2021 PIGSKIN PICKS OF PROFUNDITY…WEEK 8

First, a shoutout to former Washington St. Cougars football coach Nick Rolovich, who was fired after refusing to get the COVID-19 “vaccine”. While it is true that Rolovich (who I assume was making pretty decent money), comedian Jim Breuer, NBA star Kyrie Irving, & country music legend Travis Tritt all have the kind of financial wherewithal to make the stands that they have against the fascist vax mob while working stiffs like you & me might not be in a position to do so, their decisions bring needed attention to the issue. I am sure that Rolovich, who was 5-6 in two partial seasons with the Cougars after going 28-27 in four years at Hawaii, will land a gig somewhere. Closer to home, my fantasy teams are letting me down but I had a decent week (3-2) here, while Zach (2-3) was on the wrong end of a couple heartbreakers. The journey to .500 looks to be an uphill climb, but we’re not chasing wins just yet. 

My Season: 20-26

Zach’s Season: 19-27

Coastal Carolina (-3.5) at Appalachian State

Way back when I did my preseason poll I stated about this game that “I have a feeling my eyes will be glued to the TV on October 20”. The undefeated & 14th ranked Chanticleers have upheld their end of the hype. The 4-2 Mountaineers?? Not so much. Getting pummeled by four TDs at Louisiana last week kind of took the shine off of this game. The fact that it’s on Wednesday night doesn’t help. At any rate, I still believe it’ll be a fun contest, and I’ll be watching…but I have little doubt that Coastal will win easily. Zach is impressed by Coastal’s team speed and predicts a double digit victory. 

My Pick: Coastal Carolina 

Z’s Pick: Coastal Carolina 

Oregon at UCLA (-2.5)

I really wish this was a late night game because it should be a dandy, but unfortunately it’s a mid-afternoon kickoff (for us East Coast viewers). The 5-1 Ducks aren’t currently in the playoff discussion like I thought they’d be, but there is a lot of football left to be played and they look like strong contenders for the PAC 12 title. Meanwhile, the 5-2 Bruins have been pretty good but regrettably stumbled a couple of times along the way. I still think Oregon can get into playoff contention if they win out, so I’m pulling for the upset. Zach isn’t as high on Oregon as I am, calling them inconsistent. That being said, he’s predicting a high scoring, close game with the visitors getting the win.

My Pick: Oregon 

Z’s Pick: Oregon 

Oklahoma State at Iowa State (-7)

The Big 12 is pretty fun this season!! It’s just a shame that my WV Mountaineers haven’t “climbed” into contention. Anyway, the 4-2 Cyclones have been a mild disappointment, although, to be fair, there’s no shame in losing to Baylor & Iowa. Conversely, the undefeated Cowboys look like legit contenders for the conference title, which I did not see coming. I have a feeling this one is going down to the wire and could be decided by a late field goal or in overtime, so the points are just too much for me. Zach predicts a boring game and doesn’t think OK St. will get thru the schedule without a couple of losses. However, he does believe they’ll get a big road win this week. 

My Pick: Oklahoma State

Z’s Pick: Oklahoma State

Clemson at Pitt (-3.5)

Folks, if you would’ve told me a couple of months ago that the freakin’ Pitt Panthers would be favored over Clemson in mid-October I’d have sworn you were doing drugs. Yes, the game is at Heinz Field. Sure, I predicted that the Tigers wouldn’t be playoff worthy, but I still thought they’d be a Top 10 team. No one ever gives the Panthers a second thought before, during, or after the college football season, yet here we are, with the 5-1 home team getting love from the oddsmakers while the 4-2 perennial title contenders are barely beating teams like Boston College & Syracuse. I kinda sorta get it, but then again I don’t. All the sudden Pitt’s senior QB Kenny Pickett is being touted as a legit NFL first round prospect, while Clemson QB DJ Uiagalelei is being cast as a disappointment not on the level of predecessors like Deshaun Watson, Trevor Lawrence, & Tajh Boyd. I don’t know…I’m just not buying any of it. I think Clemson is going to march into The ‘Burgh and smoke the Panthers. Zach believes Pitt might actually be for real, but Clemson will do enough to win this game. 

My Pick: Clemson 

Z’s Pick: Clemson 

Kansas City (-4.5) at Tennessee 

Tennessee scored a huge victory over the Buffalo Bills on Monday night and at 4-2 are running away with the AFC South. The Chiefs, as I predicted, are in a heck of a battle with three other teams in their division and need to stack wins for a possible wild card berth. If you’ll recall I said of the Chiefs that “most talking heads will consider them legit Super Bowl contenders, but I think they’ll lose a dogfight for the division, sneak into the playoffs as a wildcard, and be watching the Super Bowl at home like the rest of us.” My prognostication skills haven’t been too sharp in 2021, but even a broken clock is right twice a day. It is shockingly disrespectful for the Titans to be underdogs in their own stadium. At the very least this game should be a pick ‘em. Unlike the oddsmakers I have been paying attention, and I think KC has plateaued while their opponents are ascending. Could my Super Bowl prediction actually come to fruition?? Wouldn’t that be wild?!?!?? Zach loves Titans’ RB Derrick Henry and has zero confidence in the Chiefs’ defense. 

