The 2018 Sammy Awards – Part III

Greetings Manoverse, and welcome to the exciting conclusion of the 2018 Sammy Awards. If you haven’t already done so, please go back and check out parts 1 & 2, then we’ll meet back here.

 

 

 

All caught up?? Awesome. Please welcome back the host of our show, British comedian & talk show host Michael McIntyre!!

 

 

 

 

After some side-splitting comedy from our host it’s time to present our next award. It is a privilege for this show to reunite what ESPN never should have separated. For nearly two decades they made early morning weekday hours fun & informative for sports fans everywhere, and along the way they picked up five Sammys, including a Lifetime Achievement Award a year ago. They’re still on TV & radio, but the magic is gone, so it is wonderful to have them together again on our stage. Please welcome author, vociferous New York Jets fan, & the host of ESPN’s Get Up, Mike Greenberg, and former NFL defensive lineman & host of ESPN’s Golic & Wingo, Mike Golic!! And the nominees are:

 

 

Best Sports Story

 

The Tide Rolls Again

The 2017-18 Alabama Crimson Tide went 11-1 in the regular season and failed to even make it to the SEC title game…but it didn’t matter. The powers-that-be handed them a spot in the College Football Playoff anyway, and the Tide rolled to their 17th National Championship, their fifth in nine years with head coach Nick Saban at the helm.

 

Dr. Larry Nassar

Dr. Nassar was a physician at Michigan State University and for about 15 years served as the team doctor for USA Gymnastics. During that time he sexually abused over 200 young people, and after being sent to prison in 2017 for child pornography in 2018 he was convicted of sexual assault to minors, so he’ll be spending the rest of his life in jail and one can assume eternity in Hell.

 

Philly Wins The Super Bowl

The 2017-18 Philadelphia Eagles went 13-3 in the regular season, easily winning their division. They proceeded to cruise thru the playoffs and clash with the dastardly New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII (that’s 52 for all you non-Romans out there). What makes the story interesting is that starting quarterback Carson Wentz was lost to a torn ACL late in the season, so the Eagles ended their regular season and faced the playoffs with journeyman backup QB Nick Foles under center. Fortunately for Philly fans Foles was up to the task, and he even caught a touchdown pass in the Super Bowl.

 

The Olympics

There was a Winter Olympics in South Korea last February. Did anyone notice?? Does anyone remember a single solitary thing that happened?? I didn’t think so.

 

The Madness of a 16 Over a 1

Villanova beat Michigan to win the NCAA basketball tournament (aka March Madness), but that wasn’t the most interesting part of the event. Two other things stood out. Probably the most enduring image of the tournament is the 11th seeded Loyola-Chicago Ramblers, with their Gryffindor-esque scarves & 98 year old nun Sister Jean cheering them on, making it to the Final Four. But before that history was made in the first round when the 16th seed UMBC Retrievers upset the #1 seed Virginia Cavaliers…the first time a 16 has ever beat a 1.

 

Tiger Woods

Once upon a time Tiger Woods was not only the best golfer in the world, he was probably the top athlete overall. Of course we all know that health problems & personal issues knocked him off that perch nearly ten years ago, and it’s been a long road back. At one time it was a foregone conclusion that Woods would surpass Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major championships, but in the past several years most began to question whether he would ever win another major…or even a tournament. However, in 2018 Woods began to somewhat resemble his old self on the course, winning the Tour Championship in September, placing sixth at the British Open, & finishing as the runner up at the PGA Championship.

 

Ovechkin Wins The Cup

Alex Ovechkin has been considered one of the best hockey players in the world since debuting with the Washington Capitals more than a decade ago. However, his talent had not translated into post-season success, with the Caps being ousted early year after year. That all changed in 2018, as Ovechkin led his team to their first Stanley Cup.

 

The Warriors Beat Lebron…Again

The Golden State Warriors have faced the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals for four straight seasons. In 2015 & 2017 the Warriors won pretty easily. In 2016 Lebron James willed the Cavaliers to a Game 7 victory. What would happen in 2018?? Well…a sweep for Golden St. It wasn’t pretty, and really not that interesting.

 

France Wins The World Cup

Look, I realize that soccer is the most popular sport in the world. I know we Americans march to the beat of a different drummer. I have tried to develop an interest in soccer, but I just can’t do it. At any rate, Russia hosted the 2018 World Cup, and France defeated Croatia in the final. The United States failed to even qualify for the tournament, so any infinitesimal interest some of us might have had pretty much died before the event even began.

 

LA-Bron

After another crushing defeat in the NBA Finals it became clear that Lebron James wouldn’t be spending the last few years of his basketball career wasting away in Cleveland. The fact that he ever returned in the first place is a miracle because it is obvious that James’ relationship with Cavs owner Dan Gilbert wasn’t great, and that Gilbert doesn’t really have the means or the alacrity to put together a championship caliber team. Thankfully James’ didn’t make the same mistakes he made back when he initially ditched the Cavs for the Miami Heat in 2010. There was no “Decision” on TV. Whether it is the glitz & glamor of Hollywood, the history of Showtime, Kareem, Magic, Kobe, et al, planning ahead for a future after basketball, or the allure of working with team President Magic Johnson, it came as no surprise when Lebron James joined the Los Angeles Lakers. After a shaky start the Lakers are in playoff contention, although they probably can’t be considered legit title contenders at the moment.

 

Urban Meyer

2018 was quite the roller coaster ride for Ohio State Buckeyes football coach Urban Meyer. He was suspended for the first three games of the season after mishandling domestic violence allegations against a former assistant coach. The team fared well without him and looked like solid playoff contenders, but an October loss to Purdue doomed the Buckeyes’ playoff hopes. Meyer announced that he’d retire following the team’s bowl game due to a cyst on his brain that he’s been battling for years. From what I understand the cyst is not life threatening and isn’t usually a big deal for those that have them, but Meyer’s situation seems to be a bit more than a minor annoyance. He ended his career (for now) with a big Rose Bowl victory, and since he’s only 54 years old who knows what the future may hold for him.

 

 

 

and The Sammy goes to…..

 

 

 

The Philadelphia Eagles. It’d be tempting to give Philly the award simply for beating the hated Patriots in the Super Bowl, but the fact that they did it with a backup quarterback (who was named Super Bowl MVP) and used a fun little trick play called The Philly Special to secure the victory just made the story even cooler. Can history repeat itself this year?? Stay tuned.

 

 

 

Before we hand out the final award of the evening it is our pleasure to welcome one of the most talented singers in the world. His wheelhouse is old jazz standards made popular by crooners like Frank Sinatra, Van Morrison, Dean Martin, & others, but he has produced some lovely original pop tunes and is a must listen during the Christmas season. To sing a medley of his hits & personal favorites please welcome Michael Bublè!!

 

 

Thank you Michael!! That was tremendous!!

 

 

To present our final award The Sammys are honored to welcome the oldest presenter in our brief history. At 96 years of age she is still making us laugh, as she has consistently done during a career that has spanned eight decades. She has starred in beloved television programs like The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Golden Girls, & Mama’s Family, made frequent appearances on game shows like Match Game, The $25,000 Pyramid, & Password, and is a reliably funny guest on talk shows for many years. It is a sincere honor to welcome Betty White to the Sammy Awards. And the nominees are:

 

 

 

Biggest News Story

 

North Korean Summit

Back in June President Trump traveled to Singapore to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. It was the first ever summit between leaders of the two nations. The two men discussed Korean denuclearization and signed an agreement meant to lead to lasting peace between their countries.

 

Another Royal Wedding

In May Prince Harry, the younger son of Prince Charles & Princess Diana, married American actress Meghan Markle. I’ll give the Brits this much…they know how to make a spectacle out of just about anything.

 

Illegal Immigration, Border Security, & The Migrant Caravan

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost, to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”. So goes the poem that is inscribed on the Statue of Liberty. It is true that the United States is a nation of immigrants. No one is disputing that. The issue is how & where such immigration takes place. There has to be a system. There have to be rules. There must be accountability. America is a melting pot, and when people come here we expect them to adhere to our laws, pay taxes, become productive members of society, and embrace our culture & way of life. You can’t just sneak in, live anonymously, & take take take take without contributing while breaking any rules you don’t feel like following. President Trump’s promise to build a “big beautiful wall” along the southern border was a cornerstone of his 2016 campaign, and now Democrats refuse to greenlight funding for the project. The majority of Americans are in favor of border security, but it sure seems like certain politicians in DC are putting their hatred of the President ahead of the will of the people, and for a very long time it has felt like those same bureaucrats have cared a lot more about folks from other countries…like the thousands in the “Migrant Caravan” that have been heading for the United States from Central America for several months…than they do about the Americans they allegedly represent.

 

Thai Cave Rescue

In June a team of teenage soccer players toured a cave in Thailand and became trapped when heavy rains flooded the cave, trapping the entire team inside. For more than two weeks the youngsters & their coach were in the cave while a massive rescue effort involving thousands of people took shape. The entire group was eventually rescued, although one diver…a former Thai Navy SEAL…died in the process.

 

Trump-Putin Meetings

Just a few weeks after his historic summit with Kim Jong-un President Trump went to Finland for a similar get-together with Russian President Vladimir Putin. I’m not sure what was accomplished except reigniting media accusations of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

 

Justice Kavanaugh

When Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his intention to retire at the end of July speculation immediately began about his possible replacement. After President Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh of the DC Circuit Court of Appeals it appeared that there would be the typical political posturing but a confirmation was assumed. However, what followed captured the attention of our entire nation for weeks. 52 year old professor & psychologist Christine Blasey Ford stepped forward and accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her at a high school party almost four decades ago. Though her recollections are fuzzy, the story has more holes than Sonny Corleone on the causeway in The Godfather, & she appears to be about as credible as Milli Vanilli, the news media treated Blasey Ford like the star witness at a mafia trial. What should have been a slam dunk confirmation turned into an edge-of-your-seat drama, all based on specious allegations of what Kavanaugh may or may not have done when he was a kid forty years ago. I don’t believe for a second that Kavanaugh did anything to Dr. Minnie Mouse, but even if he made a pass at her or got a bit handsy, a) how come such allegations hadn’t become a thing as he was ascending the professional ladder, & b) should we really focus that much attention on something that a person did in high school?? At the end of the day the United States Senate decided that either they didn’t believe the accusations or that it didn’t really matter in the grand scheme of life. Whatever their thought process may have been Justice Kavanaugh was confirmed and now sits on The Supreme Court.

