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.”

What Is Understood Need Not Be Discussed

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

from the home office in Amsterdam, Netherlands…..

 

 

The (Supersized) Superfluous 7 Favorite Van Halen Songs:

 

 

Roth Era

Jump

Panama

Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love

I’ll Wait

Dance the Night Away

Unchained

You Really Got Me

 

Hagar Era

Best of Both Worlds

Dreams

5150

When It’s Love

Not Enough

Take Me Back (Deja Vu)

Why Can’t This Be Love

 

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.

 

 

 

Random Factoids, Or Getting To Know The Godfather of Cyberspace

I am not normally one to follow the crowd, but this seemed like a fun little challenge. It’s been a meme on Facebook for years, but my buddy Slack was my true inspiration. I’ve chosen 38 because that’s my age. This stuff may be interesting to only me, but maybe…just maybe…citizens of The Manoverse will enjoy getting to know your humble Potentate of Profundity just a little better.

 

 

 

1          I’ve never been to the beach or flown in an airplane. I hope to do both sometime relatively soon.

2          My guilty pleasures: Dancing with the Stars, professional wrestling, American Idol, and soap operas.


3          I went to a Starbucks once. That same day I rented videos from Blockbuster. I’ve never been back to either establishment. Just because something is expensive doesn’t mean it’s good.


4          In 1977 I became the first “mainstreamed” handicap child in my county. However, the powers-that-be still made me attend both a “normal” kindergarten and a class for “special” children. On the 2nd day at the “special” school the teacher called to tell my Mom that I was not mentally impaired, to which my Mom replied “I know that, but try convincing the Board of Education”. Not only was I not impaired but a few years later I was found to be gifted. Unfortunately I’ve gotten dumber over the years.

5          My initials are my name – S A M

6          I rarely wear long sleeves, even in winter…except for dress shirts. Short sleeve dress shirts look tacky.

7          Both my father and a teacher in junior high told me I should be a writer. I regret not listening to them and following that path professionally, although I suppose The Manofesto is some small morsel of redemption.


8          I liked both incarnations of Van Halen, with David Lee Roth and Sammy Hagar. I don’t really count the brief Gary Cherone era.

9          Zippers frustrate me.

10       I played trombone in the band from 6th thru 12th grades. I sold my instrument 2 weeks after graduating. I wanted to play trumpet at first, but because I am sitting down all the time in a wheelchair I couldn’t really get enough wind going, so my grade school band instructor suggested trombone. It was fun, but it’s not exactly a party instrument.

11       I know very little about cars except how to drive one, and I’m not especially good at that.

12       I was once defeated in billiards by a man who was legally blind. Seriously.


13       My preferred liquor of choice was always vodka. I was never one to drink anything straight, and fruity drinks like screwdrivers or sex-on-the-beach were more my style. I am a beer snob as well…no Bud Light or Coors for this guy. However, these days I can usually be found partaking of an ice cold glass of milk, a bottle of water, or a tall glass of iced tea.


14       I sang in two talent shows in grade school. In 2nd or 3rd grade (I don’t recall exactly which year) I sang Sandy from the Grease soundtrack. In 4th or 5th grade (that fuzzy memory again) I sang Love in the First Degree by country supergroup Alabama. I didn’t win either time…atleast I don’t recall if I did.

15       I rarely wear white because I inevitably spill something on it.

16       I was ambidextrous as a child but had a teacher that “broke me” of it, as if it were a bad habit like sniffing glue or watching Pauley Shore movies. I am now right handed.


17       The infomercial for SlapChop is hysterically funny to me.


18       I really love fantasy football. Fantasy baseball…not so much.

19       I never learned how to swim or whistle.

20       I don’t particularly care for coconut or sprinkles.

21       In college I took a Shakespeare class and really rather enjoyed it. Surprisingly I found it much more interesting than my Psychology of Sex class.

22       I own a Kindle, but I still prefer the feel of a good old-fashioned book in my hand.

23       Coffee doesn’t really keep me awake.

24       I adore everything about Christmas…the lights, the music, the movies, the smells, the food, the familial togetherness, the wistful nostalgia that makes me want to be a kid again, and of course, the fact that my Lord & Savior was born and eventually died and rose again to wash away my sin.


25       My paternal great grandparents…my grandfather’s parents…both came to West Virginia separately from San Giovanni i Fiore in Calabria, Italy in the early 1900’s. There is a rumor that my great grandfather killed a man in New York before coming to WV, but nobody knows for sure.


26       Thunderstorms scared the daylights out of me as a child, but now I rather enjoy them.

27       I have had 27 surgical procedures. The first when I was a newborn, the latest when I was 35 years old. Oddly enough I still have my tonsils though.

28       Inevitably after surgery I was placed on a liquid or semi-liquid diet. To this day I don’t really like popsicles or sherbet because they bring back bad hospital memories.

29       The best concerts I have ever seen: Boston at Star Lake Amphitheater in Pittsburgh, Van Halen at the Charleston (WV) Civic Center, REO Speedwagon at the Huntington (WV) Regatta, The Eagles at Polaris Amphitheater in Columbus, OH, and Kansas at the Veterans Memorial Amphitheater in Clarksburg, WV.

30       Grapes and grape products cause me…intestinal issues, as does anything with heat, i.e. peppers, hot sauce, cayenne pepper, etc.

31       I have a strange fascination with pens and office products.

32         Movies I have never seen: Citizen Kane, 2/3 of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, On the Waterfront, Schindler’s List, The Matrix, The Big Lebowski, and the Indiana Jones series.

33       I have an irrational dislike of the number 3 and its multiples.


34       My two dream vacations are Las Vegas and Italy. I once had a “Christian” friend say to me that “I don’t know if I’d want to be walking down The Strip in Vegas when Jesus returns”. He & I don’t talk anymore, because I may want to see Wayne Newton and The Fountains at Bellagio, but atleast I have never…well, you know what…never mind. Let’s just say I know my strengths & weaknesses, and I am quite comfortable with my choice of potential leisure destinations.


35       I am not a huge fan of most seafood, but I dig sushi.

36       Speaking of which, fishing bores me, as do video games.

37       When writing anything in the form of a question I use double question marks. It’s just my thing.

38       Little things that make me smile: Snuggling with my puppy…he’s so soft, warm, and cuddly. A glass of iced tea & a gentle breeze on a warm summer day. A big win by my favorite teams – Pittsburgh Steelers, Marshall Thundering Herd, & WV Mountaineers. The aroma of Italian food. A really restful night’s sleep, even if I have my usual Wacky Dreams. Puns. Getting really into a fun & interesting book. People who do funny spot-on impressions. Deep philosophical discussions with my brother The Owl. Anything with BBQ sauce. Nascar night races. What my pal Marc calls “sippin’ music”, i.e simple, stripped down jazz or blues without a lot of extra effects. When it’s still daylight at 8pm. Trivia. Laughter, whether it is my own or someone else’s. Dessert. Nakey Time at The Bachelor Palace…even if I’m alone (which is always). Taking a really good picture. A woman with a beautiful smile, regardless of whether or not she knows I exist (she usually doesn’t). Watching golf on TV, especially the final round of a major. Getting a haircut. Popcorn & chocolate covered peanuts while watching a movie in the theater. When a really kickass song comes on the radio while I’m driving.