The State of The Manofesto 2013

As a new year dawns it is once again time to take stock of things here at The Manofesto and make some plans for the future, or atleast the next several months.

 

2012 was a good year. I achieved some internal goals in relation to the site, and even more importantly I have found that I have an increasing hunger to write. Sometimes I’ll be at church or out running errands and just can’t wait to get home to write. That’s not to say that I Still-Life-With-Inkwell,-Quill-And-Bookscouldn’t be more productive or don’t endure funky little lulls where the words just aren’t coming to me, but I have found that those moods have evened out a bit more and inspiration flows more steadily now, rather than seizing me like some sort of fit of insanity only to be followed by weeks or months of malaise. I am fortunate enough to have a job where oftentimes I have time to write, which is a fringe benefit I am in a unique position to appreciate.

 

I have been pleased with several of the things we’ve gotten done here in the past year, but better things are on the horizon.

 

football-introducing-the-science_1The Pigskin Picks of Profundity were a lot of fun to do, even if my career in the prognostication arts won’t ever make anyone in Vegas quake in their boots. In the classic sports film Tin Cup Costner’s characters says that “sex and golf are the two things you can enjoy even if you’re not good at them”, but I would argue that picking football games could legitimately be thrown into that mix as well. Next season the tentative plan is for my eldest nephew Zach to join me in a slightly altered, Siskel & Ebert-esque version of the PPP’s. I have no doubt he’ll smoke me like a Virginia country ham. We’ll also get back on track with the Winning & Musing feature, which has sort of been put on the backburner during football season because this site is supposed to be an eclectic cornucopia of ponderation and not specifically sports-centric.

 

Thinking_ManIn the “everything old is new again” department I have decided to bring back two old favorites. A couple of years ago I discontinued Random Thoughts, choosing to exclusively utilize Twitter for pithy contemplations of life. However, I have found that sometimes 140 characters just doesn’t cut it. There are times when I have something more to say, yet not enough to warrant a standalone entry. So I think what I would like to do is have a regular feature where I pontificate on various minutiae. The details are not concrete at the moment, but I’ll work it out soon. Do I have enough discipline to commit to a consistently scheduled column?? A year ago I would have leaned toward “no”, but I kept up with the football picks pretty good so I think I can expand upon that. Secondly, a feature that I quickly canned when I brought The Manofesto to WordPress from MySpace a few years ago was the Person of the Month. Again, at the time I just didn’t have the focus to maintain such an obligation, but I am confident it won’t be a problem now. It is likely that we’ll actually do two persons of the month…a good & a bad, or in pro wrestling parlance a face & a heel. I’ll have it all figured out by the end of January.

 

Back in November the Presidential election really kicked me in the gut. I was quite despondent for a few days and pretty much ready to throw in the towel. I’ll even admit that my faith in God was shaken. We all know that the Jews…aka Israel…are God’s chosen people, but let’s face it…we Americans have always fancied ourselves His special silver medalists. After the events of November 6, 2012 I am not so sure that is the case anymore. While I still believe that each of us can have a relationship with Him on an individual basis if we so choose, it is clear to me that God has lost His patience with our nation and has decided that if we want to head down the wrong path then far be it for Him to stop our descent.cross-and-flag And really, who can blame Him?? The United States began to marginalize God and push Him out of various aspects of life a half century ago, so we deserve everything we get. But, though The Great Experiment may have finally crashed & burned, life goes on and we just have to re-adjust our focus and pick & choose our battles. That being said, don’t expect to see much of anything political here for the time being. I have been refraining from posting political stuff on Facebook & Twitter as much as possible and don’t really have any desire to write about such things here. I had already backed off a bit for most of 2012, but now I think a wise strategy is wholesale retreat. I still retain my beliefs, but am well aware that I am a combustible engine in a hybrid world. If the majority of the country wants to engage in class warfare, yield to economic mediocrity, embrace “alternative” (i.e. abhorrent) lifestyles, sacrifice traditional values & American exceptionalism, and spend their lives with their hands out expecting Big Government to hold them gently & whisper softly in their collective ear that everything is going to be just fine then hey, who am I to argue?? I’ll still get up every day, go to work, enjoy my life as much as possible, and write thought-provoking pieces at The Manofesto…..just not about sociopolitical topics.

 

Speaking of God…

I did make my triumphant return to church last spring after a one year absence. I have embraced it as the social gathering that it has become and enjoy it on that level. If some spiritual enlightening trickles down in the process it is a lovely but unexpected bonus. The duty of developing a relationship with Jesus Christ is on me, not a bunch of very nice people who nevertheless pretend to be something A Bible studythey aren’t for a couple of hours every Sunday morning. As a matter of fact, I need to stop being one of those lukewarm dabblers myself. Having said that, I am fully aware that a year ago I stated that I was going to begin a Bible study here at The Manofesto and have not followed thru. I have been on the cusp of a breakthrough with that particular task on multiple occasions but for some reason the inspiration never fully materializes. I think the idea is of sufficient significance that it is worth waiting on God’s green light and not forcing the issue, but my intention is to get the ball rolling in 2013. We will also continue with both the Sermon on the Mount & Fruits of the Spirit series, both of which I have neglected.

 

The other primary focus here in 2013 will likely be The Bookshelf. My apartment is filled with books that I have either never read, half read, or would need to read again in order to intelligently express an opinion here because it has been far too long since I originally read them. Right now the plan is to concentrate on three authors: Shakespeare, Twain, and Dickens, all of whom I enjoy immensely. Since I genuinely believe that Shakespeare is best experienced in a live performance rather than in a william-shakespearebook, and since I live in a town whose idea of comedy is Honey 353L12408_6M43ZBoo-Boo and tragedy is when the last pack of cigarettes in a carton is gone, my plan is to find the best possible performance of each play on video and watch it in conjunction with reading the play. As with all of my other long term projects I may not finish until I am old, grey, & arthritic, but I’ll get there eventually. In addition to those three authors I am sure there will be a smattering of others…a little Bradbury, maybe some Steinbeck, and possibly even some Faulkner, Heinlein, or more Stephen King. I have some biographies & non-fiction books that might be worth writing about too. I am also going to dive into James Bond. I must admit that I have never watched a single one of the nearly 2 dozen Bond films, but not long ago I ran across a set of the original Ian Fleming books on eBay for a terrific price and snapped them up. I think they’ll be a nice little diversion from the tedium of the daily grind.

 

cropped-eaglecleanlogo.gifAs always these plans are subject to change, but I am pretty comfortable with the blueprint I have in my head. I would really love to see The Manoverse experience some significant growth this year and know that the first order of business in meeting those expectations is to provide a reason for people to want to come here to spend a few minutes of their browsing time each day. Folks are busy…jobs, kids, social obligations, etc. But I know that most people spend atleast a little while online on a daily basis decompressing from the pressure cooker, and I would love it if The Manofesto became a favorite destination for anyone looking to chill out & maybe learn something interesting at the same time.

 

 

 

 

The Sammy Awards 2012 – Part 4: The Final Crusade of the Temple of the Lost Skull

Resin-Trophies-1348257350204After a brief delay we are pleased to welcome you to the thrilling conclusion of the 2012 Sammy Awards. If you have not yet done so please check out Part1, Part 2, and Part 3 before proceeding.

 

 

To present our next award The Manofesto is happy to bring together the cast of The Hangover The-Hangover_Justin-Bartha_tux.bmp1_Trilogy (The Hangover Part III will be coming to your local Cineplex this May). Please welcome Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifinakis, Ed Helms, & Justin Bartha. And the nominees are:

 

 

Best Movie

 

Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln…the 16th President of the United States for those of you in the southern reaches of Appalachia who’ve never been out of the holler but do inexplicably read The Manofesto…is generally considered by both Democrats & Republicans as one of our greatest leaders. It’s one of the few things both sides of the aisle can agree on these days. He was martyred, ended slavery, had that whole Civil War thing…what’s not to love?? This particular offering from Steven Spielberg is a modest, solicitous look at the last few months of President Lincoln’s life when his steadfast focus was on passage of the 13th Amendment, which outlawed slavery. I have more than a passing interest in politics (although I certainly wouldn’t describe myself as a political junkie) so I didn’t have any issues following the tale, but it is unlikely that this is a film that will appeal to everyone. So be it. Daniel Day-Lewis is remarkable in the titular role and should have another Oscar nomination coming his way soon. Sally Field & Tommy Lee Jones are as solid as we’ve come to expect them to be in whatever they are in, and I have to give kudos to known leftist Spielberg for not inserting any kind of offensive bias into the proceedings. Lincoln is what I describe as a quiet film, meaning that it isn’t abounding in special effects, gunfire, explosions, & violence. There is a story, there is dialogue, and there is good acting. It is simplicity at its best. Most chefs will tell you that a fine cut of meat is usually flavorful enough to be enjoyed on its own, without being bathed in sauces or marinades. The same goes for movies. I have a robust predilection for quiet movies. Your mileage may vary.

 

Rise of the Guardians

I used to think that animated films were for strictly for children and the parents that felt obliged to take their crumb crunchers to see them. However, in the past several years, with movies like the Toy Story trilogy, The Polar Express, and the Shrek series my opinion has evolved, and so I was excited to see this story about Santa Claus, The Easter Bunny, The Sandman, and The Tooth Fairy recruiting Jack Frost to help them save the world from The Boogeyman. I’m not sure why Alec Baldwin uses an eastern European accent for Santa, but strangely enough it works. Santa also has tattoos, which is weird. Anyway, the story basically takes some of our beloved childhood fairy tale characters and turns them into ass kickin’ superheroes, a premise that I’d normally crap all over. However, like Santa’s strange accent, I mysteriously didn’t hate the idea. There is some subtle commentary about childhood, dreams, fear, and feeling invisible, but that is something that is probably only noticeable to geeks like me. For the target audience this is just a rollicking good time and there isn’t a thing wrong with that.

 

Joyful Noise

Call me old-fashioned, but I prefer to sing hymns in church rather than Michael Jackson or Wings cover tunes. That unfashionable attitude initially made me resistant to this story about a small town church choir trying to win a big time “gospel” music competition. You see, all of my life I have attended the same country church that I grew up just down the road from, and that has understandably framed my outlook on what a church should be. But eventually I decided to give this one a whirl, and I was satisfied with the outcome. Dolly Parton has starred in a few solidly entertaining films over the years, from Best Little Whorehouse in Texas to Steel Magnolias to 9 to 5, and she does her thing here acceptably well. Queen Latifah has never really frosted my cupcake, but I suppose she’s alright. The body count is a little too high for a romantic dramedy, which weirded me out just a bit. I really liked the other two leads…a luminescent Keke Palmer as Latifah’s daughter & newcomer Jeremy Jordan as Parton’s grandson. The music is cool even if it’s not really church music. Joyful Noise isn’t going to win any awards, but even a flawed film can be entertaining.

 

The Dark Knight Rises

I have not been a big fan of director Christopher Nolan’s vision for Batman. It’s too gritty & lifelike for my entertainment palate. Batman is a comic book creation so I prefer a film that reflects that. Tim Burton’s Batman movies, in my humble opinion, struck the right balance between the dark tone of the comics and the expectations we have of a superhero movie. The first movie in this trilogy was a decent enough origin story while the second was dominated by Heath Ledger’s manic portrayal of The Joker and the effusive praise that performance received in the wake of the young actor’s untimely demise. In this case though the third time is the charm, and I have to give Nolan & company credit for getting it done right and in style. This is the very definition of epic, with a complex storyline, interesting characters, intriguing plot twists, and just enough action to keep things moving. Michael Caine is exquisite as Bruce Wayne’s butler Alfred, and Gary Oldman is a strong, resolute Commissioner Gordon. Michael Keaton & Adam West are still my favorite Caped Crusaders and Christian Bale does nothing to alter that perspective here, but like a pedestrian quarterback on a team with a great defense Bale doesn’t have to singlehandedly win the game…his duty is simply to not screw it up. Bane is far from the most memorable villain in Gotham City’s rogue’s gallery, but I understand why he was chosen for this particular story. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts here, and it all comes together in a thrilling conclusion that crescendos nicely. I assume someone else will come along down the road, reboot the whole thing, and take it in a completely different direction, but Nolan lays the groundwork for what could be a captivating continuation or a slight detour with Nightwing as the central figure.

 

The Hunger Games

I really liked the Hunger Games trilogy of books, but I mentioned in my review of them that “I am looking forward to the movies because I believe they were the intended end game all along. I have a feeling that the Hunger Games movies will surpass the books’ achievements.” After seeing the first movie I am ready to backtrack on that statement ever so slightly. As most citizens of The Manoverse know, it is my belief that the book is almost always better than the movie, and in hindsight I think I was shortchanging these books. That being said this is still a fine movie. The powers-that-be nailed it when they chose Jennifer Lawrence to portray heroine Katniss Everdeen, and I really liked Woody Harrelson as deeper-than-you think drunkard Haymitch Abernathy. The movie follows the book pretty closely and there are very few significant alterations or omissions. Some of the choices the director made were interesting. This could have been a typical balls-to-the-wall action flick, but the filmmakers show an incredible amount of restraint, choosing gritty minimalism over CGI excess, which is admirable. I didn’t love some of the shaky, documentary style camera work, but that annoyance seems to dissipate as the story picks up steam. Overall the movie leaves a good impression. Whether or not it is a lasting one remains to be seen.

 

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

I absolutely love JRR Tolkien’s classic book The Hobbit, a prequel to the more acclaimed Lord of the Rings trilogy. It is one of my favorites, which is why I was simultaneously thrilled & apprehensive about it getting the big screen treatment. My concern increased when the auteur of the Rings trilogy of movies, Peter Jackson, decided that he’d direct The Hobbit as well and make another trilogy. You see, whereas Lord of the Rings really is three books therefore making three movies a logical choice, taking one book like The Hobbit and making it into three films seems more than excessive. In addition, tonally The Hobbit is vastly different than Lord of the Rings. The Hobbit is lighthearted, whimsical, and…accessible. Lord of the Rings is darker & quite the marathon. This is a movie that would have benefitted tremendously from a different perspective. However, there’s no use crying over spilt milk and at the end of the day what we ended up with is pretty darn good. Martin Freeman is the perfect choice to portray Bilbo Baggins, and anyone who liked the Rings movies should like The Hobbit.

 

Dark Shadows

Gothic soap opera Dark Shadows aired in the late 60’s before I was even a gleam in my father’s eye, so I came into this experience with no expectations and no preconceived notions. I’m a sucker for funny “fish out of water” stories, so I appreciated the humorous idea of an 18th century vampire being revived in the 1970’s. Johnny Depp is clearly having fun playing the role and it is all quite campy. I suppose this would be classified as a dark comedy, although my own personal preference would have been for the comedic aspect to be ramped up just a bit.

 

 

Trouble with the Curve

It’s been quite the year for Clint Eastwood. Everyone was talking about his appearance…one way or the other…at the Republican National Convention. He was in a Super Bowl commercial that stirred the pot a bit. He’s hosting the 2012 Sammy Awards. And he also found the time to star in a movie since that is primarily what he is known for. Curve is an inconspicuous little baseball flick about an aging scout who eschews modern technology & that new fandangled sabermetrics stuff in favor of good old-fashioned instinct & legwork. The suits in charge of the ball club are starting to question whether or not Gus (the name given to most old codgers in movies) still has the knack, and his job is on the line in evaluating a power hitting outfielder who might be the next big thing. There is some family melodrama too in the form of Gus’s daughter, a hotshot attorney whose relationship with her father is strained for no particular reason. When she discovers that Gus’s job is in jeopardy and that he is suffering from macular degeneration she puts her own career on hold to go on the road with the old man. Oh yeah…there is some romance thrown into the mix too when a young scout played by Justin Timberlake pursues the daughter. Eastwood is the go-to guy for crusty curmudgeon roles and there is a good reason for that…he’s great at doing them. Timberlake has become one of my favorite supporting actors and Amy Adams as the daughter is tough yet vulnerable, sweet but also benignly sexy. Is Trouble with the Curve a great movie?? Ehhh…probably not. But it’s not a bad way to spend a couple of hours.