 

Parkland High School & Pittsburgh Synagogue Shootings

On Valentine’s Day a gunman opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, killing 17 students & staff members and injuring 17 others. The gunman was a 19 year old former student who had made numerous threats in the past, but everyone from local law enforcement to the FBI completely dropped the ball. In October a mass shooting occurred at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA. 11 people were killed, 7 were injured, and the gunman was a 46 year old man who had posted anti-Semitic rants on social media.

 

Hurricanes Florence & Michael

Hurricane Florence was a Category 4 storm that hammered The Carolinas in September. Flooding was a bigger issue than high winds. 55 deaths occurred and the hurricane caused atleast $15 billion in damage. Hurricane Michael was a Category 4 storm that hit the Florida Panhandle in early October. More than 50 deaths resulted, and more than $4 billion in damage was reported in Florida & Georgia.

 

Mid-Term Elections

The 2018 mid-term elections saw the Democrats take control of the House of Representatives and Republicans retain their majority in the Senate. Overall, considering the relentless pummeling President Trump has taken from the leftist media & Hollywood elite since the day he took office it is somewhat surprising that the Republicans fared as well as they did. The next couple of years should be loads of fun.

 

California Wildfires

The 2018 wildfire season is the deadliest & most destructive wildfire season on record in California, with a total of 8527 fires burning an area of 1,893,913 acres. The fires caused more than $3.5 billion in damages and over 100 people died.

 

 

 

and The Sammy goes to…..

 

 

 

Justice Kavanaugh. I have said from Day 1 that the biggest reason I voted for Donald Trump was because I trusted him to make Supreme Court nominations more than Hillary Clinton. Nearly everything else a President does can be changed with the stroke of a pen by Congress or the next President, but the Supreme Court is a lifetime appointment that can shape our country for decades. There are oftentimes arguments & battles over nominees, but I don’t know if we’ve ever seen anything like what happened to Brett Kavanaugh. Only two people know what exactly happened at that party back in 1982…if anything happened at all. I didn’t find Christine Blasey Ford to be the least bit believable, and I am convinced that the whole debacle was a political hit job designed to destroy Trump’s nominee. However, IF something did happen to Ms. Ford and Kavanaugh was involved, then questions have to be asked. Why wasn’t this made public many years ago?? How had Kavanaugh gotten this far in his career if he is really such a scoundrel?? Should a middle-aged person be punished for being a creep when they were a teenager?? These are discussions worth having, because we need to decide acceptable parameters for destroying peoples’ lives. The Senate decided…for whatever reason…that, whether or not Brett Kavanaugh did something wrong forty years ago, he deserved an opportunity, based on his professional track record of success, to sit on the highest Court in the land, and now we prepare for the next skirmish.

 

 

 

 

 

evangelist Billy Graham…former President & First Lady George HW Bush & Barbara Bush…physicist Stephen Hawking…legendary sportscaster Keith Jackson… The Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin…Hall of Fame pro wrestler Bruno Sammartino…comic book creator Stan Lee (Spider-Man, The X-Men, Iron Man, Thor, The Hulk, The Fantastic Four, Black Panther, Daredevil, Doctor Strange, Scarlet Witch, Ant-Man)…actress (Laverne & Shirley) and director (Big, Awakenings, A League of Their Own) Penny Marshall… TV chef Anthony Bourdain… retired NBA coaches Jack McKinney (LA Lakers, Indiana Pacers) & Tex Winter (Chicago Bulls) and players Hal Greer (Philadelphia 76ers), Jo Jo White (Boston Celtics), Clifford Rozier (Golden St. Warriors), & Lonnie Shelton (NY Knicks)…TV host Robin Leach (Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous)…retired NFL players Jim Taylor (Green Bay Packers), Bennie Cunningham (Pittsburgh Steelers), Tommy McDonald (Philadelphia Eagles), Dwight Clark (San Francisco 49ers), Wes Hopkins (Philadelphia Eagles), Gabe Rivera (Pittsburgh Steelers), Billy Cannon (Houston Oilers), Bill Fralic (Atlanta Falcons), & Ron Johnson (Pittsburgh Steelers)…former New Jersey Governor Brendan Byrne…Pittsburgh, PA meteorologist Joe DeNardo & sportscaster Sam Nover….actors Burt Reynolds (Smokey & The Bandit, Hooper, The Longest Yard, The Cannonball Run), Jerry Van Dyke (Coach, My Mother the Car), John Mahoney (Frasier, Say Anything, Striking Distance), Harry Anderson (Night Court), Bill Daily (I Dream of Jeannie, The Bob Newhart Show), Donnelly Rhodes (Soap, Double Trouble), Louis Zorich (Mad About You), Frank Parker (Days of Our Lives), Mickey Jones (National Lampoon’s Vacation, Tin Cup, Home Improvement), David Ogden Stiers (MASH), Chuck McCann (mostly know for TV commercials), R. Lee Ermey (Full Metal Jacket), Verne Troyer (the Austin Powers series), Donald Moffett (The Right Stuff , The Bonfire of the Vanities, Trapped in Paradise), Herb Ellis (The Andy Griffith Show), Tab Hunter (Grease 2), Daniel Pilon (Dallas, Guiding Light), Robert Mandan (Soap, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Three’s a Crowd), Joseph Campanella (Days of Our Lives), & Ken Berry (Mayberry RFD, F-Troop, Mama’s Family) …authors Tom Wolfe (The Right Stuff, The Bonfire of the Vanities), William Goldman  (The Princess Bride, screenwriter of Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid and All the President’s Men), Harlan Ellison (Star Trek’s “City on the Edge of Forever”), & Philip Roth (American Pastoral, Portnoy’s Complaint)…retired MLB umpire Doug Harvey…Hugh Wilson (creator of WKRP in Cincinnati)…infamous gangster Whitey Bulger…Weather Channel co-founder John Coleman…NFL player Edwin Jackson (Indianapolis Colts)…actresses Margot Kidder (Superman), Charlotte Rae (Diff’rent Strokes, Facts of Life), Peggie McCay (Days of Our Lives, The Andy Griffith Show), Connie Sawyer (When Harry Met Sally, Dumb & Dumber), Lari White (Cast Away), Nanette Fabray (One Day at a Time), Katherine MacGregor (Little House on the Prairie), Sondra Locke (The Outlaw Josey Wales, Sudden Impact)….former MLB general manager Kevin Towers (San Diego Padres, Arizona Diamondbacks)…cartoonist Mort Walker (Beetle Bailey, Hi & Lois)…retired pro golfers Bruce Lietzke & Hubert Green…musicians/singers Michael White (Thompson Twins), Vic Damone, Dean Webb (The Dillards aka The Darlings on The Andy Griffith Show), DJ Fontana, Vinnie Paul (Pantera), Daryle Singletary, Roy Clark (Hee Haw), Otis Rush, Matt “Guitar” Murphy (The Blues Brothers)…retired NFL coach Chuck Knox (Seattle Seahawks)…Steve Ditko (co-creator of Spider-Man)…former MLB players Willie McCovey San Francisco Giants), Ken Howell (LA Dodgers), Red Schoendienst (St. Louis Cardinals), Tony Bartirome (Pittsburgh Pirates), Tito Francona (Cleveland Indians), Bruce Kison (Pittsburgh Pirates), & Rusty Staub (NY Mets)…fashion designer Kate Spade…British distance runner Sir Roger Bannister (ran the first sub-4-minute mile)…disc jockey Adrian Cronauer (the inspiration for Good Morning Vietnam)…UNC Tar Heels basketball announcer Woody Durham…Pulitzer Prize winning political pundit Charles Krauthammer…professional sports franchise owners Tom Benson (New Orleans Saints & Pelicans), Paul Allen (Portland Trailblazers, Seattle Seahawks, also co-founder of Microsoft), Bob McNair (Houston Texans), Wayne Huizenga (Miami Dolphins, Florida Panthers, & Miami Marlins, also the founder of Blockbuster Video), & Alex Spanos (Los Angeles Chargers)… former U.S. Senator & Governor of Georgia Zell Miller and U.S. Senator & former Presidential candidate John McCain… television producers Steven Bochco (Hill Street Blues, L.A. Law, NYPD Blue, Doogie Howser MD), John Conboy (Capitol, Guiding Light), & Paul Junger Witt (The Golden Girls, Soap, Benson, Empty Nest, Blossom)…retired pro wrestlers/managers Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart, “Luscious” Johnny Valiant, The Dynamite Kid, Big Van Vader, Nikolai Volkoff, Paul Jones, Brickhouse Brown, Brian Christopher, Matt Cappotelli, Chris Champion, Jose Lothario, Larry “The Ax” Hennig, & Big Bully Busick…comedy club entrepreneur Mitzi Shore…Pulitzer Prize winning sportswriter Dave Anderson…talk radio host Art Bell…Oscar winning director Milos Forman (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Man on the Moon)…retired college football coaches Earle Bruce (Ohio St.) & Billy Brewer (Ole Miss) and basketball coach/AD CM Newton (Kentucky)…political commentator Ed Schultz…NFL coach Tony Sparano (Dallas Cowboys, Oakland Raiders, Miami Dolphins)…Tony Award winning playwright & screenwriter Neil Simon…former Marshall Thundering Herd QB Michael Payton…brewery executive William Coors (grandson of company founder Adolph Coors)…renowned sportswriter Paul Zimmerman (Sports Illustrated, The Thinking Man’s Guide to Pro Football)… Audrey Geisel (widow of “Dr. Seuss” Theodore Geisel)…NASCAR Hall-of-Famer David Pearson… infamous brothel owner Dennis Hof (Las Vegas’ Bunny Ranch)… former WV Mountaineers assistant basketball coach Gary McPherson

100 Memorable TV Characters…Part 3

 

Television is chewing gum for the eyes.  –  Frank Lloyd Wright

 

 

 

 

My father & I occasionally hearken back to the late February day 18 years ago when we laid my mother to rest. We always recall how blessed our family was with such a beautiful sunny day, because on top of our grief it would have been that much more difficult to go thru the whole process in the midst of rain, snow, & chilly temperatures. We’ve been fortunate to once again have had some unseasonably temperate days here in West Virginia lately, and since I am a self-diagnosed sufferer of Seasonal Affective Disorder and know I’ve had issues with Vitamin D deficiency in the past I have taken the opportunity to award myself some much needed sunshine therapy this week. Alas, now we are back to the cold & wet climate more typical of this time of year, but the good news is that means that we can move forward with this project. If you aren’t up to speed with previous entries then by all means check them out here, here, & here. After you are all caught up come back and enjoy what’s next with the rest of us.