My Pick: Tennessee

Z’s Pick: Tennessee 

WINNING & MUSING…VOLUME 3.21 

Y’all know that I try to keep the sports content to a minimum during the football season due to our weekly picks, but since a) we haven’t done WM since February, and b) there are other things besides football to discuss, I’m going to suspend my own rule. Rest assured there is plenty of other content in the hopper for those that don’t enjoy ball games & such as much as the rest of us. 

The baseball playoffs have begun. In the American League it’s the Tampa Bay Rays, Chicago White Sox, Houston Astros, & Boston Red Sox, while the National League has the Atlanta Braves, Milwaukee Brewers, San Francisco Giants, & Los Angeles Dodgers. I had thought I’d watch a lot more baseball this season after the virus-shortened, empty stadium anomaly of 2020, but oddly enough I think I’ve watched even less. The Manoverse knows that I’m a lifelong Pittsburgh Pirates fan, which means I had absolutely no interest in or reason to watch many games this year. I try to find some level of enthusiasm for the playoffs and choose one or two teams to cheer for. I wasn’t sure that was going to be possible this year, but thankfully the Red Sox beat the Yankees in the AL Wild Card Game, so that’s something.

I haven’t really made a big deal out of my feelings about COVID related subjects like vaccines, masks, & mandates outside of the meme zone that is my Instagram because…well, just because. I have very strong opinions, but realize there are folks with polar opposite views. It is what it is and I see no reason to argue about it or negatively impact relationships I value. That being said, it has been announced that mandates in California & New York will require players and fans attending basketball games to be fully vaccinated. I assume hockey players & fans will be affected as well, especially since Canada has already become an outright fascist hellhole anyway. For the first time in my life I am not envious of people living in big cities with access to professional sports venues. I can’t wait to hear the spin when NBA & NHL players and vaccinated fans start testing positive like crazy for The Sickness. Oh sure, they are unlikely to end up dead or even hospitalized, but of course there is a 98% chance they wouldn’t have gotten that ill without the “vaccine”. Atleast I’ll be able to enjoy the games in the freedom & comfort of my own abode. 

Congratulations to Team USA for bringing home the Ryder Cup. I didn’t watch as much of the competition as I’d anticipated, and I think that had a lot to do with guys like Tiger Woods, Rickie Fowler, & Phil Mickelson being absent while newer players like Colin Morikawa, Bryson DeChambeau, & Daniel Berger took center stage. I’m old enough to remember Ryder Cup teams featuring legendary golfers like Tom Kite, Lee Trevino, Raymond Floyd, & Fuzzy Zoeller, so I just need to get used to these fresh faces. 

Okay okay, my intention was to stay away from football at this particular moment, but I don’t think I can. There is an elephant in the room that needs addressed, and that is my Pittsburgh Steelers. Hindsight is 20/20, and in an effort to think positive I had them as a playoff team in my season preview. Sadly I do not think that is going to happen. QB Ben Roethlisberger is getting most of the blame, which isn’t totally fair. Yes, he is showing his age. At 39 years old he has certainly declined and definitely isn’t performing at the same level as contemporaries like Drew Brees (who still looked pretty decent last season at 42 before retiring), 37 year old MVP candidate Aaron Rodgers, or Tom Brady, who is apparently a 44 year old unicorn. That being said, it must be noted that the Steelers are starting a very young offensive line that hasn’t jelled into the cohesive unit one would prefer. Big Ben was never fleet of foot, but once upon a time he had a unique escapability that allowed him to keep a play alive long enough to make something happen, and that skill has diminished significantly. All of this has affected the perception of RB Najee Harris, Pittsburgh’s first round draft pick. It doesn’t help that former starting tailback James Conner has amassed 172 yards & 4 touchdowns in four games while being the Arizona Cardinals’ backup compared to Harris’ 185 yards & one TD. Do I think drafting Harris was a mistake?? I’m not ready to go there just yet, but I understand the opinion of some that the team should’ve used that pick on an elite lineman. At any rate, whether one chooses to blame Roethlisberger, Harris, head coach Mike Tomlin, or GM Kevin Colbert the fact is that the Steelers are probably facing their first losing season since 2003. I don’t believe that backup quarterbacks Mason Rudolph & Dwayne Haskins are the answer, so even if Roethlisberger retires and a quarterback is taken in the draft we’re probably looking at another tough season next year. At this point my hope is that 2023 will find the team with a young QB we can believe in, an experienced offensive line, the core of the defense intact (mainly linebacker TJ Watt & safety Minkah Fitzpatrick), Najee Harris at full throttle, and the receiving corps of JuJu Schuster, Chase Claypool, & Diontae Johnson still in Black & Gold. Perhaps then we’ll have something to cheer about. 

