Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016: The Dark Side

Art by Dave Cockrum 

The above image is from a 1980's Nightcrawler mini-series written and drawn by the late, great Dave Cockrum. I'm been trying to think of a way to get that crazy dinosaur gunslinger character into a post somehow. So with a minor edit of one word balloon, here you go.

There seems to be a general concensus that 2016 sucked. And yes there was much suckitude in the last 366 days (of course it was a leap year so one extra day of sucking! Yay!). 

And I didn't have to look far beyond on my own life to find the year getting off to a lousy start. 

As I have documented in previous posts, my mother had move out of her home at the beginning of the year to go into assisted living as her Alzheimer's began to progress beyond our ability to provide for her care in her own home. Later her condition became much worse and she had to move to another facility better equipped to deal with Alzheimer's patients in the later stages of the disease. It's been hard to watch my mom decline in her physical and mental health. I take heart in knowing she is receing excellent care. But my heart is filled with dread for the future. As rough as 2016 was for my family, I fear that 2017 may hold greater challenges. 

And during my mom's first weeks in assisted living, I was brought low by a case of pneumonia that kept me out of work for several weeks. I guess I was fortunate that my misery kept me from fully experiencing the carnival of the early presidential primaries. Apparently Donald Trump, candidate for President, has actually won some votes. OK, no need to panic. There's no way he's going to win the Republican nomination. 

And there's no way the Carolina Panthers were going to lose the Super Bowl. Yeah, time to bring that trophy back to North Carolina and---oh look, the Denver Broncos lead by 87 year old Peyton Manning is kicking the shit out of them? What the hell, people? Oh my God, what an humiliation after such a strong and dominant season. Oh well, there's always next season. Except there wasn't as the Panthers failed to seal the deal on too many losses. It's not the worst season ever in Panthers football; there are at least half-dozen years that will contend for that ignominy.  But come on guys! Really! 

Perhaps our expectations for the Panthers were too high. Speaking of high expectations, I did not have any for Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. DC Comics and Warner Bros.' full court press to conjure up a cinematic universe like Marvel's looked like a big old mess coming down the pike. Still, DC super heroes are part of my childhood and I held out hope that maybe, just maybe it wouldn't suck too badly. But Batman V Superman managed to live down to my diminished expectations. The only glimmer of mercy against its washed out palate was seeing Wonder Woman on the big screen. OK, Wonder Woman movie coming 2017, I'm counting on you to please, please, pretty please don't suck too badly. 

Also pleading "please, please, pretty please" were sensible minded people all over the world looking at Great Britain face a decision about leaving the European Union, an action dubiously dubbed "Brexit". On the plus side to staying, facts and figures. On the side of leaving, blatant appeals to hate and fear. Look, this is a country that has given us Doctor Who and Kate Middleton!  Surely the good people of the United Kingdom wouldn't be swayed to--Brexit WON?!? Oh shit! Which was the reaction of people who voted for it but didn't think it would count. Really? I'm sure the Doctor and Duchess Kate are very disappointed in you. 

Well, the good thing that came out of the Brexit vote was a strong lesson to America about taking voting seriously and not giving in the hate and fear. OK, it does look Donald Trump has won a lot of primaries...Yes, he's won most of them, fine, fine. Looks like he's going to be the Republican nominee for President. Don't panic, no need for panic! There is no way in hell he's winning the general election.  

Perhaps the prospect of a Trump Presidency (however unlikely, am I right? Am I right?) would be less scary if we lived in a less scary world. But it's hardly less with the continued threat of terrorism with attacks like we saw in France, Belgium, Turkey... well, nearly everywhere in the world it seems.

And in America, nothing made the world scarier around us than the escalation of deaths resulting from guns.  

2014 = 12,547 deaths
2015 = 13,473 deaths 
2016 = 14,829 deaths

Now, I'm no professional mathematician but them there numbers are going up. And that means more Americans going down in a pool of blood.   