 

Friends With Kids

You might have missed this one. If so it’s worth a rental. The story centers around two single 30-somethings who have witnessed their other friends get married, have children, and become absolutely miserable. Their solution?? Make a baby without all the relationship drama. They do just that, and even though all their married pals predict utter disaster the twosome defies the odds and their lives move along smoothly & happily…for awhile. Of course we see where this is headed because we’ve seen it before. But even though there is never any doubt about how the story ends the journey in getting there is fun & interesting. There are no big stars here, just good writing and an unblinking confrontation with the realities of marriage, kids, and the inherent despair those things oftentimes seem to create in modern America.

 

Hope Springs

If I am a Hollywood suit and someone pitches me an idea that’ll star Tommy Lee Jones & Meryl Streep there is a good chance I’d give the green light based solely on the casting. The legendary duo play Kay & Arnold, an aging married couple who have settled into a boring routine that makes my life look like an episode of 24. They even sleep in separate rooms. Kay enrolls them in a weeklong intensive marriage counseling course in Maine. Arnold thinks their life is just dandy and does not want to go, but eventually he acquiesces, proving that there is an old softy who does actually love his wife buried deep inside all those layers of stolid granite. Playing the couple’s therapist is funnyman Steve Carell, who employs a soft monotone straight out of that old SNL NPR parody The Delicious Dish. That works great here because it leaves Streep & Jones in the spotlight to do that thing they do. The doctor’s prescribed solution to their problem is for them to have sex, which seems a bit simplistic to me, but what do I know?? Needless to say the couple eventually works thru whatever the issues are and reconnect so that we get our happy ending. This is one of those stories that might have been a complete snoozefest without the right cast, but in the hands of craftsmen like Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones it becomes a thought-provoking look into the tedium of marriage. I am probably not the target audience for this film, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

 

This Is Forty

You may recall the 2007 rom-com Knocked Up in which slovenly funnyman Seth Rogen hooks up with the beautiful (and she knows it) Katherine Heigl. In that film Leslie Mann & Paul Rudd play Debbie & Pete, the sister & brother-in-law of Heigl’s character. This is a spinoff in which Debbie & Pete take center stage as a constantly bickering couple dealing with job pressures, financial problems, bratty kids, and latent Daddy issues. I love Paul Rudd. He steals just about every movie he is in and I am glad to see him given the opportunity to carry a film (although admittedly that didn’t work out so well in 2009’s I Love You, Man). I also dig writer/director/producer Judd Apatow, who is curiously morphing into this generation’s John Hughes right before our very eyes. I am not married nor do I have children but, even though I am sure most couples don’t fight constantly like this pair, I am just as sure that there are some truths in the story that lots of folks will recognize and smile knowingly. Kudos must be given to Albert Brooks, an underrated comic gem whose presence here as Rudd’s father adds a much needed respite from the bickering. This film is superior to its predecessor, although it is an unfair comparison on many levels.

 

 

People Like Us

Chris Pine has the potential to become one of my favorite actors. He achieved the impossible in 2009…took over the role of Captain James Tiberius Kirk from William Shatner in a Star Trek reboot that not even noted Trekkie & cantankerous critic of pop culture The Owl could bring himself to dislike. I’ve seen him in a few other TV shows & movies, but he is just now becoming a star. In this interesting character study Pine plays a down-on-his-luck corporate barterer (whatever that is) named Sam whose estranged father dies. Upon going home for the funeral Sam is given a wad of cash ($150K) to deliver to a person he’s never heard of. Since he really really really needs the money and his father left him absolutely nothing he is tempted to just skip town and not find the mysterious person to whom dear old Dad bequeathed such an inheritance, but curiosity gets the better of him. I don’t think it’s a major spoiler to reveal that the person in question ends up being Sam’s sister, a single mother who is struggling even worse than he is. He doesn’t come straight out & tell her who he is for various reasons, but they form a bond and he also gets to know his nephew. There’s no action, no gun battles, no car chases. This is another quiet movie…a story about people, relationships, motivation, secrets, and lies. It is well written and the performances by Pine, Elizabeth Banks, and Michelle Pfeiffer (who is apparently eligible to play hot grandmas now) are understatedly pleasant. It’s not going to win any critical acclaim, but I liked it and in The Manoverse that’s all that matters.

 

And the Sammy goes to…..

 

 

The Dark Knight Rises. I may not have cared for the first two films in Nolan’s Batman trilogy, but the final installment is too good to overlook. To compare this movie to your typical 21st century action flick (Transformers, Fast & Furious, anything starring Tom Cruise or Will Smith) is like comparing foie gras to Vienna sausages. Batman here is akin to the shark in Jaws in that we really don’t see all that much of him (we see much more of Bruce Wayne), but that minimalist approach is utilized to great effect. The story starts out a little slow before building to a stirring climax, which I dark_knight_logorealize may not be cool with a lot of modern viewers. So many movies offer balls-to-the-wall action from the opening credits to the final scene that it has become what people are used to and what they expect. This is a movie that takes time to tell a story, to offer a plot with layers and intricate context, to develop characters and relationships…all things that I wholeheartedly embrace. The fight scene between Batman & Bane that so many fans of the comics have been salivating about in anticipation plays out differently than what one might expect. It is raw & physical, not some elaborate effects laden dance sequence. Three plot twists at the end…Bruce Wayne’s fate, the identity of the real villain behind all the mayhem, and the reveal of the possible future of the franchise…are well done and probably clinched this award. The ending of a movie is always important, and the last 15 minutes or so of this one is sensational.

 

 

To present the final award of the evening it is truly a privilege to bring to The Manoverse the 43rd6a00d8341c630a53ef0133ed0512cc970b-600wi (111x237) President of the United States and his lovely First Lady. Please give a rousing ovation to George W. & Laura Bush. And the nominees are:

 

 

 

Biggest News Story

 

Presidential Election

On November 6, 2012 we elected a President of the United States. You may have heard a thing or two about it. From the hotly contested yet kind of boring Republican primary season thru the national conventions in the summer to the general election process this was a story that dominated headlines pretty much on a daily basis.

 

Trayvon Martin Shooting

Back in February 17 year old Martin was shot & killed while visiting a gated community near Orlando, FL. The gunman was a young man named George Zimmerman who was part of the community’s neighborhood watch program. Zimmerman claims that Martin looked suspicious and that after he had contacted law enforcement the teenager attacked him which is why he shot him in self-defense. The fact that Martin was a young black man stirred the pot and took the story from just another shooting to a national firestorm. Was Martin an innocent teenager in the wrong place at the wrong time, or was he a juvenile delinquent who was out to cause trouble?? Is Mr. Zimmerman a dirty racist murderer or just an overzealous cop wannabe who became cornered by a thug and did what he had to do to protect himself?? We might not ever know the real story, but we’ll hear about all this again when Martin goes on trial this coming summer.

 

Unemployment

The unemployment rate was right around 7.5% when President Obama took office four years ago. At the beginning of 2012 it was up over 8%. This is in comparison to the 4.5-5% rate for the majority of the George W. Bush years. And we don’t even know if the number is accurate because there are so many people that have just completely given up looking for a job. One must also take into consideration how many people are employed but making a paltry wage in the $7-9/hr. range, which is certainly not enough to properly take care of a family or achieve any goals other than the next meal. It doesn’t seem to matter to a lot of folks these days though because Big Government will take care of them, which of course makes a lot of the politicians happy because it’ll keep them in power. Oh what a tangled web we weave.

 

The Death of Whitney Houston

On February 11 the world was saddened (although not shocked) to learn of the untimely passing of pop superstar Whitney Houston, who was found dead in a bathtub at a Beverly Hills hotel. I loved Whitney Houston when I was 14 years old. She was one of my first celebrity crushes. She was gorgeous & had a set of pipes that would melt even the iciest of hearts. Unfortunately she got hooked up with that jackass Bobby Brown and the two of them became just another clichéd Hollywood joke. Like so many people in modern America Houston became addicted to drugs, and apparently despite public proclamations to the contrary she never completely defeated those demons. How very tragic.

 

Supreme Court’s Mixed Ruling on Arizona Immigration Law

Controversy has been brewing in Arizona for a couple of years due to the passage there of a law designed to limit illegal immigration. Without delving into boring details let’s just say that the law imposed tough restrictions, requirements, & penalties on illegal immigrants. Almost immediately there were accusations from liberals that the law was nothing more than racial profiling and that it was unconstitutional. Queue The Supreme Court, who ruled this past June that the part of the law in which law enforcement can check on the immigration status of a detainee if they deem it necessary is okay, but struck down a large chunk of the law related to requiring individuals having to have documentation of their immigration status with them at all times and allowing police officers to randomly ask people to show such paperwork.

 

Facebook IPO Epic Fail

You have a Facebook page. I have a Facebook page. Most everyone not going to dinner at 4pm and telling troublesome neighborhood youths to get off their damn lawn probably has a Facebook page. That’s why the company going public seemed like such a slam dunk. I actually pondered the idea of pooling some cash with some friends and buying a few shares just for fun. In hindsight I am glad we didn’t go thru with the idea. Back in November Facebook began trading publicly on NASDAQ with much anticipation. The first day was disappointing but still successful. But over the next few weeks the price of the stock fell and Facebook became the stock market equivalent of the movie Gigli or the NFL career of Ryan Leaf. Somehow though I think Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, with his bank account of $9 billion, will weather the storm and not lose any sleep over the debacle.

 

Benghazi

On September 11 the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya was attacked. Four people were killed, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens. Ten others were injured. The Obama Administration tried to blame the attack on an anti-Muslim film that had been posted on YouTube and had been seen by less people than I rode with on an elevator today. Conservatives quickly labeled the Obama response as pure poppycock, and questions began to arise about what really happened, why it happened, what the administration really knew, and why they were so hellbent on lying about it. I believe there are still some Congressional committees looking into the matter, but at this stage it is likely a moot point.

 

The End of Twinkies & Ho-Ho’s

I make no secret of the fact that I am a chocoholic. You want to take pop away from me?? Okay, I can deal. Tell me that alcohol can never touch my lips again and I won’t even bat an eye because I don’t drink anyway. Tell me I have to be celibate for the rest of my life and never again enjoy the touch of a beautiful woman and I might cringe a bit but I’ll be just fine. But threaten to take away my sweets and we’ve got a problem. I love it all…candy, cake, ice cream, cookies. So in November when Hostess announced that it was going out of business and that snacks like Twinkies, Ho Ho’s, Zingers, Ding Dongs, and those little cupcakes with the swirly icing on top…not to mention Wonder Bread…would be disappearing forever from grocery store shelves I kind of felt like I did when I was 9 years old and my pet frog jumped out of his bowl never to be seen again. Thankfully there is a likely reprieve from this death sentence in the works, as various companies are in a bidding war to buy the rights to these products from Hostess. When fair & festival season rolls around next summer we just might still be able to pay $6 for a deep fried Twinkie. God Bless America.

 

Superstorm Sandy

There is almost always one or two big natural disasters to talk about when reflecting upon a just passed year, and in 2012 it was Superstorm Sandy or Hurricane Sandy (I’ve seen it called both) which inflicted mayhem on the eastern seaboard of the country, especially New York & New Jersey, in late October. It is said to be the largest Atlantic hurricane (meaning it formed in the North Atlantic Ocean) on record and the 2nd costliest, doing about $65 billion worth of damage. It also played a key role in the Presidential election, as there were actually idiots out there who made a last minute decision to overlook the past 4 years of misery and vote for Obama because he “looked Presidential” for a day or two in the wake of the disaster, and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie practically made sweet love to the President because he answered a few phone calls and dropped by for a visit for an hour or two. It is my understanding that there are still people in Jersey dealing with the problems caused by the storm, which is a damning indictment of how we use tragedies as political pawns in 21st century America but don’t really do what needs to be done to truly help people over the long haul.

 

Shootings in Aurora, CO & Newtown, CT

We’ve become almost numb to gun violence in America. It’s just something that happens occasionally and we aren’t all that shocked anymore when it does. However, two incidents in 2012 seemed to awaken the masses and spur debates about gun control, mental health issues, and a whole host of ancillary topics. On Friday July 20 a gunman opened fire at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado during a midnight showing of the newest Batman film The Dark Knight Rises. Twelve people were killed and 58 others injured. I go to the movies often myself, and I am a huge Batman fan. As a matter of fact I had seriously pondered the idea of attending the midnight showing at my local theater but ultimately decided against that idea. It is awful to think that something as fun & innocuous…something so American…as going to a movie isn’t even immune from real life violence anymore. Then on December 14…less than two weeks before Christmas…a 20 year old lunatic busted into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut and killed 26 people, 20 of them children ages 6 & 7. We might have become nonchalant about violence in this country, but when innocent kids are senselessly murdered we stop & pay attention. Unfortunately, as tends to happen with these types of tragedies, it was quickly turned into a political football, with leftists and Hollywood hypocrites with no shortage of armed bodyguards resuming their incessant cries for gun control. I understand the logic…I really do. Regrettably however we seem to have lost the ability in this country to have an intelligent & thoughtful debate about important issues. We are a nation of reactionaries on both sides of the political spectrum and at the end of the day everyone loses. I cannot imagine the pain & sorrow the parents of those children have been suffering thru, and I am sure it was the worst Christmas of their entire lives. To me that is what must not get lost in the shuffle here. I pray that God wraps his loving arms around these families and helps them somehow resume their lives and find a way to move forward, although I cannot wrap my head around any scenario in which that’d even be possible.

 

Supreme Court Upholds Obamacare

I am a huge fan of pro wrestling, and in wrestling one of the fun things that happens occasionally is a heel turn. That is when a good guy turns bad by screwing over his tag team partner or suddenly telling the fans that have cheered him that he thinks they are losers and he doesn’t need their support anymore. Chief Justice John Roberts did a heel turn last June when he became the deciding vote in upholding the crime against freedom & economic sanity that is nationalized health care, better known as Obamacare. Roberts was thought to be a conservative, but instead proved himself to be just another political whore when he ruled that it was perfectly okay for the U.S. government to coerce free citizens into purchasing healthcare coverage or else go to prison. Roberts ruled that Obamacare is a tax, even though President Obama himself had spent years saying that it wasn’t. If it is a tax…which I guess it has to be or else it’d be unconstitutional…Obamacare is the largest tax increase in the history of the United States. Good job Roberts…you jackass.

 

The Fiscal Cliff

The last few weeks of 2012 were dominated by incessant discussion of this fiscal cliff. In a nutshell the dawning of a new year was scheduled to bring about spending cuts & tax hikes that would have cut the budget deficit but also would have led to another recession (that is if you believe that we aren’t still in one now anyway) and would have wreaked havoc on the finances of nearly all Americans. There was the typical struggle between Democrats & Republicans…one side with a fervent desire to raise taxes, punish achievement & success, & keep on spending money like drunken sailors on social programs that will keep their handout loving voter base happy, and the other side pledging to not raise taxes & desiring to slash spending like Freddy Krueger on a crack high. Of course this deal couldn’t get done way ahead of time. Where would the drama be in that?? As a matter of fact the deal wasn’t technically done on time but a few hours late. From what I understand the Republicans caved like the Buffalo Bills in a Super Bowl, and the Democrats are proud as peacocks. That’s what happens after an election…to the victor go the spoils. It’s just too bad that you & I will be literally paying for this debacle out of our own paychecks.

 

And the Sammy goes to…..

 

The Election. I certainly didn’t like the results, but there is no denying the fact that for the vast majority of 2012 it was the lead story on a daily basis. I will refrain from going off on one of my infamous political rants. The fact is that my side lost this time and I have to deal with it. I cannot resist the urge though to point out that it is less than a week into the new year and my paycheck has already been affected in a negative way. But of course most of the 51% responsible for the debacle that occurred on that fateful Tuesday in November wouldn’t know anything about that since they are unemployed and/or sitting around smoking their cigarettes, drinking their cheap beer, watching those idiotic Kardashian twits whore it up on TV.

