Remembering 2016, My Eleventh Year Of Blogging

Maybe it’s the 11-year itch.  Maybe it was a lack of enthusiasm and creativity.  Maybe I was tweeting too much.  Maybe I watched too many bad movies.  Maybe I felt too bummed out about all those celebrity deaths and the endless wars on activists, Muslims, Black people, Indigenous people, journalists and whistleblowers.  Or maybe I couldn’t think of anything original to say on a more prolific basis.

Whatever the reason, blogging in this space wasn’t a top priority for me in 2016.  (I didn’t write anything for The Huffington Post.)  As this depressing year of growing uncertainty and violent turmoil dragged on and on, postings became fewer and fewer.  Weeks and weeks would go by without anything new to say.  If not for Twitter, I wouldn’t have said anything at all.

But since The Writings Of Dennis Earl began in 2006, it has been a tradition to end the year with deep reflection and remembrance of everything that happened in this space.  So here we are again looking back, only this time there’s very little to recap.

Like 2015, movie reviews were the dominant feature here.  Despite screening more than 160 films, most of them lousy and not from 2016, I only wrote about 21 of them.  As always, horror was a priority.  In January, I finally watched the 2006 version of Black Christmas.  I wasn’t impressed.  (I later screened the original which was a huge disappointment.)  During Easter weekend in late March, there were posted assessments of Orphan and the original Omen.  I tried writing a review of the laughable Damien: Omen II but completely gave up after drafting only a few hundred words.  In the end, I just couldn’t finish it so to the trash bin it went.

In April, I checked out the needlessly gory WWE production No One Lives, which is even worse than See No Evil.  In May, after pretty much giving up on him after The Village, I was absolutely delighted by M. Night Shymalan’s The Visit, one of the better found footage entries.  Genuinely scary and surprisingly funny, it’s his best film since Signs.

With the arrival of a new TV and my first Blu-ray player in June (thanks Mom and Dad!), it was on to The Prowler, one of the many slasher films from the early 1980s.  Despite screening it on the best possible digital format to date, after its intriguing first two minutes, it quickly devolves into rather routine grisly business.  That was quickly followed by Dolls which was worse.  The month ended with critiques of the laughless, mostly unscary Zombie High and the depressing Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed which at least allowed me the opportunity to properly praise the cleverly satirical original which features a terrific performance by Emily Perkins.

In August, I subjected myself to the deliberately offensive Silent Night Deadly Night and its unintentionally hilarious sequel, which shamelessly recycles so much footage from its predecessor it takes up half its running time.  The month ended with an evaluation of The Boy, a peculiar thriller from earlier this year with a weak twist.  At least it tried to be different.

I enjoy a good comedy just as much as a good scarefest but as usual, I tortured myself with dreck this year.  In March, I slammed The Wedding Ringer, Born In East LA and Identity Thief.  Then, in April, I hammered the little-seen WWE production Bending The Rules featuring the retired Edge and the decidedly unsexy horndog fiasco The Last American Virgin which, to its credit, does have a decent soundtrack, one of its few redeeming qualities.  Curiously, there were more laughs to be found in the Silent Night Deadly Night films and the Jean-Claude Van Damme breakthrough Bloodsport, even if they were unintentional.

Sometimes a film is so bad you have to write about it, even if it’s old.  Five years after enjoying the original Death Wish, I finally sat down to watch all four sequels.  There was something particularly egregious about Death Wish 3 that I just couldn’t keep my thoughts about it to myself.  Death Wish: The Face Of Death, the fifth and final chapter, was a more typical sequel, bad but not extraordinarily so.  Sadly, it was the last Charles Bronson film.

Movies you treasured as a child don’t always age well when you watch them as a mature adult.  Such was the case with the badly outdated Tron and Masters Of The Universe.  I suspect there’ll be more such disappointments in the near future.  That said, I’m hoping to focus more on quality than quantity in 2017.

Speaking of disappointments, good Lord, is it just me or did a lot of famous people die in 2016, seemingly more so than usual?  In an unproductive year, I only managed to eulogize two in this space.  In January, like many around the world, I was genuinely jolted by the death of David Bowie.  Few knew he was even dying of cancer, so when the news was announced late one night in the second week of the year on social media there was temporary disbelief.  But when his son, the filmmaker Duncan Jones, confirmed the news, there was no more denial.