 

 

 

 

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

In my final year of college I finally escaped dorm life and got my first ever Bachelor Palace off campus. It just happened to be a few blocks away from our favorite watering hole(s), so oftentimes my buddies would stop by to hang out before we headed to those establishments. It was during this time that MTV premiered a crudely animated sitcom in which two dimwitted delinquents wander around their town causing chaos in between sitting on the couch commenting on music videos (which MTV still aired occasionally at that time). It’s a show with a narrow focus and I assume a very specific target audience, which explains why I wasn’t nearly as interested once I graduated and segued into adult life. However, I have really great (though a bit fuzzy) memories of that year. Some things are special because it is a shared experience, and I am so glad that Beavis & Butt-Head were a memorable part of that era in my life. A feature film was released in 1996 in which the moronic duo go on a quest to find their stolen TV and somehow end up at the White House hanging out with President Clinton. The movie is alright, but not great. A few years ago I got excited when a revival of the show was announced, but I must admit that I never watched the one season return.

 

49     Lenny & Squiggy (Laverne & Shirley)

Speaking of idiots…

Wacky neighbors are a dependable television trope, so while the titular twosome (who had been introduced on Happy Days) were the focus of the show and the ladies swooned over “The Big Ragu” Carmine Ragusa, oftentimes it was Lenny & Squiggy who got the laughs. Lenny Kosnowski & Andrew Squigman live in the apartment above Laverne & Shirley and are truck drivers for the same brewery at which the ladies are bottlecappers. They frequently pop in to annoy the gals, and fancy themselves as tough, cool, desirable 50’s greasers, when in truth they are just a couple of goofballs that don’t appeal to women at all.

 

48     Matt Foley (Saturday Night Live)

It is an inescapable fact that Chris Farley’s weight was used as part of the joke in most everything he did, from SNL to the films in which he appeared. But since Farley himself seemed to be okay with that I suppose no one else should be offended. By far his best SNL contribution was Matt Foley, a raucous motivational speaker who is “35 years old, eating a steady diet of government cheese, thrice divorced, and living in a van down by the river!”. Foley isn’t as much a motivator as a cautionary tale since he is unkempt, belligerent, rude, pessimistic, & apparently a failure, hence the humor, and he usually ended up somehow hilariously crashing thru a piece of furniture. The character was the perfect showcase for Farley’s unique brand of physical comedy, and it is unfortunate that he passed on before Matt Foley could be brought to the big screen.

 

47     Opie Taylor (The Andy Griffith Show)

These days Ron Howard is best known as an award-winning director of films like Apollo 13, Splash, & A Beautiful Mind, and many affectionately recall his role as awkward teenager Richie Cunningham in the retro sitcom Happy Days. However, way back in the 1960’s little Ronny got his start portraying the precocious son of the local sheriff in The Andy Griffith Show. We literally get to watch Opie grow up from an adorable six year old to a young teenager. Father-son interactions provide some of the most uplifting moments on TAGS, but Opie has plenty of entertaining scenes with many other inhabitants of Mayberry as well. Two of my favorite TAGS episodes…Season 3’s Mr. McBeevee and Season 4’s Opie the Birdman…showcase Opie and give an indication of just how great of an actor Ron Howard could have been if that would have been his passion.

 

46         The Riddler (Batman)

Batman is my favorite superhero, and while his comic book origins are indeed dark…an aesthetic that most renditions of the story stick with…one notable exception is the beloved goofy 1960’s TV show. Episodic television allowed a different villain to invade Gotham City each week, including the already established “rogue’s gallery” of Batman baddies as well as some pretty hysterical adversaries created exclusively for the show. I’m a traditionalist, so I prefer the bad guys we all know & love to hate, and my favorite has to be The Riddler. Edward Nygma likes to tease The Caped Crusader with riddles that are clues to his location and/or the crime he is about to commit. Riddler wears a garish green costume peppered with question marks, and has an irritating laugh.

 

45     Balki Bartokomous (Perfect Strangers)

ABC had a penchant in the late 80’s into the 90’s for churning out silly sitcoms that, by any objective measure of quality, shouldn’t have made it more than a season or two, but somehow became cherished by the masses. It is an interesting lesson that modern television executives should learn. Not everyone is on the edge of their seat waiting for the next gritty, studious, sanctimonious, ripped-from-the-headlines show. Sometimes we simply crave pointless escapism that tickles our funny bone. At any rate, Balki is a sheepherder from the Mediterranean island of Mypos. He comes to Chicago to stay with his tightly wound cousin Larry, and boom…you have a fish-out-of-water story that’s also an amusing take on the Odd Couple formula. Balki’s misunderstandings about American culture are comical, as are Larry’s exasperated attempts to clear up any confusion. When anything good happens the two engage in Balki’s Dance of Joy, which kind of looks like something folks do at a Greek wedding.

 

44     Frank Costanza (Seinfeld)

In addition to the hysterical main cast, Seinfeld also had a ton of memorable guest stars and several great recurring characters. Frank is the obnoxious father of George. He is a temperamental traveling salesman best remembered for inventing Festivus, a non-commercial Christmas alternative that features feats of strength & airing of grievances.

 

43     Daisy Duke (The Dukes of Hazzard)

I went thru puberty while The Dukes of Hazzard was on the air, so yes…a sexy woman known for wearing super short jean shorts and who appeared in a skimpy bikini in the show’s opening credits every week for seven years definitely frosted my cupcake. Daisy is a hybrid…part sweet southern belle, part tough as nails tomboy. She is said to “drive like Richard Petty, shoot like Annie Oakley, & know the words to all of Dolly Parton’s songs.” She’s not above using her feminine gifts to distract anyone trying to go after her family, and most often does so with charmingly inept Deputy Enos Strate, who has always had a huge crush on her. In contrast to modern shows in which very little is left to the imagination even on network television, Daisy Duke seems like a quaint reminder of a more innocent time.

 

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

I just can’t choose one. The entire ensemble made The Golden Girls work, and even with two Emmys & three Golden Globes I still think it may have been an underrated program. Dorothy Zbornak is a Brooklyn born teacher who is divorced from philandering Stan. She is smart, acerbic, & perpetually exasperated by her roommates, though she thinks of them as family. Blanche Devereux is a well-to-do southern belle and a widow with a healthy libido. Rose Nyland is a naïve & simpleminded widow who is fond of telling pointless stories about her childhood in St. Olaf, MN. She’s really sweet & trusting, and prone to being taken advantage of by others. Sophia Petrillo is Dorothy’s elderly mother. She is sharp as a tack, fearful that Dorothy will send her back to Shady Pines retirement home, & loves to tell stories from her youth in Sicily, though there is a general vibe that most of those stories are poppycock. As opposed to many shows that tend to feature young & pretty people, The Golden Girls proved that “seasoned citizens” can be a lot of fun.

 

41     Otis Campbell (The Andy Griffith Show)

I love any episode of TAGS in which town drunk Otis appears. I suppose nowadays some people would get their knickers twisted about alcoholism being treated as a joke, but thankfully folks were much less politically correct back in the 60’s. Otis actually has a job & a wife, but every Saturday night he goes out and gets snockered on hooch, then locks himself up in the Mayberry jail. Did you know that Hal Smith…the actor who portrays Otis…was a well-known voice artist?? He most notably voiced Goofy in several Disney productions, including Mickey’s Christmas Carol.

 

40     President Jed Bartlet (The West Wing)

I’ve often asked myself if I would vote for Jed Bartlet in an election, but there is no conclusive answer because I don’t believe that anyone like him actually exists. He is a man of high ideals but realistic expectations. He is a Nobel Prize winning economist, but despite being brilliant he’s also empathetic & quite funny. President Bartlet…like everyone associated with the show…is a bleeding heart liberal, but somehow all involved are able to make that look like a good thing, which is probably one of the greatest magic tricks anyone has ever performed on television. Martin Sheen might be a crackpot in real life, but credit where credit is due…he is a brilliant actor. The President was originally intended to be a rarely seen supporting character, with plots revolving around various White House staff members. However, that plan quickly changed, which undoubtedly made for a better program.

 

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

When I was a kid I considered becoming a radio DJ when I grew up. Why?? Well, probably because Johnny Fever & Venus Flytrap made the job seem so cool & fun. Johnny is a laid back pothead & former 60’s hippie whose career in radio had been successful before he fell on hard times. He had considered WKRP to be rock bottom, but when the station’s format changes from easy listening to rock n’ roll he is energized and becomes a very popular morning drive personality. Venus Flytrap (real name: Gordon Sims) is a Vietnam vet who is hired by his pal Andy Travis, WKRP’s new program director. It is Andy who suggests the pseudonym and also advises Sims to dress cool so he’ll act cool. Unlike Johnny, whose on-air persona is hyper & wild, Venus is tranquil & chill. He is rather conservative and oftentimes acts as an even-tempered voice of reason. These two dudes made being a disc jockey look like an attractive career option to a young boy in grade school back in the day, and it wasn’t until many years later that I learned that it’s actually a really low-paying & unstable gig.

 

38     Norm Peterson (Cheers)

Cheers is the bar where everybody knows your name, and that’s especially true of Norm, who is enthusiastically greeted by the crowd every time he walks thru the door. Norm is an accountant who frequently seems to be between jobs, so he ends up spending a lot of time sitting at the end of the bar drinking beer. He is married to Vera, who we never meet in eleven seasons. Norm doesn’t seem to be particularly unhappy or disdainful of Vera, but neither is he ever in a rush to go home. It’s pretty funny that in an entire decade of watching the guy do virtually nothing except drink beer we never see him even remotely intoxicated, and his huge unpaid bar tab is occasionally the subject of mockery.

 

37     Wayne & Garth (Saturday Night Live)

Party on!! Wayne Campbell & Garth Algar are the hosts of a public access TV show emanating from Wayne’s basement. They are two nerdy juveniles who think they’re cooler than they are because they like heavy metal music & hot women. The sketches introduced a ton of catchphrases that many of a certain age still utilize with some frequency, such as “Schwing!”, “That’s what she said”, “Not!”, “hurl” & “spew”, “Are you mental?”, and “We’re not worthy!”. In 1992 the duo took their act to the big screen in a surprisingly solid film that did well enough to get a sequel just a year & a half later.

 

36     Linus Van Pelt (Peanuts)

Peanuts is interesting. It never spawned a regular comic book or TV show, and creator Charles Shultz was content to simply produce his comic strip for a half century. However, he did allow the characters to be marketed, which resulted in a ton of merchandise that’s still being churned out nearly two decades after Schultz’s death. As I did when writing about my favorite cartoons I am taking advantage of a loophole of sorts in the fact that there have been a plethora of Peanuts animated television specials over the years, a couple of which many of us grew up watching and continue to enjoy annually. Linus is the youngest of the group, a blanket toting, thumb sucking boy who tends to be the most solicitous & sensible out of any of his friends. He’s a great listener and always gives good advice, although his self-absorbed pals continue to overlook & disrespect his insight.