 

 

 

hd-302-tombstoneprop

astronauts Neil Armstrong & Sally Ride…entertainment icon Dick Clark… Pulitzer, Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Golden Globe, and Tony award winning composer & conductor Marvin Hamlisch…authors Ray Bradbury (Fahrenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles), Maurice Sendak (Where the Wild Things Are), Gore Vidal, and Stephen Covey (The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People)…singers Whitney Houston, Andy Williams, Etta James, Levon Helm, Donna Summer, Kitty Wells, and Robin Gibb (The Bee Gees)… General Norman Schwarzkopf…comedienne Phyllis Diller…baseball Hall of Famer Gary Carter…actresses Kathryn Joosten (The West Wing, Desperate Housewives), Deborah Raffin (7th Heaven), and Celeste Holm (Gentleman’s Agreement, All About Eve)…retired NFL stars Junior Seau, Freddie Solomon, Blair Kiel, Alex Karras, and Ben Davidson…Atari & Commodore CEO Jack Tramiel…Soul Train impresario Don Cornelius…disgraced football coach Joe Paterno…hairstylist Vidal Sassoon…infamous police punching bag Rodney King…Boston Red Sox legend Johnny Pesky…automobile designer Carroll Shelby…amplification specialist Jim Marshall…political pundits Tony Blankley and Andrew Breitbart…legendary collegiate coaches Gene Bartow (basketball), Darrell Royal (football), and Rick Majerus (basketball)…game show hosts Richard Dawson (Family Feud) and Bill Raftery (Card Sharks)…director Tony Scott (Top Gun, Crimson Tide, Days of Thunder)…sports commentators Jim Huber and Beano Cook…former U.S. Senators Arlen Specter & Warren Rudman, former Governor George McGovern, and Hawaii Senator Daniel Inouye…former WV Mountaineer football coach Bill Stewart…Unification Church founder Rev. Sun Myung Moon…screenwriter/director Nora Ephron (Sleepless in Seattle, When Harry Met Sally)…motivational speaker Zig Ziglar…songwriter Hal David (Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head, What the World Needs Now Is Love, I Say a Little Prayer)…former Cleveland Browns owner Art Modell…journalists Mike Wallace (60 Minutes) and Helen Gurley Brown (Cosmopolitan)…artists Leroy Neiman and ”Painter of Light” Thomas Kinkade…pro wrestling legend Chief Jay Strongbow…baseball executive Lee McPhail…fashion designer Nolan Miller…former Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork…musicians Earl Scruggs, Ronnie Montrose, Davy Jones, Dave Brubeck, and Donald “Duck” Dunn…boxing historian Bert Sugar…former Patriots/Giants/Jets coach Ron Erhardt…impressionist Steve Bridges…former MLB union leader Marvin Miller…infamous mobster Henry Hill (the inspiration for Goodfellas)…retired pro wrestlers Doug Furnas, Mike Graham, Bobby Jaggers, Buddy Roberts, & Brad Armstrong…NFL Films guru Steve Sabol…former White House counsel Charles Colson…retired boxer Hector “Macho” Camacho”…actors Andy Griffith, Larry Hagman (Dallas, I Dream of Jeannie), Jack Klugman (Quincy, The Odd Couple), Ernest Borgnine (McHale’s Navy, The Poseidon Adventure), Ben Gazzara, Ron Palillo (Welcome Back Kotter), William Windom (To Kill A Mockingbird, Planes, Trains, & Automobiles), George Lindsey (Goober from The Andy Griffith Show), James Farentino (Dynasty), Sherman Hemsley (The Jeffersons), Chad Everett, Herbert Lom (The Pink Panther series), Sage Stallone (Rocky V), Robert Hegyes (Welcome Back Kotter), John Ingle (General Hospital), Charles Durning (The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Scarface, Dog Day Afternoon), and Michael Clarke Duncan (The Green Mile, Daredevil, The Whole Nine Yards)

The Sammy Awards 2012 – Part 2: Eclipsing the Old Moon

Resin-Trophies-1348257350204Welcome to Part 2 of the 2012 Sammy Awards. If you have not already done so please check out Part 1.

 

 

After another brief & entertaining tirade by our curmudgeonly yet loveable host Clint Eastwood it is time for our father-and-daughter-bruce-jenner-and-kylie-jennernext award. The Manofesto is proud to introduce a man who not only captured our hearts at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal by winning a gold medal for the decathlon, but who also knows a whole lot about intellectually vacant, narcissistic, completely useless morons since he is related to a bunch of them. Please welcome to the stage Bruce Jenner. And the nominees are:

 

 

Assclown of the Year

Roseanne Barr

I’ve never liked Roseanne Barr. Her comedy act was grating, and her 1990’s sitcom was low rent rubbish. However, in 2012 she took her antics to a whole new level. When she announced on The Tonight Show that she was running for President of the United States I assumed it was a joke. Unfortunately it wasn’t. She ran, and sadly received over 61,000 votes. During the course of her “campaign” Barr said several outlandish things, including tweeting that anyone who eats at Chick-Fil-A deserves to get cancer. She also used Twitter to publish the home address of the parents of George Zimmerman, the alleged shooter in the Trayvon Martin case, and accused billionaires of being pedophiles & cocaine addicts. In addition, Barr is apparently an anti-Semitic Jew, which is like being a homophobic lesbian or an African-American white supremacist.

 

MSNBC

Yes, that’s right…the entire network. Look, I don’t care that they make no effort to hide their bias. Fox News obviously caters to a decidedly conservative audience, so I have no problem with a channel aimed at liberals. But what I do have an issue with is stupidity. Almost the entire lineup of “personalities” on this cancer of cable TV are histrionic blowhards who accuse their opponents of racism at every turn. With a roster of guys like Chris Matthews, Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O’Donnell, Rev. Al Sharpton, and Ed Schultz it’s no wonder that MSNBC’s ratings lag far behind Fox News.

 

Ozzie Guillen

On April 4th the Miami Marlins christened a brand new ball park with a 4-1 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. The loss didn’t matter all that much though, as this was a fresh start for the beleaguered Marlins…new name, new ballpark, and a brand new manager – the always colorful Ozzie Guillen. Unfortunately that same week, in an interview for Time Magazine, Guillen pronounced his love, admiration, & respect for Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. That’s right…the manager of the Miami Marlins said that he loves Fidel Castro. Let that sink in for a minute. It certainly isn’t the first nutty thing that the man has said or done, but as it turns out it was career suicide…atleast for now. The rocky start to the season never quite corrected itself and after finishing in last place with a 69-93 record the Marlins’ brass relieved Guillen of his duties. I strongly suspect that without that singularly stupid remark he would have atleast been given another year to right the ship. As it stands Guillen is currently unemployed and somewhere out there a certain Mr. Osbourne is relieved to no longer be the wackiest Ozzy in the world.

 

VP Joe Biden

Do I really need to go into detail?? It’s freakin’ Joe Biden. He’s been proving himself to be a jackass for many years. I am firmly convinced that one reason Obama chose Biden as a running mate 4 years ago was so that he’d look intelligent by comparison.

 

Rob Parker

Citizens of The Manoverse know of my abiding affection for ESPN’s slate of sports talk shows. The one exception over the years has been their 10am-Noon program First Take. The usual source of my contempt is pompous windbag Skip Bayless, but he has escaped my wrath this time. The honor this year goes to fill-in guest debater Rob Parker from Detroit. Parker can be controversial & abrasive, and is one of those “reverse racists” whose contempt for white folks can barely be contained. Just a few weeks ago, while discussing Washington Redskins’ QB Robert Griffin III (First Take’s other favorite son after the nearly played out Tim Tebow), Parker called into question the authenticity of RGIII’s blackness, calling him “kind of black” & a “cornball brother” and saying he wasn’t “down with the cause” and “not one of us” because he has a white girlfriend and might be a Republican. Here’s my question – what cause?? It’s 2012, not 1952. I am just an ol’ country boy from the hills of West Virginia, so I am not one who can offer expert commentary on race relations in modern American society. I treat people how they treat me, regardless of their race, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, or favorite sports teams. So even if you love Notre Dame, the NY Yankees, or the Baltimore Ravens I’m still cool with you if you’re cool with me. Isn’t that the way all grown-ups should treat one another?? Parker’s comments make it clear that he is the racist in this particular situation.

 

Sandra Fluke          

Ms. Fluke is the Georgetown University law student who testified before a Congressional committee that the tab for her birth control during law school ran about $3000. This statement was lampooned by The Godfather of Conservatism and the King of Talk Radio Rush Limbaugh, who opined that if Ms. Fluke was spending that much on birth control she must be a slut. I want to make it clear that I am well aware that there are women who need contraceptive medications for legitimate female health issues, but it is also my understanding that Ms. Fluke never said directly that she needed them for that purpose. Therefore Mr. Limbaugh’s supposition is logical, even if it could have been stated in a more gallant & gracious fashion. The bottom line is that so many people in America these days wallow in the victim mentality & spend their lives with their hand out looking for somebody else to pay their freight that a person going before Congress…a body that seems like it’d have some rather vital issues to tackle…and implying that taxpayers should bear the financial burden of her “private” activities just seemed wrong on multiple levels.

 

Rahm Emanuel & Thomas Menino

In the wake of the Chick-Fil-A controversy Menino, the mayor of Boston, publically stated that he was going to prevent any of their restaurants from opening in his city. I guess his liberal agenda means more to him than job growth & the economic well-being of his city. Meanwhile in Chicago, Emanuel…President Obama’s former Chief of Staff and now Mayor of The Windy City…echoed the sentiment and said that Chick-Fil-A “did not represent Chicago values”. What exactly does that mean?? If it means that Chick-Fil-A doesn’t engage in mafia style tactics or lie, cheat, & steal to accomplish its goals then maybe it was a compliment, but I doubt if that’s what he meant.

 

Bobby Petrino

One of the most indelible images of 2012 is Petrino, after having been in a motorcycle accident, participating in a post-practice press conference wearing a neck brace with his face all ruddy & stoved up. Shortly thereafter it would come to light that he’d had a woman on the bike with him, that he was having an affair with her, and that she worked for the University of Arkansas’s athletic department because Petrino had gotten her the gig. So here is a man who cheated on his wife, used his influence to get his mistress a job, and then had the whole mess exposed in just about the dumbest way possible. Arkansas fired Petrino, who has had past run-ins with idiocy. This is the guy who ditched the Louisville Cardinals in 2006…just six months after signing a 10 year contract…to jump to the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons only to abruptly leave them before the end of his first season to take the job at Arkansas. Sadly Petrino is a good football coach so he is getting another opportunity, this time at Western Kentucky. If he wins enough games his complete lack of judgment and disrespect for the bond of holy matrimony will be forgotten by most everyone…probably even his wife.

 

DNC Chairperson Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Really Democrat Party?? You couldn’t find a better person to lead & represent your organization than this embarrassment?? I have always said that I may not agree with a person’s opinion but am more than happy to have a philosophical discussion with someone as long as they present a thoughtful & intelligent defense of their beliefs. This is not a person that seems to be capable of accomplishing that ideal. She was on television a-l-o-t this past year, and every time I see her I have to convince myself that it’s not some ill-conceived, unfunny SNL sketch.

 

Bob Costas & Jason Whitlock

Earlier this month tragedy struck the NFL as Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher killed his girlfriend then drove to the Chiefs’ practice facility and shot himself in front of team coaches & executives. It’s a very sad story the likes of which have become all too familiar in 21st century America. However, what makes these types of stories worse is when the media use such a tragedy to pontificate about their own beliefs and promote their particular sociopolitical agenda. Whitlock is a sports writer for FoxSports.com, with a resume that includes previous gigs with ESPN and various newspapers & radio stations. Following the Belcher murder-suicide he penned an article saying that if Belcher didn’t own a gun both he & his girlfriend would still be alive and also called the NRA the new KKK. I guess Mr. Whitlock has never heard of knives, poison, a baseball bat, killing a person with your bare hands, or any of the other numerous ways one can commit murder if one is hellbent on doing so. Making matters worse was the normally more cerebral Bob Costas, who quoted Whitlock’s article during a halftime commentary on NBC’s Sunday Night Football. I understand that the talking heads cannot completely ignore a big story, and these police blotter situations have become more common in the past decade or two. However, when I am watching a ball game or reading the sports page I really just want to know about the scores, the highlights, and the players. If these guys want to do “hard news” then they need to get a gig doing just that, and then they can bloviate to their heart’s content. But as long as they are supposedly doing sports they need to keep their asinine opinions to themselves.

 

General David Petraeus

Having an affair is never right. But it’s doubly stupid when you are in a high profile position like Director of the CIA. I have the utmost respect for our military, and it’s a shame that this guy had to cast a shadow on the whole institution because he couldn’t keep his little soldier in its barracks.

 

The Mayans

I’d say they need to recalculate their calendar, but they’re all dead and we’re still here.

 

Mayor Michael Bloomberg

No one has illustrated the difference between a Republican and a conservative in recent years more that NY City mayor Michael Bloomberg, an out-of-touch billionaire (the 10th wealthiest person in the country as a matter of fact) now in his 3rd term in office. Even Bloomberg recognized that his party affiliation was a joke and switched to the wishy-washy independent status a couple of years ago (this after having been a Democrat before he ran for mayor). Basically he’s a political prostitute. At any rate, Mayor Bloomberg apparently skipped each & every day in his school years when they taught about The Constitution. He has taken it upon himself to limit freedoms on everything from smoking to eating to circumcision, and in 2012 caught the attention of the nation by prohibiting restaurants, clubs, and movie theaters from selling sugary drinks in anything larger than a 16 ounce container. I am sure the citizens of The Big Apple are happy that there aren’t bigger issues to tackle than their consumption of supersized milkshakes & caramel macchiatos.

 

Piers Morgan

You’ve heard the phrase “America…Love it or Leave it.”?? This is one person who needs to decide which way he leans. Surprisingly he is not employed by MSNBC, where his idiotic hyperbole would be right at home. Instead Mr. Morgan, who hails from merry old England, plies his trade at CNN (where he replaced Larry King), meaning even less people watch him than if he did actually work for MSNBC. At any rate he is another anti-gun nut who has really stepped up his rhetoric after the heartbreaking rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. I’ll say this much…atleast he isn’t a sports journalist and his talk show is a more appropriate forum for such a discussion, but I still find it disgusting when these liberals try to paint conservatives as bad people yet it is usually them who politicizes tragedy for their own benefit. To my knowledge Morgan has not taken steps to become an American citizen, so he is a guest in our country. Therefore he should respect our rules and our laws. If he wants to live in a nation where guns have been banned then maybe he should go back to Britain. There is currently a petition calling for Piers Morgan to be deported and it has almost 90,000 signatures…far more than the 25k which, by law, requires a response from The White House. Then on Christmas Eve Morgan attacked Christianity, saying that The Bible is “inherently flawed” and needs amended, ostensibly to make the whole same sex marriage thing okay. I guess Piers Morgan doesn’t believe that The Bible is the inerrant Word of God. I wonder if he’ll finally admit he’s wrong when he’s burning in Hell.

 

The Houston Family

I was legitimately sad when Whitney Houston died. She had been such a beautiful woman with a voice to match. I am deeply disappointed that her family has chosen to capitalize on her death by doing a stupid reality show. Whitney’s daughter Bobbi Christina is obviously a very troubled young lady, and God knows she’s got trainwreck written all over both sides of her gene pool, so it is pathetic that her relatives would agree to exploit her grief.

 

 

 

And the Sammy goes to…..

