Election Day 2010 was a dark day for many of us on the side of truth, justice, and the Progressive American Way — but it does no good to retreat into the shadows of negativity. We must continue to move toward the light. In my case, that means warming myself in every ray of sunlight that pokes through the storm clouds. No matter how slender that shaft of heavenly illumination is.
So, in no particular order, here are 10 Rays of Sunshine that are providing me with some light amid the gloom.
1. The Browns Beat New England
It’s one thing for my underdog Cleveland Browns to upset the Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints – but for them to lay a 34-14 beat-down on coach Bill Belichick’s New England Patriots is even better.
Belichick was the Browns head coach from 1991-95: the guy who unceremoniously dumped hometown hero, Bernie Kosar, saying the star quarterback was suffering from “diminishing skills.” Belichik’s record with the Browns was a lackluster 36–44, and in his last season the Browns finished 5–11. That same year owner Art Modell announced he was moving the team to Baltimore. Belichick resigned soon after that. Cleveland was without an NFL team – and without room in our collective heart for the coach that presided over the Browns’ darkest days.
So, it was sweet, indeed, when Bill’s celebrated Patriots took a knee on their last play to end the slaughter at the hands of the resurgent Browns. It was heartwarming to see Bill Belichick literally brought to his knees. Ah! Redemption and revenge on the same Sunday afternoon.
2. The Giants Defeat Texas in the World Series
I’ll admit that I’ve never been a San Francisco Giants fan. Something about that catch Willie Mays made in the ’54 Series that crushed my Tribe’s hopes.
Okay, the Giants were still in New York then, but it’s still the same franchise, right?
I’ll also admit that I don’t really care that the Giants have just won the World Series for the first time since moving to San Francisco.
So what is it about the Giants’ MLB Championship that brings me joy? I have two good reasons to be happy about San Francisco whipping Texas this year.
A. I love the idea of San Francisco, home of the demonized Nancy Pelosi, gay marriage, and all things liberal kicking butt on the team from a right-leaning, Neanderthal state led by a secessionist governor
B. The Texas Rangers are George Bush’s team. Poppy Bush was on hand to watch his wretched son throw out the first pitch before Game 4: a game the Giants won 4-0. I’m delighted that the Bush crime family was denied a reason to celebrate – and Dubya got less publicity for his whitewashed, self-serving memoir.
3. Sharron Angle Loses in Nevada
Senator Harry Reid’s 50% to 44% reelection over Tea Party candidate Sharron Angle proves that there just aren’t enough Limbaugh lemmings, numbskulls and racists in Nevada to win statewide office.
Thus, our great nation was spared the danger and embarrassment of six years of Sharron Angle’s lunacy in the upper chamber of Congress.
4. Christine O’Donnell Loses in Delaware
She may not be a witch, but thanks to the sanity of voters in the first state to ratify the US Constitution, she’s not the junior Senator from Delaware, either.
5. Meg and Carly Lose in California
Meg Whitman spent over $140 million of her own money to buy the California Governor’s seat. Carly Fiorina spent a relatively paltry $5.5 million of her own cash in a losing effort to unseat our liberal California Senator Barbara Boxer. It was great to know that my adopted home state could not be bought. (Not this election cycle, at least.)
6. 151,000 Jobs Added in October
The U.S. Labor Department has just reported that 159,000 private sector jobs were added in October, 2010. Factoring in government job cuts — which totaled 8,000 last month — the economy added 151,000 jobs in October. It was the first increase in total payroll since April, and private companies have now added jobs for 10 straight months. We’re not out of the dark by any means, but there’s a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. Unless incoming Speaker Boehner and the wrong-way economic drivers in the GOP House caucus find a way to wrestle the car keys from President Obama and run us back into the ditch.
7. Stock Market Above 11,000
Have you checked your 401K or pension accounts lately? Remember how they looked when Bush’s economic chickens came home to roost? Or when Bush’s economic goose was cooked?
Whatever the poultry metaphor, the stock market bulls have sprouted wings again.
8. McRib is Back
I can’t remember when the McRib went away – but now it’s back. I plan to have one soon, although I don’t know why. The last one I ate several years ago didn’t taste much like ribs, but the barbecue sauce was passable. (Let’s face it. I’ll eat an old shoe if it’s slathered with the right barbecue sauce.)
McRib debuted in ‘81 and went away in ’85. Then, in ’94, the McRib returned as a tie-in with the film, “The Flintstones”. McDonald’s announced in ‘05 that the McRib would be mothballed again following a “McRib Farewell Tour.” At the same time, McDonald’s promoted a “Save the McRib” campaign sponsored by the “Boneless Pig Farmers Association of America.” Very funny. Just not very tasty.
