I love lists. I look forward to the end of the year every year because of the lists. I don't know if it's related to an anal-retentive need to organize and rank things or if it's just an efficient and simple way to remember what happened in the past 365 - in this year's case, 366 - days, consumed in tiny little amuse bouche-sized bites.
But I've compiled my own list that spans politics, media and entertainment, gives both honorable and dishonorable mentions, and yes, plugs my past writing and toots my own horn. Look, it's a rough economy, I'm trying to make a name for myself, and if I have to be redundant and make fun of babies, I'm going to do it.
For me, a WTF moment can be either good or bad, but has to be in some sense a little bit unbelievable, as in "You can't write this stuff." So behold - my first annual list of WTF moments:
10. Barack Obama wins the presidential election. I don't know about any of you, but I was really biting my figurative nails down to the quick until 11:01 PM on November 4th. Sure, the circumstances of the past eight years could only logically lead to a Democratic victory, let alone an Obama victory, but for those of us who celebrated it, it was a moment I'll never forget. I was with friends in Union Hall in Brooklyn, one of the last places that was allowing people in, and the place just erupted with a wave of joy upon the call for Obama. After we left, the streets were still celebrating. It was a total 180 from the same time four years ago, when NYC was walking around as if it has been dumped.
10.1. Rick Warren? WTF? I understand inclusion, and as a liberal Democrat, I embrace it, but why the megachurch, book-hocking, celebrity "pastor" who has said deplorable things about same-sex marriage so soon after the Prop 8 debacle? There was no one else? No one? Really?
10.2. Hillary Clinton for Secretary of State? The irony of that one debate moment in Iowa when Hillary laughed about Obama's advisors being from her husband's administration is kinda wonderful, especially since Obama said, "I'm looking forward to you advising me too." Wow.
9. Proposition 8 passes in California. Such a huge kick in the gut for this country, thanks, in part to Rick Warren and his ilk who spread misinformation and ignorance to voters in California. It's sad when supporters of an unconstitutional and illegal ban on same-sex marriage use democracy to be intolerant, but this fight is far from over. The California Supreme Court who originally ruled earlier this year that the bans were against the law will now hear challenges to Prop 8, and the state's Attorney General Jerry Brown - who originally supported the ban - now thinks it should be repealed.
8. Eliot Spitzer gets caught with a hooker. Holy crap, this was what I was talking about when I said you couldn't write this stuff. A governor who ran on fighting corruption and cleaning up Albany gets caught with a hooker. What a fucking moron. And really, that's all there is to it. What a total, fucking moron.
8.1. By the way, I was right. Not long after the scandal broke, possibly even the same day, I got my ass handed to me in a sling for saying that the state GOP would try to compare Obama's campaign to Spitzer since both candidates ran on change and such. Well, I"ll say it again: I was right. Well-spoken wordsmith and former NY Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno this past September:
"Who was more articulate than [Spitzer]?...Who was more charismatic...Who had the best Hollywood ads that money could buy? And you know what, for those of you in the press, don't forget it. Articulate. Fancy. Dancey. Prancey...You have people like hi, OK, who would fool the people. Now let's fast-forward to Barack Obama. Everybody says: Man he's articulate. What a presence. How bright. Good [ol'] American. Stand-up guy. Yeah, yeah. He's all of those Hollywood things that they can project. What has his life been about?"
7. The NY Giants win the Super Bowl. If there was ever a moment besides the election that gave me the most pure joy and happiness, it was the wild card Giants beating the previously undefeated New England Patriots in the last 35 seconds of the game. While it would have been a real neat trick to see a team go 19-0, the Giants are my team, and this was a true underdog victory that made me believe anyone could not only exceed expectations, but achieve the impossible. It has also completely instilled in me the need to wait 'til the fat lady sings. To remember that it ain't over 'til it's over. Like I pointed out before the election. (I also blog about the Giants at www.nygiantsmix.com.)
7.1. My joy didn't last too long. The Super Bowl took place on February 3rd and I was fired from Edelman, a NYC public relations firm, on February 14th. Valentine's Day. Bummer. What can I say? I am not fit for corporate PR. But then again, maybe Edelman isn't either, that "soulless, Wal-Mart shilling firm that shouldn't lecture about ethics." (Thank you, Gawker's Hamilton Nolan.) PR being exposed as BS isn't exactly breaking news. And I felt like I was prostituting my writing skills to write treacly copy about snack foods and beauty products. But that article to which I linked was published the day I was fired, so you can imagine the delicious schadenfreude. (Read more about Edelman hijinx, like the time it paid professional journalists to pretend they were regular ol' folks "Wal-Marting across the country.") Whew, good to get that out of my system!
7.2. Plaxico Burress shoots himself in the leg. Plax, WTF? Super Bowl hero to total idiot. Plax, you broke my heart...
6. The Season 3 finale of "Bones" rips my heart out and eats it. Following up on the glorified copywriting I did during my tiny, tiny stint in PR, this is what got me really writing again. Fox's "Bones" became my favorite show during the primaries. I wrote all about it, even called it the "perfect show." Not even two months later, my favorite character, Zack Addy (Eric Millegan) was revealed to have been in cahoots with a cannibalistic serial killer and would no longer be on the show. What followed was what those of us in "Bones"-land called a "Zack-lash." And fans and critics absolutely hated the story, especially since anyone watching the show knew it was even beyond "way out of left field." It was way out of the stadium, and then the stadium was torn down to be replaced by a new one, and it was way out of that stadium's left field. In this case, you shouldn't write this stuff. But I defended the show's creator, Hart Hanson, and continue to do so. I also will continue to promote a show that I still consider to be one of the few diamonds in the rough still on television. (Seriously, watch it! It returns Thursday, January 15th at 8:00 PM!) Why will I always defend this show? Because it gave me my writing groove back. I wrote a full-length TV script explaining what could have happened with Zack's whacked out head, the first full-length project I've completed in 10 years. Thank you so much, Hart and Eric, for ripping my soul to shreds so I could finally write again. (Now, on to original things!)