 

35     Captain Hawkeye Pierce (MASH)

Dr. Benjamin “Hawkeye” Pierce is the 4077th’s chief surgeon, a New England bred prankster who deals with the daily grind of being in a warzone by drinking copious amounts of martinis and flirting with every female in camp. He resents being drafted and definitely doesn’t conform to the Army way of life. Despite his irreverence it is Hawkeye that provides many of the series’ more somber moments after it segued into more of a dramedy during the second half of its run. In the series finale he suffers a breakdown and returns home to be a local country doctor after the war ends.

 

34     Bo & Luke Duke (The Dukes of Hazzard)

The show’s theme song describes them as good ol’ boys that never mean any harm. Luke is the older cousin and is shown to be smarter & more level-headed. He’s a former Marine. Bo is the younger, more vain & flirtatious pretty boy. He almost always drives the General Lee. The Duke Boys are on probation after being caught unlawfully transporting moonshine, and aren’t legally allowed to own firearms or leave the county, although they frequently do so anyway. They are constant targets of law enforcement, and regularly foil Boss Hogg’s shady schemes.

 

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

While characters like Fred Sanford, JJ “Dynomite!” Evans, Arnold Jackson, & “Rerun” Stubbs are all entertaining on various levels, I don’t think there’s any way they could be held up as role models. Conversely, The Huxtables are undeniably so. Mom is a perceptive & resolute attorney, while Dad is a fun-loving & considerate physician. Both are educated and have high expectations for their five children. They are strict yet devoted parents, and their marriage is strong. They are affluent but not extravagant, and seem to have solid moral certitude. In other words, Cliff & Claire represent the vast majority of Americans, the sort of stable citizens & contributors to society that are often disregarded & ridiculed by the media & pop culture. The Cosby Show was popular and critically acclaimed, so I’m not sure why the formula hasn’t been duplicated a thousand times over. Of course I suppose any attempt to copy it would just be a poor imitation.

 

32     Fred Flintstone (The Flintstones)

Yabba dabba doo!! The Flintstones is a sneaky show. What do I mean by that?? Well, we tend to focus on the fact that it is animated, and that it is set in The Stone Age (the rock puns are always a treat). However, the truth is that it is simply a traditional sitcom about an average nuclear family and their friendly neighbors. Fred is an overbearing yet kindhearted crane operator. He’s short-tempered & irritable, but he’s devoted to his family & friends. He enjoys bowling, golf, & hanging out at the Loyal Order of Water Buffalos Lodge. When I was a kid I honestly thought that actor Jackie Gleason provided Fred’s voice, but I was wrong…sort of. Gleason may not have been directly involved with The Flintstones, but his Ralph Kramden character from 1950’s sitcom The Honeymooners heavily influenced how Fred was portrayed.

 

31     Dr. Niles Crane (Frasier)

Niles is the neurotic & effete younger brother of the show’s eponymous radio show host. Like his big brother Niles is also a psychiatrist. He’s the kind of pretentious nerd who loves opera, expensive wine, classical music, French food, & theater but knows absolutely zero about sports or pop culture. Niles is definitely a hypochondriac & a bit OCD, and tends to be overzealous in attempts to ingratiate himself into the perceived proper social circles. When we first meet Niles he is married to Maris, who we never see (much like Vera in Cheers), but his descriptions of her are horribly hysterical. They eventually divorce and he ends up marrying his father’s caregiver Daphne, who he’d been infatuated with since the day they met. I absolutely love Niles, and would have really enjoyed a Niles & Daphne spinoff, but sadly that never happened.

 

30     Sheriff Andy Taylor (The Andy Griffith Show)

Andy Griffith was a brilliant actor. Take some time to watch the 1958 film No Time for Sergeants, in which he plays country bumpkin Will Stockdale, who hilariously clashes with his superiors when he is drafted into the Air Force (sounds like a great idea for a sitcom). After that watch 1957’s A Face in the Crowd, in which Griffith portrays drifter Lonesome Rhodes, who turns a random appearance on a radio show into fame & fortune on television then becomes an egotistical bully before his star falls as quickly as it rose. Griffith based Sheriff Taylor largely on Will Stockdale, atleast initially. After the first season of TAGS he figured out that other characters in Mayberry should be the source of humor while he played the bemused straight man, and so he toned down the hillbilly simpleton persona considerably. Sheriff Taylor is the kind of lawman we’d all love to encounter but probably doesn’t exist in reality…not anymore anyway. He doesn’t even carry a gun!! He’s a good friend, a pleasant neighbor, and the type of father all men should aspire to be. Check out the Season 1 episode A Feud is a Feud in which Andy explains Romeo & Juliet to Opie, or the Season 3 episode Andy Discovers America, in which he gives a unique history lesson to a group of boys. Andy is constantly doing everything he can to boost his deputy’s fragile ego, and is usually the voice of reason in the midst of idiocy. In the last few seasons Sheriff Taylor becomes a little too serious, frequently becoming aggravated by the antics of others, which is just one of the reasons that the first five years of TAGS are the best.

 

29     Kermit the Frog (The Muppet Show)   

When The Muppets won the Sammy Award for Favorite Movie in 2011 I said that “Honestly, toward the end when Kermit breaks out into Rainbow Connection I became so swelled with happiness & emotion that if I could have jumped out of my wheelchair and given a standing ovation I swear to God I would have”. It was in that moment that I realized just what kind of impact The Muppets had on my childhood. In his other popular song It’s Not Easy Being Green Kermit laments that “it seems you blend in with so many other ordinary things, and people tend to pass you over ’cause you’re not standing out like flashy sparkles in the water or stars in the sky”, which I have always taken as a perceptive nod to the marginalized in society who often feel ignored, disrespected, & taken for granted. I bet you didn’t realize Kermit was so profound.

 

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

There are only two starship captains in the Trek universe that matter. Captain Picard is an alleged Frenchman with singularly British proclivities (“Tea! Earl Grey! Hot!). He is cultured, judicious, & somewhat aloof, though he does care deeply for his crew. He prefers diplomacy over battle, but ultimately does what needs to be done. He is fascinated with archaeology, enjoys fencing, is quite knowledgeable about physics & literature, and loves horses. Captain Picard is a true Renaissance man, even though he was born about 600 years after that period ended.

 

27         Stefano DiMera (Days of Our Lives)

I’ve been watching DOOL since I was about ten years old, and during that time no supervillain in any entertainment genre has been as evil as Stefano DiMera. He came to Salem in 1982 professing to simply be a European business tycoon, but it soon became apparent that he was more of a crime boss. Stefano has a longstanding vendetta against the blue collar Brady family and makes their lives a living hell for the biggest part of three decades. He dies about a dozen times, but is inevitably revealed to be alive, which explains why he calls himself The Phoenix. The actor who portrayed Stefano actually did pass away a few years ago, but the way the storyline was constructed on the show left things open ended, as though The Phoenix could rise again someday.

 

26     Charlie Brown (Peanuts)

Charlie Brown is essentially the animated personification of his creator Charles Shultz. He is the classic loveable loser, always being insulted & ignored by his friends. He’s a shy & mild-mannered kid with a bundle of neuroses bubbling up inside. But as unsuccessful as he tends to be Charlie Brown rarely gives up. He may not be confident about the result (with good reason), but he keeps trying. In the underrated 2006 sequel Rocky Balboa the aging boxer tells his son that “The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place, and I don’t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. But it ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward; how much you can take and keep moving forward.” That’s a great lesson for all of us, and Charlie Brown embodies exactly that attitude.

 

 

 

Okay ladies & gentlemen…let’s take another break. We’ll return for the exciting conclusion in a couple of days.

Superfluous 7…..Celebrity Death Watch 2012

The recent tragic death of alleged singer Amy Winehouse elicited a variety of reactions from the masses, from sadness & regret to complete unsurprise and “I’m shocked it didn’t happen sooner.” Here at The Manofesto, where we are only interested in quality music, it served to get the creative juices flowing as I began to wonder “Who’s next??” Now these things tend to happen in threes, so another celebrity or two may kick it before this is even published, but I thought it would be interesting in a macabre, dark comedy, Stanley Kubrick/Tim Burton sort of way to ponder the possibilities. I do want to make a few things clear. First of all, I am in no way wishing harm on these individuals. I am not like that, no matter what kind of smart ass remarks I may make. I was recently accused of being like a member of the Westboro Baptist Church and it royally pissed me off because anyone who has known me for any length of time (like 20 years for example) should know better. Secondly, even though I am calling this piece Death Watch 2012 it goes into effect now, just past the halfway point of 2011. Also, as always…please…no wagering. I don’t condone gambling and do not claim to have any particular aptitude for the prognostication arts. And finally, there are two names you will not be seeing on this list: Lindsay Lohan & Charlie Sheen. That’s like predicting water is wet or a Michael Bay movie will have explosions & special effects. I can do better. So with tongue planted firmly in cheek (kind of), I give you…..

 

 

from the home office in Tombstone, AZ (where it is currently a balmy 153 degrees)…..

 

 

The Superfluous 7 Celebrity Death Watch 2012:

 

 

7       Jerry Lewis

Just about one month from now Jerry will host his final Labor Day Telethon for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, something to which he has dedicated his life for over a half century. Not to mention that the traditional 20+ hour telethon is being cut down to a one night, 6 hour prime time special, which pretty much removes any sort of singularity it had anyway. My Dad’s name is Jerry and I am “physically challenged”, nee crippled if you prefer, so I always flippantly have said I really am one of Jerry’s Kids. Jerry (Lewis…not my Dad) is 85 years old and has battled a variety of health problems such as multiple heart attacks, diabetes, and prostate cancer so I am not exactly going out on a limb here.

 

6       Abe Vigoda

For those that may be confused at this moment, yes, Abe Vigoda, at present, is still alive. He has only looked like a corpse since the 80’s. We know & love him from his roles in The Godfather as caporegime Sal Tessio and in the 70’s cop sitcom Barney Miller as Sgt. Fish. In recent years he has made a variety of appearances on talk shows & sitcoms and in commercials. I always find it remarkable when a 90 year old person does anything more than make it out of bed in the morning, so kudos to ol’ Abe.

