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

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

100 Memorable Television Characters

1 Deputy Barney Fife (The Andy Griffith Show)

2 Cosmo Kramer (Seinfeld)

3 JR Ewing (Dallas)

4 Captain Kirk & Mister Spock (Star Trek)

5 Arthur Fonzarelli (Happy Days)

6 Archie & Edith Bunker (All in the Family)

7 The Dynamic Duo (Batman)

8 Dr. Frasier Crane (Cheers & Frasier)

9 George Costanza (Seinfeld)

Michael Scott (The Office)

10 Rev. Jim Ignatowski (Taxi)

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

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

13 Dr. Sheldon Cooper (The Big Bang Theory)

14 Ari Gold (Entourage)

15 Louie DePalma (Taxi)

16 Fred Sanford (Sanford & Son)

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

18 Cliff Clavin (Cheers)

19 Les Nessman (WKRP in Cincinnati)

20 Mork from Ork (Mork & Mindy)

21 Sherlock Holmes (Sherlock Holmes)

22 Shaggy Rogers (Scooby Doo)

23 Luke Spencer (General Hospital)

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

25 Alex P. Keaton (Family Ties)

26 Charlie Brown (Peanuts)

27 Stefano DiMera (Days of Our Lives)

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

29 Kermit the Frog (The Muppet Show)

30 Sheriff Andy Taylor (The Andy Griffith Show)

31 Dr. Niles Crane (Frasier)

32 Fred Flintstone (The Flintstones)

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

34 Bo & Luke Duke (The Dukes of Hazzard)

35 Capt. Hawkeye Pierce (MASH)

Dwight Schrute (The Office)

36 Linus Van Pelt (Peanuts)

37 Wayne Campbell & Garth Algar (Saturday Night Live)

38 Norm Peterson (Cheers)

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

40 President Jed Bartlet (The West Wing)

41 Otis Campbell (The Andy Griffith Show)

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

43 Daisy Duke (The Dukes of Hazzard)

44 Frank Costanza (Seinfeld)

45 Balki Bartokomous (Perfect Strangers)

46 The Riddler (Batman)

47 Opie Taylor (The Andy Griffith Show)

48 Matt Foley (Saturday Night Live)

49 Lenny & Squiggy (Laverne & Shirley)

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

51 Jack Tripper (Three’s Company)

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

53 Latka Gravas (Taxi)

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

55 Johnny Drama (Entourage)

56 Gordon Shumway (ALF)

57 George & Weezie Jefferson (The Jeffersons)

58 Vinnie Barbarino (Welcome Back Kotter)

59 Major Frank Burns (MASH)

60 Larry, Darryl, & Darryl (Newhart)

61 Sam Malone (Cheers)

62 Felix Unger & Oscar Madison (The Odd Couple)

63 Dwayne Schneider (One Day at a Time)

64 The General Lee (The Dukes of Hazzard)

65 Howard Wolowitz (The Big Bang Theory)

66 Arnold Horshack (Welcome Back Kotter)

67 John Walton Jr. (The Waltons)

68 Toby Ziegler (The West Wing)

69 The Church Lady (Saturday Night Live)

70 Dan Fielding (Night Court)

71 Coach Ernie Pantuso & Woody Boyd (Cheers)

72 Barney Stinson (How I Met Your Mother)

73 Jack & Rebecca Pearson (This Is Us)

74 Denny Crane & Alan Shore (Boston Legal)

75 The Castaways (Gilligan’s Island)

76 Luther Van Dam (Coach)

77 The Clampetts (The Beverly Hillbillies)

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

79 Herman Munster (The Munsters)

80 Aunt Esther (Sanford & Son)

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

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

83 Gomez Addams (The Addams Family)

84 Elaine Benes (Seinfeld) 

85 Charles Ingalls (Little House on the Prairie)

86 Mr. McMahon (WWE)

87 Endora (Bewitched)

88 Dr. John Becker (Becker)

89 Eric Matthews (Boy Meets World)

90 Al Bundy (Married with Children)

91 Mary Katherine Gallagher (Saturday Night Live)

92 Flo Castleberry (Alice)

93 Bill McNeal (NewsRadio)

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

95 Steve Urkel (Family Matters)

96 Topanga Lawrence (Boy Meets World)

97 Lowell Mather (Wings)

98 Hank Hill (King of the Hill)

99 Cody Lambert (Step by Step)

100 Sheriff Jack Carter (Eureka)

100 Memorable Movie Characters


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

100 James Bond (various films)

A Word About Spina Bifida

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Speaking of propagating the species…

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

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

POINTS OF PONDERATION…..EPISODE 7.21 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Connect or Disengage: Perspective on Social Media

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Points of Ponderation…..Episode 6.21