NASCAR is also in the midst of its “playoffs”, a system I’m still not sold on. There are 12 drivers left in the chase for the championship, and honestly I don’t have any feelings one way or another about most of them. I have paid a bit more attention to racing than baseball the past several months, but that is damning with faint praise. Not only is Dale Earnhardt dead & Tony Stewart retired, leaving me with no one I’m really invested in cheering for, but Jimmy Johnson & Jeff Gordon are also retired, so there is a lack of villains to dislike outside of Kyle Busch.  There are five races left, and I suppose I’ll check out bits & pieces of them, but mostly my eyes will be glued to NFL Redzone every Sunday. 

The Undeniable Appeal of Donald Trump – Part III

To paraphrase my man Michael Bublé, it’s a new dawn, a new day, and I’m feeling…not as great as the folks who seemed to have a collective orgasm when Joe Biden took the oath of office a couple of weeks ago. On his first day in the White House Biden killed thousands of jobs, choosing the cult of environmentalism over the employment of blue collar American workers…an inauspicious beginning to be sure.

At any rate, before standing by & helplessly watching that dumpster fire for the next few years it’s time to close the book on President Donald Trump, thus completing a trilogy that began nearly five & a half years ago when I dismissed the idea that Trump would even receive the Republican nomination and continued a year later with a mea culpa in which I explained my reason(s) for preferring him over Hillary Clinton. So let’s take a look at where we stand now in the wake of what has been a fascinating four years. You may agree or disagree with my assessment & that’s okay. I’m just trying to be forthright & straightforward as we take a look at…

 

 

 

from the home office in Palm Beach, FL…

 

 

 

The Superfluous 7 Honest Conclusions About Donald Trump

 

7 He is neither the best nor the worst President in American history.

To be fair I think it is far too soon to properly judge the Trump presidency, especially when passions are still inflamed on both sides. But I’d say the same thing no matter who it was. When George W. Bush left office I opined that eventually history would be much kinder to him than people had been in the moment, and I was right. The media & even some Hollywood types seem to think W. is just dandy now, when fifteen years ago they despised him. A decade from now when wounds have healed and historians look back on the past four years thru the prism of what Trump accomplished in the face of unprecedented hatred I believe many will admit what they refuse to right now: despite his many flaws & personal errors in judgment he led a robust economy and would’ve almost certainly gotten a second term if not for some extraordinary conditions. Conversely, I will not join fellow conservatives in calling Donald Trump the best President ever. Let’s step away from the carving tools and not put his head on Mount Rushmore just yet. I don’t think any one term President (even considering the unusual circumstances) deserves those kind of kudos.

 

6 He did not incite an insurrection on the U.S. Capitol.

Okay, okay, okay…I know I’m treading on dangerous ground here. First, allow me to reiterate…I’ve already stated that the DC rally/protest in the waning days of the Trump presidency that led to so much chaos & heartbreak was a terrible idea. The event never should’ve happened. It was a fruitless endeavor that wasn’t going to change the outcome of the election, and gathering 100k pissed off people in one place will rarely end well. Having said that, I’ve read President Trump’s speech from that day (I didn’t watch as it was occurring), and nothing he said can be interpreted as “Hey y’all, why don’t you go over to The Capitol & open up a can of whoopass…break stuff & scare the hell out of people.” Donald Trump had held numerous rallies when running for President & even while in office, and though one might call such events self-serving or arrogant, to my knowledge none were ever violent. Ask yourself this…if law enforcement, FBI, Secret Service, et al thought there might be cause for concern why weren’t they more prepared?? I do not believe for one second that Trump thought what happened would happen. At worst I think he saw it as one last opportunity for a huge crowd to heap adoration upon him. Misguided?? Absolutely. Out of touch?? Probably. Sedition?? I really don’t think so.

 

5 He probably shouldn’t have run for a second term.

Imagine this: Donald Trump decides that one term is enough. He knows the hatred for him in certain circles is so deep that his opponents will do almost anything to screw him. He’s a billionaire who doesn’t need the hassle. He steps aside and let’s Pence, Cruz, and whoever else duke it out to be his successor. The nominee can run on Trump policies & accomplishments but will almost certainly be a more palatable candidate, so leftists let their guard down just a bit. Meanwhile, much like the Clintons & Obamas, President Trump is still a power broker in his party. He’s a kingmaker with tremendous influence. In all likelihood his candidate wins, and the Trump legacy thrives. If only, right??