 

5       Eddie Van Halen

My first roll of the dice. I am a huge Van Halen fan. It doesn’t matter to me who the lead singer is…David Lee Roth, Sammy Hagar, even Gary Cherone wasn’t that bad. Van Halen is real rock n’ roll. Alex Van Halen may be the best drummer in the history of music, and it is my contention…with all due respect to Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, BB King, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Carlos Santana, Buddy Guy, and a host of other legendary axe men…that Eddie Van Halen is the best guitarist that has ever lived. However, it is undeniable that Ed is also a wee bit unstable. He has feuded with both Roth and Hagar, and a few years ago threw long time bassist Michael Anthony out of the band. Most of EVH’s issues have been due to rampant drug & alcohol abuse, and he has been in & out of rehab even more than Lindsay Lohan. In addition he has had a host of physical issues, had a hip replaced, and battled cancer. Eddie may only be 60 years old, but he has packed about 95 years into those six decades. Supposedly the band (with Roth as the front man) is working on a new album, which I hope is true. I want Van Halen to continue kicking ass until I’m in my 60’s…but I wouldn’t put any money on that happening.

 

4       Jimmy Carter

Well…I had to throw a former President in here, and there are only 4 to choose from. The smarter pick may be George H.W. Bush, but I’m going with the peanut farmer from Georgia. He is nearly 87 years old and probably a skosh too active for a man that age, flying to all corners of the globe as an emissary for the United States to bring peace, love, and stagflation to the world. Come on Jimmy…let Bill Clinton do that stuff now. There are still nations in which he hasn’t received extramarital oral sex yet.

 

3       Some Random Rapper

I don’t like rap. I don’t consider it music. I probably couldn’t name more than 3 rappers if my life depended on it. But it certainly isn’t beyond the realm of comprehension to assume that some quasi-famous rapper will bite it in a drive-by in the coming months, boosting his album sales beyond anything they were when the dude was alive.

 

2       Betty White

Boooo. Okay okay…I know I’m going to get pummeled for this one. But think about it for a minute. Who has enjoyed a bigger career renaissance over the last few years?? While the other Golden Girls…Bea Arthur, Rue McClanahan, & Estelle Getty…have all died in relative obscurity in recent years Betty White would be going out on top.

 

1      Tara Reid

Everyone talks about Lohan, Paris Hilton, and the Kardashian twits, but the biggest, skankiest party gal in Hollywood may be Tara Reid. “Who??” you ask. Reid is an actress who has been riding the tasty wave of fame for 12 years after the only role anyone remembers her for, one of the horny high schoolers in American Pie. She was also once engaged to talk show tool Carson Daly but broke it off. That was a smart move because I am guessing that if she would have married Daly she wouldn’t be alive to be on this list, she would have offed herself years ago. At any rate, Reid kind of flies under the radar because she isn’t quite as flamboyant in her partying as some of young Hollywood, but she is known to still be out & about and on the scene. I am 38 years old and I can say with certainty that if I were still out doing the things I did when I was 19 I would either be dead or atleast feel like I was, so if 35 year old Tara Reid is trying to keep up with her 20-something counterparts it could be a huge mistake.

 

 

 

The Inaugural Sammy Awards – 2010 Edition

Traditionally I do a Year In Review, a rundown of all the significant events of the past 12 months infused with my sardonic wit. However, I have decided to change things up a little. Every time one turns around there is an awards show on television, with insiders from all manner of industry patting themselves on the back, usually for maintaining the status quo level of mediocrity. So I got to thinking…why not me?? Why can’t I have my own awards?? And since this is my site and I can do pretty much anything I darn well please within the confines of decency and good taste that is exactly what I am going to do. Therefore, it is with pleasure that I present to you what I hope will become a long lasting annual staple here at The Manofesto. I present to you the inaugural edition of The Sammys.



Best Movie (That I’ve Actually Seen)



Hot Tub Time Machine

The powers-that-be wanted it to be the second coming of The Hangover, but it falls short of the mark. Still, it’s an entertaining movie with time travel and a fun cameo or two. I don’t feel like I wasted my time or money.



Shrek 4Ever After

Supposedly this was the final Shrek film. It has an It’s A Wonderful Life zeitgeist and isn’t a bad film, but at this point there’s just no juice left in the tank for the franchise and this fourth entry is nothing more than superfluous.



Grown-Ups

I have always been an unabashed Adam Sandler fan, even if his comedies are completely pointless and stupid. Unfortunately he (and an all star cast) attempt to have a point in this movie and it just fell flat. Or maybe it just wasn’t what I was expecting.



Toy Story 3

Now this is an example…hopefully…of a franchise ending on a high note. Don’t let the PR for 3D fool you…this movie doesn’t need gimmicks. These Toy Story movies are well written and have great performances, making the entire trilogy a cut above most animated fare.



The Social Network

I spend way too much time on Facebook, so I was excited to see a movie based on its origins. Even better, the script was written by Aaron Sorkin, the scribe behind TV gems like The West Wing and Sports Night.



And The Sammy goes to…..



The Social Network. Honestly, it was a close race, with Toy Story 3 a very very close 2nd. But I really enjoy Sorkin’s writing, and Jesse Eisenberg starring as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was mesmerizing. I even liked the performance of Justin Timberlake, who may want to consider giving up singing in favor of acting.




Assclown of the Year



Jay Leno

Leno should have walked away…it’s that simple. In the fall of 2009 Jay had handed over the reigns of The Tonight Show to Conan O’Brien and settled into his own 10pm show. Unfortunately the ratings for both shows were less than stellar so by January 2010 the suits at NBC panicked, wanting Leno back at 11:30 (for a half hour) and The Tonight Show at midnight. Conan, understandably, did not like this plan. Instead of ditching NBC and getting a late night gig somewhere else Leno played the “I just do what I’m told” card, going back to Tonight while Conan was unceremoniously dumped, albeit with a nice buyout. As of this moment Leno’s Tonight Show is going strong, while Conan’s new show…Monday-Thursday at 11pm on TBS…started out on fire but seems to be headed toward a downward spiral. Jay Leno, in my humble opinion, has shown his true colors, and he isn’t as nice of a guy as most thought a year ago.



Barack Hussein Obama, Nancy Pelosi, & Harry Reid

The three headed ultra liberal monster that has lead the Democrat Party the past couple of years cannot be separated. They work as one, in concert with one another, forcing upon an unsuspecting, easily distracted, sadly uninformed American public a quasi-Communist agenda that will have negative ramifications for decades. And besides all that they are just buffoons. Voters took a step in the right direction (pun unavoidable) last month by significantly altering the makeup of Congress, ensuring that Pelosi would not continue as Speaker of the House. But that is next year. In 2010 this unholy triple threat got a lot done, and most of it won’t be good for America in the long run. Your mileage may vary, and that’s okay.



Jim Joyce

On June 2, 2010 MLB umpire Joyce was working first base for a Detroit Tigers/Cleveland Indians game. Tigers’ pitcher Armando Galarraga was one out away from a perfect game. A close play at first was ruled an infield hit by Joyce, costing Galarraga a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity at perfection. Replays showed the runner should have been called out, and to his credit the umpire was deeply apologetic while the pitcher showed an unparalleled level of grace and class. Jim Joyce’s heartfelt remorse and frank honesty earned him a measure of redemption, but making such a critical mistake and screwing another individual out of a monumentally singular accomplishment, an opportunity Armando Galarraga will almost certainly never have again, dictates a nomination for this “honor”.



Ben Roethlisberger

Big Ben may be one of the top 5 quarterbacks in the NFL, but his off-the-field reputation took quite a hit in 2010. In March Ben was partying with college students at some dive bar in Georgia, which right off the bat seems below a 28 year old professional athlete. Even worse, he was accused of sexually assaulting a 20 year old co-ed in a bathroom. No charges were filed, but the district attorney, by the words he used in addressing the situation, seemed to strongly infer that it is likely something improper occurred but that it would be too difficult to secure a slam dunk conviction. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who doesn’t have to answer to anyone and has no problem doing whatever he wants, suspended Roethlisberger for the first 5 weeks of the season. Roethlisberger rebounded nicely and has the Steelers on a roll, but the public perception of him is undeniably altered forever. Only two people know what really happened in that bathroom, but I believe that where there is smoke there is almost always fire. My prayers are with that young girl, that she can move forward as easily as the man who may or may not have raped her.



Tiger Woods

The self destruction of Tiger Woods actually began right around Thanksgiving of 2009, but by January 2010 the situation had spiraled completely out of control. For awhile it seemed like every day a different woman came out of the woodwork admitting to an affair with the very married golfer. To Tiger’s credit he didn’t try to deny the allegations, although how could he?? If one woman says she has slept with a married guy he can deny it, but when more than a dozen tell similar stories there is just no way out of the mess. Tiger’s indiscretions cost him his wife and tore apart his family. The situation also effectively destroyed his career, atleast in the short term. For over a decade Tiger Woods was unquestionably the world’s #1 golfer, mowing down the competition like no one since the classic Jack Nicklaus-Arnold Palmer rivalry years. That all changed in 2010, as for the first time in his professional life he did not win a single tournament, let alone one of the coveted “majors”. Before this scandal it seemed inevitable that Tiger would breaks Nicklaus’ record of 18 major championships, but now the possibility of that record being broken is much more in doubt. Woods lost a ton of money off the course too, as sponsors scurried away from him like roaches from sunlight. Some folks may never look at Tiger Woods the same, some have already moved on and anxiously await the day he re-ascends the throne as the much feared king of the links. We shall see what 2011 brings, but nothing can erase the horror that was the past 12 months.



Lebron James

Speaking of kings, we must nominate basketball’s King James, the modern NBA’s biggest star. Up until 2010 Lebron seemed like an excellent role model for the league. He comes across as intelligent, thoughtful, well spoken, and likeable. I always thought he was reminiscent of Magic Johnson, with the amiable smile dialed down and replaced with Michael Jordan’s competitive intensity. The exclamation point was that, after deciding to come straight out of high school in 2003 the Akron born & bred Lebron was drafted by his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers. All that was lacking was a storybook ending, i.e. the kid leading the team of his childhood from the cellar to an NBA Championship. Unfortunately that was not how the story ended. Instead Lebron decided to go into full diva mode, stringing the Cavaliers and several other teams along during a long, self aggrandizing process at the end of which King James ditched the small market Cavaliers and “took his talents to South Beach”, aka the glitz & glamor of Miami. I have no issue with a free agent deciding to go to another team where he thinks the chances of long term success are more solid. This is America, and Lebron James simply took advantage of the opportunities afforded to him within the system by which the NBA runs. That is fine. What I and many others took exception to was the arrogant way the situation was handled, culminating in a TV special on ESPN called The Decision, during which James took a full hour to tell us what he could have said via Twitter or a normal news conference in about 30 seconds. There is a way to conduct business and a way not to conduct business, and it’s a lesson Lebron James has yet to learn. When I look at him now I don’t see intelligence, thoughtfulness, or likeability…I see a spoiled child whose amazing, God given athletic talent has provided for him a lifetime of being coddled to and put up on a pedestal. Funny thing about pedestals though…they are really fragile and easily come crashing down.