In recent years, I had been buying a good number of his CDs and thoroughly savouring them.  When he released The Next Day in 2013, I was thrilled.  It was his first album of new material in a decade, a tremendous return to form.  While collecting some of his back catalogue I was missing, I got the 3-disc version of Nothing Has Changed, his most expansive greatest hits collection, for Christmas in 2014.  This year, we got Blackstar and the soundtrack to his stage musical, Lazarus.  Call me greedy but I want more Bowie.  The only hope now is a whole slew of unreleased offerings in the coming years.

Prince was notorious for recording far more material than he ever released and when he died in April, besides wondering how he died, there was much speculation about what was being stored in his famous vault for all these years.  Unlike Bowie, whose music I was continually gathering and absorbing, I hadn’t kept up with The Purple One’s latest output.  I still pull out my copies of the Batman soundtrack and The Hits/The B-Sides and I’m still looking for The Gold Experience.  But unlike Bowie, I wasn’t interested in catching up with his most recent ventures.  The collective outpouring of grief for his sudden, unexpected passing is a testament to just how much of an impact he had on popular music in the 70s, 80s & 90s.  Bowie and Prince will both be severely missed.  History will regard them as titanic influences in their time and rightly so.

When Daniel Bryan retired from in-ring action in April, it was another sad moment for wrestling which is in a bit of a creative slump right now.  But because he’s a decent talker and super over as a babyface he was able to become an on-air authority figure for Smackdown.  He also co-hosts Talking Smack, the show that follows Smackdown that sometimes allows performers to break kayfabe.  During one such broadcast, Bryan got into it with the InterContinental Champion The Miz who went ballistic over The Yes Man’s criticisms.  When Bryan foolishly walked off the set as an infuriated Miz ranted, I wrote about what he should’ve said if he had decided to fight back.  He should’ve listened to me.  He would’ve won the argument.

The WWE Hall of Fame has honoured numerous iconic figures over the years but never the enhancement guys, the men paid to lose to make those same iconic figures look that much better.  So, back in April, I recommended five possible inductees.  I hope to make more recommendations in the new year.

Sometimes the best storylines in pro wrestling are accidents because the original plans fell through.  That led to When Plan “A” Goes Awry: 5 Times WWE Got Lucky With Plan “B” Storylines.

For Hillary Clinton, her long coveted dream to become the first female President of the United States crashed and burned in the most eye-opening federal election of my lifetime.  Convinced she could easily beat a highly unpopular brander with deeply held racist and sexist views and a history of sexual harassment and assault, she then proceeded to run an abysmal campaign that turned off a number of voters who supported Barack Obama.  Bernie Sanders, she wasn’t.

As a result, starting January 20, 2017, we get President Stupid.  Donald Trump’s Secret “Inspirational” Playlist was posted just before the election with the expectation that he was going to lose even though, as I noted to a friend on Twitter, there was a small part of me that still felt he could win.  Curiously, at the start of the year, I wrote Donald Trump’s Secret Song Choices To Replace Hail To The Chief.  I hope he goes with November Spawned A Monster.

As the election drew to a close, I thought about Trump’s longtime association with Howard Stern which became a major focal point throughout the campaign.  That spawned Did Donald Trump Get His Anti-Immigrant Rhetoric From Howard Stern?, the only essay I wrote for this annoying election.  In the satirical spirit of the above-mentioned playlist pieces came Rejected Donald Trump Brand Endorsements written mostly with a bad stomach ache while laying in bed.

As per usual around here, politics was a frequent theme for my poetry.  The Answer Is Never was written from the point of view of an Apartheid Israel military official.  American Gulag rails against Gitmo, an ongoing stain on America.  Choke On Your Legacy levels President Obama’s heartless drone policy.  The Arrogance Of Certainty takes aim at delusional political pundits, especially the ones who appear on CNN, who don’t know anything and pay no price for their stupidity.

Meanwhile, Fragile Entanglements is a sarcastic reference to being blocked by a young woman I was chatting with for a couple of years on Twitter.  She had mentioned wanting to get her nipples pierced and I noted how brave that was and that my ex had one such piercing.  I never heard from her again and can’t see her tweets without signing out.  Honestly, I’m not missing anything.  As you can tell from the poem, it totally broke me.