 

 

 

Piers Morgan. It was an extremely tight race and each nominee was a worthy contender, but two things clinched Piers_profile_twitterit for Morgan. First of all, anytime someone is such a jackass that darn near 100,000 people sign a petition to have him DEPORTED that cannot be ignored. Secondly, when a person manages to spit on both The Bible and The Constitution it’s kind of a daily double worthy of robust scorn. Kick around Mr. Morgan while you still can folks…I have a feeling he’ll slink into the scrap heap of forgotten pop culture hogwash relatively soon.

 

 

 

At this time The Manofesto is pleased to offer some comic relief in the way of the comedic stylings of conservativestine Christian comedian Brad Stine.

 

 

HINES1To present our next award please welcome to the stage former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver and current NFL analyst for NBC’s Sunday Night Football Hines Ward. And the nominees are:

 

 

 

Biggest Sports Story

NY Knicks Sensation Jeremy Lin

Back in February, after a lockout that had shortened the NBA season, the NY Knicks were riddled with injuries and forced to start undrafted free agent point guard Jeremy Lin. The young man quickly proved himself worthy and led the Knicks on a 9-3 tear thru the league, average nearly 23 points & 9 assists per game in the process. It didn’t take long for him to become a star in New York, and Linsanity was born. A coaching change and a knee injury ended the excitement almost as quickly as it began, and in the off season Lin signed a free agent contract with the Houston Rockets, but for a very brief moment in time the story of the young man who went from the end of the bench to being the toast of the town in The Big Apple dominated the headlines.

 

New Orleans Saints Bounty Scandal

Football is an inherently violent sport, and always will be unless Commissioner Fidel Goodell really does end up destroying the game as a whole in his bleeding heart liberal effort to water it down in the name of player safety. However, there is an assumption of fair play and good, clean competition. When the league announced last spring that it was suspending several New Orleans Saints players, coaches, & suits due to them putting out bounties on opposing players that notion was shattered in a way that it’d never been previously. Allegedly starting in 2009 (the year they defeated Peyton Manning’s Colts in The Super Bowl) Saints defensive players could earn extra cash for injuring certain opposing players and forcing their exit from the game. Goodell layed the hammer down on the Saints, including a full season ban for head coach Sean Payton & linebacker Jonathan Vilma as well as shorter suspensions for other players & coaches. Even general manager Mickey Loomis was suspended for a half season. Almost all involved vehemently denied the existence of any bounty program or their participation in anything unseemly. This month a special investigation headed by former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue overturned all of the players’ penalties but upheld those inflicted upon coaches & Saints management.

 

Peyton Manning

2011 was a lost season for Peyton Manning, one of the top 2 or 3 NFL quarterbacks of the last few decades. A neck injury forced him out of action all of last season, which started an interesting chain of events. Mostly due to Manning’s absence the Indianapolis Colts finished 2-14. Head coach Jim Caldwell was fired. Armed with the #1 overall pick in the draft and the prospect of grabbing can’t miss QB prospect Andrew Luck the Colts decided that a 35 year old signal caller trying to come back from neck surgery wasn’t worth the money, so Manning became a free agent. Several teams expressed interest, but ultimately the Denver Broncos, led by team president and legendary quarterback in his own right John Elway, successfully wooed Peyton Manning. The Elway/Manning combo was an intriguing story, but no one really knew if it would actually work. Manning is in his mid-30’s, and an effective comeback not only from a sensitive injury but also a year-long layoff was a risky proposition at best. As it turn out everyone got their happy ending. The Colts drafted Luck and he’s already brought them back to being a playoff team. And Manning is a strong contender for not only Comeback Player of the Year but also NFL MVP, as he has led the Broncos to double digit victories and a division title. It’s nice to see positive news on the sports page occasionally.

 

Lance Armstrong Doping Controversy

Once upon a time Lance Armstrong was one of the most popular athletes in the world. He not only won 7 consecutive Tour de France titles, but had also successfully battled cancer. We Americans LOVE a story like that!! We have no problems putting sports heroes up on a pedestal for simply winning trophies, and when they overcome a life threatening disease we’re ready to knight them, canonize them, and build a freakin’ monument. Armstrong had been fighting allegations of doping for years, but we’d always given him the benefit of the doubt and believed his constant denials because that’s how we roll with guys with only one testicle. But in 2012 an investigation seemed to finally confirm that Armstrong is not only a cheater but also a big fat liar. He was stripped of all 7 of his Tour de France titles and by deciding not to challenge the ruling tacitly admitted…in most peoples’ eyes anyway…the veracity of the accusations despite public protestations to the contrary. I don’t give a rat’s petoot about cycling but am always disappointed to see another supposed hero be knocked off their lofty perch.

 

Sexual Abuse at Penn St.

This is a story that just continued from last year into this one. However there were some significant developments in 2012. The man at the center of the scandal…pedophile Jerry Sandusky…went to trial, was found guilty of 45 counts of sexual abuse, and was sentenced to 30-60 years in prison. The report of an independent investigation of the situation issued a scathing rebuke of Penn St. and its institutional failures. This report was utilized by the NCAA in handing down harsh penalties on the football program, including a $60 million fine, a 4 year post-season ban, 5 years of probation, and the loss of 20 scholarships per year for four years. Disgraced former coach Joe Paterno died in January and six months later was stripped of 111 of his career wins, knocking him from the all time winningest NCAA football coach to 12th on the list. The university moved quickly to eradicate most indicators that Paterno had ever existed, including the removal of a statue that had been on campus for over a decade. The 2012 Nittany Lions, under the leadership of new head coach Bill O’Brien, finished with a surprisingly good 8-4 record, and O’Brien was named the Big Ten Coach of the Year as well as national Coach of the Year.

 

The Summer Olympics in London

Every couple of years we go thru this cycle. Atleast the summer games are more fun than the winter games. Gymnastics is always entertaining and of course basketball is cool. The United States dominated the medal count, including gold for the men’s basketball team, all around team gold for the ladies’ gymnastics team & an individual all-around gold for Gabby Douglas, 4 golds for swimmer Missy Franklin, and multiple medals for swimmers Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte.

 

NHL Lockout

Yeah…the NHL season hasn’t started yet. I don’t especially love hockey so I really don’t care.

 

College Football Playoff

The 14 year old BCS has admittedly worked rather well for the most part, with advocates pointing out that it makes the regular season matter and more often than not really does manage to put together what most consider the top two teams in the nation. Still, there are times when one or two other teams left on the outside looking in have a legitimate gripe. No one without a PhD in mathematics can seem to figure out the formulas that the computers use to rank teams and I think people are getting just a little tired of seeing the SEC being fellatiated like President Obama at a birthday party for Chris Matthews. However, in June of this year the NCAA finally gave fans what we’ve been demanding for years. Beginning after the 2014 season we will have a 4 team playoff. It’s not exactly how I would have done it, but it’ll be much better than what we have now.

 

Lebron Wins A Championship

Well The Whore of Akron finally did it. After throwing his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers under the bus two years ago and “taking his talents to South Beach” Lebron James won an NBA title with the Miami Heat. I still don’t know how he is able to look at himself in a mirror each day, although I am sure large piles of cash help tremendously.

 

Replacement NFL Referees

We are used to strikes & lockouts in pro sports, but they usually involve the players. However this year it was the NFL referees that were locked out for the entire pre-season and the first few weeks of the regular season. Arrogant owners thought that the regular refs could be easily replaced with scrubs, but it quickly became apparent that this wasn’t the case. The ineptitude of the replacements was epic. They were clueless about the rules, made horrifically bad calls, and were a complete embarrassment. Things came to a head on a Monday night in Seattle when the Seahawks defeated the Green Bay Packers on a controversial last second Hail Mary touchdown in which Seattle should have been called for offensive pass interference and the ball was seemingly intercepted by the Packers but awarded to the Seahawks due to alleged “simultaneous possession”. Lots of screwy things happen in the NFL, but when a sacred cow like the Green Bay Packers get screwed over it’s a big freakin’ deal, and so two days later a deal was suddenly struck and the real referees came back to work. Interestingly enough that one game still might end up deciding a division title and screwing with playoff seeding & home field advantage.

 

Augusta National Admits First Female Members

Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia was founded in 1933 by legendary golfer Bobby Jones, who also created The Masters tournament in 1934 that is still held there each spring. Until 1990 it was an exclusive club for white men, but then caught up with the times (admittedly a few decades late) by finally admitting black members. But in 2012 it was still just a club for men. Personally I didn’t see that as a real issue. Whereas everyone knows that racism is wrong, I see no problem with organizations that are strictly for women or strictly for men. However, I guess I am in the minority, and in August Augusta National finally bowed to decades of public pressure by admitting two ladies…former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and South Carolina investment banker Darla Moore.

 

 

And the Sammy goes to…..

Bountygate. It was the story that we just couldn’t get away from in 2012. Every time we turned around there was some new twist to the story, some new evidence or charges of a lack of evidence. Where there is smoke there is usually fire, but it is rare to encounter anyone so passionate in defending themselves against wrongdoing as the alleged offenders in this case. The 2009 Saints were the group that everyone had cheered for so heartily because new_orleans_saints-logo-in-gold-background24it’d brought joy & redemption to the city of New Orleans in the wake of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, so to see that heroic season have a shadow cast over it was unpleasant. Also, Goodell’s continuing efforts to sanitize, water down, and wussify the game of football became a tentacle of the discussion, as it was noted that none of the key hits focused on in the scandal, especially against the likes of now retired quarterbacks Kurt Warner & Bret Favre, had generated penalties or been thought of as anything unusual at the time they occurred. At the end of the day no one comes out looking particular good in all of this, and it’s too bad that so many hours of coverage had to be dedicated to a story when all we fans really want to do is watch the game, have some fun, and escape from our own prosaic & excruciatingly mundane reality.

 

 

 

This seems like the appropriate place to take a break. Please join us tomorrow for Part I3 of the 2012 Sammy Awards!!

 

 

 

 

 

A Look at the 2012-13 Bowl Season

In 1914 Yale University built a football stadium. It was the first bowl shaped stadium in the country and the prototype for what we take for granted as the typical stadium today. During this time there was only one college football post-season game to decide a national champion. It was played in Pasadena, CA and sponsored by the Roses Association, which had begun a New Year’s Day parade in 1890 and started the football tradition in 1902. By 1923 the game was such a 225px-Yale_Bowl_aerialhuge success that a new & bigger stadium was needed. The builders used the Yale Bowl as a template and called their stadium the Rose Bowl. The game played there became known as the Rose Bowl game. In 1933 some folks in Miami, FL thought that college football could stand to have another post-season game. They decided to capitalize on the popularity of the Rose Bowl by calling their game the Orange Bowl. Soon after the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, the Sun Bowl in El Paso, TX and the Cotton Bowl in Dallas were born. The rest is history. And now you know why bowl games are called bowl games. As always I am here not only to entertain but to educate.

At any rate, I am trying something a bit different this year. I have broken down the plethora of bowl games into three tiers. Tier 3 consists of worthless games for which I can barely muster enough interest to even bother making a pick. Even as a huge football fan I doubt I’ll be watching them, and you probably won’t either. Surely there is a better way to spend one’s time, like self-mutilation or renting Mariah Carey’s Golden Raspberry award winning performance in 2001’s Glitter on DVD. Tier 2 games are largely mediocre and superfluous, but there are some decent matchups that might actually be somewhat entertaining. The Tier 3 games are the crème de la crème, the kings of the hill, the top o’ the heap. Unlike my Pigskin Picks of Profundity I will not be utilizing any point spreads. These are just straight up, win or lose, all or nothing prognostications. It is unlikely that means that’ll I’ll do any better though. As a matter of fact my picks will probably be mostly wrong as usual so as always, please, no wagering. Enjoy, and happy holidays!!

 

 

Tier 3

 

 

Potato Bowl – 12/15

Toledo (9-3) vs. Utah State (10-2)

This used to be known as the Humanitarian Bowl and is played on the famous blue turf in Boise, Idaho, which is the game’s only redeeming quality. I’ll take the Rockets to win convincingly.

 

Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl  –  12/21

UCF (9-4) vs. Ball State (9-3)

Beef O’Brady’s is a sports bar franchise in Florida and other southern states. The game itself is played in St. Petersburg (i.e. Tampa), FL. Yeah, I know…no one cares. I think Central Florida wins the game.

 

Las Vegas Bowl – 12/22

Boise State (10-2) vs. Washington (7-5)

Hey, atleast this game has a cool location. The Broncos are making their 3rd straight appearance after a huge Fiesta Bowl win in 2007.  Since they’ve won the past two quite easily I see no reason not to believe they’ll win again.

 

Hawaii Bowl – Christmas Eve

SMU (6-6) vs. Fresno State (9-3)

The game may not hold much interest for the casual fan, but kudos to these two teams for parlaying their mediocrity into a trip to Hawaii for Christmas. Mele Hula Dance 3Kalikimaka indeed. I’ll take the Bulldogs.

 

Little Caesars Bowl – 12/26

Western Kentucky (7-5) vs. Central Michigan (6-6)

Congratulations second-rate teams from second-rate conferences…you get to go to Detroit for Christmas!! Seriously…this is about a half step above an NAIA game. When did Western Kentucky upgrade from 1-AA?? I must have missed that. Anyway, I’ll take the Chippewas.

 

Military Bowl – 12/27

Bowling Green (8-4) vs. San Jose State (10-2)

Ummm…shouldn’t one of the military academies be playing in this game?? I assume Army would have been playing here…if they’d managed to attain more than 2 victories. I like the quality of football played in the MAC, so I’ll go with Bowling Green for the win.

 

Belk Bowl – 12/27

Duke (6-6) vs. Cincinnati (9-3)

Belk is a Carolina based department store chain found in the southern U.S. The game itself was formerly known as the Queen City Bowl, the Continental Tire Bowl, and the Meineke Car Care Bowl. It’s a shame the Bearcats couldn’t score a more significant contest after a 9 win season. Meanwhile, the Blue Devils have all the sudden upgraded their football program from comatose to average, so good job. Even considering the fact that coach Butch Jones has bolted for Tennessee I’d be stunned if Cincinnati didn’t win by double digits.

 

Meineke Car Care Bowl – 12/28

Minnesota (6-6) vs. Texas Tech (7-5)

Just because Charlotte’s game is now called the Belk Bowl doesn’t mean the Meineke people are out of the football business. They simply changed their sponsorship to this game in Houston. I am more familiar with Hayden Fox’s fictional Minnesota St. Screaming Eagles than the real life Minnesota Golden Gophers, but I have seen the Red Raiders play a few times this season so that’s the pick.

 

Russell Athletic Bowl – 12/28

Virginia Tech (6-6) vs. Rutgers (9-3)

This is the former Blockbuster Bowl, CarQuest Bowl, and MicronPC Bowl. The folks in Orlando change bowl sponsorships more often than Taylor Swift changes boyfriends. At any rate, the big question to me here is what in the world happened to Virginia Tech this year?? From 2004-2011 they won 10 or 11 games every season. They haven’t been this mediocre since a two win season in 1992. Meanwhile, Rutgers is preparing to move to The Big Ten and exiting The Big East on a high note. In any other year the Hokies would be an easy choice, but it seems like the two teams have reversed roles this year, so I’ll take the Scarlet Knights.

 

Armed Forces Bowl – 12/29

Rice (6-6) vs. Air Force (6-6)

It doesn’t get any more mediocre than two 6-6 teams that, if I were in charge, would not even be playing a post-season game. Teams shouldn’t be rewarded for simply breaking even. I honestly know next to nothing about either of these clubs, and I am tempted to pick Rice in honor of my friend The Owl, but I think I’ll go with Air Force.

 

Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl  – 12/29

Arizona State (7-5) vs. Navy (7-4)

Hey…atleast these two teams both won 7 games and have winning records, so that’s an improvement, right?? I’d love nothing more than to support our military academies, but in this case I just think that the Sun Devils have played a tougher schedule and shouldn’t have any problems with the Midshipmen.