 

4 He did some great things during his one term in office.

We have to get past the cult of personality. I know so many allegedly intelligent people who absolutely detest Donald Trump simply because “Orange Man bad!!”. He’s not a smooth talker like Clinton or Obama. He isn’t soft spoken & allegedly “kind” like Biden or Jimmy Carter. He’s egotistical, not a great public speaker, sort of misogynistic, and a bit of an ass. No one is disputing any of that. It’s just a matter of how much it really matters. I get it…we’d all prefer the perfect President, but life isn’t a TV show or movie. Jed Bartlett (The West Wing), Andrew Shepherd (The American President), Thomas Whitmore (Independence Day), Tim Beck (Deep Impact)…none of those guys are walking thru the door because they are fictional. In real life our politicians are quite flawed, so perhaps we should focus on what they do versus what they say. In the case of President Trump there was 3.5% unemployment before COVID, increased peace in Middle East, two new SCOTUS judges that shifted The Court slightly to the right, increased energy independence, less cumbersome regulation on small businesses, lower taxes, and renegotiated trade agreements more favorable to us. Donald Trump is not a globalist…he always put America first, and we haven’t had a President that did that since Ronald Reagan.

 

3 COVID-19 & #BLM did tremendous damage to his Presidency.

What would a world that never endured the race riots of 2020 or a global pandemic look like?? Aside from the obvious I am pretty sure you’d still be calling Donald Trump “Mr. President”. It’s no surprise that people tired of the chaos that defined 2020. Everyone just wants a bit of tranquility & order back in our lives, and whether you put the blame for everything that has happened in recent years squarely on the shoulders of Trump or actually have critical thinking skills the result is still the same…a perception that something needs to change, and the ballot box affords Americans the opportunity to do that. Could Trump have managed the COVID crisis better?? Perhaps, although it’s pretty easy to play armchair quarterback. Let’s be honest…we’ve all been flying by the seat of our pants with this thing. There is no rule book for something we’ve never faced before, and criticizing after the fact is lazy, although that’s exactly what every talking head on television, radio, & The Internet gets paid to do. Is it fair that Trump took much of the blame for the race riots?? Even if you agree that he is a racist (a spurious accusation at best) I’m not sure how one can pin the death of George Floyd & others on Donald Trump, and those events are what gave rise to the #BLM movement. Either way,  what matters is that both the racial unrest & the pandemic absolutely weakened an otherwise strong term in office for POTUS.

 

2 He was right about The Swamp all along, and that became crystal clear during his final weeks in office.

I’ve been a pro wrestling fan almost my entire life, and there are good guys (faces) & bad guys (heels). One of the most entertaining things in wrestling is a heel turn, especially when someone turns on their tag team partner. That’s exactly what happened in the final few weeks of Trump’s presidency, and I’m not sure why anyone was surprised. After four years of relentlessly going after Trump the media finally painted him into a corner and he became toxic. Politicians don’t stick around in DC or anywhere else for multiple decades by showing loyalty. They have perfected the art of self-preservation and will stab anyone in the back if it means helping themselves. That became clear when they concurrently passed spending bills that sent billions of dollars to foreign entities while barely agreeing to help American citizens with a $600 stimulus check. I’m not familiar with the ins & outs of money laundering, but it is my understanding that much of those foreign aid dollars somehow end up back in the bank accounts of our “leaders” in Washington. That’s nothing new…it’s been happening for decades. It’s a huge reason Donald Trump got elected in the first place…American citizens are fed up, and along comes this guy who isn’t part of it and doesn’t hesitate to call The Swamp out on their BS. That one thing was so huge that half the country was willing to take a deep breath, hold their nose, & vote for an otherwise objectionable candidate. Anyway, the passage of those bills made it quite evident that it doesn’t matter if they are Democrats or Republicans…they’re all crooked weasels who do NOT give a rat’s ass about you & me despite all of their flowery speeches. They are greedy & power hungry. Most of them refused to even acknowledge the possibility of election fraud, and absolutely would not take steps to insure the legitimacy of the results. Nearly all of Trump’s alleged allies turned on him, impeaching him for an unprecedented second time. The Swamp is terrified that he could run again in 2024 & win, although he’d be 78 years old by then and I don’t believe he’d do it, but they’re going to make damn sure of it. Not only that, but the few elected officials who stood with Trump until the bitter end will probably suffer consequences. That’s how The Swamp operates. They are about a half step above the freakin’ Mafia.