And now the McRib is back again! Somehow, for no earthly reason at all other than it confirms the basic, good-natured naiveté and eager enthusiasm of Americans, I’m glad to see this oddball sandwich back on the menu.
9. Marty Still Alive on “Survivor”
Forty-eight year old, Marty Piombo of Mill Valley, California is my favorite contestant on the current season of “Survivor” – my favorite TV show. This season the series was shot in Nicaragua featuring younger players against older players. So far, the youngsters have the upper hand – but craft, cunning, Machiavellian Marty is still alive – and thus, vicariously, so am I.
UPDATE: Alas, Marty’s flame was snuffed out on Wednesday 11/10 through the treachery of the lovely yet diabolical Brenda. Gotta root for Fabio now.
10. Cleveland Cavaliers Still Winning
Despite the much-ballyhooed loss of LeBron James, the Cleveland Cavaliers have not collapsed. Led by coach Byron Scott, the 3-3 Cavs currently have a share of first place in the NBA’s Central Division.
If the Cavaliers reach the playoffs without LeBron, ex-Laker star Byron Scott should be NBA Coach of the Year.
So, those are the items in the news that are making me smile. What are YOUR rays of sunshine?
2010: The First Year In Review
This snapshot by Rob Mendel (above) appears to have been taken at The John Lennon Auditorium at 703 Howard Street in Evanston, Illinois on what looks to be New Year’s Day 1982. (Note my Beggars’ Holiday hair and beard.) My 18-month old daughter Maura appears to be grasping a champagne bottle in her right hand, the stage looks as though it’s set up for a Rockme gig, and the numerous empty beverage containers and crumpled gift-wrapping all suggest a big holiday party the night before. (Maura certainly didn’t close the party, so this must be the day after.) Of course, I’m on clean-up duty. (I trust the amazing Rush Pearson will let us know if my photo analysis is correct.)
30 years after this picture was taken — and just one year ago — I started this blog.
So far, it’s been a fine voyage.
As of this writing, Paul’s Voyage of Discovery & Etc. has attracted over 22,250 views. I’ve made 73 posts and readers have contributed 565 comments. That’s a pretty healthy start — and I’m grateful for everyone’s interest, enthusiasm, and participation in this admittedly idiosyncratic forum.
This is not the real subscription sign up box. The real one is further to the right. And up a little...
I’m especially gratified by the 63 subscribers who have signed on to have my posts automatically delivered to them via e-mail. (And when Mark Lancaster gets his e-mail address straightened out, we’ll be back to 64.) Are you a subscriber? If not — just look to your right at the photo of the saluting Matey, then look below the photo and follow the simple instructions to “Hop Aboard!” I know most of us just can’t get enough e-mails stuffed into our inboxes, but I promise my posts will be at least marginally more entertaining than the daily onslaught of Viagra ads, MoveOn broadsides, replica watch ads, and assorted unrelenting spam you’re already inundated with.
My posts on this blog largely stuck to the main topics I established at the outset: history, adventure, politics and rock & roll — including a four-part history of The Practical Theatre Company. And to what type of posts were readers of this blog most attracted? What follows is a list of The Top 12 Posts of 2010, listed in order of the most views. Taken as a whole, they represent a sort of oddball Year-in-Review.
THE TOP TEN POSTS OF 2010
Note: Just click on each the title of each post to access the original article.
1. The Saints Come Marching In…
The New Orleans Saints got 2010 off to a great start by winning the Super Bowl. So, why does a man who was born in Cleveland, went to college and met his wife in Chicago, and moved to Los Angeles twenty years ago care if the New Orleans Saints finally won a Super Bowl after decades of epic gridiron failure? Simple: my daddy was New Orleans born and raised. Who dat say what about dem Saints?
2. All About The Rockme Foundation
It’s not possible to write everything about Riffmaster & The Rockme Foundation in one article, but I tried my best in this post to tell the basics of the band’s ongoing legend. A spring reunion gig at SPACE in Evanston was the catalyst for telling the story. The band is making plans to play SPACE again this year. Rockme-mania lives.
3. The Practical Theatre Co. Part 1
One of my goals this past year was to tell the story of The Practical Theatre from start to finish. (Is it ever really finished?) This first chapter covered the period from the company’s founding and the establishment of The John Lennon Auditorium — to just before our 1982 comedy revue, The Golden 50th Anniversary Jubilee, brought the PTC to SNL.