And The Sammy goes to…..



Tiger Woods. A huge part of me would love to give the award to James, but at the end of the day what he did was within the rules and probably a smart business decision, even if the process was gone about awkwardly. Tiger, on the other hand, committed adultery…over & over & over again. I am not trying to be judgmental, just honest. What Tiger Woods did destroyed his personal life AND his professional life, and completely changed the public perception of him as a human being. I am quite sure he will get his game back and win more tournaments, but I doubt if he ever completely recovers from a series of monumentally stupid decisions that were obviously made with the wrong head.



Best TV Show



The Big Bang Theory

The adventures of two super intelligent but socially awkward nerds and their gorgeous, blonde, airheaded next door neighbor. It’s an old fashioned sitcom with rapier sharp wit, excellent writing, and a talented cast.



Mike & Mike in the Morning

If shows like this would have been around 30 years ago the course of my life would have been so much different. I mean really…two guys getting paid to sit around talking about sports for four hours every day??What a great gig!! It’s a radio show that is simulcast on television’s ESPN2 each morning from 6-10am, starring an Odd Couple-esque pairing of ubernerd sportscaster Greeny and former journeyman NFL lineman Golic. I am not generally a morning person, but this is appointment TV for me.



Entourage

Male bonding at its best. HBO’s series have been hit & miss in my opinion. I never watched The Sopranos or Oz and unlike the werewolf/vampire enamored masses I have no interest in True Blood, though I did enjoy Sex & the City and Six Feet Under, and have occasionally watched Hung, Curb Your Enthusiasm, & Big Love. But from the moment it hit the air in 2004 I have been enamored with Entourage. It is the ongoing adventures of popular young actor Vincent Chase and his posse of friends, including an older brother who is also an actor but not a very good or sought after one, his manager who also happens to be his best childhood friend, and another buddy from the old neighborhood in Queens named Turtle who doesn’t seem to serve any useful purpose. Then there is Ari, an agent…a manic, foul mouthed, hyper, over-the-top, ultra Type A personality whose antics are mesmerizingly hilarious. HBO doesn’t really adhere to what we tend to think of as a normal television season (usually a couple dozen episodes beginning in the fall and ending in the spring, with summertime being a bunch of reruns). Entourage runs in the summer and has somewhere around a dozen episodes per season, and it is literally almost an entire year between seasons. I think this has the effect of “absence makes the heart grow fonder”, because I get excited when I know a new season is on the horizon. Sadly 2011 will mark the 8th and final go round for a great show, but there is talk of a potential film franchise. When that happens I am SO there.



How I Met Your Mother

Anyone who still thinks of Neil Patrick Harris as early 90’s wunderkind doctor Doogie Howser hasn’t watched this show. Is it kind of a Friends ripoff?? Maybe kinda sorta. But it has a vibe all its own and is a completely fresh take on the NY City apartment dweller posse genre. There is even an element of The Wonder Years, as the entire show is framed as a flashback wherein a narrator (Bob Saget) is showing his children thru supposed flashbacks how…well…how he met their mother. It doesn’t seem like a show that’s been on the air five years, which is a testament to the writers and actors who keep things crisp and funny. Harris is a revelation as a vain womanizer that doesn’t resemble Doogie one bit. It’s a show that doesn’t necessarily cover new territory, but does a type of familiar, comfortable comedy in ways that keep the viewer interested.



Pawn Stars

I must give a shout out to my friend The Owl for introducing me to The History Channel’s documentary show about a family owned Vegas pawn shop. On the surface it would seem like a limited concept, but I find it fascinating. The family dynamic between the three generations of men who own & operate the shop is real and amusing, and each episode is like a mini history lesson since the stuff folks bring in to pawn/sell isn’t your usual junk, or at least the producers are intelligent enough not to show the mundane, pedestrian items on TV. Instead we see things like Civil War memorabilia, early 19th Century firearms, and rare coins. I don’t feel like I’ve completely wasted my time after spending 60 minutes with this program, and with all the crap on our televisions these days that’s saying something.



Hawaii-Five-0

Remakes are generally cause for a healthy dose of skepticism and railing against lack of creativity or imagination. I have to admit I was a little hesitant to check out this “reimagining” of the legendary 1970’s show, of which I have a vague childhood recollection. This apprehension was not only because it is a remake but also because cop shows are a dime a dozen and I’ve never really been a big fan of any of them. However, I was wrong and this is a good show on all fronts. Once again no new ground is broken, but I think what I have realized is that is a good thing. I like my comedies formulaic and my dramas to fit a certain mold. Hollywood seems to royally screw things up when they take a proven formula and try to make it unique and modern. This applies to both movies and television. I guess I am just an old fashioned kind of guy. I can usually guess who the real villain is about 10 minutes into the show, but that’s okay. The acting is solid and the writing is above average even if the plots are a bit predictable.



And The Sammy goes to…..


Mike & Mike. I love this show. It has no offseason and no reruns. Both Greeny & Golic seem to take copious amounts of time off, but even when one or both are gone the regular lineup of guest hosts adequately fills the chairs. Sports lends itself to this format because there is always always always something going on and more than enough topics to discuss. The guests and experts that call into the show add depth, and various subject matter is examined from all angles. The show can be irreverent and fun, but also serious and thoughtful when necessary. Mike & Mike may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but for the serious, hardcore, die hard sports fan there is nothing better.





Best Water Cooler Topic



Twilight

I’ve never read the books or seen the movies. I most likely never will. However, I do realize I am in the minority.



The Late Night Wars

During the first few months of 2010 a dominant subject of conversation was the controversy surrounding NBC’s bungling of its late night lineup, Leno’s return to The Tonight Show, and the unfair ouster of Conan O’Brien. Things were made all the more hilarious by late night hosts David Letterman and Jimmy Kimmel, who didn’t hesitate to use their shows as a forum to jump into the fray and show support for Conan. It was definitely a fun ride while it lasted.



The End of Lost

Yet another subject on which I am not really qualified to comment. I never watched the show even though I had numerous friends tell me they thought I’d love it. I suppose by the time I considered giving it a whirl I just knew it was too late. This was a show one had to have been in on since the beginning, and for those that were the end came too soon.



World Cup Soccer

Well…it is the world’s most popular sport, so I am sure people were buzzing about it somewhere…probably outside of The United States. All I know is…speaking of buzzing…I learned what a vuvuzela is and think it may be something a lot of folks will encounter again in the fiery pits of Hell.



Sandra Bullock/Jesse James Split

America’s Sweetheart (now that Meg Ryan is all Botoxed up) found out her tattooed biker husband was cheating on her with an even more tattooed biker chic. Shocker. But hey, atleast Bullock won an Oscar.


Apple’s iPhone 4 & iPad

I’d love to have an iPad, but I’m not paying $800 for one. I do have an iPhone, but have not upgraded to the 4 because it seemed superfluous and unnecessary. Still, I have to give Apple credit for getting folks excited about these items, even if it is just tricky marketing of products that don’t really do anything new or special.



True Blood

Yet another show I have never watched and never will. I really don’t get America’s fascination with werewolves and vampires.



Oprah’s Final Season

Faithful citizens of The Manoverse will recall my deeply held belief that Oprah Winfrey is a minion in Satan’s Army. It does my heart good to know that we are now in the midst of her final season. Yes, I am aware that she is going on to helm her own network, but hopefully she will remain behind the scenes and it will be a channel I can completely ignore, like Lifetime, QVC, or MSNBC. Farewell Oprah, and good riddance you obnoxious shrew.



Bristol Palin on DWTS

Surprisingly enough Dancing with the Stars is a show I do watch. I find it fascinating, and appreciate the talents of the professional dancers. Scantily clad hot women may have something to do with it too I suppose. Anyway, when it was announced that former Alaska Governor, former VP candidate, future Presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s eldest was to be a contestant on the latest season of the show it got some attention. Sarah Palin is a lightning rod that people either adore or despise, so the hype was predictable. It turns out that poor Bristol dances about as well as Jar Jar Binks on acid and has the personality of stale rice cakes, but somehow she still made it to the finals of the competition. This brought about a myriad of conspiracy theories, but in essence it just exposed DWTS for the popularity contest it really is and validated Sarah Palin’s level of popularity, despite her shortcomings.



And The Sammy goes to…..


The Late Night Wars. Admittedly this is a very personal, biased choice, because as noted some of 2010’s hottest topics were things in which I just had no interest whatsoever. But late night television has long been a favorite of mine, so the real life soap opera that viewers saw play out each night on TV for several weeks was extremely entertaining in my world.




Biggest News Story



The Haiti Earthquake

2010 got off to a rough start in Haiti, the poorest nation in the western hemisphere, when a 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit on January 12, killing nearly a quarter million people (roughly the population of Birmingham, AL) and affecting atleast a million. American citizens of all ilks offered humanitarian aid, spearheaded by former Presidents George W. Bush & Bill Clinton, and singer Wyclef Jean.



Unemployment

Despite President Obama’s plucky enthusiasm about the economy finally being in recovery mode, unemployment has still lagged around the 10% mark all year. I’m no economics guru, but I don’t think it is accurate to say the economy has recovered if nearly 10% of the population can’t find a job.



The Gulf Oil Spill

On April 20, 2010 an explosion on an offshore oil rig 40 miles off the coast of Louisiana set off what would become the biggest disaster in the history of the petroleum industry. It took three months for the well to be capped and the oil to stop flowing. In those three months over 200 million gallons of oil spilled into The Gulf of Mexico, causing extensive damage to wildlife and marine life, the delicate ecosystem, the fishing and tourism industries, and the general economy of an area covering 68,000 square miles. The U.S. Government and British Petroleum engaged in a battle of wills over responsibility and cleanup efforts, with neither party coming out looking all that impressive. The effects of this spill continue to this day.



Obamacare/National Health Care Reform

In March of 2010 President Obama and a Congress controlled by liberals passed a nationalized health care bill. This was a topic that had been hotly debated for years and successfully defeated at first, but eventually resistance was futile. I like to refer to an old Ronald Reagan quote that says “the nine most terrifying words in the English language are: ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’” Conversely, a growing majority of Americans seem to be perfectly comfortable with The Nanny State, wanting Big Brother to take care of their every need from birth thru death. Any law that takes free choice away and fines a person who chooses not to be insured scares the hell out of me. Any law that enacts anything resembling end of life counseling, making whether an ill person will or will not be treated an economic decision makes my skin crawl. Any law that rations how much health care folks may receive is troublesome. I fear that this massive expansion of governmental power will lead down a lot of other even more frightening roads, and that the masses will not truly understand what havoc they have opened the door to until it is much too late.