 

1 There was rampant election fraud in 2020.

The more the media tells me something is false the more I become convinced it is true (and vice versa). Whether COVID-19 was a convenient crisis Democrats took advantage of or its origins are much more sinister, the fact is it altered how, where, & when many citizens voted. There are just too many stories about people finding out their dead relative or even their dog voted. There were too many instances of states being flipped by the sudden emergence of thousands of votes in the middle of the night after the election. Too many oddities & irregularities to overlook, like alleged racist Trump actually receiving more of the black vote than he did four years ago but somehow losing. That is unheard of. Like the news media that has eliminated all pretense of fairness & impartiality the Democrat Party barely tried to cover their tracks in stealing the White House. They pretty much openly did it then mockingly said “Ha!! Prove it!!”. With the Deep State, mainstream media, power brokers in business & entertainment, and Big Tech giants who are more iniquitous than we could have ever imagined all in lockstep it became quite effortless. If it wasn’t so damn wicked I’d actually applaud the resourcefulness of it all. Unfortunately I have to live with the results and what’s going to happen the next four years. Let’s just say I’m not anticipating anything good.

Points of Ponderation…..Episode 3.21


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

 

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

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

The 2020 Sammy Awards – Part III

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

Favorite TV/Radio Program

 

The World According to Jeff Goldblum

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

 

NFL Redzone

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

 

Cobra Kai

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

 

WWE NXT

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

 

General Hospital

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

 

The Rush Limbaugh Program

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

 

Jeopardy!

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

 

 

 

and The Sammy goes to…

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

The Charles Barkley Role Model Award

 

Alex Trebek

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

The Agony of Defeat Award

 

Antonio Brown

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

 

MLB Sign Stealing Scandal

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

 

Kobe Bryant

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

 

March Sadness

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

 

Bubba’s “Noose”

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

 

 

and The Sammy goes to…

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

Most Significant News Story

 

The Sickness

 

Should there be other nominees?? Perhaps. 2020 saw the President of the United States impeached, months of race riots, a significant change in the Supreme Court, and a Presidential Election. In a normal year any of those could justifiably win this award. But raise your hand if you ever thought you’d be alive to witness a global pandemic. Whether you call it Coronavirus, COVID-19, the China Virus, the Kung Fu Flu, or anything else, the fact is that nothing we have faced in my 40+ years on the planet has affected so many in such a variety of ways. Worldwide two million people have lost their lives, with almost 400k deaths here in America. It has devastated economies, shuttered businesses, and destroyed dreams. It has altered the way we live our daily lives. Masks, social distancing, working from home, distance learning, empty sports stadiums, online church services, curbside pickup at restaurants, and a variety of other things have become the norm as we adapt because that’s what human beings do…we find a way to move forward and live our lives. Whatever you may believe about the origin of the virus, how our leaders handled the crisis, the media’s role in propagating fear, or what the best path may be in the immediate future, the fact is it is real. Like many others I didn’t take it seriously at first, and to be honest I haven’t feared it all that much because I’ve been on the shelf…quarantined in my own odd way…since May 2020. That being said, I know people who have had the virus. I have heard about their battle, and it doesn’t seem fun at all. The good news (maybe) is that a vaccine has arrived, though I will take a raincheck on offering an opinion about that until there is more data. I am hopeful that the day will come when we can all break bread together at a restaurant, greet each other warmly with a handshake or a hug at church, enjoy live music in a crowded venue, and venture out without a mask. When will that be?? I don’t know.

 

 

 

2020

2020

 

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

 

 

 

2019

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sammy Claus Returns!!

A year ago, after a decade of presenting to the masses The Sammy Claus Wish List, there was no Christmas Spirit in The Manoverse. I didn’t realize it at the time, but the malaise I was feeling not only foreshadowed my own personal health issues, it was the precursor to a year most of us will be glad to see come to an end. Things may not be perfect heading into 2021, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel concerning my particular situation, and the rest of the world has reason to be optimistic that lockdowns, social distancing, mask wearing, and other related roadblocks may eventually give way to a return to normalcy. It may not happen overnight, but there is hope, and it is with that sense of positive anticipation that Sammy Claus has decided to resume traditional activities.

To refresh your memory, being Sammy Claus wields no special power. I can only hope that The Big Man at The North Pole has time to surf The Net and read what we publish here, then see fit to grant these wishes. Let’s face it…the past several months haven’t been easy for most of us, but perhaps handing out the suggested gifts to the entities mentioned here could atleast put a smile on some faces and make the world a slightly better place. Aside from all of that though, I sincerely hope The Manoverse never forgets the reason we celebrate Christmas. I am very honest in admitting that my faith has been tested this year, and ashamed to admit that I  too often fail the test. But, as Rocky Balboa once said, “life ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.” Christmas is a much needed reminder of our eternal reason to never give up.