11 years ago, I met an older woman on Yahoo Messenger I almost met for casual sex but I had significant doubts and insecurities about her and so after much back and forth (I ghosted her three times), I eventually realized it was a bad idea and never talked to her again.  (We never actually made firm plans to hook up, thankfully.  We just talked about the possibility.)  Having not thought about her for a while, I once again wondered if I made the right call.  I’d already written a couple of poems about her in the past like Forever Haunted, for instance.  Dancing On The Edge Of Desire resurrected my conflicting feelings about the whole matter.  We haven’t spoken in 10 years.  As I write this, though, I’m inclined to believe I was justified in my final decision.  Why?  Because I was never fully comfortable with the idea of being with someone I didn’t know very well who I had nothing in common with, who wasn’t sober, still mad at her ex-husband and didn’t seem to know what she actually wanted.  When in doubt, go without, as the saying goes.  The drought continues, unfortunately.

This idea of being seduced, especially by a more experienced lover like the one I almost met in real life, is very appealing to me which led to fictional works like The Antidote and Out Of The Ruins Of Endless Despair, the latter of which views a lustful glare as a way of restoring one’s humanity.  Wheels On The Road uses the metaphor of car travel (with a Canada’s Worst Driver reference thrown in) as a means of escaping depression.  No Invitation For Peace is about being trapped by your own dark thoughts even when you’re feeling positive and content.  The first two lines in verse one had been sitting around for a long time before I finally figured out how to finish it.  All I had to do was think about myself.

This past February, The Writings Of Dennis Earl reached a milestone.  On the 19th, this website turned 10.  In honour of this occasion, I reflected on a decade of blogging.  Since the move from Windows Lives Spaces to WordPress in 2010, TWODE has been accessed over 180000 times.  This year, for the first time since 2013, annual hits are down significantly.  When 2016 ends, there should be barely 30000 hits.  The last two years, thanks to a number of Huffington Post pieces, annual page views were closer to 40000.

I shouldn’t be too surprised.  I didn’t write nearly as much this year, unfortunately, and I had nothing new to showcase on HuffPo.  I’m hoping to make up for that in the new year.

Twitter is a completely different story.  I have almost 800 followers and tweeted thousands of times.  (By comparison, a little over a hundred readers directly follow this site.)  Certain tweets can generate thousands of hits.  If only my blog entries were as popular.

Speaking of that, it was older pieces that generated the most interest in 2016.  12 of the top 20 entries were Seinfeld trivia pieces, which were first unveiled in 2008 and 2013.  Collectively, all the old Seinfeld postings generated more than 10000 hits, more than a third of the overall hit count this year.

The Gene Simmons Family Jewels essays continue to be well read as well.  What’s Really Going On With Gene Simmons & Shannon Tweed? earned another 2000 hits bringing its overall total since 2011 to over 32000.  It remains the most popular blog entry in this site’s entire history.  Before 2016, it was the only piece to reach the 10000-hit plateau.  Now, two more postings have done so, as well.

A 2012 anniversary entry on CM Punk’s famous 2011 “pipe bomb” promo on Raw earned over 3300 hits in 2016.  Its overall total to date is just over 11000.  And Interesting Things I Learned About The Seventh Season Of Seinfeld is just over 10300, thanks to an additional 2300 page views this year.

I don’t get a lot of feedback here for my work but when I do, it’s generally quite positive.  The nicest comment of the year came from Vanilla Midget Pride who thoroughly enjoyed my CM Punk tribute from two years ago.  A close second:  fellow blogger Janna Michelle who enjoyed the conclusion of No Invitation For Peace.  The best-named commenter:  hands down, Bobby Butthole.  You didn’t see the worst comment I received because I refused to allow its publication.  Someone called Hillary Clinton a very nasty word (based on the wrong presumption that she would win) and I thought that was over the line.

So, once again, as another year fades into history, I find myself asking the same questions as always.  Where do I go from here?  Will I ever make a living as a writer?  Am I doomed to be sexless forever?  And is there a life for me outside my parents’ home?

Again, I don’t have any good answers.  But what I do have is hope.  God knows we’ll all need it when Trump becomes the President.

In the meantime, keep watching this space for new entries.  I will try to write more in 2017.

Happy New Year, everybody.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Saturday, December 31, 2016
2:16 a.m.

Published in: on December 31, 2016 at 2:16 am  Leave a Comment  

The Lows Of 2016

1. David Bowie died of cancer two days after releasing his final studio album.  First, there was collective denial, then absolute shock and sadness.  His unexpected death set the tone for a miserable year.

2. Donald Trump is the 45th President of the United States.  How much considerable, irreparable harm will he cause to the world?