The Death of Senator Robert C. Byrd

West Virginia’s senior Senator was 92 and had been a fixture in Washington DC for well over 50 years when he died back in June. Byrd served three terms in the House of Representatives and nine terms in the Senate, impressive considering the fact that his role as a public servant was preceded by serving as a leader in a local Ku Klux Klan unit, once writing The Grand Wizard and saying “The Klan is needed today as never before, and I am anxious to see its rebirth here in West Virginia and in every state in the nation.” Boy we sure can pick ’em here in The Mountain State, huh?? Byrd later renounced his membership and appeared to have a change of heart, but one can easily assume that was just the politically expedient thing to do. During his decades in Washington Senator Byrd became an extremely powerful figure and was able to funnel a lot of much appreciated pork back home to WV, which is obviously why he kept getting re-elected. Anyway, it is not my intention to kick a person when they’re down…or dead. So let me just say that Byrd’s death may not have been that big of a deal elsewhere, but here in West Virginia it was huge news.



The Tea Party

A year ago no one would have believed that the late Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat would be filled by a Republican, but in January 2010 that is exactly what happened when Tea Party backed Scott Brown won an election in Massachusetts. The Tea Party is not an officially recognized political party, but more of an energetic movement based on conservative core principles of reduced government spending, lower taxes, strict interpretation of The Constitution, and debt/deficit reduction. It sprang up in 2007, really hit its stride in 2009, and in 2010 had an impact of everything from the midterm elections to Dancing with the Stars. The de facto leaders seem to be former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, among others. The Tea Party was instrumental in costing several RHINOs (Republicans in Name Only) victories in primary elections in atleast a dozen states, and helped Republicans take back control of The House of Representatives. Liberals and their fluffers in the drive-by media have been predictably derisive of the movement, calling followers Tea Baggers. However, sticks & stones may break bones but name calling has thus far done no good in slowing down the momentum of this unofficial yet powerful organization.



2010 Midterm Election

Tuesday 11/2/10 was a day when, if I may borrow a phrase, chickens came home to roost for liberals in our nation’s capitol and elsewhere. Republicans gained 6 seats in the Senate, took control of the House with a swing of 63 seats, won an additional 6 Governorships, and gained 680 seats in statehouses nationwide. No matter how the media tries to spin it the election was a total rejection of liberal policies championed by President Obama, outgoing Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (who inexplicably won re-election). However, the work for conservatives has only just begun, with the next vital step being to find a viable Presidential candidate for 2012 (i.e. NOT Sarah Palin).



The Ground Zero Mosque

Back in the spring of 2010 plans were made public for what became known as The Ground Zero Mosque. The building is actually going to be a community center two blocks from Ground Zero, but it will have a Muslim “prayer center”, so the controversy aroused by having such a facility that close to where thousands of Americans were massacred by Muslim extremists/terrorists is understandable. I can see both sides. On one hand it is a free country and folks can build what they want where they want within the boundaries of the law. On the flip side I get how the idea can be perceived as offensive and distasteful. It just amazes me how the masses seem to bend over backward to make provision for Islam while even hinting at anything related to Jesus brings forth scorn and mockery.



End of Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell

In 1993 The Clinton Administration signed into law a policy prohibiting the military from inquiring about a person’s sexual orientation since being openly gay was considered just cause for discharge. At the end of the 2010 Congressional session this law was repealed and the military ban on being openly gay lifted completely. I have made my faith based beliefs about homosexuality and issues like same sex marriage quite clear over the years, but if someone is willing to serve their country and put their life at risk in the defense of freedom then that’s fine with me.



The Arizona Immigration Law

I am still blown away by the fact that anyone would have an issue with laws being enforced, which is all this law does – make sure existing laws are followed. Give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free?? Okay…fine. But if you are going to come into is country and take advantage of all the freedom, liberty, and other benefits then I don’t think being required to jump through a few hoops and following a legal process is too much to ask. Predictably it’s been the whiny, bleeding heart ultra libs who’ve cried about this bill the most. These are the same people who are ready to fine me if I choose not to buy health insurance, yet they have no problem with undocumented illegal aliens running rampant, eating our food, enjoying our public services, and utilizing our resources all while thumbing their noses at our laws and receiving a free ride because if they aren’t legal then they darn sure aren’t paying taxes. Yeah, that makes perfect sense. To my knowledge this law is still languishing under red tape, with various legal protests preventing it from being put into effect. I hope 2011 brings about an end to these silly court proceedings and sees laws like this spread nationwide.



TSA Groping Controversy

The Transportation Safety Administration, specializing specifically in airport security, is part of the Department of Homeland Security, created after the events of 9/11. Not a bad idea. However, in November of 2010, new screening procedures went into effect, including x-ray scans that display images of passengers’ bodies to TSA officers and pat-downs in which TSA officers fondle passengers’ breasts, buttocks, and genitals. Sounds like every pervert’s dream job. Predictably travelers haven’t been too keen on these procedures, as many feel like it’s just a bit too invasive. A lot of crazy incidents have been reported, including folks being forced to remove prostheses, small children being patted down, and hot babes claiming they’ve receive some…extra attention (if you know what I’m sayin’). TSA agents fired back whining about how awful their jobs are because they have to touch fat people. The ACLU has gotten involved. Lawsuits have been filed. It’s a big mess. Shocking, considering it’s a government run program. “Don’t touch my junk” indeed.



And The Sammy goes to…..



The Oil Spill. Not that the other nominees weren’t worthy, but let’s face it…when we look back in hindsight at 2010 two words will automatically pop into our brains: oil spill. It was almost as big of a story as 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, with many similarities including slow response from the federal government, who’d rather take over our health care, hate rich people, and try to eliminate Jesus from the world altogether rather than doing things they actually should be doing. As for BP, I understand that it was an accident and accidents happen, but their response…or lack thereof…was even more painfully slow than the government’s, and when (now former) CEO Tony Hayward called the spill “relatively tiny”, stated that he wanted “his life back”, and was then spotted at a yacht race while oil was still spilling into the Gulf the American public had its whipping boy. My prayers are with the people of the Gulf Coast, many of whom hadn’t even recovered from Katrina yet and now they’ve had to endure the ramifications of this situation.




The Rosie O’Donnell Memorial Just Go Away Award



Justin Bieber

I’ve honestly never listened to one of his songs, but the tastes of 12 year old girls are notoriously bad and the kid needs a haircut. If rumors about Bieber starring in a remakes of Grease and Back to the Future come true I may finally decide humanity is beyond redemption.



Glee

I watched this idiotic show once. It might be the gayest thing I’ve ever seen on television, no disrespect to alternate lifestyles intended. The acting was bad, the singing was not much better, and the overt sexuality was troubling. Honest to God Glee makes Dawson’s Creek look like freakin’ Shakespeare.



Kim Kardashian

Is she hot?? Yes. But what other redeeming qualities does this bimbo have?? Atleast Britney Spears can kind of sing and Lindsay Lohan can act when she stays sober. Kardashian and her entire clan add nothing of substance to the human race.



Jersey Shore

Reality shows, as a general rule, are awful. So a reality show about a bunch of clichéd Guidos just can’t be good. I have watched a few times and was completely unimpressed and not entertained in the least. People that are entertained by such garbage make me sad.



Lady Gaga

I saw Gaga on an episode of Saturday Night Live several months ago, and you want to know something interesting?? She can sing. The gal has some pipes. So why does she have to hide behind the stupid name & outrageous outfits and sing crappy songs about sex with lyrics like “bluffin’ with my muffin’”?? Take off the stupid clothes, use that great voice to sing quality songs, and use your real name (Stephanie something-or-other) and maybe I’ll be interested.



Stephen Colbert

I just don’t find him funny. It has nothing to do with politics, as Bill Maher is also a raging lib yet I find him rather amusing.



Brett Favre

If there has been a sadder public figure in 2010 I’m not sure who it would be. Favre has annoyed football fans for the past few years with his on again/off again retirement/comeback act. Last year he had what was arguably the best year of his career yet fell short of leading the Minnesota Vikings to the Super Bowl. Favre is to football what Mario Andretti was to the Indy 500…so close so many times but always felled by bad luck, karma, timing, or whatever other negative forces in which one may believe. After playing his annual “Will he or won’t he??” game again last summer he was predictably cajoled into “one last season”, only this time I think Bret Favre really is finished. The Vikings, beset by injuries, poor leadership, a midseason coaching change, and other calamities, have been horrible. Favre’s 41 year old body has finally let him down, and his consecutive games streak was broken at 297. On top of that the aging quarterback has been mired in an embarrassing scandal in which he is accused of sending naughty text messages…complete with pics of himself au naturel…to a female reporter a couple years back when he was playing for the NY Jets. You’ve heard of sports stars who “went out on top”?? This is the direct opposite.



Katy Perry

Is she hot?? Yes. But come on…put on some clothes for pete’s sake. No one gives a damn about Katy Perry, it’s Katy Perry’s breasts that have had the successful career.



Twilight

As noted previously I have never read the books or seen the movies. And I find people who are just a bit too obsessed by the whole thing really annoying.



Heidi & Spencer

He’s a tool, her body has more plastic than a Tupperware factory.


Hey Soul Sista/Train & I’m Yours/Jason Mraz

Every freakin’ time I’ve gotten in my truck the past several months and turned on the radio I have heard one or both of these songs. I sort of liked them at first, but that mild affection ended after about the 400th listening. Let’s move forward. Or maybe I will just listen to more talk radio.



Miley Cyrus

A role model she is not. I am not sure when it became mandated that all female singers & actresses had to be airheaded sluts to succeed, but if that’s the rule Miley is following it to the tee. And let’s be honest…she’s not a very talented actress or singer.


Lindsay Lohan

Is Lindsay still in rehab?? I don’t know and I don’t care. Lohan is the poster child for wasted potential. Unlike the average Hollywood tart this gal has skills. It was apparent from childhood that she had all the makings of a fantastic actress, one that might someday be thought of in the same vein as well respected performers like Meryl Streep, Jodie Foster, Holly Hunter, or Sally Field. Instead Lindsay has pissed away nearly all that potential.



And The Sammy goes to…..