A particularly glaring example of the crisis we face in America was back in June in Orlando FL where the nation was stunned by the death of one woman, a young up and coming singer, her life taken out by stalker. Barely a day later, 49 innocents lives are lost to a madman with a gun. The pendulum swung between mass slaughter and individual homicide, threats on either side of a peaceful society. Of course, whether its one life at a time or several at once, efforts to curb gun violence remain stifled by right wing politicians with an irrevocable allegiance to the 2nd amendment and a blazing hard on for NRA cash into their campaign coffers. 

OK, maybe I'm being a bit too cynical about the political process. Maybe things will get better when Hillary Clinton becomes--what? Donald Trump carries Ohio? OK, no big, we kind of expected that. 

And North Carolina. And Florida. And Michigan. What the fuck! Michigan? Michigan's gone Democrat forever! Wait, did Donald win Pennsylvania? Shit! He did! And....OK, I'm feeling dizzy. Must lie down. It's going to be OK, Donald Trump... is... going... to... be... our... next... Pres-

CLUNK! 

OK, I fell unconscious! Wow! I had a crazy dream that Donald Trump won the presidential election! 

Uh oh. Not a dream? 

So... there's that... then. 

Well, why not? I mean, come on! Maybe the world is just spiraling towards disaster and soon we will envy the dead. And if we are going to envy the dead, we've got a lot of them to be envious of. 

Let's take a moment to remember some of those we lost in 2016. Just be patient, this won't take long, I'm sure. 