3. Daniel Bryan retired from the WWE due to severe, unrecoverable injuries.  He was looking like the next John Cena.  Now he’s reduced to being a powerless “authority” figure on Smackdown, a supporting player on a reality show and a punching bag for The Miz.

4. Jian Ghomeshi isn’t in prison.  Rape culture is real.

5. The Fort McMurray fire in Alberta.  Such devastation.  It will takes years to rebuild.

6. Fifty Shades Of Black.  A horrifically unfunny “parody” of Fifty Shades Of Grey.  No more Marlon Wayans movies.  Please.

7. Gord Downie’s terminal brain cancer diagnosis.  May he live as long as he can and make as much good music as he is able.

8. The armed protest at the Oregon Wildlife Refuge.  What exactly did it accomplish other than mass ridicule?

9. The rise in racist hate crimes against Muslims, trans people, gays, Black people, Jews, Palestinians and Indigenous communities worldwide.  White supremacy needs to die already.

10. Mr. Fuji died.

11. Gitmo is still open.

12. CM Punk lost his first UFC fight in the first round.  Years ago, Brock Lesnar lost his first fight as well and went on to become World Champion.  So there’s still hope for The Straight Edge Superstar.  He’ll be back.

13. Krystal on Canada’s Worst Driver 12.  An unrepentant narcissist who is an absolute maniac on the road.  The sooner her license is permanently suspended, the better.  Host Andrew Younghusband deserves a Nobel Peace Prize for tolerating this phone-addicted brat as well and for as long as he did.

14. The phony “Bernie Bro” smear from Clintonistas desperate to keep the Vermont Senator from becoming the Democratic nominee for President.  Not only did this erase the millions of women who supported Bernie Sanders (especially Hillary Clinton’s numerous feminist critics and women of colour), it was dastardly and downright insulting.  In the end, Donald Trump is the next US President, so good job, you stupid idiots.

15. Gawker went bankrupt after losing a court case to balding, overtanned racist Hulk Hogan.  Fuck you, Peter Thiel.

16. The very funny Garry Shandling died.  He spearheaded two of the most influential sitcoms of all time:  It’s Garry Shandling’s Show and The Larry Sanders Show.  He was a great Emmys host, too, and a quiet mentor to so many other comics in need.

17. Prince died of a prescription drug overdose.  The incredible legacy he leaves behind which doesn’t even include the thousands of songs he never released.

18. Zack Ryder’s one and only InterContinental title reign lasted exactly one day.  Why do his pushes always seem like ribs?

19. Doris Roberts died.  Both Barones are gone now.

20. Brexit.  The United Kingdom isn’t so united anymore.  What other European nations will follow Ol’ Blimey’s risky lead?

21. George Michael died on Christmas Day.

22. The endless civil war in Syria.  So many villains who should be prosecuted for war crimes.

23. Palestine is still illegally occupied by Apartheid Israel.

24. Matt DeHart is still in prison.

25. The lack of justice for mostly Black and Indigenous victims of police brutality.  The racist status quo cannot and must not continue to protect murderers and torturers of the state.

26. James Ellsworth.  Enough.

27. Chelsea Manning attempted suicide twice (which she was punished for) as she continues to be persecuted and tortured with solitary confinement for exposing deplorable war crimes by the American government.  Release her immediately and let her transition already.  She’s suffered enough for her uncommon courage and conviction.

28. All the terrible films I saw this year:  Paul Blart: Mall Cop, Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2, Pixels, Hot Pursuit, Bad Teacher, The Lazarus Effect, Get Hard, the Black Christmas remake, Johnny English, Johnny English Reborn, Damien: Omen II, Born In East LA, The Wedding Ringer, Identity Thief, The Heat, Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension, No One Lives, Night Of The Creeps, Bending The Rules, The Last American Virgin, Bloodsport, The Last Exorcism Part II, Killer Klowns From Outer Space, Basket Case, Krampus, Dolls, Jessabelle, Brain Damage, Wolfcop, The Haunting In Connecticut 2: Ghosts Of Georgia, Street Trash, Zombie High, We’re The Millers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990), Masters Of The Universe, Observe And Report, National Lampoon’s Van Wilder, Silent Night Deadly Night, Silent Night Deadly Night Part 2, Here Comes The Boom, Let’s Be Cops, Death Wish II, Death Wish 3, Death Wish 4: The Crackdown, Death Wish: The Face Of Death, Three Fugitives, Evilspeak, Ride Along, Ride Along 2, Knucklehead, Hatchet, Meatballs, Meatballs Part II, The Gallows, Daddy’s Home, The Out-Of-Towners remake, 22 Jump Street, Ted, Hotel Transylvania, Hotel Transylvania 2, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, The Funhouse, Critters, Critters 2, the Conan The Barbarian remake, Swing Parade, Africa Screams, At War With The Army, Check And Double Check, The Flying Deuces, Deathouse (AKA Silent Night, Bloody Night), The Smallest Show On Earth, My Favourite Brunette, The Perfect Score, Cheech & Chong’s Animated Movie!, And Now For Something Completely Different and The Great Rupert.