Ladies and gentlemen, you are a witness to history. For the first time in the storied annals of awards shows we have a 13 way tie – they all win…or lose (depending on one’s perspective).



Moment of the Year



The Rescue of 33 Chilean Miners

I am born & bred in the great state of West Virginia and my grandfather lost a leg in the coal mines, so I am familiar with mining disasters. In August of 2010 a different sort of mine accident occurred in Chile. A cave in at a copper mine left 33 miners trapped underground but, thankfully, still alive and mostly unhurt. Rescuers quickly figured out that the men could be retrieved from their prison 2300 feet underground…but it would take months. Not hours, not days, not weeks…months. Suddenly hope turned to fear. However…miraculously…all 33 men were able to survive 69 days in a spot built for such situations. Rescuing the men took a lot of effort on the part of many many individuals from all walks of life, but on 10/13/10 all 33 men were safely retrieved from what could have been their graves. The story was an inspiring one of hope, faith, effort, and teamwork.



WV’s DaSean Butler & Coach Bob Huggins At The Final Four

It is likely that no one outside the state of West Virginia considered this much of a story. The West Virginia Mountaineer men’s basketball team won the Big East tournament and entered the NCAA Championship as a #2 seed, making it all the way to The Final Four. In the second half of the semifinal contest against Duke, Butler, the Mountaineers key player and leader in every way, went down with what looked like a very painful knee injury. As he lay on the court crying in agony Coach Bob Huggins, a man who has been much maligned for most of his career, went to his senior captain and cradled him in his arms, reassuring and comforting the fallen young man. It was a rare glimpse inside the heart of an otherwise tough as nails coach, and it was a moment that reinforced the reason many of us are sports fans.



Betty White’s Career Renaissance

Hollywood always has and always will cater to The Pretty People. Stars put their bodies through hell and have more elective surgery than anyone in their right minds should just to please a shallow industry and remain relevant and employed. Usually by the time a performer, especially a female, turns the corner past 50 she’s done. In 2010 Betty White went against the grain and was the exception to the rule, at the age of 88 having as big a year as anyone. It all started with a hilarious Snickers commercial during the Super Bowl, which for some reason spawned a viral campaign on Facebook to have the octogenarian host Saturday Night Live, which she finally did on May 8. That guest host spot even got her an Emmy nomination. White went on to do guest spots on sitcoms Community, The Middle, Hot in Cleveland, and 30 Rock. Betty White is proof that true talent overrides superficial indicators like age and breast size.



Phil Mickelson Wins The Masters

While the golf world was busy kvetching over Tiger Woods’ sex life Phil Mickelson offered a touching counterpoint. Both Phil’s wife Amy and his Mom had been battling cancer, and Phil had steadfastly stood by them. When Mickelson won his third Green Jacket in April and embraced his recovering wife on the 18th green one couldn’t help but think “Now THERE’S a role model”.



The 2010 Winter Olympics

Honestly I am giving a nod to the 21st Winter Olympiad more out of politeness than anything. Did it have some fun stuff going on?? Sure. The U.S./Canada battle for hockey gold was compelling, some of the ice skating was entertaining, and curling is always awesome. But really, if a Russian luger hadn’t been tragically killed then there would be virtually nothing memorable about these Olympics.



The Conservative Uprising

We’ve already covered the Tea Party movement and the results of November’s mid-term elections. Those two things combined with President Obama’s low approval numbers are all the proof anyone should need that this country leans right and that conservative values and principles are alive & well.



Zuckerberg Donates $100 Million To NJ Schools

Most wealthy people get a bad rap. They are perceived as selfish, haughty, and only concerned with money. However, back in September Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who is portrayed in a rather negative light in the movie The Social Network, donated a huge amount of money to the Newark, NJ school system for education reform. I am not privy to the details of what they are attempting to accomplish in Newark or how they are utilizing the funds, but that big of a chunk of change should have a significant impact. Zuckerberg wanted to make the donation anonymously but was coaxed into making it public by both the mayor of Newark and the Governor of New Jersey. And while it may be true that $100 million dollars is pocket change to a man reportedly worth over $7 billion it is equally as true that such a donation cannot be overlooked and must be respected and appreciated.



The Theatrical Release of Part 1 of the Final Harry Potter Film

In November the 7th installment of the highest grossing film series of all time, one that has made over $6 billion, was released. It is the first of two films that cover the last Harry Potter novel, The Deathly Hallows. Personally I have enjoyed the books far more than the movies, but the release of these final two films marks the conclusion of a 14 year love affair between an adoring public and its boy wizard. Both the books and the movies become darker and more sinister as they progress, and at some point the story really evolved from a childrens’ tale to something much more mature and literary.



3 Day, 11 Hour Wimbledon Match

I’m not a huge tennis fan, not at all. I will watch a match occasionally if I am really bored and if the circumstances are compelling for some reason. In the first round of tennis; crown jewel, Wimbledon, in June, such circumstances arose. American John Isner was pitted against Frenchman Nicolas Mahut, with Isner the favorite. The two men proceeded to engage in the longest match in the history of tennis. It was suspended twice due to darkness and played out over 3 days, equally over 11 hours of playing time. The two men broke all kinds of records, with Isner eventually coming out as the victor. By the time the third day rolled around the attention of the masses had been captured and even lukewarm fans like myself were mesmerized.



The New Orleans Saints Win The Super Bowl

Most people are familiar with what the city of New Orleans has had to endure since being hit with Hurricane Katrina in 2005. And while sports is a relatively unimportant cog in the societal machine it can provide a unique sense of inspiration, motivation, and validation. When the Saints defeated the Indianapolis Colts 31-17 on February 7, 2010 to hoist their first ever Lombardi Trophy, it was a triumph not just for the team, but for an entire city. It seemed to signify that New Orleans was indeed back. Super Bowl XLIV was watched by over 106 million people, making it not only the highest rated Super Bowl in its 44 year history but also the highest rated television program of any sort ever, besting the legendary 1983 farewell episode of MASH. Just a few months later New Orleans would be hit with disaster once again due to the aforementioned Gulf Oil Spill, but for one night its citizens were able to put all their troubles on the backburner and celebrate like only they can, and it was a pretty darn nice story for the rest of us too.



Glen Beck’s “Rally To Restore Honor”

Glen Beck seems to have surpassed Sean Hannity and even The Godfather of Talk Radio himself Rush Limbaugh as the conservative raging libs seem to despise the most. Admittedly Beck is a bit too histrionic for my tastes, but if one is able to put aside the theatrics and listen to what he says Glen Beck makes a lot of sense most of the time. On 8/28/10 ol’ Glen really peed in the Cheerios of a lot of his critics by holding a rally where he and guest speakers weren’t shy about emphasizing faith, character, values, and conservative principles as much needed things our nation needs to fall back on. Not coincidentally (no matter what Mr. Beck says) this shindig was held at The Lincoln Memorial on the 47th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr’s memorable “I Have A Dream” speech. It was bad enough Glen Beck was openly talking about God, but the fact that he was co-opting liberals’ self-righteous “we’re the only ones who give a damn about black people” vibe really had a lot of folks on the left foaming at the mouth. The event was attended by anywhere from 80k to over 1 million people, depending on what source one believes. I watched it on television and saw absolutely nothing that anyone of any political persuasion should have been offended by. The speeches were uplifting and invigorating, tribute was repeatedly paid to our military, and there was really not a lot of political rhetoric. It is sad that we have come to a point in history when openly talking about God raises the ire of a not insignificant portion of the populace. A few months later TV personalities Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert held their own event that basically mocked Beck and all things conservative, and it was predictably obnoxious, offensive, and sophomoric.



And The Sammy goes to…..



The Rescue of the Chilean Miners. The fact that all 33 survived the initial cave in was a miracle. Then to have them endure that long underground was a testament to the efforts of countless people and the spirit & fortitude of the men themselves. And on top of that what was an extremely delicate rescue went off without a hitch and no one sustained any injuries. I don’t know what is in store for the lives of these 33 individuals, but God was certainly in the midst of this situation and I pray that all involved appreciate the blessings bestowed upon them and do extraordinary things with the second chance they were given.





NFL lineman Gaines Adams…wrestling legends General Skandor Akbar, Angelo Poffo (father of Randy “Macho Man” Savage & Leapin’ Lanny Poffo), & Jack Brisco…Hall of Fame baseball manager Sparky Anderson…former Pirates pitcher Jimmy Bibby…NFL Hall of Famers George Blanda, Jack Tatum, and Don Meredith…former NBA standouts Manute Bol, Lorenzen Wright, and Melvin Turpin…pro wrestlers Trent Acid, Bastion Booger, Chris Kanyon, & Lance Cade…legendary Pittsburgh Pirates executive Joe L. Brown…Senator Robert C. Byrd…uber-producers David L. Wolper (Roots, The Thorn Birds, North & South, L.A. Confidential, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles) and Stephen J. Cannell (The A-Team, Riptide, The Rockford Files)…actresses Barbara Billingsley (Leave It to Beaver), Lynn Redgrave, Frances Reid (Days of Our Lives), Dixie Carter (Designing Women), Rue McClanahan (Golden Girls), Helen Wagner (As the World Turns), and Jill Clayburgh…actors Tom Bosley (Happy Days), Pernell Roberts (Trapper John, M.D.), Gary Coleman (Different Strokes), Tony Curtis, Kevin McCarthy, Steve Landesberg (Barney Miller), Andrew Koenig (Growing Pains), Robert Culp, Dennis Hopper, Leslie Nielsen, Corey Haim, Peter Graves, & John Forsythe (Charlie’s Angels, Dynasty)…musician and sausage king Jimmy Dean…musician Ronnie James Dio…directors Blake Edwards (The Pink Panther) and Irvin Kershner (The Empire Strikes Back)…Elizabeth Edwards…Penthouse founder Bob Guccione…former Secretary of State General Alexander Haig…voice of the Detroit Tigers Ernie Harwell…singers Teena Marie, Teddy Pendergrass, and Lena Horne…former Major Leaguers Jose Lima and Bobby Thompson (The Shot Heard ‘Round the World)…Art Linkletter…NBA legend Maurice Lucas…actor, NFL lineman, and commentator Merlin Olsen…authors Robert B. Parker Erich Segal, and JD Salinger…former Congressman Dan Rostenkowski…Olympic organizer Juan Antonio Samaranch…former NBA player and collegiate athletic director Fred Schaus…former head of NBC Sports, Commissioner of the USFL, and President of ESPN Chet Simmons…gym teacher and inspiration for southern rockers Lynyrd Skynyrd Leonard Skinner…NY Yankees owner George Steinbrenner…fabled college basketball coach John Wooden