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

 

 

 

 

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

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

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

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

Points of Ponderation…..Episode 5.21

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

 

 

 

 

When I was a teenager in the 80s there was a delicious candy bar called BarNone. It was thick…solid…and very chocolatey. There were chocolate wafers with chocolate cream and peanuts on top, all enveloped in chocolate. Their ad slogan was “Tame the Chocolate Beasty”. In 1992…for whatever reason…Hershey altered BarNone from one substantial bar to two smaller bars (and added caramel) in bright yellow packaging. It was good, but not as great as the original. Then in 1997 BarNone was discontinued altogether. Several years ago a company called Iconic Candy announced plans to revive BarNone, but they seemed to be all talk & no action so I gave up. Not so fast my friends!! Apparently, while we were all caught up in other things last year Iconic finally relaunched BarNone, a fact I only recently discovered. I promptly ordered a box on Amazon and while it isn’t a perfect facsimile (it’s a bit dry and needs more ganache & peanuts) it is close enough. If you liked BarNone back in the day you’ll be glad to know they’re out there again, which makes my world a wee bit better than it was just last week. Sometimes it really is the little things in life.

 

 

Weight Watchers changed their name to WW…but why?? Did somebody that gets paid a salary actually make that decision?? Hell, any idiot could do that job 🤷🏻‍♂️.

 

 

I ran across a blurb that said former child actress Marah Wilson (Mrs. Doubtfire, the Miracle on 34th St. remake) is a cousin of conservative commentator Ben Shapiro. Then I read that Wilson has disavowed her cousin because of his political views and the two “don’t interact”. How sad is that?? I grew up in an Italian-American family, and for us cousins are quite important. I don’t even share the same sociopolitical worldview as my own father, but I can’t imagine “disavowing” him or cutting off contact. I just find it kind of pathetic. Wilson hasn’t even been an actress for two decades yet she still has that Hollywood bubble mindset that believes anyone who doesn’t share their twisted outlook on life is evil & must be cancelled. I used to think that the one thing all performers (actors, singers, athletes, etc) have in common is enormous talent, but I’ve come to realize that most also share some level of mental illness.

 

 

Since Election Day gas prices have soared 18%, while the price of oil has rocketed almost 50%. I TOLD YOU SO!!!!!!!!!!

 

 

Speaking of actresses…

I’ve never watched The Mandalorian. It’s one of those shows I always thought I’d get around to checking out but haven’t, and when I’m being honest with myself I realize I never will. At any rate, some actress from the show recently got fired for right leaning social media posts. Apparently what really got people’s panties in a wad was comparing Nazis treatment of Jews with the modern day cancel culture wherein there seems to be a concerted effort to squash all traces of conservative opinion. I read her tweet and understood the analogy just fine…didn’t find it offensive at all. What’s more interesting is Disney absolutely proving the young lady’s point by firing her. Leftists really don’t get it. They are completely blind to their own insanity. It would be funny if it wasn’t so maddening.

Points of Ponderation…..Episode 4.21


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

 

 

 

 

Social media was quite delightful when it first began, but now it kind of makes me sad. Not only is it fertile soil for all sorts of misunderstandings & arguments, but too often it proves just how willfully ignorant some people can be. When that ignorance shows itself one is left with a choice…do I call someone out on their BS (thus igniting one of those unnecessary & frustrating squabbles), or do I take the high road and let someone wallow in their obliviousness?? Either way it is unavoidable that one thinks less of that person going forward and that’s too bad.

 

 

Am I the only one who misses former White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany?? Biden’s spokesperson Jen Psaki is such a downgrade. It reminds me of when Prince Charles divorced Diana and married Camilla.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I rather enjoyed a thread in a Generation X group I’d recently joined on Facebook. The question revolved around fretting about whether or not we’d ever have a Gen X President. Quite frankly such things don’t matter all that much to me…I just want the best person for the job (something we Americans have struggled with in recent decades). Some mental giant gushed about the idea of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as a possible Millenial President, and it took all my powers of restraint not to post a response that likely would’ve landed me back in FB Jail. I can’t even take fans of that woman seriously. If you cannot see that she’s a total imbecile there’s very little hope for you and I’d suggest sterilization. At any rate, what occurred to me as I responsibly interacted with more sane members of the group is that we Americans tend to prefer an older President (Joe Biden is the oldest person ever elected)…especially conservatives. Wherein there are exceptions…younger folks like JFK, Clinton, & Obama…they tend to be Democrats. One could probably do an in depth analysis of the reasons, but who has time for that?? It just seems like liberals are more slavish to the cult of personality, make decisions based on emotion, choose idealism over pragmatism, & value style over substance. They like political candidates who are charismatic and good public speakers. They probably couldn’t list ten legit things accomplished by Bill Clinton, but they’ll rhapsodize about him playing saxophone on Arsenio Hall. They will never admit that they voted for Obama almost exclusively because of the color of his skin and his oratory skills despite his total lack of meaningful experience. They probably can’t name many of his accomplishments while in The White House either. Joe Biden was elected (allegedly) almost entirely because of Trump Derangement Syndrome and not because of anything he’d ever done. Conversely, Republicans nominate/elect people like the Bushes, Richard Nixon, John McCain, & Mitt Romney. I’m not sure what to make of that.