29. Only some Russian Olympians were banned from competition in the Summer Games in Brazil.  Why not all of them?  All their Paralympians were barred.  Why the double standard?

30. Cody Rhodes left the WWE.  Even he got sick of being Stardust.

31. MuchMoreMusic was yanked off the air.

32. New2You quietly closed its Lime Ridge location.  I bought so many cheap CDs there over the years.  I will miss it dearly.

33. Ryan Lochte.  What the hell was he thinking?  Oh right.  He wasn’t.

34. Russ Feingold wasn’t able to get elected back to the Senate.

35. “Iron” Mike Sharpe died.  Why isn’t he in the WWE Hall of Fame as a jobber?

36. Amber Heard’s damning testimony about her abusive ex-husband Johnny Depp.  She deserves better and he should be ashamed of himself.

37. The desperate campaign to outlaw the peaceful #BDS movement against Apartheid Israel.  Try as they may, AI and their Western governmental allies cannot stop the inevitable end of violent colonial Zionism.

38. Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds both died during the same week over the Christmas holidays.  Doubly sad.

39. Montreal lost in the MLS final to Seattle.  Boring game.  Penalty kicks are a terrible way to settle a scoreless draw.

40. The Chris Jericho/Dean Ambrose asylum match at Extreme Rules.  Too long and too slow.  No wonder the audience in attendance stayed quiet for most of it.  If it wasn’t for the thumbtacks, the ending would’ve been terrible, too.  Don’t expect this silly concept to be repeated.

41. The overcrowded announce table on Smackdown Live.  Does the WWE not realize that we don’t need three terrible colour commentators all at once?

42. 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers Of Benghazi.  Michael Bay reimagines the most politicized moment of the misbegotten Libyan invasion as a long-winded action epic.  No thanks.

43. The Undertaker vs. Shane McMahon at WrestleMania 32.  If McMahon hadn’t jumped off the top of Hell In A Cell, would anybody be even talking about this match?  And what was the point of the stipulation if it was never going to be honoured?

44. Radiohead finally released a studio version of True Love Waits and it’s dreary.  I prefer the more moving live version from the I Might Be Wrong EP.

45. My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2.  Exceedingly manipulative and annoyingly sexist.  I only laughed twice.

46. Ride Along 2.  Will Kevin Hart ever make a good comedy?  Just as bad as the original.

47. The constant, dangerous scaremongering about Vladimir Putin and Russia.  Democrats will blame anybody but themselves for their pathetic electoral performance this year.  Soul searching is not their strong suit.

48. Damien Sandow was fired from the WWE.  That’s not the way you treat The Intellectual Savior Of The Unwashed Masses.

49. The Forest.  The concept is far better than the execution, unfortunately.

50. Rodrigo Duterte, the psychotic leader of The Philippines, who openly admitted to murdering his citizens as part of his horrific War on Drugs.  No wonder he’s an ally of the American government.

51. The Liberals lied about the deal to sell weaponry to Saudi Arabia.  Now it’s up to a Canadian court to decide whether it should be honoured.  It shouldn’t.

52. The overblown incident in the House of Commons when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accidentally elbowed an MP from the NDP during a contentious vote.  Trudeau wasn’t the one who needed to apologize repeatedly.  When even feminists criticized the controversy, you know it was nothing.

53. Kellie Leitch.  Loathsome, dishonest, racist, elitist.  The perfect face for the modern Conservative Party of Canada.

54. Obama & Congress will give 40 billion dollars to Apartheid Israel to help it continue propping up its endless, illegal occupation of oppressed Palestinians over the next decade.  If Netanyahu’s truly upset about the Iran Deal and the USG’s refusal to veto the latest UN condemnation of illegal settlements, he’ll reject the money.  You know he won’t, though.  Because #BDS is hurting Apartheid Israel’s economy.  And Zionism needs welfare to survive.