 

Music City Bowl – New Year’s Eve

North Carolina State (7-5) vs. Vanderbilt (8-4)

I think most people have better things to do on New Year’s Eve than watch these two middle-of-the-road teams play in a middle-of-the-road bowl game. I do like NC St.’s QB Mike Glennon, who a lot of “experts” are saying has a decent shot to be a good NFL quarterback. That’s enough for me to give the Wolfpack the nod.

 

Liberty Bowl – New Year’s Eve

Iowa State (6-6) vs. Tulsa (10-3)

The records are probably a little misleading. Tulsa won 10 games but plays in C-USA. Iowa St. plays in the much tougher Big 12. I’ll take the Cyclones in what I guess would be considered an upset.

 

Sun Bowl – New Year’s Eve

Georgia Tech (6-7) vs. USC (7-5)

Can someone please explain to me why in the world a team with a LOSING record is being allowed to play in a bowl game?? This is especially aggravating when one considers the fact that a 9-3 Louisiana Tech team did not receive any kind of bowl invite and will be home for the holidays. That is insane and it’s just plain wrong. I know this season hasn’t exactly turned out the way the folks at Southern Cal had hoped (they were pre-season #1 in many polls), and the final insult is being forced to play an opponent with such an atrocious record. The only thing that can make this right is the Trojans winning this game in a h-u-g-e way.

 

Compass Bowl – 1/5

Pitt (6-6) vs. Mississippi (6-6)

Let me restate my annual joke about this bowl: Shouldn’t the game pit two directional schools against one another?? Anyway, as a lifelong WV Mountaineer fan compassI cannot in good conscience cheer for the hated Pitt Panthers, which works out just fine since they suck anyway. I’ll take Ole Miss in this one.

 

GoDaddy.com Bowl – 1/6

Kent State (11-2) vs. Arkansas State (9-3)

I hate this bowl game on a multitude of levels, not the least of which is the fact that it usually (and this year is no exception) features two teams that absolutely no one gives a damn about nearly a week after the season should have been over and all anyone is concentrating on is the following day’s National Championship Game. That being said, I suppose the smart play is to pick Kent to win handily.

 

 

 

 

Tier 2

 

Poinsettia Bowl – 12/20

BYU (7-5) vs. San Diego State (9-3)

The Cougars acquitted themselves quite nicely as an independent, with victories over…well, okay…they didn’t actually beat anyone of note, but they did garner 7 victories. The Aztecs defeated both Boise St. and Nevada, which is impressive. However, I am nothing if not loyal, and since I had BYU in my pre-season Top 25 I am going to stick with them here.

 

New Orleans Bowl  –  12/22

Louisiana-Lafayette (8-4) vs. East Carolina (8-4)

Here we have two teams that don’t receive much recognition because of the subpar conferences in which they play and the mostly weak schedules they have, but two teams that I guarantee you few schools would want to face as out-of-conference opponents. This should be a high scoring, fun game. Maybe we’ll get really lucky and something wacky will happen like they’ll go into 5 overtimes. The Pirates were another one of my pre-season Top 25 picks that didn’t quite go as well as I’d hoped, but I’ll pick them anyway.

 

New Mexico Bowl – 12/15

Nevada (7-5) vs. Arizona (7-5)

Now this should be a fun game to watch. It seems like both of these teams are better than their records would indicate, they’ve just been inconsistent. I don’t really want to cheer for a team coached by that assclown Rich Fraudriguez, but as much as I like the Wolfpack the Wildcats have a better resume and have been battle tested in a better conference. Arizona is the pick.

 

Holiday Bowl – 12/27

Baylor (7-5) vs. UCLA (9-4)

This is the game that West Virginia fans were hoping the Mountaineers would land in. Instead the powers-that-be chose Baylor. Ah well…c’est la vie. I think the Bruins are clearly the better team, and I’d be surprised if they didn’t win.

 

Independence  Bowl – 12/28

Louisiana-Monroe (8-4) vs. Ohio (8-4)

At first glance this looks like a completely forgettable matchup. However, I have seen both of these teams play a couple of times this season and something tells me this’ll be a really fun game. It isn’t as if these are two teams that just broke even and barely got into the post-season…they are both 8 win teams. I really like what coach Frank Solich has done with the Bobcats, although I am concerned that they come into this contest in the midst of a 3 game losing streak. Conversely, not only are the Warhawks riding a 2 game winning streak, but they have an impressive resume, having played both Auburn & Baylor extremely tough in close losses. It’s a real toss-up, but I’ll go with Ohio U.

 

Pinstripe Bowl – 12/29

Syracuse (7-5) vs. West Virginia (7-5)

Most Mountaineer fans aren’t the least bit excited about this game. It was bad enough that a potential national championship run and a legitimate Heisman depressioncandidacy for QB Geno Smith were derailed by a 5 game midseason swoon due to an atrocious defense, but once things got back on track rumors had the Eers headed to either the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio or the Holiday Bowl in San Diego. Then this game entered the picture and the rumor became a possible revival of The Backyard Brawl against Pitt. Unfortunately Panther fans don’t even bother to fill Heinz Field during the season let alone travel to a bowl game, so now a season once filled with so much promise for WVU ends against Syracuse in New York in December. Most of the time I’d rather receive a Brazilian wax from a blind transvestite than watch any game involving Syracuse. Geno, offensive spark plug Tavon Austin, & WR Stedman Bailey deserved so much better than this. I’ll be disappointed if West Virginia doesn’t hang damn near 100 points on the Orange and win by 50 points.

 

Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl – 12/29

Michigan State (6-6) vs. TCU (7-5)

Ehhh…more mediocrity from two teams who have certainly had better years.  This is the old Copper Bowl, which then became the Insight Bowl. It is played in Arizona, which means TCU will probably have more fans there. So I guess I’ll go with the Horned Frogs.

 

Chick-fil-A Bowl – New Year’s Eve

LSU (10-2) vs. Clemson (10-2)

I like Chick-fil-A a lot, but being a traditionalist I would prefer that this game go back to being known as the Peach Bowl.  Anyway, these are two solid teams and we should be treated to a great game. I think LSU is the better club though since they are battle tested in the ultra tough SEC, while Clemson plays in the somewhat less impressive ACC.

 

Heart of Dallas  –  New Year’s Day

Purdue (6-6) vs. Oklahoma State (7-5)

This is the new kid on the bowl block, having first been played in 2011. It was known then as the TicketCity Bowl. When I was a kid New Year’s Day games were reserved for the very best teams. I guess those days are gone. Anyway, I don’t think the Cowboys should have any problem winning this game.

 

Gator Bowl – New Year’s Day

Northwestern (9-3) vs. Mississippi State (8-4)

Two solid teams that were battled tested in good conferences. This might be a real sleeper insofar as it’ll probably be overlooked amid all the other games with bigger names, but it has the potential to steal the show. I’ll go with the Wildcats to get the victory.

 

Sugar Bowl – 1/2

Florida (11-1)  vs.  Louisville (10-2)

This is going to be a better game than most people think, but as much as I like Louisville there is no doubt that the Gators play a much tougher schedule and have a lot more talent. Cardinals head coach Charlie Strong was the leading candidate for the Tennessee coaching position but decided to stay put, which is commendable. I am very tempted to pick an upset, but I just can’t pull the trigger. I don’t think it will be a blowout, but I do expect Florida to win.

 

Orange Bowl – New Year’s Day 

Florida St. (11-2)         vs.  Northern Illinois (12-1)

Lots of talking heads have had their knickers in a twist about this game. They tend to view college football as an exclusive club where the only teams that count are Notre Dame, the SEC, the Big Ten, the Pac 12, and maybe half the teams from the ACC & Big 12. Northern Illinois is looked at as an outsider that doesn’t belong in the club. Are the Seminoles bigger, faster, stronger, and more athletic?? To a large degree yes they are. But I do think that the Huskies deserve a little more respect than they are getting. Having said that, I think Florida St wins & wins big.

 

National Championship Game – 1/7 

Notre Dame (12-0)      vs.    Alabama (12-1)          

99% of football fans in America are beyond excited about this game. For probably the only time in my life I am actually in the 1%. You see, I am an underdog 1-foam-hand-12-szsp2661041-378x386kind of guy. I need a little guy, a lovable loser type to root for. There is no such animal in this matchup. These are two of the elite programs in the history of college football, with something like 27 national championships between them. This is the Tide’s 3rd title game in 4 years. Notre Dame is back on top for the first time since 1988-89. I have searched deeply for something to cheer about here, and the two things that I’ve come up with are…stunningly…in Notre Dame’s favor. First of all, I have been truly impressed with Irish linebacker Manti Te’o. He seems like a genuinely good guy and someone very deserving of his accolades. Secondly, as most citizens of the Manoverse know, I am a big fan of ESPN’s Mike & Mike in the Morning (back to back Sammy Award winner for Best TV Show). Mike Golic’s two sons Mike Jr. & Jake are both seniors for Notre Dame. It doesn’t seem likely that either will follow their father’s or their uncle Bob Golic’s footsteps into the NFL, so this is it for them. Knowing how great it’d be for the Golics to win this game makes me smile ever so slightly, enough to…for probably the first & last time in my life…pull for the Irish.

       

 

 

 

Tier 1

 

Alamo Bowl – 12/29

Texas (8-4) vs. Oregon State (9-3)

I wish West Virginia were playing in this game, but I have to admit that they ended up with quite a good matchup. Both of these teams showed flashes during the season but were just inconsistent. I think this’ll be a shootout with the Beavers coming out on top.

 

Capital One Bowl – New Year’s Day

Georgia (11-2) vs. Nebraska (10-3)

This is the old Tangerine Bowl which then became the Florida Citrus Bowl. I am loathe to comment on a game actually named after a credit card, but I’ll ignore 0the sudden tics I am experiencing a forge ahead. Georgia was THIS close to beating Alabama and making it to the title game, but had an inexplicable brain fart. Nebraska got pasted in the Big Ten championship by Wisconsin and lost out on an opportunity to go to The Rose Bowl. So neither team is playing where they’d really prefer to be playing. This isn’t necessarily a bad consolation prize though, and fans should be the big winners. I think Nebraska is a decent team, but they were exposed on several fronts by Wisconsin. Georgia might have an eye on a pre-season 2013 Top 5 ranking if they win this game, so I’ll go with the Bulldogs.

 

Outback Bowl – New Year’s Day

South Carolina (10-2) vs. Michigan (8-4)

I really thought these teams would have better seasons. I had both in my pre-season top 3. There is no doubt in my mind that this will be an extremely entertaining game to watch, chockfull of big plays and touchdowns. On paper the Gamecocks clearly look like the better team, but the vibes are speaking to me again and saying to pick Michigan. And of course I always listen to The Voices.

 

Cotton Bowl – 1/4

Oklahoma (10-2) vs. Texas A&M (10-2)

The Aggies acquitted themselves quite nicely in their inaugural SEC season, even beating then #1 ‘Bama. Freshman QB Johnny Manziel has taken the college football world by storm. Meanwhile, the Sooners actually had higher hopes. There are very few teams in America for whom a 10 win season is a disappointment, but Oklahoma is one of them. It’ll be interesting to see how Johnny Football does against the Sooner defense. Can he duplicate the results he produced against the Tide?? I’d love to see that, and I think it just might happen. I’m going with A&M in a squeaker.

 

Rose Bowl – New Year’s Day 

Stanford  (11-2)          vs.    Wisconsin  (8-5)

Yikes…has an 8 win team ever played in The Granddaddy?? Thanks to the…indiscretions…at Penn St. & Ohio St. the Badgers got the opportunity to play in the red-roses-photoBig Ten title game and took full advantage by blasting Nebraska. Meanwhile Stanford plugged right along with another stellar season even after losing QB Andrew Luck to the NFL. I suppose Wisconsin can’t be completely discounted given what they accomplished to get here, but I don’t think they can do that two games in a row, especially since their head coach just bolted to Arkansas. Stanford should win easily.

 

Fiesta Bowl – 1/3  

Kansas St. (11-1)       vs.    Oregon (11-1)

This should have been the national championship game. These are two of the most exciting teams on the college football landscape, and if not for the Wildcats shocking stumble against Baylor and Oregon’s overtime loss to Stanford they’d be playing for the big trophy. If the 4 team playoff that begins in a couple of years were already in place one or both teams would almost certainly be in it. Alas, there is no use looking ahead or crying over spilled milk. The winner here will probably finish #2 in the final poll, which is a fine accomplishment. I expect a high scoring affair so if you’re the betting kind the over is probably a safe pick. At the end of the day I think Oregon’s speed will be just a bit too much for K-St., and I expect the Ducks to have the edge in special teams as well. Oregon will win, but it’ll be close and loads of fun.

 

Thanksgiving, Black Friday, & The Christmas Creep

Happy Holidays citizens of The Manoverse!! Alas, today I come not to praise our most wonderful time of the year, but to express a bit of frustration.

 

Yesterday we celebrated that most American of holidays…Thanksgiving. We’ll look at the holiday itself a little closer this time next year because I am currently reading a delightful book about its history, but I just ran out of time to finish it before the big day itself came & went. However, for now let me just say that I feel bad for Thanksgiving. It really has begun to get lost in the shuffle the past decade or so. We don’t appreciate Thanksgiving on its own merits anymore. Instead we look at it merely as the kickoff to the Christmas season. If Christmas is the Super Bowl then Thanksgiving is the pre-game show to which people don’t bother giving their full attention. There was a time, believe it or not, in colonial America that Thanksgiving was the main event and Christmas wasn’t even commemorated. Thanksgiving was a celebration that lasted for several days in reverence to God and the blessings that He had seen fit to bestow. Somehow we’ve gone from that deeply spiritual sense of appreciation to treating Thanksgiving like a Nascar pit stop where we take just a few minutes out of our busy schedule to stuff our faces with turkey, stuffing, & pie and maybe watch a football game before rushing to the mall for some retail therapy. All we care about is that we have a paid day off from the job we hate and get a free pass on our diet for the day. Those things aren’t necessarily bad (because really…who doesn’t enjoy a day off & a big hunk o’ pie??), but they should be secondary benefits, not the main focus of our gratitude.

 

Things have gotten progressively crazier over the past decade with the growth of a phenomenon called Black Friday. The term itself was coined back in the 60’s or 70’s, and interestingly was originally an environmentalist wacko reference. It alluded to the increased traffic that clogs up the streets (and pollutes the air) on the Friday after Thanksgiving. Eventually it evolved to mean the day when retailers go “in the black”, i.e. when their year becomes profitable. Black Friday has long been lauded as the busiest shopping day of the year, but I have my doubts as to whether or not that is always the case. Logic dictates that “the busiest shopping day of the year” would be a moving target, changing annually based on a plethora of circumstances. At any rate, when I was a kid, if memory serves me correctly, there were always the occasional “midnight madness” sales, but the whole thing wasn’t this huge nationwide event. In the past several years the idea has blown up and taken on a life of its own. At first stores would open up at 5 or 6 in the morning. Then it became 3am. Eventually it became the norm for most places to begin the insanity at midnight. And now, in 2012, establishments like Target & K-Mart actually opened up on the evening of Thanksgiving. So Black Friday actually began on Thursday. I grew up in an era when blue laws were still in effect. It wasn’t until I was a teenager that malls and other outlets began opening up on Sunday, so it is hard for me to wrap my head around the idea of anything other than essential services like hospitals & police departments being open for business on a major holiday.

 

Society has been lamenting the commercialization of Christmas for decades. It is even referenced by a character in the classic 1947 holiday film Miracle on 34th Street. And it just keeps getting more appalling every year. Thanksgiving and Christmas used to be their own distinguishable holidays. Then they became connected when the former began being marketed as the official kickoff of the latter. All the sudden instead of two distinct days on the calendar we had an entire, month long holiday season. Personally I’ve never had a huge issue with that because, as I have written here abundantly I love everything about the holidays. I love the lights. I love the movies. I love the food. I love the music. I believe it is alright to enjoy the peripheral accoutrements associated with Christmas as long as we always maintain our focus on the true reason for the season, which is of course the birth of our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ. However, I am a bit disturbed at the direction things have taken in recent years.

