I have fought many bodily urges to read Dave Barry’s recently published Year in Review. Aside from his unparalleled talent, he also seems prescient enough to write down the newsworthy monthly events in real time. I tend to remember (using the term loosely) on the fly.
Nonetheless, paying homage to Mr. Barry in the form of my review is something I look forward to every Christmas holiday since the option of going sledding, building a snowman or even wearing two layers of clothing is off the table here in sultry Miami. Not to be cynical, but I’m still convinced Miami is in the southern hemisphere and therefore we are in the heat of summer, just having celebrated a virtual July 4th. Nonetheless, I hope for the six of you who subscribe to my blog and the two or three who rightly fawn over Barry’s writing that there is some speck of originality here.
By almost any metric, 2015 was not a happy year. Unless of course you are a fan of The Golden State Warriors. In that case, you deserve all the vicarious and real thrills that come with supporting a team which prior to the 2014-15 season had about as many professing fans as George McGovern after the 1972 election.
Yes 2015 was quite the stinker. Just ask Charlie Sheen, Ben Affleck, Miss Colombia, not to mention the legions of victims of gun violence, terrorist attacks, Donald Trumps rants and hair gel, El Nino, Russian Airliners and anyone who paid to see a local sporting event other than basketball.
Zodiacally, this was the year of the sheep, which if I really wanted to get metaphoric could generate numerous examples myself included. But I’m choosing an alternate moniker, “The Year of the Dimwit. If ignorance is bliss, then at the bare minimum, 2015 was a Jubilee Year. The highest rated TV show was Jessica Jones (I can’t comment one way or the other), but the highest rated individual program was the Republican Debate (in the spirit of such debates I might be playing with the facts a tad). The highest grossing film prior to Star Wars was Jurassic World which according to pretty much every non-dimwitted reviewer and most Hollywood Insiders, was one of the worst films ever made. And in music, the honors go to Taylor Swift and Adele, both of whom have decent vocal range but would likely struggle to pass the writing portion of the FCAT.
2015 was a year of exits both good and bad. Steven Colbert and Jon Stewart (both ardent supporters of Trump) had their Comedy Central swan songs. And after 30 plus years of alternately dazzling and tranquilizing audiences, David Letterman exited stage right to be replaced by the aforementioned Colbert.
Speaking of Letterman, it was better late than never. With the days of stupid pet tricks, attaching himself to a wall via velcro and his notorious wrestling shoes a thing of the past, Letterman’s gig with CBS was about as stale as a two week old donut. Colbert is likely a welcome replacement but may be even more excessively cerebral than Dennis Miller was during his stint on MNF.
Still all honesty aside, Letterman was an icon and a standard-bearer for semi-hip, PG Ali-g-styled late night talk shows. So in the spirit of his show-emeritus, I am going to review the year in the Top 10 style. In no particular order, and with particular thanks to my son Adrian who helped me compile the list, here are the 10 most absurd stories of 2015.
(1) “I think my balls are perfect, a.k.a “Deflategate”.
In what amounts to an even more absurd use of Federal Funds than the Bill Clinton perjury trial regarding Monica Lewinsky, Tom Brady was forced to testify on several occasions about the density of the balls he fondles for the sake of touchdowns. Now I’m not a Patriots fan but when your team wins by more than 30 minutes, the problem is not a ball, but the losing team’s “lack of balls”.
(2) Kim Davis (I won’t dignify her nor smote your eyes with an image)
Her 15 minutes of fame seem thankfully over but not before becoming a firebrand in the Anti-Gay Marriage movement. To briefly recap, a lady on his fourth marriage and likely twelfth box of Krispy Kreme donuts proclaimed she would not fulfill her duty as Clerk of Courts by signing marriage licenses for same-sex couples. The aftermath was even worse, with evangelical candidates such as Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz rushing to Kentucky to grandstand for her cause and turn her into the 2016 version of Joe the Plumber. Even the Pope, who yearned for fried chicken straight from the Colonel’s backyard, had a meeting with her under the auspices of “helping her see the light”.
(3) Speaking of the Pope, in September the Pope made his first papal visit/pilgrimmage/stadium tour of the United States opting to visit cities that are notoriously terrible at basketball – our Nation’s capital, Philadelphia and New York. In so doing, he filled such team’s arenas to full capacity for the first time in a decade. Seemingly an unscheduled trip to a Colorado dispensary may have also taken place since he proclaimed such liberal ideals that even Keith Olbermann and Michael Moore were tempted to complain. Upon leaving New York, the Pope thanked all well-wishers for giving him free tickets to The Book of Mormon and for allowing him to stream Netflix episodes of South Park on American Airlines.
(4) Speaking of American Airlines, they now charge non-Platinum customers for such luxuries as toilet paper, plastic cups and exiting the airplane. As my case in point, my trip from Miami to Los Angeles last week took over 18 hours, during which time we spent 6 1/2 hours waiting on the runway in Lubbock Texas so that oncoming luggage cargo could be weighed properly. I will spare both you and I with the other details but I must relate that when I asked one of the stewardesses why the delay was taking so long her terse response was “Why are you asking me?”