55. The ongoing, heartless persecution of Palestinian activist and torture survivor Rasmeh Odeh.  End her ordeal and clear her name already.

56. No one has gone to prison for murdering Baltimore resident Freddie Gray.

57. One stubborn juror led to the mistrial of North Carolina police officer Michael Slager who murdered Walter Scott as captured on video.  It’s Rodney King all over again.  Even actual footage isn’t enough to get a conviction for a white cop killing a black man in America.

58. 49 people were murdered at a gay club in Florida by a man who may have been gay himself.  Awful, just awful.

59. The news media’s early, constant coverage of Donald Trump and his long-winded rallies without much scrutiny of his record during the Republican primaries.  Are you happy now, Les Moonves?

60. The ongoing suicide crisis in the Canadian Indigenous community.  We are failing these kids.  We must do better.  We must listen to their concerns and directly address them.

61. Kurt Eichenwald.  He supported the wrong Democrat.  He’s not to be trusted.  And he’s a whiny bitch, too.

62. For the first time in about half a decade, the WWE split its roster again by putting half on Raw and half on Smackdown.  Not only that, they’ve added more championships so now each show has its own World Champion, mid-card-Champion, Tag Team Champions and Womens Champion, plus show-centric pay-per-views.  So lame.  Why return to such a failed concept?  The Raw vs. Smackdown rivalry is phony.  You all work for the same goddamn company!  No wonder your TV ratings suck so bad.

63. The failed coup in Turkey.  It gave authoritarian Erdogan every excuse to crack down on whatever democracy was still left in his troubled country.  Why hasn’t he been kicked out of NATO?

64. There wasn’t a single person of colour nominated for an acting Oscar.  Because of the public outcry, I suspect 2017 will be very different.

65. Media Matters For America going all in for a loser.  Still with Hill, jackwads?

66. Alberto Del Rio left the WWE.  Again.

67. The moral cowardice of Aung San Suu Kyi.  She doesn’t give a damn about the ruthless persecution of Rohingya Muslims in her own country.  Despicable.

68. Nat Turner and Casey Affleck are in contention for Academy Awards next year but face serious accusations of sexual assault and sexual harassment, respectively.  Turner faced a lot of scrutiny and didn’t handle it particularly well, while Affleck, a likely Best Actor nominee, just hosted Saturday Night Live and has routinely been given a free pass.  After decades of protecting Bill Cosby, the entertainment press needs to address this with Affleck directly.  Innocent lives are at stake.  Turner’s victim committed suicide.

69. The Nightly Show was cancelled just as it was finding its satirical voice in the insane world of American politics.  Comedy Central should’ve had more faith in it.

70. Bowie’s Blackstar wasn’t nominated for the Album Of The Year Grammy.  A huge, insulting oversight.

71. Muhammad Ali died.  He was an asshole to Joe Frazier but I’ll always respect his opposition to Vietnam.

72. Corey Graves and Byron Saxton at the Raw commentary table.  Absolutely no chemistry whatsoever.

73. Alan Rickman died.  He may have been a villain on-screen but he was a mensch in real life.  His public support for Rachel Corrie, an activist murdered by Apartheid Israel, should always be remembered.

74. The Wars on Drugs, Black people, Indigenous communities, trans, gay, lesbian & bisexual folks, sexual assault survivors, journalists, whistleblowers, prisoners, women, Sikhs and Muslims continues unabated.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Saturday, December 31, 2016
1:38 a.m.

The Highs Of 2016

1. Hillary Clinton will never be President of the United States.  When you run an incompetent, uninspired, foolhardy campaign, screw over your Democratic opponent and his left-wing supporters thanks to your corrupt political and media allies and then blame everybody else for your own neoliberal stupidity, you get what you deserve:  utter and complete humiliation.

2. Game 7 of The World Series.  One of the most competitive, unpredictable and exciting championship games not only in baseball history, but in the entire history of sports.  It is a damn shame Harry Caray never lived long enough to see his beloved Chicago Cubs end their notoriously brutal 107-year slump.  Cleveland blew it.

3. David Bowie’s Blackstar.  Released 8 days into the new year, I never heard a better album.  Poignant, cathartic, masterful.  He couldn’t have ended his recording career on a higher note.

4. OJ: Made In America.  An epic, thoroughly revelatory documentary miniseries that puts the travesty of the OJ Simpson double murder case in illuminating and often uncomfortable historical context.  Infuriatingly fascinating.

