty old school. I love Words with Friends, which is really just another brand of Scrabble. As a writer I suppose words are kind of my thing. I’ve played thousands of games of Words with Friends. I just wish more of my actual friends played as well. And then there is Spades. I’ve always enjoyed card games. Poker. Blackjack. Uno. Canasta. Rummy. It’s all good. However, I can’t properly explain how playing Spades on my phone centers & relaxes me. There’s just enough strategery & ponderation to distract me from the real world for awhile without stressing me out in a whole different way. When I bid nil and actually pull it off it’s a proud moment.

 

Puns

Humor covers a huge amount of territory. What I find funny may just make another person stare blankly into space wondering what’s wrong with me. I suspect there have been no shortage of people in my life that formed that opinion. One thing that I find particularly amusing are puns, which are defined as “a joke exploiting the different possible meanings of a word or the fact that there are words which sound alike but have different meanings”. I really get a kick out of a great pun.

 

Movie Theater Popcorn

I’m not much of a snack food guy. I don’t hate potato chips, crackers, or pretzels, but you are much more likely to find me munching on candy bars & snack cakes. When I was a kid my mother used to make popcorn on top of our stove, and while I found the process fascinating I still didn’t particularly like to eat it. However, movie theater popcorn is a whole other thing. I suppose it’s because it is slathered in much more butter & salt than when it is prepared at home, rendering an otherwise healthy snack rather unhealthy. However, I suspect that it is part of the overall social experience as well. One thing we’re all learning during this time of isolation is just how important community is. Even the most dedicated homebody needs to get out & about and socialize with other human beings, and though we can inexpensively stay at home with our gigantic flat screen TVs & multiple streaming services and enjoy just about any film we choose I still think there’s something to be said for a night out at the local cineplex.

 

Sunshine

I am a firm believer in the existence of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). I feel so much more alive & energetic in the spring & summer. I hate grey, overcast, rainy, cold days. Looking out the window of my current prison and seeing the sunshine is so frustrating because I can’t be outside enjoying it.

 

Writing

I suppose it comes as no surprise that a blogger enjoys writing. My issue has always been coming up with ideas. I’m like a vehicle at the top of a steep incline…all I need is a gentle push and I’m off to the races. Unfortunately inspiration is all too rare. I read a long time ago that JK Rowling was on welfare in England when the idea for Harry Potter came to her while riding the bus. I’d love to have my Harry Potter Moment. It’s not even about the fame or money (although I’d be willing to take on the task of being a bazillionaire). The idea of writing something entertaining & important enough for the masses to enjoy for generations is quite appealing. Until that happens though, know that the relatively inconsequential drivel I produce in this space means a lot to me. I’ve discovered & revealed so much about myself here, and thoroughly enjoy the process.

 

Intelligent Conversation

This is a big one. My father has always opined that there is a difference between loneliness and being alone. For many years I enjoyed my solitude. I’ve never been married, never had children, never even had a roommate in my adult life. However, I must confess that feelings of loneliness have become more prevalent the past few years. I had a great friend for two decades that would call often. He’s one of the smartest guys I know, and we would have conversations lasting a couple of hours a few times a week for years. We would talk about everything from music to politics to religion to philosophy and everything in between. He stopped communicating with me a few years ago and perhaps that’s when things started to go downhill. I have a few people in my “normal” life (when I’m at home) that I communicate with regularly, but to be blunt they just aren’t capable of holding up their end of the kind of exchange I crave. In my current circumstance…as Britney Spears might say…my loneliness is killing me. I am saddened by the scarcity of human interaction I’ve had the past couple of months, given the available technologies. Of all the glimmers listed here intelligent conversation might be the one I value the most yet it’s the one I get the opportunity to enjoy the least.

 

Old Movies

There’s a meme that I believe I’ve used here somewhere that basically states that watching our favorite movies over & over again makes us feel safe & calm amidst the craziness of the real world because we are comforted by already knowing the outcome. Safe…calm…comforted…isn’t that the very definition of a glimmer?? It really does make a lot of sense. As stupid as it may seem, I feel blessed to live in an era where we can revisit such soothing memories pretty much anytime we want, and the fact is that so much of the newer entertainment we’re offered nowadays absolutely sucks, so thank goodness we can still be distracted by the old stuff.

 

Impressions

Okay, so here’s another subset of laughter. I can be a fairly amusing guy and make people laugh occasionally, but holy cow do I have mad respect for stand-up comedians who can get up in front of an audience, hold the room in the palm of their hand, and make the whole crowd laugh hysterically. My favorite kind of comedian is one who does impressions, although I must admit that my standards are high. Anyone can try to do impressions, but few do them really well. I once opined that if I could be granted any talent or skill I think I might go with the ability to do awesome impressions. Sure it’d be cool to be a good enough singer to become a rock star like Billy Joel or Michael Buble (yes, in my world those guys are rock stars), and I’d love to be able to shred the axe like Eddie Van Halen or Stevie Ray Vaughan, but at the end of the day I think being an impressionist that can make people laugh would be tremendously cool. Lacking that particular skill though I rely on others to frost my cupcake, and rarely does anything bring me much more joy than someone who can deliver a fine impression (or two or three).

 

 

Okay, so those are a few of my glimmers, and I really need as much tranquility & delight as I can get right now. What are your glimmers?? If you’ve never thought about it maybe this is a good time to do so. Drop me some comments and share what makes you happy.