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We've all got Top 10s. Here's mine.

December 30, 2013 - Paul Giannamore
We used to gather and vote in the newsroom sometime after Thanksgiving on the local Top 10 stories, and to file ballots for the AP’s Top 10 state and national stories.

We don’t do that anymore, at least not the way we used to.

And since I’m kind working with one foot on the web, one in print and my backside on a banana peel, I figured now is a good time to cast my own personal Top Developments for 2013, a combination of local and national and personal stuff that hit me during the past year, replacing my ridiculous former print predictions for the new year.

And so, without further disturbance:

10. I flew in a Ford Tri-Motor for the second time in my life. It was altogether more fun than being locked in a smooth metal tube going 500 mph for which I had to be stripped searched, tattooed, and made to recite the American Airlines pledge on videotape to be mailed to my relatives in the event I was not heard from and was reported missing. Thanks to the Jefferson County Airpark and Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 859 for the privilege of the Tri-Motor. And I’m still happy not to be sitting through four-hour airport authority meetings as a repporter to determine who has the right to drive the visiting pilots’ courtesy car, which used to be an ancient retired police cruiser but now is apparently newer and shinier.

9. I spun the Enrico the Cruiser into a guardrail in early January, dinking a dent that only is visible when I point to it and scream “IT’S RIGHT THERE! CAN’T YOU SEE IT?” It made me feel mortal. It made me drive well below the speed limit for nine months, a trend reversed only after staring into the angry face of a black Dodge Challenger in a dealership lot and hearing it say in a deep menacing voice, “Drive.” I checked back into therapy after that encounter.

8. Paula Deen and Phil Robertson. I continue to become more culturally insignificant with each passing year in the decade of my 50s, and I’m damned proud of it. I thought pointing out that Deen ran a business with an environment unbecoming was the right thing to do, only to find later the whole trial was a sham perpetrated by the plaintiff. Doesn’t matter. Deen still was an opportunist, talking about being a diabetic after shilling sugar and butter on us for years only when she got a spokeslady contract with a diabetic equipment supplier. And I still think use of that racial slur word is wrong in any context. Period. Me and my siblings to be taught by an Italian American father and mother who grew up when segregation was still the law of much of the land that the word was akin to sending one’s soul straight to hell. Thus, I believe iit is possible to eradicate that word in any context.

As for Robertson, I tried to argue that it is a sad state of affairs when public discourse in America is driven by a duck-whistle zillionaire who never shaves. I failed to note that he has knuckle dents in the cover of his Bible from all the thumps he puts there, thus making him the judgmental authority on everything and thus beyond criticism from anyone who disagrees or thinks that there are ways to disapprove of conduct and be tolerant at the same time.

7. I found out President Obama is a man made of glass with millions of citizens who are, apparently, air-filled cells of bubble wrap. I actually tried to make light of Michele Obama’s expression as President Barry took a selfie with the Babe in Chief of some Scandanavian nation at the great Nelson Mandela’s funeral. Mrs. O just looked as mad as my wife would if I suddenly met Patricia Heaton in Applebee’s and tripped over my feet to say hello and swear my undying dislike of the way Raymond treated Debra Barone.

But Americans have had their sense of humor removed. I was pilloried on Facebook, told that I should find somebody I like and run him for office and stop picking on Mr. Obamawhahahahaahwaaaaaa. And I’m never going to meet Patricia Heaton anyway, and she probably can afford to eat at someplace far more exclusive than Applebee’s.

Smile. All of you. Before it's too late.

6. I came home to the Herald-Star. The feds won’t require the terminally lazy to join a gym, so I was not expecting to see the bucks I had hoped for come rolling my way without major effort. And becoming younger and more of a gym icon. And I missed writing. And getting up at 4:30. And being treated in that “what have you done for us lately” way that is a staple of newspapering. And being told by readers that I’m out of touch, stupid, a hack, a guy who picks on the President, doesn’t understand that fat butter cooks can say that word or that inventing a duck whistle makes you the judgmental authority on all right and wrong. I love my job.

5. I embraced Twitter. I used to fear Twitter. It was the 140-character destruction of American thought. Turns out a lot of people are really, really intelligent because they are able to distill thoughts into 140-character gems. Or links to good articles that improve my intelligence. I used to deride Twitter as the home of the Twits. And while I’m convinced I’m a Twit, I no longer fear the 140-character message. I just can’t do a year in review in 140 characters.

4. My wife is broken, and it hurts. Yes, it hurts her, but it hurts me, too. The Boss decided in July to try to board a scenic ski lift and missed, getting tossed to the ground and shoved off the platform, separating her left (writing and throwing hand) shoulder and breaking her right (you use this for the accelerator and brake pedals) ankle. She is tough and brave and a fighter and has become more of a gym regular than I in the second half of the year. But I still get odd looks when I say, “Kathy was hurt in a July ski-lift accident.” Nobody believes me. But just this week, the good news was that before she again popped the healing torn nerve in her left bicep that she was able to raise her arm three quarters of the way over her head.

3. I learned not to be mad at the priest when he uses Stuff The Herald-Star Printed as the topic for what’s wrong with the world in his sermon. That used to cheese me. Now, I just ask God to forgive me for being out of touch, stupid, a hack, a guy who picks on the President, doesn’t understand that fat butter cooks can say that word or that inventing a duck whistle makes you the judgmental authority on all right and wrong.

2. I could not single-handedly ignite a fire in the American spirit to support Edward Snowden. It’s just that many people figure it is more important to support duck whistle guy, who’s views on homosexuality and sin have much more of a daily impact on their lives than having every damned phone call and text they make be stored in a government server warehouse in Utah.

1. I’m getting used to the concept that, if all goes well, in 10 months, my son will be married and the nest will be empty. Just in time for The Boss to again prove how much smarter she is than I, by beginning work on her doctorate in some kind of educational electronics that either involves the NSA or duck whistles and the Bible. The Drummer has, through the grace of God and a good man with a good business in the area, started a job that could blossom into a career and keep him local. Meaning I’ll have someone to distract me from stuff I should be studying and learning if I’m going to have anything to talk with The Boss about when the nest goes empty. I’m still smart enough to know that boarding a ski lift in July isn’t a good idea for people who never ski.

Happy New Year.


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