5. Mauro Ranallo joined the WWE as a play-by-play commentator.  It’s so refreshing to hear the actual names of wrestling holds being called again.  Now if only the company would find him a decent colour man instead of saddling him with three unimaginative seat fillers.  Where’s his Bobby Heenan?

6. Jerry “The King” Lawler blocked me on Twitter and no longer does colour commentary for the WWE.  This misogynistic sleaze wasn’t worth following or listening to in the first place.  He did me a favour.

7. Persecuted journalist Barrett Brown was finally released from prison.  May he continue to sing like the proverbial canary.

8. Iggy Pop’s Post Pop Depression.  You can never go wrong writing songs with Josh Homme.  Too bad he’s going to lose the Best Alternative Rock Album Grammy to Bowie’s Blackstar next year.

9. Leah Remini’s Scientology & The Aftermath series on A&E.  A fittingly skeptical companion to the excellent, eye-opening Going Clear movie I finally screened this year.  David Miscavige’s cult is in serious shit.  Time to stop treating it like a religion.  Revoke its tax-exempt status and start making indictments.

10. Portugal won Euro.  Ronaldo’s redemption 12 years in the making.

11. Roger Ailes was forced out of Fox News after being sued for sexual harassment.  Is his most famous political operation going to survive?  Let’s hope not.

12. Despite hundreds of ill-fated attempts, the CIA could not kill Fidel Castro who died of natural causes as an old man.  Will Cuba continue to fight against the scourge of imperialist capitalism?

13. Rob Riggle’s set during The Rob Lowe Roast on Comedy Central.  Absolutely killer.  The wretched Ann Coulter got it the worst.

14. Batman: The Killing Joke.  A surprisingly dark animated version of the graphic novel that deserved a more traditional and longer theatrical release.  Far superior to the disappointing Mask Of The Phantasm, it features a much stronger performance from longtime Joker Mark Hamill.  We could be spared the mercifully brief musical number, though.

15.  The #NoDAPL protest at Standing Rock in North Dakota.  A noble cause that is literally life and death for an already marginalized and brutalized Indigenous community.  We must all rally around these heroic water protectors.

16. Mohamedou Slahi was finally released from Gitmo.  The best-selling author deserves reparations and an apology for his disgusting torture at the hands of the United States government.  Absolutely shameful.

17. The Getaway by The Red Hot Chili Peppers.  They take five years now to put out new albums but the wait is always worth it.  Still funky and instantly accessible, even in middle age.

18. Corrupt, decrepit racist Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio lost his latest bid for re-election and was indicted by the Department of Justice.  The end is near for this fascist monster.  Finally.

19. The Triple Threat number one contender’s match between Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar at Fastlane.  Fantastic action despite the expected outcome.

20. Green Day’s Revolution Radio.  I’m glad Billie Joe Armstrong got sober.

21. The List Of Jericho.  Sheldon Cooper called.  He wants his funny gimmick back.  Uh oh.  I just made the list.

22. The Lazarus soundtrack.  Three more David Bowie gems.  Plus, Dexter sings!  A genuine surprise.

23. Canada won 22 medals at the Summer Olympics, 16 of which were earned by women including the hardworking soccer and rugby squads, their best effort in 20 years.  Penny Oleksiak, Andre De Grasse, Rosie McLennan and Derek Drouin were among the standout individual athletes who excelled in Brazil.

24. AJ Styles’ debuted at the Royal Rumble, feuded with Chris Jericho, Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns and John Cena, and became WWE Champion.  Superstar of the year.  His Extreme Rules match with Reigns in particular was filled with entertaining spots.

25. The AIDS Crisis and Greed Is Good episodes of CNN’s The Eighties.  There remains no cure for both.

26. Weezer’s “White Album”.  Their record sales may have plummeted but Rivers Cuomo hasn’t forgotten how to craft a catchy alt-rock sing-a-long.

27. All the good films I screened this year:  The Omen (1976), Misery, The Visit, Anthony Shaffer’s The Wicker Man (first version), Ginger Snaps, Crimson Peak, Fantasia 2000, Rockshow, Elvis: That’s The Way It Is, Mission: Impossible III, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, The Maltese Falcon (1931), Satan Met A Lady, The Desert Trail, the original Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, the original D.O.A., the original Psycho, Monterey Pop and Shock.