 

First of all I am not at all convinced that there is much of a focus on The Lord anymore. Did you know that in the early days of our nation folks used to spend nearly the entire Thanksgiving Day in church?? Of course this isn’t just a holiday problem…it’s a year round issue. It has become quite popular to hate God in America these days. We’ve pushed Him out of nearly every facet of public life and really don’t heed His words much in our personal lives. That is a much bigger topic than I want to go into at the moment, but suffice to say that the whole purpose of Thanksgiving & Christmas is quickly becoming entirely lost in our modern society.

 

Secondly, as much as I love all the ancillary trappings of the holiday season I do think there should be limits. Things have progressed (or regressed, depending on one’s perspective) to the point that stores begin selling Christmas related items, radio stations start playing carols, television airs holiday films, and people decorate their homes as early as October. We definitely gloss over Thanksgiving, and oftentimes begin “celebrating” Christmas even before Halloween!! I do NOT like walking into WalMart or any other retailer and seeing a Christmas tree in October. #22 of my 35 Undeniable Truths of Life is that “It’s always about the money. Always.”, and there is no denying that the Christmas Creep is driven by greed. Look, I get it. I understand that there is very little profit to be made from Thanksgiving outside of turkey & the other various foodstuffs involved and that Christmas has become a huge cottage industry that can make or break the bottom line for a lot of businesses. But I also feel like there are other forces at work.

 

I believe that we are a very unhappy, unfulfilled, unsatisfied society. Political correctness & hatred of God have become inescapably pervasive. One has to be careful about words spoken and actions taken because everyone is so easily offended. The economy is bad and jobs are scarce or inadequate. We try many things to fill the void…alcohol, drugs, sex, gambling, mindless entertainment. So when Christmas rolls around we have developed a habit of jumping the gun. We decorate the house a few weeks sooner, look forward to shopping for our loved ones, and don’t seem to mind the music & movies being played in October. Christmas makes us happy, and we are desperately seeking happiness. I suppose that’s not such a bad thing, but I still think we should tread lightly. It’s human to want what we cannot have. What the Christmas industry has done (and I can’t honestly blame them) is give us what we want. They understand that Rudolph, twinkle lights, wrapping paper, and Bing Crosby put a smile on our face. Christmas is a drug and Best Buy, WalMart, Sears, and all the rest are dealers. The problem with getting high is the inevitable low, which in the case of Christmas Creep is the backlash and desensitization to the magical wonder that is Christmas.

 

It is ironic that this is the time of year when one frequently hears the old maxim that “good things come in small packages”, yet we have taken what was once a couple of very lovely days on the calendar and made them into a stretch of time that lasts more than a quarter of our year. I do not leave the comfort of The Bachelor Palace on Black Friday for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that a day that involves a sea of humanity isn’t comfortable for a guy who has grown increasingly exasperated by human beings. To paraphrase Popeye’s pal Wimpy, I’ll gladly pay extra next week for an item that you got today for an awesome discount. I sincerely enjoyed my Thanksgiving, and do my best to appreciate the blessings that God has given me. I had a great meal and enjoyed a lovely day with family. I will embrace the Christmas season with my usual verve & childlike delight. But above all else I will continue to give thanks to God, who gave his only begotten Son so that I could have the opportunity to enjoy eternal life. There is nothing wrong with giving (and receiving) gifts, company parties, hoping Ralphie doesn’t shoot his eye out, or roasting chestnuts on an open fire. I just don’t want to wake up one day and end up doing those things in the summer.

 

 

 

A Pirates Fan Looks At 40

 

When one has a forum like this one feels obligated to comment on certain events and topics du jour. I mean really…why else would one have a blog, right?? And so I am duty-bound to pontificate on the milestone that is my 40th birthday.

 

I am not sure when or why turning 40 became this mythical landmark of epic proportions since it wasn’t all that long ago that 40 was old because people died quite young of a plethora of maladies, while these days more & more people live into their 90’s so 40 isn’t always “middle age”.  However, when one considers a couple of things I guess it kind of makes sense. First of all, even though it isn’t unusual for people to live into their 90’s the average American lifespan is still only 78 years, making 40 actually a bit past middle age (which is depressing). Secondly, and on a more esoteric level, by the time most folks are 40 the pathway of their life is pretty much set in stone. They are married or divorced or maybe even in their 2nd or 3rd marriage. They have children and possibly grandchildren. They are living where they are going to live because if they were going to relocate they likely would have done it long ago. Their careers…if they have what one can even consider a career…is on solid ground, whether that means an onward & upward trajectory or stuck perpetually in neutral. Their financial status is what it is going to be, whether that means they are secure or are likely to be continually poor. All this doesn’t mean that one’s life cannot significantly improve or change after 40, it just means that for the vast majority of people it is what it is, and the question becomes whether or not a person can accept and be happy with that or will choose to be unendingly dissatisfied and unhealthily miserable.

 

Personally I have waffled between those two choices for years but have finally begun to lean toward the former. I spent way too much time in my 20’s & 30’s beating myself up for poor choices both professional & personal. Would I like to have a wife & kids?? A high paying, satisfying, well-respected job?? A big fancy house and an awesome car?? Enough money to buy anything or go anywhere I want?? Sure…who wouldn’t?? However, when I look at things from a more positive perspective I can embrace how blessed I have truly been. I have a great family that I know I can count on. I have a roof over my head, food on the table, and enough money to go out to dinner, see a movie, or keep Amazon.com in business. There are lots of folks who aren’t that fortunate. When I was 33 years old I spent 6 months in a “skilled” nursing facility and had the opportunity to see what true misery is like. My Dad would always comment that if there is a sadder place on Earth than a nursing home he couldn’t imagine what it might be. He also used to say to me that the difference between me and most everyone else in that horrible place was that eventually I would get to go home. That experience changed me forever, mostly in a positive way. I am much more appreciative of what I have now. I don’t believe anyone who says that they have no regrets. We all make mistakes and we’d all change a few things if we could go back in time. But Back to the Future was only a movie, and so we must move forward, hopefully making better choices and learning from past mistakes. Each day…each moment…is a gift from God, and we should enjoy & embrace it.

 

I can think of no better way to mark this historic occasion than to revisit my bucket list. “You have a bucket list??” Yes…yes I do. About 5 years ago my friend Slack (who needs to get his head out of his tookas and start writing again by the way) did a list he called 45 Things to Do Before I’m 45. At the time he was approaching 40, and I have no idea how he ended up doing on his list (I’m an awful friend). I decided to do my own list (written from the confines of a hospital bed) which was first published on the old MySpace blog and then re-released here a few years ago. Well, as Bon Jovi might say, I’m halfway there, so I suppose now is a good time to re-evaluate and see where I stand. Unfortunately the results aren’t as good as I’d prefer.

 

 

 

Stuff I’ve Done

8. Get a dog

23. Eliminate credit card debt

36. Volunteer at a literacy organization

I have had my beautiful pug Rocco for 4 years now and he is the light of my life. Seriously…for anyone without kids I would highly recommend getting a dog. I also began volunteering for the local Literacy Volunteers organization about 4 years ago and now serve on their board of directors. I don’t really do much tutoring for a variety of reasons, but I am more than comfortable with my level of involvement. Five years ago I had significant (atleast for me) credit card debt for no real good reason, but have now got everything paid off.

 

 

Stuff I Am Unlikely To Do

1. Get married

2. Buy a house

3. Spread my seed

9. Rebuild my nest egg

12. Attend the Super Bowl

24. Atleast pass thru all 50 states (9 down, 41 to go)

I have finally come to accept the fact that I am unlikely to ever get married or have children. I am not rich & successful nor buff & sexy enough to satisfy the expectations of your average 21st century American woman. And since I doubt if there will ever be a wife or kids I see no need to invest in a house. Houses are for families, not single men. Due to my own poor choices and the fact that West Virginia’s economy went in the tank decades before the rest of America caught up it is unlikely that I will ever have a good enough job to have much of a nest egg, but I do trust that God will always make provision for my daily bread. I know people with lots of money who are still completely miserable, so to be honest it’s really not all that important to me to have a boatload of cash. This lack of resources combined with some other factors has convinced me that it is doubtful that I’ll ever see all 50 states. Ever since an auto accident about 15 years ago I don’t even enjoy driving down the street, let alone traveling the country in a car. Plus, I honestly believe that an adventure like driving across the country is something a person needs to do while they are young and have no responsibilities. A guy I used to work with did it right after he graduated from college, and I have always thought that was profoundly smart of him. Once a person gets a job or a family traipsing about like some kind of vagabond just isn’t an option. And even though I LOVE football and always watch the Super Bowl on TV I realize now that the chances of me ever attending in person are slim. The logistics just aren’t favorable. The vast majority of tickets are bought by corporate entities, and the small amount that are released to the public cost thousands of dollars, and that’s not even taking into consideration the cost of flights, hotels, food, etc. No thank you. I’ll just hang out here in The Bachelor Palace and watch it on my hi-def flat screen.

 

 

Stuff I’ve Lost Interest In

7. Continue my education (masters degree? law school? film school?)

38. Learn about home brewing beer

I long ago began to question the value of my bachelor’s degree, which hasn’t really helped me all that much in the job market, so why would I waste time & money to go back into academia?? Looking back I think the 4 years I spent in college may have been more wisely used traveling, maturing, and figuring out what I wanted do with my life. Instead it was spent drinking way too much and attending classes that never really prepared me for anything. And speaking of drinking, I haven’t had a beer in years. It’s just not my thing anymore. I’m more of a bottled water or skim milk kind of guy. The whole home brewing idea sounded way cool several years ago, but now I can think of a ton of things I’d rather spend my time doing.

 

 

Stuff I Think I Can Get Done

4. Become more well versed in The Bible

5. Complete & submit for sale my movie screenplay

6. Lose about 50-75 lbs.

10. Go to Vegas…11. Fly in an airplane…15. See the ocean…18. Take a cruise…21. Visit NY City…26. Go to the real 221B Baker St. in London…29. Be in Boston down by the Charles River watching the Boston Pops on July 4th…31. Spend New Year’s Eve in Times Square…32. Attend the Indianapolis 500…34. Visit Italy…37. Attend The Kentucky Derby…39. Go to Mardi Gras…40. Attend an NCAA basketball Final Four…42. Go to The Jimmy Stewart Museum in Indiana, PA…43. Attend a major college bowl game (Rose, Sugar, Orange, Fiesta, Cotton)… 45. See the Grand Canyon

13. Read the entire Shakespeare canon

14. Take a ride in a hot air balloon

16. Learn about astronomy

17. Write a novel

19. Get a job that I enjoy and can stay at for the biggest part of the next 30 years

20. Study photography

22. Learn about and begin the practice of fasting

25. Buy a suit specially tailored for me

27. Ride a train

28. Eat caviar

30. Try out for Jeopardy!

33. Become a decent chess player

35. Become a sufficient, competent, maybe even semi-talented culinary craftsman

41. Learn sign language

44. Work for a political campaign

A few of these things are in progress, and a few are kind of open ended. What does becoming well-versed in The Bible even mean?? I know I need to read & study more, but does there ever come a time when one can say “I’m done. I got it. I know it all.”?? I do feel like I am a better Christian than  I was 5 years ago, but again, I doubt if I’ll ever get to the point where I have it all figured out. I am in the midst of a weight loss effort, having lost over 22 lbs. since July 2012. But since I started on that journey about 60 lbs. bigger than when I originally wrote this list doesn’t that mean I have to lose over 100 lbs. to fulfill the original goal?? Math makes my head hurt. Anyway, I am working on it and doing okay. I have the entire Shakespeare canon here in my library at The Bachelor Palace, and I have formulated a plan to complete this goal and share my thoughts at The Manofesto. Expect that in 2013. The travel stuff is kind of complicated but I still hope to do it all eventually. I had plans of finally seeing the ocean this past summer, but circumstances changed. I sincerely hope to do it next summer though. Vegas & Italy are still dream destinations, with Vegas being something I could conceivably do right now if I could ever talk anyone into going with me. Of course if/when I make it to either place I’d be doing so in an airplane, and I happen to know a couple of places in Vegas that serve caviar so that’d knock out a few more goals. It is very likely that the Vegas trip would include a visit to The Grand Canyon as well. The Jimmy Stewart Museum is only a few hours from me, just north of Pittsburgh. Unfortunately my driving phobia has prevented me from making the trip, but I’ll make it someday. NY City, Mardi Gras, London (where one would find 221B Baker St.), and Boston (for the July 4th celebration) are destinations dependent upon convincing others to go with me as well, simply because I don’t think going alone would be as much fun not to mention rather unsafe, and since I don’t have a lot of friends with ample time, money, or similar interests it is kind of a tough sell, but I haven’t given up. Attending an NCAA Final Four, the Indy 500, the Kentucky Derby, or a major bowl game may seem analogous to The Super Bowl, but I think they are slightly more…accessible, which is why I haven’t given up on those ideas quite yet. I honestly haven’t worked on my movie screenplay or novel in a long long time, but that is just a lack of discipline on my part. I still have ideas floating around in my head…I just need to put the time & effort into developing them. I have been pondering the fasting idea for awhile now, and it would obviously dovetail quite nicely with my weight loss (although that is NOT the reason one should fast). I actually attended a balloon festival with my friend The Owl in Columbus, OH this past summer (which is where I ended up vacationing instead of the beach), but the rides were cost prohibitive and I need to do a little more preparation & research about accessibility, although I have done enough to know it is definitely possible. There was a brief window of opportunity to take a sign language class a couple of years ago but I failed to jump on it. I keep my eyes open for other chances though. It’s definitely doable. I almost had myself convinced to get involved in this year’s political campaigns, both on a local & national level, but to be perfectly frank I got lazy. Shame on me. I guess I haven’t found a candidate that I truly believe in enough to spend my limited time & energy. But hey, the opportunity is there every couple of years, right?? I can’t honestly say I am much of a cook. I watch a lot of the Food Network, but just don’t have the inclination, the space, or the resources to actually get into doing it myself. Or maybe I am just being lazy again. I think I have figured out that the only job I could get that would truly make me satisfied down deep in my core is being a writer. So the question I have to ask myself is this…does writing The Manofesto fulfill the requirement?? On a practical level the answer is no simply because I am not getting paid to do this and I still have to go out into the workforce and endure the daily grind in order to pay the bills. But in another sense I am happy to have this outlet and feel that it has become a very important part of my life.

 

I kind of feel like I had my mid-life crisis in my mid-20’s and am very thankful for that. My life hasn’t turned out the way I might have hoped for when I was 19 years old, but how many people can honestly say all their dreams have come true?? I accept full responsibility for everything I have screwed up, and give all the glory to God for how well things have turned out despite me constantly getting in the way. I can’t call myself content or satisfied, and I consider that a good thing because it keeps me alert and forces me to be aware of opportunities to improve. But I can honestly call myself happy and thankful for my many blessings.

 

 

 

 

Superfluous 7…..Things West Virginians Like

My favorite morning drive DJ recently made reference to a website that had posted a list of 10 things that West Virginians love. And while their list is not necessarily inaccurate, I just find it kind of odd and uninteresting. So, since I just happen to have a forum to express my thoughts & ideas, I think I can do better. Therefore, in honor of my home state of West Virginia’s 149th birthday, I humbly present…..

 

from the home office in Huntington, WV (home of my alma mater & The Thundering Herd!!)…..

 

The Superfluous 7 Things West Virginians Like:

 

 

7       Pittsburgh, PA & The Carolinas

Pittsburgh is only a couple of hours away from most folks in the northern half of the state and it’s the nearest place where one can find culture and great shopping. Plus it’s the home of the Steelers, Penguins, and Pirates. Places like Charlotte, Raleigh, Hilton Head, and Greenville are where everyone flees to for gainful employment once they graduate college after having taken advantage of cheap in-state tuition, and every West Virginian has to vacation at Myrtle Beach atleast once in their life. I’m pretty sure that’s decreed somewhere in The Bible.