(5) Speaking of asking questions, the Hillary Clinton Benghazi Hearings in which “Bitter political undercurrents festered all day during a contentious showdown that turned into a political endurance test.”, lasted for over 11 hours, or in other words, twice as long as any US Senator worked on a day during the year with the exception of the 4th of July pin-the-tail on the donkey contest. After a day-long grilling on the details of the attack and how Clinton handled it, the most formative questions included: “How many anagrams can you make from Libya?”, “Who would you put on your Libyan fantasy league Imam team and name any three people in history who have honeymooned either in Libya or one of the adjoining countries.
(6) Speaking of Countries, the recently completed “Miss Universe” Contest.
Steve Harvey is a great comedian, a knee-jerk funny host of Family Feud and apparently an author. He just needs some LASIK surgery. You all know the story but apparently much like the 2000 election, the runner-up in the popular vote takes the prize. Based on what he accurately claimed was a much smaller font for the winner than the 1st runner-up and a preference for women who look more like Sophia Vergara, Mr. Harvey accidentally crowned Miss Colombia not Miss Philippines the winner of the contest quite recently run by truth-obsessed Mr. Trump. The screw-up caused mini-riots among Colombian fans in Las Vegas and a major spike in cocaine and prostitute prices for Secret Servicemen on assignment in Colombia.
(7) The Iran Deal. Speaking of mistakes, I’m fairly liberal and definitely an Obama fan but the nuclear deal completed with Iran in which they agreed to open all nuclear facilities to around-the-clock inspectors, dispose of all fissile material and allow Tom Brady’s equipment manager to deflate their balls in in return for a lifting of sanctions that could bring Iran in excess of $100 billion in Western Investment, seemed a bit premature. Now this may turn out to be a great deal and I technically lobby in favor of it with anyone who challenges it, but still, I’m not quite convinced Iran is such a team player. Nevertheless, they are said to be ear-marking the billions in new revenue for bids for the 2021 Super Bowl, 2024 Olympics and 20126 World Cup.
(8) THEIFA, I mean FIFA, I mean THEIFA! Speaking of soccer, and undeserving criminals… It was made official in 2015 that FIFA has been tainted by corruption. Now these facts have been known by everyone including my 14 month old son and 98 year old grandmother who have never watched soccer for decades, but finally, investigators and the rest of the soccer world saw the light. FIFA president Seth Blatter, a longtime admirer of Richard Nixon and a regular confidante of Bernie Madoff will sooner-than-later be forced to resign but not before he and his cronies have accepted millions of dollars in bribes from such soccer-rich and cash starved countries as Qatar, Russia and South Africa. Blatter continues to plead his innocence by saying repeatedly ” I did not have sex with that Qatari official.”
(9) Don Francisco and “Sabado Gigante” – Speaking of sex, I mean Saturday variety shows that are filmed on Friday, Sabado Gigante went off the air after 50 plus years. Now a show ending its run as not as absurd as the possibility that some people actually watched the show during its half century airing. I realize that the host Mario Luis Kreutzberger Blumenfeld was not only a trailblazer, and a rags to riches success story child of Holocaust Survivors, but the few moments when I watched the show, usually with the sound off, confused me. I couldn’t tell if it was a commercial, a talent show or an auction for Hooters. Not that listening to NPR’s Prarie Home Companion on Saturday evenings is much better, but still, even Letterman’s gig didn’t last fifty years. Oh yes, how silly I am, it generated big advertising dollars and gave people something better to watch than weekend football.
(10) The Greek Debt Crisis – Speaking of money, in June the Greeks held a nationwide referendum to determine whether to accept the conditions of their debt payoff to solvent European nations/bankrollers, especially Germany. They of course voted “no” or as they say in Greece “Ouzo”!!! There were some shades of gray in the vote (maybe 3, not 50) but it wasn’t the vote itself that perplexed me so much as the aftermath. Now I realized that The Greeks are the forebearers of our modern democracy but celebrating the “no” vote like it was 1999 was a bit absurd. It’s like asking a group of convicted felons to choose between jail time and a job as a bartender in a Vegas night club. In this “transformative” moment the Greeks voted for another round of conditions-free bailouts, and continued the celebration with FIFA officials on the island of “Lesbos” by guzzling German beer and burning BMW’s.
Phew. I made it. Not in less than 140 characters but still less than Donald Trump would tweet if there were no character limits. That’s my take on 2015. But if you want the real story, don’t ask me. Ask the dimwits. Ask anybody what they think about anything and they will tell you everything. Why? Because they know everything. And why is that? Because they heard it from somebody else on Twitter who happens to know everything. Therefore by association they are omniscient, much like some of the characters to whom I referred.
This was 2015 in a nutshell. As long as you have at least 2000 followers despite the fall of Twitter, you are officially an expert. And if you are one of Donald Trump’s two million plus followers, likely a dimwit.
2016 is just a few days away. I look forward to it, even some future flights on American Airlines and guzzling NPR segments days before the election.
I also want to thank my brain for remembering at least few key events, Dave Barry for making the absurdity so fun, David Letterman, my family for the love, and my mother, father and possibly a few fellow educators for likely being the only ones to read this blog in full, or even read it at all.
Now I can finally read Dave Barry’s version. Happy Almost New Year!