 

Sometimes something is just funny. Simple as that. Nothing sinister. No deeper meaning…just humor. Parody, dark comedy, sarcasm, satire…it’s all good. Some things might be funnier than others, and what I find amusing may be different than whatever makes you laugh, but intent matters. One might not see the humor in what another finds funny, but they should atleast be smart enough to understand that the other person meant it in good fun. I find people who take themselves & everything else so damn seriously to be quite tedious.

The Mosaic of Life

I spend way too much time online (just look at my Instagram), but while much of that is wasteful & pointless on occasion I do run across something that provokes thought. Such is the case with this little gem. In one of the more notable scenes from the Christmas classic It’s A Wonderful Life it is said that “each man’s life touches so many other lives”, and while we tend to think in grandiose terms it is interesting to ponder the seemingly trivial ways others have influenced us. 

 

I drink skim milk because my friend Greg introduced me to it in college and now it’s the only kind of milk I buy. Greg also gave me Rush Limbaugh’s book The Way Things Ought To Be in 1991 which transformed my life, and he taught me that “no man has ever said I wish I would’ve bought a smaller TV”.

 

My love for the Steelers & Pirates may have become a thing anyway given my hometown’s proximity to Pittsburgh, but it probably helped that my Great Aunt Garnet & my Uncle John both lived up there and we went to visit occasionally. 

 

An old boss at a job I had over two decades ago turned me onto jazz & blues music, and he also introduced me to sushi. My music palate began to be refined in college, and I have several fraternity brothers to thank for that. 

 

My sardonic sense of humor was heavily influenced by a former co-worker named Woody, and further enhanced by another colleague & friend Deidra who made me aware that I even had a sense of humor. Sometimes compliments stick with you forever. 

 

Obviously one’s parents & family typically play a huge role in shaping many areas of life. Dad has taught me a plethora of things…embracing our Italian heritage, an affection for laughter (I’ll always remember watching Johnny Carson & David Letterman on Friday nights with my father), & appreciation for a good biography just to name a few. He also introduced me to The Godfather & Frank Sinatra. My grandmothers were both churchgoers & undeniably influenced my faith. They were pretty good cooks too: Grandma Pigott made the best potato salad in the world, while Grandma Mano baked her own bread that paired well with the sloppy eggs she & my grandfather both made. My Papaw Jim exampled kindness & generosity. Sadly, just like the fried potatoes that he expertly prepared (painstakingly stirring them in a cast iron skillet forever) but I cannot seem to duplicate, I’ll never be the man he was. When one looks up grandfather in the dictionary his photo should be there. Mom was an unusual mix of kindhearted, empathetic, & tougher than a two dollar steak. She was soft-spoken but could open up a can o’ whoopass when necessary. I’m not sure I believe in all of that Freudian stuff, but perhaps I’ve remained single in a futile search for a woman that could live up to my mother’s legacy.

 

Another former co-worker Don (who occasionally checks in on The Manofesto & leaves a comment) provides a different example of what modeling Christ should look like. We’re not related & he’s more of a contemporary than the older folks I looked up to in church as a kid. He’s also more genuine & rooted in his faith than most people but he’s not self-righteous about it at all. 

 

A girl I was crushing on in 6th grade wouldn’t talk to me, and I found out that it was because I am in a wheelchair & she was afraid she’d say something to upset me. So from the age of 11 onward I decided that a) I’d always be the first person to make a stupid & borderline inappropriate cripple joke, and b) I wouldn’t be easily offended by anything. I don’t know what became of that little girl, but Thank You. 

 

I wish I could remember what grade I was in & the teacher’s name (pretty sure it was junior high), but reading Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s short story The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle led to me becoming a lifelong Sherlockian. 

 

My friend The Owl gave me many things: an appreciation for science, philosophy, & engineering that I never had before I met him, a healthy skepticism of women & relationships, affection for Star Trek, a unique perspective of music, and he introduced me to Ray Bradbury. We used to talk for hours multiple times a week about all kinds of things and I miss him tremendously.

 

I could probably go on & on if I had the inclination and pondered the idea awhile longer, but you get the point. I’m proud to be a mosaic and look forward to adding more colors in the future. 

 

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.