4. Baseball Season Opens: Of Mud Hens & More…
Readers loved those Mud Hens. What was written as a tribute to The Practical Theatre Company’s contribution to the Chicago Theatre 16-inch Softball League became a post that hundreds of Toledo Mud Hens fans found online, attracted to the info and photos of Toledo Mud Hens history — especially that picture of Jamie Farr. Go figure. Cluck! Cluck! Cluck!
5. History & Honeymoon: Part Three
20 years ago, my wife Victoria and I went to Gettysburg and other Civil War battlefields on our honeymoon! It’s true. I needed no other assurance that I had married the perfect woman. On our 20th anniversary we returned to Gettysburg. Now both students of the battle, we walked the battlefield on July 1, 2 and 3, 2010 on the 147th anniversary of that critical conflict. My four-part account of our battlefield tramping became one of the most popular items on the blog.
6. The Vic & Paul Show
After more than two decades off the stage, Victoria and I once again wrote and performed in an original musical comedy review, The Vic & Paul Show, in June at PUSH Lounge in Woodland Hills. It was the most fun we’ve had in years. We hope to bring the show to Chicago sometime in 2011. If you’re curious about what the show looked like — there are a series of clips on my YouTube channel. Click here to get there.
7. “I have not yet begun to fight!”
History and politics are two of my greatest passions — and this article combined the two. I’m gratified that so many people have continued to find it and read it since it was first posted on January 20, 2010 at the time of President Obama’s first State of the Union Address.
8. Le Salon de Crawford
I wrote this tribute to the incredible Crawford family early in the year — and I feel as though I must already write another. Ron and Sydney Crawford and their fabulous children are a gift that keeps on giving. I cannot imagine what this blog would have looked like in 2010 without all those wonderful Ron Crawford drawings lifting each post into the realm of true art. We love Ron & Syd. And we can’t say it enough.
9. Will California Buy a Used CEO this Election Year?
In an otherwise bleak mid-term election for progressives, California turned back the conservative tide by rejecting the self-funding, millionaire ex-CEO candidates, Meg Whitman for Governor and Carly Fiorina for Senator. Instead, liberal Democrat Barbara Boxer was returned to the U.S. Senate — and former “Governor Moonbeam” Jerry Brown was sent back to the California governor’s mansion (where he refused to live back in the 70’s). Maybe Jerry will pass on the mansion again. But thank goodness California passed on Meg and Carly.
10. The Practical Theatre Co. Part 3
This installment of my Practical Theatre history covered the insanely creative and productive period from the aftermath of the PTC’s headline-making success in 1982-83 to the closing of The John Lennon Auditorium in 1985. Looking back, it’s hard to believe a bunch of inexperienced, counterculturally-inclined twenty-somethings accomplished so much in so little time. That Practical spirit lives on today — and I hope this blog has helped in some small way to keep it alive.
11. The Matey’s Log: Sailing Season Begins
This blog has a nautical theme for one reason: Captain George Moll, who invited me to sail with him some years back, and instilled in me a love of the sea that had first been aroused by my reading of the entire Patrick O’Brian canon. I am grateful to Captain George for allowing me to serve as a crewman aboard his fleet of racing sailboats — and my accounts of several of our races proved to me among the most popular series of posts on the blog this year. And did I mention we won this year’s TGIS Series Championship? Hats off to Captain George!
12. A New Day of Glory for the Great (you heard me right) Cleveland Browns!
Great football teams bookend this list. When my beloved Cleveland Browns upset the defending Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints in the early part of the 2010 NFL season, I was moved to write this remembrance of the Browns’ glorious past. Otto Graham, Jim Brown, Leroy Kelly, Brian Sipe and Bernie Kosar are just a handful of the memorable stars that made history with the Cleveland Browns. Now, it’s up to Colt McCoy and Peyton Hillis to write the next glorious chapter.
So, that’s the best of 2010. Stay tuned. Subscribe. Post those replies!
Here’s to another fine voyage in 2011!
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Tagged as Barbara Boxer, California, Captain George, Carly Fiorina, Civil War, Cleveland, Cleveland Browns, comedy, Commodore Perry, Evanston, football, Gettysburg, improvisational comedy, Jerry Brown, New Orleans Saints, Northwestern, Patrick O'Brian, Paul Barrosse, Practical Theatre, Push Lounge, rock & roll, Rockme, Ron Crawford, sailing, The Vic & Paul Show, Toledo Mud Hens, year in review