 

 

6       Hot Dogs w/everything (ketchup, mustard, onions, & chili)
Unlike other parts of the country where it is a mortal sin to put ketchup on hot dogs, here in West Virginia we full embrace the concept. Hot dog chili is NOT the same thing as the chili one eats with a spoon on a cold winter’s evening. There are no beans in hot dog chili!! Cole slaw is an acceptable though uncommon condiment, but we’re not really relish or sauerkraut people.

 

 

5       Don Knotts, Soupy Sales, Mary Lou Retton, Jerry West, Peter Marshall, Kathy Mattea, Stonewall Jackson, John Kruk, David Selby, “Hot Rod” Hundley, Sam Huff, Homer Hickam, Nick Saban, Gunner Gatski, Lou Holtz, Lawrence Kasdan, John Corbett, Red Sovine, Bob Denver, Joyce Dewitt, Jennifer Garner, TD Jakes, Brad Paisley, and Randy Moss

The vast majority of West Virginians over the age of 35 would easily be able to identify this group of actors, athletes, singers, and other sundry luminaries as natives of our state. Most folks under the age of 35 wouldn’t be able to tell you who the hell ¾ of them even are. FYI…infamous criminal nutjob Charles Manson lived in WV as a child, but we try to keep that on the down low.

 

 

4       Pickup Trucks, Cheap Beer, & Cigarettes

It’s the ultimate redneck triumvirate!! It is WV Man Law that every guy must own a pickup truck atleast once in his life. I am currently in the process of fulfilling my obligation. And no matter how long some people have been unemployed or struggling to feed their children they will always manage to afford their $30 carton of cigarettes and $20 case of Natural Light.

 

 

3       Sucking the government teat

Welfare, food stamps, HUD, SSI. Generations of West Virginians have found a way to get around that whole work thing by just sitting on their lazy hump and waiting for the monthly entitlement check to arrive in the mail. Thank you Democrat Party.

 

 

2       WalMart

I have to give credit where credit is due…Sam Walton was a mastermind. Sure most every product is probably made by 8 year olds in Indonesian sweatshops making 3 cents/week, but that means that the fantastic savings are passed on to us…the American consumer!! And the place has everything!! Where else can one purchase a can of motor oil, a 50/50 cotton-rayon blend Hawaiian shirt, some buckshot, a jar of Miracle Whip, and the entire Harry Potter DVD collection all under one roof, then get a haircut and buy a new pair of prescription sunglasses on the way out?? I’ll tell you where…nowhere. Pure genius.

 

 

1       Country Roads

It doesn’t matter that John Denver was from Colorado, that the lyrics of the song (Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah River) clearly refer to landmarks in the state of Virginia, or that the songwriters themselves once stated that the road that inspired them is in Maryland…West Virginians have latched onto this song like Lindsay Lohan in a crack house and made it the unofficial state anthem.

 

 

 

 

 

50 Favorite TV Shows…..50-41

I ran some numbers on this list just for fun.

As far as network representation, NBC has 21 shows, ABC 11, CBS 9, The WB/CW, ESPN, and HBO have 2 each, USA & MTV each have 1, and there are 2 shows that are/were strictly first run syndicated. Curiously enough Fox has apparently never produced a show that frosted my cupcake all that much.

18 of my choices were mainly 80’s shows, 14 were 90’s shows, 4 came and went before I was even born (ahhh…the magic of reruns), and only 5 shows emanate from this century (2000 and beyond for those of you in Wyoming County, WV who might be having a friend from civilization trained in the literary arts reading this to you). Only 8 are still in production.

27 of my selections are comedies and 11 are dramas. A couple of shows are the difficult to pigeonhole hybrid dramedy, and then we have a game show, a couple of soap operas (thanks to my childhood babysitter), four late night comedy talk shows, two sports talk shows, and a few shows that simply cannot be categorized.

This information may not interest anyone but me, but I found it thought-provoking.

Now, onto the first ten selections!!

 

 

50     Dawson’s Creek

          WB 1998-2003

I always found the crew from Capeside, Mass. To be far more interesting than those other high schoolers on the left coast that resided in the 90210 zip code.


 

49     Sanford & Son                      

          NBC 1972-77    

My Dad and my Papaw Jim loved the adventures of junkyard magnate Fred Sanford and his son Lamont. I always got a kick out of the banter between Fred and his sister-in-law Aunt Esther. This show was cancelled when I was 5 years old, but reruns were so ubiquitous throughout the 80’s that it was never really off the air.

 

 

48     Three’s Company

          ABC 1977-84

As a red-blooded American pre-pubescent boy I had an appreciation for “jiggle TV”, a term which makes me laugh now. The explicit, craptastic vulgarity so pervasive on television today makes this show seem like religious programming in comparison. In an early season of the 90’s hit Friends the characters are watching an old rerun and someone sardonically says “Oh…I think this is the episode of Three’s Company where there’s some kind of misunderstanding.”, which pretty much encapsulates the show perfectly. It wasn’t exactly Shakespeare, but I think maybe it flies under the radar when looking back at past great comedies.

 

 

47     The Waltons

          CBS 1972-81

The vast majority of this show’s original run came when I was too young to appreciate good quality television, but reruns were plentiful throughout the 80’s. One would not think a family drama about a large family’s triumphs & tragedies during The Great Depression would be all that entertaining, but I must say, television would be much better off if more family friendly, morally upright, well written shows like The Waltons were still around.

 

 

46     The Golden Girls

          NBC 1985-92

Here we have another premise that would seem to fly in the face of conventional wisdom but proves that maybe all that mumbo jumbo about target demographics and appealing to a younger audience isn’t always accurate. Who would think that a teenage boy would enjoy a show about a group of female seasoned citizens relishing the autumn of their years with the vitality (and libido) of women half their age??

 

 

45     Batman                                  

          NBC 1966-68

Spiderman is okay. Superman is…well…super. But for my money the coolest superhero of all time is Batman. He’s not from another planet. He isn’t the result    of some lab mishap. He doesn’t have any super powers. He’s just an ordinary guy that happens to be filthy rich, psychologically damaged, and dresses in a cowl & cape to exact vigilante justice on bad guys. And while the big screen versions of the story (both the 90’s Tim Burton flicks and Christopher Nolan’s gloomy vision) are more in line with the gritty tone of the comic books, I really love the campy, kitschy cheesiness of the 60’s TV show starring Adam West & Burt Ward (with the well-known rogues gallery of villains played by folks like Burgess Meredith, Caesar Romero, Eartha Kitt, and Frank Gorshin). It was on before I was born of course, but when Burton revived interest in The Caped Crusader two decades ago old reruns started showing up on television and I was instantly hooked.

 

44     The Love Boat

          ABC 1977-86

I’ve not been on a cruise…yet. But when the time comes how cool would it be to find love with another passenger, have dinner at the Captain’s table, and get drinks from a bartender as cool as Isaac?? Love Boat served as a side job for many past-their-prime TV & movie stars, who played passengers. This concept kept the show fresh for a few years longer than it otherwise may have been since the main cast were actually just supporting players on a weekly basis. And let’s talk about the disco infused theme song!! I’ll admit publicly that I still…25+ years later…randomly belt it out (badly) on occasion.

 

43     Full House

          ABC 1987-95

Cute babies?? Check. A saccharine sweet TV Dad no real father could ever live up to?? Check. A lil beefcake for the ladies?? Check. Conflicts that were all easily solved and wrapped up with a very special life lesson in less than 30 minutes?? Check. This wasn’t anywhere near the cutting edge, but rather a show that knew exactly how to push all the right buttons and did so with reasonable success for nearly a decade. It’s what we all seemed to prefer back in the day.

 

42     Newhart                                 

          CBS 1982-90

Some from an older generation might prefer comedian Bob Newhart’s previous effort, the 1970’s sitcom The Bob Newhart Show, in which he played a Chicago shrink hilariously interacting with co-workers and patients. However, I lean toward Newhart’s second foray into TV in which he played a Vermont innkeeper & author hilariously interacting with employees and townsfolk. This show produced undoubtedly one of the greatest series finales in the history of television on May 21, 1990 (less than 2 weeks before my high school graduation).

 

41         Coach

          ABC 1989-97

In 1983 Craig T. Nelson played a hardnosed high school football coach in the film All the Right Moves, one of Tom Cruise’s early stops on the upward climb to superstardom. Six years later Nelson would again play a football coach, this time at a fictional Minnesota college in quite possibly one of the more underrated sitcoms of the 1990’s. Curmudgeonly Coach Fox’s interactions with his two blundering assistant coaches, Luther & Dauber, were the centerpiece of the amusement, as was the relationship with his classy, way out of his league girlfriend.

 

 

Stephen King’s 11/22/63

I’m not really a Stephen King kind of guy. I have nothing against one of the 20th century’s foremost authors, and greatly respect the fact that he has sold more than 300 million books & had his work adapted into more than three dozen feature films, numerous TV movies, and even plays & comic books. It’s just that I’m not a big fan of the horror/suspense genre. Until now the only King book I’d ever read was Christine (about a possessed 1958 Plymouth Fury) when I was probably 13 or 14 years old. I’ve seen bits & pieces of movies like Stand By Me, Misery, Carrie, & The Shining, and found the 1996 adaptation of Thinner creepy in a good way. I had absolutely no clue that The Shawshank Redemption (a splendid film) was based on a King novella until years after I’d first seen it.

 

This lack of any meaningful history or connection with Stephen King’s work was why I found it odd when I decided not all that long ago to place his latest novel, 11/22/63, in my Amazon shopping cart.

 

I knew from the outset that 11/22/63 had three things going for it. First, it is not a traditional horror story of the ilk that made Stephen King a household name. It’s more of a fantasy with a little bit of history thrown into the mix. Second, the assassination of JFK serves as a major plot point. I was not yet born when Camelot was beguiling the nation and Kennedy’s death rocked it to its core, but it is just one of those stories, like the Titanic or The Civil War, which continues to fascinate generations of people centuries after the event itself. And finally, a key element of 11/22/63 is time travel, and time travel is almost always a very cool literary device. Those three things convinced me to give the book a whirl, and after reading it I am very seriously considering going back in time myself and giving the rest of King’s novels a looksee.

 

One of the most beloved time travel adventures…from my generation anyway…is the 1980’s Back to the Future film trilogy. But the adventures of Marty McFly & Doc Brown were child’s play compared to the intricacies of this story. King takes the concept a step further by giving us rules. First of all, the main character, a 30-something Maine high school English teacher named Jake, can only go back to a particular point…specifically September 9, 1958. Secondly, whatever Jake changes when he goes back in time will be reset to its original outcome if he comes back to present day and then goes back thru the “rabbit hole” into the past again. These rules are very important to  keep in mind.

 

Jake is introduced to this time portal by Al, the elderly owner of a local diner. Al discovered this path to the past several years ago in the back of his eatery’s pantry, and has made several trips to what Jake eventually comes to refer to as the Land of Ago. No one in modern day Maine knows this because every time the traveler comes back only 2 minutes have passed in the present. At some point Al became obsessed with the idea of stopping the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, but has concluded that he will not be able to complete the mission because he is quickly dying from lung cancer. So he wants Jake to do it. Al believes that if JFK had lived and Lyndon Johnson not become President other significant events might not have occurred. The Vietnam War…and the deaths of millions of American soldiers…would not have happened. Martin Luther King Jr. would have lived. Bobby Kennedy would have lived. Basically the whole path to hell that the United States seemed to take in the 60’s would have been prevented.

 

Surprisingly Jake agrees to do this crazy thing, but he wants to kick the tires a bit first. Going back to 1958 Jake becomes George and just has to hang out for a few weeks…long enough to prevent the mass murder of almost an entire family by their drunken husband/father on Halloween night. Jake/George knows about the situation because the only survivor of the massacre is the high school janitor who wrote an essay about it in a GED class Jake teaches. This subplot takes up about the first quarter of the book and might actually be the stronger portion. At any rate, Jake/George quickly learns firsthand something that Al taught him, something that becomes an ongoing theme…the past is obdurate and does not want to be changed. He runs into roadblocks that Marty McFly could never have even dreamed of. I will not reveal the outcome of the mission, but suffice to say that, despite the past actively fighting against change, Jake/George becomes comfortable enough with the whole idea that once he comes back to modern day he does not hesitate to again go back in time to pursue Lee Harvey Oswald.

 

And that is the meat of the plot. Once Jake/George is back in the Land of Ago for the second time he must hang out for 5 years until the events of that fall of 1963 begin to unfold. This is not really a hardship, as he begins to enjoy a time when the root beer tasted better, the cars were far cooler, and life was quieter & lived at a slower pace. He moves to a small burb outside of Dallas. He makes friends. He gets a job at the local high school. He stalks Oswald’s every move to make sure that he really did act alone and that none of the plethora of conspiracy theories are true. He makes a boatload of cash by betting on sports events of which he already knows the outcome. And he falls in love with the young & beautiful Sadie, the school’s librarian.

 

It is these last two things that gets Jake/George into trouble, complicates his life, and compromises the outcome of his mission. The past is indeed obdurate and does not want to be changed.

 

Does Jake/George prevent Oswald from blowing Kennedy’s brains out?? Does this make 21st century America a better place?? Does Jake/George come back to modern day Maine and resume his life, or does he decide to stay in the Land of Ago with the love of his life?? These are questions I will not answer. You’ll have to read the book.

 

At over 800 pages I must admit that King probably could have tightened things up a bit and trimmed atleast a hundred pages or so, but it’s a small nit to pick. 11/22/63 is an engrossing read. It is thought provoking, well written, and quite possibly one of the finest time travel yarns ever told. I read somewhere that a movie has already been given the greenlight under the capable direction of Jonathan Demme (The Silence of the Lambs, Philadelphia). But unfortunately I know how these things go. With such a big novel they’ll end up eliminating whole characters & subplots, robbing the story of its rich nuance and depth. Ah well…that’s Hollywood. At any rate, no matter how much the Left Coasters end up butchering the story on the big screen, we’ll still have the book. And that’s not a bad deal.

 

 

 

 

The Sammy Awards 2011 – Episode II: Electric Boogaloo

Welcome back to Part 2 of the 2011 Sammy Awards. I hope you enjoyed the first installment and will tune in for the conclusion.

 

 

At this time it is our pleasure to bring to the stage, to sing a duet of Frank Sinatra’s popular hit That’s Life, Grammy award winning artist Michael Buble and the winner of America’s Got Talent, Landau Eugene Murphy Jr.

 

 

 

To present our next award, The Manofesto is deeply honored to introduce three members of America’s greatest sports dynasty, the Pittsburgh Steelers. Please welcome NFL Hall of Famers Terry Bradshaw, Mean Joe Greene, and Lynn Swann. And the nominees are:

 

Biggest Sports Story

 

Dominance of the Green Bay Packers

The Green Bay Packers went almost exactly a calendar year without losing a game. After squeaking into the playoffs last season as a wildcard team who had a plethora of players out with injuries, they ran roughshod through the field and won The Super Bowl. Then The Pack looked unbeatable and in fact were through 13 weeks of the 2011 season, easily vanquishing their opponents while quarterback Aaron Rodgers made Cheeseheads forget all about that Favre fellow. They had an inexplicable hiccup against the lowly Kansas City Chiefs just a few weeks ago, but still look like the odds on favorite to repeat as champs.

 

NFL & NBA Lockouts

To most fans these occasional spitting contests between owners of professional sports teams and their players is an annoying battle of billionaires vs. millionaires. However, regardless of the financial legalities involved, at the end of the day Joe Sixpack just wants to be able to sit around in his underwear, drink a few beverages, and cheer on his favorite team. The NFL Lockout had been foreseen for upwards of 2 or 3 years, and it ended up lasting nearly 5 months before being resolved in July, with the only casualty being the annual preseason Hall of Fame Game. The rest of the preseason and regular season were unaffected. I have no idea who is considered to have won or lost the battle…I was just thrilled when pro football was back on my television. Unlike their football brethren, the NBA did lose part of their season, with the first 6 weeks being cancelled and the regular season being shortened from 82 to 66 games. Again I don’t really know who is believed to have won or lost, and I don’t care. I wasn’t anywhere near as invested in basketball’s drama as I was the football story, but I guess it’s nice that they resolved the issue and are playing. Now I can go back to ignoring the NBA as usual until the playoffs begin.