  • David Bowie, English singer, songwriter and actor  
  • Alan Rickman, English actor and director
    • No, not Snape!    
  • Glenn Frey, American musician 
  • Abe Vigoda, American actor 
    • Abe had been around so long, there was an actual website keeping track to make sure he was still alive. Alas, they no longer have that mission.  
  • Paul Kantner, American singer and musician 
  • Joe Alaskey, American voice actor  
  • Maurice White, American singer-songwriter  
    • Earth, Wind and Fire, man! Great group!  
  • Antonin Scalia, American Supreme Court Justice
    • You bastard! You dropped dead, Mitch McConnell was a dick by refusing Obama's appointee and now look: Donald Trump is going name your replacement! Donald Fuckin' Trump!   
  • Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Egyptian politician and diplomat, Secretary-General of the UN  
    • I'm including him because if I ever need to name a United Nations Secretary-General for some kind of trivia contest, this is my go-to guy! 
  • Harper Lee, American writer  
    • OK, this list has been going awhile. Surely we're almost done and...
    • Nope.  
  • George Kennedy, American actor
  • Nancy Reagan, American actress, First Lady of the United States  
  • George Martin, English record producer, composer, arranger and engineer  
  • Keith Emerson, British musician  
    • With the prog-rock group Emerson, Lake and Palmer
  • Larry Drake, American actor  
  • Rob Ford, Canadian politician  
    • Ah, the fun we used to have with this guy on the blog. Before we had Donald Trump, Canada had Rob Ford
  • Ken Howard, American actor  
  • Garry Shandling, American actor and comedian  
  • Patty Duke, American actress  
  • Amber Rayne, American pornographic actress  
    • With a name like that, I'm damn sure I'm not interested in her porn specialty. 
  • Merle Haggard, American country singer  
  • Balls Mahoney, American professional wrestler 
    • I've never heard of this guy before but I had to put him on the list. I mean... BALLS!   
  • Doris Roberts, American actress  
  • Guy Hamilton, British film director 
  • Chyna, American professional wrestler  
  • Prince, American singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist 
  • Billy Paul, American singer  
    • OK, we have to be getting near the end of the list.
    • Hold on, let me see.
    • Oh, hell! This line is long! 
  • William Schallert, American actor  
  • Guy Clark, American singer-songwriter 
  • Alan Young, English-Canadian actor
    • He was in the sitcom with the talking horse.
    • Alan got 2nd billing.    
  • Muhammad Ali, American boxer  
  • Gordie Howe, Canadian ice hockey player 
    • I'm not shitting you, I have heard of Gordie Howe before. Really! I knew who he was! 
  • Christina Grimmie, American singer  
    • OK, this hurts. A lot. 
  • Anton Yelchin, Russian-born American actor  
    • Also hurts. A lot.  
  • Ralph Stanley, American bluegrass musician  
  • Scotty Moore, American guitarist 
    • Played guitar for Elvis Presley back in the early days of Elvis' career.   
  • Pat Summitt, American basketball coach  
  • Michael Cimino, American screenwriter and film director  
  • Elie Wiesel, Romanian-born American Nobel writer and political activist   
  • Garry Marshall, American film director, television producer and actor  
  • Marni Nixon, American vocalist 
  • Jerry Doyle, American talk show host and actor
  • David Huddleston, American actor  
    • Character actor, most famous role was one of the Johnsons in Blazing Saddles. And also in... The Big Lebowski.  
  • Kenny Baker, British actor  
    • Our first Star Wars loss for the year. 
    • Kenny was R2D2.
  • Fyvush Finkel, American actor  
  • Arthur Hiller, Canadian film director  
  • Lou Pearlman, American music manager and record producer  
  • Steven Hill, American film and television actor  
  • Gene Wilder, American actor  
  • Jon Polito, American actor   
    • The one of those "It's that guy who was in that thing" actors. Tons of TV roles. And also in... The Big Lebowski.  
  • Hugh O'Brian, American actor 
    • Really, this list has got to be at an end.
    • Looking ahead and...
    • Damn! 
  • Phyllis Schlafly, American writer and political activist  
  • Edward Albee, American playwright  
  • Arnold Palmer, American golfer  
  • Herschell Gordon Lewis, American film director and screenwriter  
    • This man made some truly messed up horror shit back in the day. Do not watch his movies on a full stomach.
    • Or an empty stomach.
    • You know what, if you're going to watch a Herschell Gordon Lewis horror movie, just have your stomach removed in advance.
  • Shimon Peres, 9th President and 8th Prime Minister of Israel, Nobel Peace Prize laureate 
  • Neville Marriner, British conductor 
  • Bobby Vee, American pop singer
  • Leonard Cohen, Canadian singer, songwriter and poet 
  • Janet Reno, American lawyer
    • More than just a lawyer, Janet Reno was the first female Attorney General of the United States. 
  • Robert Vaughn, American actor 
  • Leon Russell, American musician 
  • Florence Henderson, American actress 
  • Fidel Castro, President of Cuba 
    • If the son of a bitch could've held on for another few months, he would have outlasted 10 US Presidents. 
  • Ron Glass, American actor
  • Greg Lake, British musician
    • Of the prog-rock group Emerson, Lake and Palmer.
    • Yeah, ELP got named checked earlier in the post.
    • Now the band is known as "and Palmer".  
    • I know that's not funny. 
  • John Glenn, American aviator, astronaut and politician 
  • Joseph Mascolo, American actor
    • Played Stefano on Days of Our Lives
    • You can thank my wife Andrea for me knowing that little piece of trivia.  
  • Alan Thicke, Canadian actor and songwriter 
  • Bernard Fox, Welsh actor
  • Henry Heimlich, American physician 
    • Yes, he invented that maneuver to help people stop from choking.
    • The Henry. 
  • Zsa Zsa Gabor, Hungarian-American actress and socialite 
  • George Michael, British singer 
  • Carrie Fisher, American actress and writer 
  • Debbie Reynolds, American actress 
And just to show that even Wikipedia can't keep up, here are a couple that haven't made the list yet:  
  • Barbara Tarbuck, actress on General Hospital 
  • Robert Leo Hulseman, inventor of the red Solo cup 
And... DAMN! 

And that is nowhere nearly a complete list. 

So yeah, 2016, you get out! You heard me, get the HELL out and please do let the screen door slam your ass on the way out! 

Yeah, good riddance, 2016! We didn't need you or (choke!) want you (sob!) or anything! Just (whimper!) go! 

...

No, don't go! Yeah, I know we've been through some rough stuff, baby but we had some good times too, right? 

C'mon, 2016, let's end on a high note. Let's talk about the good times. 

And that post will be going live at 5 PM Eastern Time in the United States.

Until next time, remember to be good to one another.




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