 


COVID-19/Coronavirus – obsolescence
😷

The Pittsburgh Steelers – receivers who can actually catch the damn ball 🏈

Rush Limbaugh – a miracle 🙏🏻

Cardi B – a dry towel & an ounce of class 😳

Social Media “Fact” Checkers – an especially warm spot in the fiery pits of Hell…we all know what’s really going on 🤬

Live Music & Sports – the return of packed venues of raucous & appreciative fans 🎭

Small Business Owners – survival followed by prosperity 💰

Virginia, New York, & Michigan – new Governors 🇺🇸

Essential Employees & Frontline Healthcare Workers – kudos & a big fat raise

👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻

Social Distancing – hugs & kisses 🤗😘

Newspapers & TV News Outlets – truth serum 📺🗞

Vice President Mike Pence – a fly swatter 🪰

The Month of March – Madness (the good kind 🏀)

California – Wasn’t it supposed to fall into the Pacific Ocean decades ago??

Will & Jada Smith – a DVD of Disney’s Tangled 😬

Bill Gates – a medical degree, because that’s the only way anyone with an ounce of common sense will ever listen to the garbage he spews about vaccines 🤦‍♂️

Murder Hornets – death!! 🐝

Mike Tyson – a title fight…come on, y’all know you want to see it!! 🥊

The Constitution – protection from the assault it is about to face the next few years 🙏🏻

Wolfgang Van Halen – much success as he embarks on his own career in the formidable shadow of his legendary late father 🎸

 

 

As always I shall end with the traditional quote from the Rankin-Bass animated classic Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town:

“Lots of unhappiness? Maybe so. But doesn’t Santa take a little bit of that unhappiness away? Doesn’t a smile on Christmas morning scratch out a tear cried on a sadder day? Not much maybe. But what would happen if we all tried to be like Santa and learned to give as only he can give…of ourselves, our talents, our love and our hearts? Maybe we could all learn Santa’s beautiful lesson and maybe there would finally be peace on Earth and good will toward men.”

Hard Covid Christmas

Normally I take pride in having mostly decent taste in various things…music, books, movies, etc. Having said that, we all have our guilty pleasures, right?? For me one such private shame is the 1982 film The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. I attribute my affection to two things: 1) Burt Reynolds, who at the time was the biggest movie star in the world and had starred in other movies I enjoyed like Smokey & The Bandit, Hooper, and The Cannonball Run, and 2) boobs, which were enticing to my pre-pubescent brain. Now y’all know I’m not a fan of country music, but it’s not all bad, and this particular movie had a song called Hard Candy Christmas that became a Top 10 hit for Dolly Parton. For some strange reason (I’ve given up trying to understand my weirdness and just go with it) the song popped into my head recently and I’ve decided it needs a timely parody. Enjoy.

 

 

Hey, maybe I’ll wash my hands

Maybe I’ll cancel plans

Maybe I’ll get in the car

And just sit in the driveway eating a snack

Cause to the office I can’t go back

 

Maybe I’ll sleep real late

I’ll definitely gain some weight

Maybe I’ll just get drunk

I’ll probably eat junk food & binge watch TV

I guess I’ll practice…

 

Social distancing

Lord, it’s like a hard Covid Christmas

I need more info about contact tracing

But still I won’t let

Fauci bring me way down

 

I’ll refrain from panic buying

Lord, it’s like a hard Covid Christmas

I’m barely leaving the house

And when I do

We’ll keep six feet apart

 

Hey, haven’t we flattened the curve

I think big hugs are what we deserve

Maybe I’ll shop on Amazon

Maybe I’ll put my mask on my face

No one wants to be a positive case

 

I’m trying not to get down

But I wish I could leave town

I know I’m not having fun

Maybe I’ll see if I can meet someone online

I guess I’ll stay away…

 

From super spreaders

Lord, it’s like a hard Covid Christmas

Atleast I’ve got some toilet paper

And I’m thankful for

Contactless delivery

 

Thank God I’m asymptomatic

Lord, it’s like a hard Covid Christmas

I’m really sick of quarantine

I never thought I’d live

Thru a global pandemic

It’s Beginning to Look Alot Like Covid

Citizens of The Manoverse may recall that I enjoy a good parody song, and while I’ll never approach the skill level of Weird Al Yankovic or country crooner Ray Stevens there are occasional moments of inspiration. An old axiom says that sometimes we have to laugh to keep from crying, and I have been quite amused by some of the more creative merriment that has grown out of this global pandemic we have been battling since last spring, so much so that I decided to marry that train of thought with my fondness of parody and love of Christmas carols. I don’t assume the end result is all that memorable, but perhaps it will provide a chuckle or two in the midst of a stressful day, which is all I can really ask. Allow me to give a shout out to composer Robert Meredith Willson, who wrote It’s Beginning to Look Alot Like Christmas in 1951, and Perry Como, who sang the most popular rendition. I seek not to steal their idea, only to borrow & pay homage to it.