5. Rachel Maddow - another hour of fine programming on the television machine! I'll admit, my slight crush on Dan Abrams made me kinda sad to see him leave MSNBC. But giving Rachel Maddow her own show was probably the best decision made by cable news all year. (Even better than letting E.D. Hill say "terrorist fist bump" while on the air!) Most of us listened to Rachel on Air America radio (where she still broadcasts nightly) but when she started appearing on "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" and became Keith's regular fill-in host, it was time to give this supremely talented and intelligent woman an hour to herself. And every night, we thank MSNBC by giving her superb ratings. (At least for MSNBC.) What's so perfect about Rachel Maddow's show is that she's clearly a lefty, but she's an inclusive lefty. Most of us are, and we all should be. There is almost always an opposing viewpoint represented (it's Pat - Buchanan!) and if there isn't, Rachel lets us know that hey, they tried. But she also isn't angry. While I like Keith, the only time it seems he has on conservatives and Republicans is when they've jumped ship and started railing against the same things against which Keith rails. Watching KO can feel like you're getting drunk on whiskey and then getting emotional when you realize you've had too much, and now all you want is a Krispy Kreme glazed doughnut. Nothing with sprinkles, no jelly, just the plain, wonderfully savory and sweet kind. It's what you want, and it's enough. Rachel Maddow is that doughnut. But don't get me wrong - I still like whiskey! (And KO keeps it light by bringing the funny - Bailey's on the rocks?) But most importantly, MSNBC finally put a woman in prime time on a permanent basis who isn't Rita freaking Cosby.
4. The deaths of Tim Russert and Heath Ledger. Neither death should have happened. Neither one. Some may believe that such premature deaths are a part of destiny, but why would fate take such passionate, talented souls? Why not let them experience a scare, then allow them the opportunity to correct their fatal flaws and try again? It smacked of injustice to see Tim Russert deleted from this election. He was one of the few on-air newsmen who conquered the bloody massacre that was the primary season like a happy warrior. This should have been the year of Tim Russert, and he was so sorely missed by his friends and family as well as his audience. And Heath Ledger, who was just starting to emerge as one of my generation's finest actors and had a baby girl whom he loved, had to miss out on the accolades he received for his work in "The Dark Knight." He turned himself over to play the Joker, a purely evil, anarchic criminal who killed for the fun of it and banked on never being caught or exposed. After his heartbreakingly repressed character in "Brokeback Mountain" to his utterly unleashed and chaotic Joker, wondering what could have been is just achingly frustrating.
3. Speidi and "The Hills," Tila Tequila... It is truly an unjust world when good actors like Eric Millegan are haphazardly written off shows and people like Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt get air time. I really wish I never ever knew who they were. At all. And I kind of don't, but they're everywhere. It's way too easy to be a stupid asshole in this country, and now we reward stupid assholes by giving them TV shows? (Or blogs? Heh...oh.) I also wish they would get off the TV so real actors can get back on. Why? Because back in ye olden times, people went on the TV machine to entertain the TV-watching audience. This gave them great success. More people wanted to share in this success, so they trained, and they worked, and they built up a resume, and they were deemed talented. And thus, stars became stars. Let's get the clunky, aimless asteroids that threaten our planet off the TV and let the stars shine again. Please.
3.1. Bronx Mowgli. Really? Okay. Then I am Westchester Cinderella.
3.2. Speidi "weds" - the picture of marital sanctity. And armageddon. Really? This is allowed? People getting married for publicity, getting married again and bringing cameras to the courtroom, letting people wonder if it's even real? Because there are thousands upon thousands of couples in the country right now who are real and can't legally do anything about it except pray that laws and people and culture all change.
2. Cheney totally admits to approving torture.
How this lasted only one news cycle I will never know. Indict this man for war crimes now. How do I capitalize all caps? WTF??
1. GOP stupidly chooses comedy lady doppleganger as VP candidate. Wow, Republicans. Good work. The White Democratic Lady is overcome by the Black Democratic Man. So, White Republican Man plus White Republican Lady = White Democratic Lady's votes? Really? And hey, very smart move picking the one woman in the country with the most imitatable voice (especially if you've seen "Fargo") who looks like the smartest female comedian in pop culture right now and who has apparently seen "all" the newspapers, but hasn't actually read them. Right. "Saturday Night Live" - a program not known for its political parodies at all - will never catch on to this. Oh, you betcha. Good work, GOP. Good thinking. Even I have a Sarah Palin impersonation.
Can't really say I'm sad to see 2008 go, especially knowing the progress and corrections that can be made moving forward. But while I'm here, thank you for reading my silly blogs, whether you like my writing or not, I'm really happy to have you here. I hope you'll stick around for more in 2009!
(I know I skipped the economic crisis, but let's face it - that's going to be sticking around for a while.)