28. The Miz’ passionate promo on Daniel Bryan during Talking Smack.  The most entertaining mic work he’s ever done.  The Yes Man could’ve easily shut down his argument.  He walked off the set instead.  What a mistake.  The segment may have single-handedly revived the fortunes of the InterContinental Champion.

29. Game two of the Montreal/Toronto MLS semifinal series.  The first time Canada has gotten legitimately excited about mens soccer in 30 years.  An atmospheric juggernaut with plenty of goals, rain, smoky flares and suspense.

30. The Tragically Hip’s final concert on CBC.  Bittersweet and engaging from start to finish.

31. The Tragically Hip’s Man Machine Poem.  Certainly not their best offering but if it’s their final musical statement, it will certainly suffice.  After 30 years, they’re not afraid to experiment with new sounds and ideas.

32. The term “Divas” was finally retired by the WWE.  All women who wrestle for the company are now superstars like the men.  It’s about goddamn time.

33. Sasha Banks vs. Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte Flair for the renamed Womens Championship at WrestleMania 32.  Incredible spots, high drama, tremendous workmanship.  It should’ve been the main event.  An honourable mention to the ladder match for the InterContinental strap.  A fine exhibition for the future of the company.

34. The hour-long debate between “Donald Trump” and “Bernie Sanders” on @Midnight.  Hilarious.

35. Radiohead’s A Moon Shaped Pool.  More melodic elegance as Thom Yorke beautifully mourns the end of his relationship to Rachel Owen who sadly died of cancer this year.

36. Kevin Owens.  Bam Bam Bigelow without the tattoos and better promos.  His elevation to the main event in just two years is a testament to his considerable skill as a performer.  And he’s Canadian.

37. Braun Strowman.  Turns out he’s much more effective without Bray Wyatt.  And he might be the fastest big man in the business today.  A monster heel with great potential.  He looks like he belongs.

38. WikiLeaks.  The #DNCLeaks and the #PodestaEmails exposed The Democratic Party for what it actually is:  cynical, snobby, clueless and neoliberal.

39. Watching Blu-rays for the first time.  Man, oh man, what a world of wonder I’ve been missing.  Thanks Mom and Dad!

40. The guy from Edmonton who found an escaped cat under a train and took him home before reuniting him with his relieved owner from Saskatchewan.  A Festivus miracle.

41. Hot Hot Heat’s final album.  A hooky farewell from one of Vancouver’s finest.

42. Nancy Grace’s Headline News show was finally cancelled.  Even CNN can’t stand her anymore.

43. The Last Man Standing match between Kevin Owens & Dean Ambrose at the Royal Rumble for the InterContinental title.  It’s no wonder Owens is World Champion on Raw now.  Stellar.

44. Kings Of Leon’s Walls which stands for We Are Like Love Songs.  It should be doing brisker business.  Not a bad song in the mix.

45. Smackdown started broadcasting live.  No more spoilers leaking out days in advance.

46. Billy Talent’s Afraid Of Heights.  Punchy and political at times, rocking and rolling all of the time.

47. Tom Mulcair was given a no-confidence vote by the NDP.  He was never a true socialist.

48. Bernie Sanders’ historic campaign for President, the most successful Jewish candidate in American history.  If it wasn’t for the Clintonistas, he would be moving into the White House next month.  They screwed him like the ignorant assholes they are.

49. Brooke Henderson won a major LPGA tournament as a teenager.  More success coming in 2017?  Let’s hope so.

50. Milos Raonic made the Wimbledon finals, a first for a Canadian tennis player.  Too bad he didn’t win.

51. The Golden State Warriors record-setting regular season win-loss record.  Unfortunately, Cleveland came from behind to snag the NBA Championship from them in the finals.  LeBron James will not be denied.

52. Mark Rylance upset Sylvester Stallone for the Best Supporting Actor Oscar.  Score one for the anti-Zionists.

53. Dean Ambrose cut up Chris Jericho’s silly Lite Brite jacket.  The Scarf Era has begun.  Drink it in, man.

54. Every Womens Championship match on Raw between Sasha Banks and Charlotte Flair.  The best TV rivalry of the year.  I don’t understand why the WWE doesn’t allow The Boss a longer title run.  She deserves one.

55. Pearl Jam is going into The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame next year.

56. The #CureForKenza campaign.  This adorable little girl has a second chance at life.  May she make the most of it and thoroughly enjoy her childhood.

57. San Francisco 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s National Anthem protest.  It’s a shitty, racist song and we don’t need to hear it anymore.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Friday, December 30, 2016
11:41 p.m.