 

 

It’s beginning to look alot like Covid

Everywhere you can’t go

Take a look at the emergency room, full of doom & gloom

With shortness of breath and runny noses all aflow

 

It’s beginning to look alot like Covid

Locks on every store

And the only sight to see is a view of the street

From your own front door

 

An N95 mask & hazard pay

Are what essential employees want to assist

Toilet paper & hand sanitizer

Top nearly every grocery list

While Mom & Dad can hardly wait for home schooling to desist

 

It’s beginning to look alot like Covid

Everywhere you can’t go

Social distancing is a thing, unless you are protesting

No church, no weddings, no funerals, & no shows

 

It’s beginning to look alot like Covid

Soon a new year will start

But the thing that’ll change the scene is a brand new vaccine

Until then we must remain six feet apart

 

It’s beginning to look a lot like Covid

No crowds anywhere

And the coolest thing will be when each other we can see

Back in the public square

Y’all know what needs cut?? My hair!!

Winning & Musing…Volume 2.20

Greetings sports fans…what a strange year it has been, right?? No March Madness. The Masters, all three Triple Crown horse races, & the Indianapolis 500 postponed. And now, with COVID-19 spiking again, there are serious questions about whether we’re even going to have a football season. I hate all of it, but atleast the whole mess gives us a few things to discuss.

 

 

 

 

Kudos to NASCAR & the PGA for giving us a little bit of entertainment. To be honest I don’t even miss the live crowd when watching a car race, and golf is almost as entertaining without a gallery, except in those moments when someone makes a spectacular shot & there would normally be a roar from the crowd. NASCAR especially has stepped up, altering their schedule to have races on the occasional random weeknight. Perhaps that doesn’t mean anything to anyone else, and maybe a lot of people actually hate it, but in my particular circumstance at the moment I have really appreciated the distraction.

 

 

So I guess Major League Baseball will be playing a 60 game season beginning in a couple of weeks. That’s cool, and I’ll watch (especially if I can manage to find any Pirates games on where I am), but we’ll need to put an asterisk on the 2020 season. I don’t believe whichever teams make the playoffs and whoever ultimately wins The World Series can ever consider those to be legit accomplishments, but I’ll give them credit for doing something to provide us with some much needed entertainment.

 

 

The NBA & NHL had already played a majority of their season when everything shut down, but both leagues will be concluding their seasons with a few additional regular season games and then the playoffs. I’m not even going to dive into the details because I’m not necessarily sure I even understand all of it, but I will opine that the champions in both sports will aleast be more authentic than whatever goes on in baseball.

 

 

Speaking of NASCAR, I understand why they caved to the PC Police about the Confederate flag, and truly I’m kind of tired of all the arguing. I recognize where we are as a nation, and it’s just not a battle those of us opposed to such pandering & virtue signaling are going to win right now. However, I was disgusted with the whole Bubba Wallace/”noose” controversy. Even after the “noose” was discovered to have been a garage door pulley that had been there for years Wallace & the sports media refused to admit the mistake and doubled down on the whole victim angle, which is pathetic. I hope Wallace enjoyed his 15 minutes of fame, because now he’s back to being a mediocre driver who hasn’t actually won anything.

 

 

Strangely enough I don’t even get ESPN where I am right now, but I’m not sure I mind all that much. The last time I was able to tune in they’d essentially abandoned talking about sports and had gone all in on being “woke”, which isn’t why I watch their programs. And now I find out that The Flagship in Bristol is essentially tossing my man Mike Golic aside in favor of a more diverse morning show starring Keyshawn Johnson. Trust me folks…no one was jonesing for Keyshawn Johnson to get more airtime. It’s just another example of how out of touch ESPN has become. Y’all will recall my deep & abiding affection for Mike & Mike and how upset I was when that show ended, but atleast Golic & Wingo was a reasonably entertaining facsimile. Now there will be absolutely no reason to watch ESPN in the morning. Look, I don’t give a damn about a person’s race or ethnicity. If you’re intelligent, entertaining, & good at your job you have an opportunity to earn my fandom. Mike Golic had done that. Mike Greenberg had done that (although he’s far less tolerable without Golic). I’m not a supporter of change for the sake of change. If ESPN had an ounce of sense they’d reboot Mike & Mike, but sadly that doesn’t seem to be their plan.