 

Japan Wins Womens’ World Cup

I couldn’t possibly care less about soccer, but it is the world’s most popular sport and The World Cup is its crowning achievement. Like most Americans I was rooting for the U.S. team, but since the tournament took place mere weeks after Japan was devastated by a horrific earthquake & tsunami their gals were the sentimental favorites amongst most of the Earth’s soccer loving population.

 

Penn St. Sexual Abuse Scandal

Joe Paterno served 46 years as the head coach of the Penn State Nittany Lions and is the all-time winningest coach in major college football with 409 victories. The chorus calling for his ouster had started to become louder in the past decade, mostly due to his advanced age and the fact that he hadn’t sniffed the national title picture since The Clinton Administration. However, few really thought he’d ever be fired, and absolutely no one on the planet could have predicted the circumstances of his demise. Back in November former Penn St. defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky was arrested for allegedly molesting numerous young boys, some of them on the school’s campus. Then news broke that another assistant coach had witnessed an incident in 2002 and reported it to Paterno, who had then reported it to the athletic director. Apparently no one called law enforcement. After the dust settled Paterno as well as the AD and the school’s President were fired. It was a sad & shocking end to a legendary career.

 

Tim Tebow

I’m not sure Tebow is as much a football player as he is a folk hero. Few thought his unique skill set would translate to a successful NFL career, and that presumption has been right…and wrong. Mostly due to financial considerations, the demands of a vocal fan base & the complicit media, and the fact that the Denver Broncos just aren’t a very good team, Tebow ascended to the top of the quarterback depth chart in 2011. Despite the fact that he couldn’t hit water if he was throwing from a dinghy in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and looked like the worst QB in the history of football for 55 minutes of almost every game, he somehow lead the Broncos to a stretch of 7 wins in 8 games, with several of those victories due to late game heroics. Off the field Tebow is an unabashed born again Christian who does not run from his faith, a fact which endears him to some and offends others greatly. This mix of popularity, controversial religious zeal, and questionable ability have combined to make Tim Tebow a favorite topic of discussion on every conceivable sports program, especially ESPN’s First Take, where master debater & cunning linguist Skip Bayless practically drops to his knees and fellatiates him on a daily basis.

 

Ohio St. Scandal/Jim Tressel Firing

With his stoic manner and austere sweater vest Jim Tressel seems more like a professor than a football coach. But numbers don’t lie, and in a career spanning nearly 25 years Tressel won 75% of his games, 6 Big Ten Titles, and 5 national championships. Unfortunately in 2011 he got caught up in the arrogant culture of cheating that has sadly come to define big time collegiate athletics at institutions like Ohio State. A group of Buckeye players were found to have traded memorabilia in exchange for free tattoos at a Columbus shop. The NCAA tends to frown on such things, and they really get upset when it is discovered that the head coach had known about the whole thing and covered it up. Tressel decided to resign and the players involved were suspended for much of the 2011 season. The Buckeyes are now on probation, losing a handful of scholarships and will not be allowed to play in the postseason next year. All things considered they got off pretty easy, except for Tressel, whose career is essentially over.

 

 

And the Sammy goes to…..

 

 

The Penn St. Scandal. As a fan I hate when issues like crime, sexual abuse, and indictments invade the sports page, but this was a huge story. A beloved, fabled, larger-than-life coach was fired and a hugely successful & seemingly clean program has been left in shambles. And lest we forget, there are numerous young men that must, for the rest of their lives, deal with having been molested by a sick freak who will hopefully be spending the remainder of his pathetic life behind bars being someone else’s bitch.

 

 

 

To present our next award, we are happy to reunite members of the cast of the 90’s Saturday morning staple Hang Time. Please welcome Daniella Deutscher, Megan Parlen, Anthony Anderson, Dick Butkus, Reggie Theus, and Amber Barretto. And the nominees are:

 

 

 

Best TV Show

 

How I Met Your Mother

It’s a second consecutive nomination for the continuing Friends-esque adventures of 5 New Yorkers, with the question of how main character Ted (a part narrated…in the future…by Bob Saget) eventually meets his children’s mother yet to be answered. Oh we’ve come close a couple of times, but that pursuit has been kind of backburnered as viewers are mostly caught up in the on again/off again romance of pals Barney (played by the sublime Neil Patrick Harris) and Robin.

 

Big Bang Theory

Another two time nominee, this is the adventures of two uber nerds, their eccentric posse of co-workers & gal pals, and the hot, ditzy neighbor. It’s kind of a counterpoint to the classic 80’s sitcom Three’s Company. Whereas Three’s Company catered to the lowest common denominator, Big Bang Theory embraces the intellectual capacity of its characters while not shying away from their social ineptitude. The writing continues to be witty & sharp, and the expanded cast doesn’t feel overcrowded or excessive.

 

Late Night with Jimmy Fallon

In my mind Jimmy Fallon has already surpassed Leno, Letterman, & Conan in the late night hierarchy. His monologue isn’t as solid, but then again he isn’t a stand-up comedian. The strong suit of the show is in the creative bits & audience participation games that usually come after the first commercial break…stuff like Slow Jam the News, Cupid’s Arrow (a parody of a 1980’s video dating service), Cell Phone Shootout, Models & Buckets, Beer Pong (played with a celebrity guest), Charades (played with a celebrity guest & an audience member), and my personal favorite Thank You Notes (a regular Friday night feature). The host himself is a strength of the show as well. One gets the feeling that Leno is kind of an ass & that Conan’s antics might become irritating in short order, and we all know that Letterman is mental. In contrast, Jimmy Fallon seems to genuinely be relishing what he is doing and appears to be the sort of sincerely pleasant fellow one wouldn’t mind hanging out with and enjoying a beverage.

 

Mike & Mike in the Morning

The 2010 winner of this award is still going strong. The great thing about a show like this is that it is constantly changing yet never really changes. In other words, because it is a sports talk show and there are almost always new stories & issues to pontificate about and examine on a daily basis, the show is always fresh. Conversely, the affable charm and playfully antagonistic relationship of hosts Greeny & Golic creates an easygoing, reliable comfort zone that allows the viewer to just sit back & enjoy their antics. Even when one or both of the hosts are off there is a posse of guests and fill-in hosts like former NFL players Marcellus Wiley, Mark “Stink” Schlereth, & Cris Carter, baseball insiders Buster Olney & Tim Kurkjian, and football insiders Mel Kiper Jr., Adam Schefter, & Chris Mortensen that keep the show going even if they aren’t quite as entertaining as The Mikes.

 

Parenthood

Loosely based on the 1989 Ron Howard film that starred an ensemble cast headed by Steve Martin, Mary Steenburgen, Jason Robards, Keanu Reeves, and a young Joaquin Phoenix, this is the second time a television adaptation has been attempted. Needless to say this version is much better than the first effort (which starred Ed Begley Jr., David Arquette, and a young Leonardo DiCaprio). It’s one of those dramedies that I tend to love so much on both the big & small screens, I think because it is an accurate depiction of life…sometimes we laugh, sometimes we cry, sometimes we laugh until we cry, and sometimes we have to laugh to keep from crying. There are no huge stars, but there are a few recognizable faces…Lauren Graham (Gilmore Girls), Peter Krause (Six Feet Under, Sports Night), and Craig T. Nelson (Coach). As with most shows with a large cast of characters, there are usually a few stories going on, and it’s a hit or miss effort. Fortunately Parenthood seems to hit all the right notes most of the time.

 

Pardon the Interruption

Readers of The Manofesto know how much I love my ESPN talk shows, and this is the evening book end to Mike & Mike. Starring former sports writers Michael Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser, who worked together at The Washington Post, it’s your standard “let’s debate the foremost sports topics du jour” format. However, it must be said that Tony & Michael have been doing it longer & better than anyone else.

 

 

And the Sammy goes to…..

 

 

Mike & Mike. Congratulations to Greeny & Golic for capturing their second consecutive Sammy Award. This is comfort food television for any sports fan, as well as being very informative & entertaining. I’ll continue to look forward to every weekday between 6 & 10am as long as these guys are on the air.

 

 

 

To present our next award, please give a warm & hearty round of applause to sociopolitical pundit, bestselling author, and radio personality Glenn Beck. And the nominees are:

 

Biggest International News Story

 

 

Arab Spring

I will not even pretend to be an expert in foreign relations, but basically what this boils down to is a wave of civil disobedience that spread across the Middle East and resulted in the governments of 3 nations…Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya…being overthrown. The revolution in Egypt that eventually lead to the resignation of their President of 3 decades, Hosni Mubarak, probably got the most attention. 6 months later long time Libyan leader General Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown and eventually killed. Each uprising gave courage & energy to the next, and one wonders why the populations of those nations put up with evil dictatorships, corruption, and human rights atrocities for so long before finally deciding to stand up and do something about it.

 

Japan Earthquake/Tsunami/Nuclear Meltdown

Back in March Japan was hit with a 9.0 magnitude earthquake, said to be one of the five most powerful quakes on record since 1900. The earthquake generated 130 ft. tsunami waves. The tsunami triggered multiple nuclear meltdowns at several plants. All told nearly 16,000 people lost their lives and another 10,000 were injured or missing. The earthquake actually shifted the Earth on its axis somewhere between 4 & 10 inches.

 

The Greek Economic Crisis

I’m not a financial guru either, but apparently Greece is even worse at managing its finances than America. Other European nations banded together to bail out their Greek pals, enacting some strict spending rules in the process. However, it seems like that little trick hasn’t worked and the situation is still a mess. Predictably the citizens bore the brunt of the financial mismanagement by paying higher taxes and having salaries limited, and they didn’t care for that so there were protests and backlash there too.

 

Bin Laden Killed

On May 2, 2011 the decade long manhunt for the evil bastard who masterminded the September 11 Terrorist Attacks in 2001 ended when U.S. Special Forces raided his compound in Pakistan where he was “caught & compromised to a permanent end”. Giddy crowds of proud Americans gathered to celebrate in places like Times Square, Ground Zero, & outside The White House, which may have been somewhat overzealous and inappropriate but considering the death & destruction Bin Laden had perpetrated & perpetuated over the years was totally understandable.

 

The Royal Wedding

On April 29, 2011 Prince William, the eldest son of England’s Prince Charles and the late, nearly beatified & canonized Princess Diana, married his college sweetheart Kate Middleton. As usual those wacky Brits can’t just have a quiet, subtle little ceremony. They are still under the mistaken impression that they are royalty. Well…okay…they are royalty, but they somehow still seem to think that the distinction actually means something, which of course it doesn’t. Anyway, just like his Mom & Dad’s nuptials three decades ago, the world went nuts over the wedding of William & Kate, with apparently hundreds of millions of people watching the whole show on TV or The Internet. I just hope the marriage goes better than Chuck & Di’s, which we must recall ended in divorce and her dead carcass being splattered in an underpass during a high speed chase by paparazzi.

 

Rupert Murdoch/News of the World Hacking Scandal

Rupert Murdoch owns News Corp, which is the world’s 2nd largest media empire behind only Disney. News Corp owns various familiar businesses like Harper Collins Publishing, The New York Post, The Wall Street Journal, 20th Century Fox, Fox/FX television networks, Fox News Channel, Hulu, and a 15% stake in the Colorado Rockies, as well as a ton of newspapers in Britain & Australia. One of those newspapers was tabloid rag News of the World. In 2011 it was revealed that employees of this tabloid had somehow hacked into the phones & computers of a wide range of celebrities, politicians, and even victims of crimes & terrorism. If memory serves me correctly they even hacked into the phones of Britain’s Royal Family. Ain’t technology grand?? Anyway, the tabloid shut its doors and Murdoch’s credibility has suffered a bit, but otherwise business as usual carries on.

 

 

And the Sammy goes to…..

 

 

I hate to do it, but it’s a tie. Both the Japan Earthquake & the Death of Osama Bin Laden captured the attention & the hearts of a worldwide audience, and both events have far reaching implications & consequences that will extend beyond 2011. My heart goes out to the families of the dead in Japan, as well as the millions of victims who were hurt physically, financially, and on so many other levels. We also can hope that the end of Bin Laden’s existence has brought some sort of closure to the families of those lost on 9/11 and the many other heinous acts for which that monster was responsible.

 

 

 

Rarely does a person get to introduce an award named in their honor, but our next presenter will be doing exactly that. Please give an enthusiastic welcome to NBA living legend Charles Barkley. And the nominees are:

 

 

The Charles Barkley Memorial Role Model Award

 

Tony Larussa

I’m a sucker for “going out on top” stories, and Larussa certainly qualifies since retiring soon after leading the St. Louis Cardinals to a World Series title. Larussa managed in the big leagues for 32 years, but I have a feeling he will not be one of those guys who keeps “unretiring” every other year. He’s actually an attorney, and has mentioned that his post-retirement dream is to manage a book store. As much as I love my sports, I very much appreciate folks who seem to keep it in proper perspective and have the ability & desire to pursue other interests.

 

Hawkeye the Lab

Most web surfers probably saw the picture back in August of Hawkeye, the beloved chocolate Labrador retriever of Petty Officer Jon Tumilson, lying in front of his master’s coffin. Tumilson, a 35 year old Iowan, was a Navy SEAL whose helicopter was shot down by a grenade in Afghanistan on August 6. The photo of Hawkeye faithfully staying by his master’s side until the bitter end likely put a lump in the throats of most anyone with a heart, especially dog owners.

 

Mike Krzyzewski

Coach K. has been at the helm of the vaunted Duke basketball program for over three decades. Before that he was a player and a coach at Army, where he was mentored by the infamous Bobby Knight. He has won 4 national championships, been in 11 Final Fours, and lead the USA to a gold medal at the 2008 Summer Olympics. On November 15, 2011 he became college basketball’s all-time winningest coach, surpassing Knight with his 903rd victory. To my knowledge he has achieved all of this success the right way, without much controversy or any accusations of wrongdoing. And much like Tony Larussa, Krzyzewski appears to be an intelligent, well-rounded man of varied interests & solid character.

 

Navy SEAL Team Six

The United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group is a Special Forces counter-terrorism unit whose details are mostly classified. On May 2, 2011 two dozen members of the group conducted Operation Neptune Spear, in which Osama bin Laden, the evil bastard who masterminded the September 11, 2001 attacks that resulted in the tragic, senseless deaths of nearly 3000 Americans, was finally brought to justice. Personally I am in no way reluctant to celebrate the fact that a dirtbag like bin Laden no longer takes up valuable oxygen on this planet, and I would proudly shake the hand of each one of the brave soldiers involved in his demise.

 

Rep. Paul Ryan

I hesitate to nominate a politician for this award, but Ryan seems to be one of the few out there, atleast on a prominent national level, that is promoting genuine conservative principles. The 7 term Congressman from Wisconsin spent much of this past spring promoting his counterproposal to President Obama’s budget, a plan that would reform Medicare, effectively repeal the horrendous Obamacare fiasco, reduce spending, and lower taxes. Predictably liberals killed the bill in the Senate. However, Ryan still looks to be a rising star that may be shining beacon of hope for conservatives, assuming he doesn’t sell his soul like so many other elected officials.

 

 

And the Sammy goes to…..

 

 

Seal Team Six. God bless our men & women in uniform. Even though the battles of the past decade seem to be winding down, we know that there are still plenty of soldiers scattered in all corners of the world who put their lives on the line every day and spend months & years apart from their loved ones all so that we can continue to enjoy the freedom too many of us tend to take for granted.

 

 

 

 

This seems like the appropriate place to take another break. Please join us tomorrow for the exciting conclusion of the 2011 Sammy Awards!!