Points of Ponderation…..Episode 2.20

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

 

 

 

I’ve remained largely silent about COVID-19/Coronavirus and related controversies for many reasons, the most significant of which is both sides usually make some valid points and it’d be futile for me to make anyone angry. The virus is undoubtedly very real, but I also believe it has been overhyped by the media. I’m not sure whether wearing a mask helps all that much, but it does seem like a rather minor ask if in fact it does some good. On the other hand, I understand the thought process about government overreach & infringement of rights. There is no question that it’s a slippery slope, and we seem to be at a critical juncture in our nation’s history. We began to open things up again only to see the number of positive cases spike. Having said that, I’m pretty sure we achieved the goal of “flattening the curve”, and continue to believe that the casualty rate is extremely small…the vast majority of people who contract the virus recover just fine in a couple of weeks. Of course the media will always focus on the saddest outcomes, and in our humanity we understandably don’t want to see one single death that may have been prevented. People are worried about jobs, closure of small businesses, & the economy, but those things feel inconsequential when compared to human life. I don’t know the right answers to any of it, which is why I choose not to involve myself in pointless social media scrums. I have friends with a variety of opinions who I respect & admire, and the truth is that all of this is new for us. We’re just doing the best we can trying to navigate choppy waters while maintaining some semblance of normalcy, and I am willing to extend a certain level of mercy in the midst of it.

 

I recently watched Hamilton, and it lives up to the hype. It’s a unique spin on history, with fantastic performances and beguiling music. Kudos to the folks at Disney+ and whoever else was involved in bringing the show into our homes.

 

 

Five months ago, in the last episode of PoP, I touched on loneliness & communication, and right now that all feels a little bit prescient. I currently find myself going thru another medical crisis, residing somewhere awful and too far from home. I might be here for months, which would be somewhat more tolerable if people who allegedly care about me actually showed it. I told myself the ordeal would be easier this time with smart phones, texting, Facebook Messenger, etc., but to be honest a little over a month into it I can count on one hand the number of folks outside my immediate family who have made any kind of genuine effort to stay in touch. And no, “Get Well” greeting cards don’t count…they’re lazy & outdated. Look, I don’t want pity, and I don’t expect anyone to put their lives on hold for me. Is it difficult to look at social media and see everyone else out enjoying their lives, having fun, going places, and basking in the beautiful sunshine?? Well…yeah, but that’s nobody’s fault. I don’t want anyone else to be miserable. Mark Twain once said “the best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up”, and I understand the sentiment…but I’m not there yet. One of my favorite movies is Field of Dreams, and near the end of that film the main character says “I did it all. I did what they told me, and not once did I ask what’s in it for me! But now I’m asking what’s in it for me?”. That’s where I am right now. Eventually I’ll physically heal, but I think the mental & emotional scars may last a lot longer, and I’ll remember just how few people reached out, although perhaps my loneliness isn’t necessarily a product of where I am physically afterall.

 

 

 

 

A few thoughts about #BlackLivesMatter…..

  • I have…evolved…on my opinion of the retort #AllLivesMatter. I get it. I understand that such a reply comes across as dismissive. I saw several very good explanations online that clarified it quite well, my favorite being the idea of going to a doctor for a broken arm and they say “all bones matter”. Well, yeah…of course all bones matter, but right now can we focus on the one that’s hurting. Point taken.
  • Having said that, I am not in favor of looting, rioting, & criminal behavior. I feel like there are a lot of well-intentioned people in the #BlackLivesMatter movement whose legit concerns have been hijacked by people just looking to cause chaos & score free stuff, and that’s a shame.
  • While what happened to George Floyd (which sparked all of this insanity) is undeniably tragic, I think political commentator Candace Owens made a salient point: Floyd is probably the wrong person for African-Americans to make a martyr for their genuine issues. I’m not saying his death was right, and I have no doubt justice will be served. However, putting a career criminal who didn’t exactly represent his race all that well on a pedestal seems like it hurts the cause rather than helps it. I was personally offended watching “Reverend” Al Sharpton & thousands of others turn Floyd’s funeral into a televised spectacle, having personally known other families who weren’t allowed to have any kind of visitation after their loved ones recently passed.
  • Speaking of double standards, it also upsets me tremendously that most Americans are expected to practice “social distancing”, aren’t allowed to gather at churches, ballgames, or movie theaters without restrictions, and are constantly admonished about wearing a mask, but “protesters” get a free pass. The hypocrisy is staggering.
  • I’m not a fan of removing monuments & statues, but I am open-minded enough to have an intelligent discussion about it. You honestly have a real opportunity to change my perspective in some cases. However, what I’ll never agree with is the mob mentality of a bunch of people deciding to get together in the dark of night and deface or destroy such structures. Let’s move thru the proper channels and have the citizenry decide each situation in their own town. That’s democracy, and it can be beautiful. When statues of Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, & Frederick Douglass are defaced it lends credence to the idea that all of this isn’t really about black lives anymore.