I was recently on a long car trip with some friends when I was suddenly alerted to an aspect of my personality that I never knew existed. One of them told me that I’m a nerd.

I balked at this characterization at first. I’ve never thought of myself as a nerd. Then, a few days later, I learned of the existence of a new book by TV critics Alan Sepinwall and Matt Zoller Seitz. It is called, TV (The Book.) It is a listing of the top 100 American TV shows of all time.

Once my paycheck permitted it, I ran right out and bought an unabridged audio copy.

So now, in my glorious TV nerdiness, here is the complete listing of the top 100 TV shows, according to these two critics.


The shows they selected are only scripted dramas and comedies. No variety shows like Saturday Night Live, news shows such as 60 Minutes, talk shows such as Oprah, etc.

With only a couple of exceptions, no shows currently on the air were included, such as The Big Bang Theory and Game of Thrones. They figure that series like South Park have been around long enough so that the true measure of the show can be accurately judged.

Sorry, Jim Henson. They chose to avoid children’s programming, promising that a separate book will follow at some point. The animated programs chosen are intended for both kids and adults, or in one case, adults only.

The shows are judged and ranked on the basis of six categories, with a point score of 10 maximum per category, per author. The six categories are: innovation, influence, consistency, performance, storytelling and peak.

Shows that last one season or less were considered, though they were penalized with lesser point values.

And now…the list as ranked from greatest to least:

1. The Simpsons (1989-present)
2. The Sopranos (1999-2007)
3. The Wire (2003-2009)
4. Cheers (1983-1993)
5. Breaking Bad (2008-2013)
6. Mad Men (2007-2015)
7. Seinfeld (1989-1998)
8. I Love Lucy (1951-1957)
9. Deadwood (2004-2006)
10. All in the Family (1971-1979)
11. M*A*S*H (1972-1983)
12. Hill Street Blues (1981-1987)
13. The Shield (2001-2008)
14. The Twilight Zone (1959-1964)
15. Arrested Development (2003-2006, 2013)
16. The Larry Sanders Show (1992-1998)
17. The Honeymooners (1955-1956)
18. Louie (2010-2015)
19. The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970-1977)
20. The X-Files (1993-2002)
21. Curb Your Enthusiasm (2000-2011)
22. SpongeBob SquarePants (1999-present)
23. Twin Peaks (1990-1991)
24. Lost (2004-2010)
25. Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003)
26. Freaks and Geeks (1999-2000)
27. My So-Called Life (1994-1995)
28. Oz (1997-2003)
29. The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961-1966)
30. Friday Night Lights (2006-2011)
31. NYPD Blue (1993-2005)
32. Frasier (1993-2004)
33. Homicide: Life on the Street (1993-1999)
34. Battlestar Galactica (2003-2009)
35. In Treatment (2008-2010)
36. South Park (1997-present)
37. The West Wing (1999-2006)
38. Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman (1976-1977)
39. The Andy Griffith Show (1960-1968)
40. The Cosby Show (1984-1992)
41. Moonlighting (1985-1989)
42. Taxi (1978-1983)
43. East Side/West Side (1963-1964)
44. Hannibal (2013-2015)
45. ER (1994-2009)
46. Parks and Recreation (2009-2015)
47. Roseanne (1988-1997)
48. 30 Rock (2006-2013)
49. The Bob Newhart Show (1971-1978)
50. Malcolm in the Middle (2000-2006)
51. Miami Vice (1984-1989)
52. The Office (2005-2013)
53. St. Elsewhere (1982-1988)
54. Community (2009-2015)
55. The Golden Girls (1985-1992)
56. Police Squad! (1982)
57. 24 (2001-2010, 2014)
58. The Defenders (1961-1965)
59. Gunsmoke (1955-1975)
60. Sex and the City (1998-2004)
61. Star Trek (1966-1969)
62. Firefly (2002)
63. Law & Order (1990-2010)
64. Maude (1972-1978)
65. The Rockford Files (1974-1980)
66. China Beach (1988-1991)
67. Enlightened (2011-2013)
68. Everybody Loves Raymond (1996-2005)
69. The Wonder Years (1988-1993)
70. Barney Miller (1975-1982)
71. Frank’s Place (1987-1988)
72. It’s Garry Shandling’s Show (1986-1990)
73. The Jack Benny Program (1950-1965)
74. Justified (2010-2015)
75. The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show (1959-1964)
76. Thirtysomething (1987-1991)
77. Columbo (1971-1978, 1989-2003)
78. Friends (1994-2004)
79. Futurama (1999-2003, 2008-2015)
80. The Outer Limits (1963-1965)
81. Northern Exposure (1990-1995)
82. Batman (1966-1968)
83. King of the Hill (1997-2009)
84. Veronica Mars (2004-2007)
85. Cagney & Lacey (1981-1988)
86. EZ Streets (1996-1997)
87. Gilmore Girls (2000-2007)
88. Six Feet Under (2001-2005)
89. Sports Night (1998-2000)
90. Wiseguy (1987-1990)
91. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993-1999)
92. Batman: The Animated Series (1992-1995)
93. Boardwalk Empire (2010-2014)
94. NewsRadio (1995-1999)
95. Picket Fences (1992-1996)
96. Scrubs (2001-2010)
97. WKRP in Cincinnati (1978-1982)
98. How I Met Your Mother (2005-2014)
99. Soap (1977-1981)
100. Terriers (2010)


I have always leaned toward television dramas over comedy. Many of my comments on individual programs will focus on dramatic fare. This is why I don’t have much to say about Andy Griffith, Seinfeld or The Office. M*A*S*H is an exception and you can find more detailed thoughts on it in an earlier entry.

The only animated stuff I occasionally watch is cartoons from my childhood; The Flintstones, Scooby-Doo, The Transformers, etc.

Sepinwall and Zoller Seitz were smart enough to acknowledge the absurdity of ranking art from the start. In terms of objectivity or long-lasting substance, the contents of this volume amounts to little more than bathroom reading.

They also acknowledge that some of the shows made the list merely because they have a soft spot for them. Thus, they know their rankings and opinions will make a lot of people mad. So, since they already put the shoes on their own feet, allow me to lace them up.

As you browse the list, you’ll notice that modern shows score higher. I would define “modern” as 1990 to the present. The essays that accompany each entry tend to be lengthier and evoke more passion from the authors when the show is more recent. This is not a coincidence. Both Sepinwall and Zoller Seitz have been critiquing these shows for decades. They are human beings with a certain worldview. Therefore, they tend to gravitate toward shows that espouse a more post modern worldview, thereby validating their biases.

In Sepinwall’s case, his apparent impartiality may be coming from a more crystallized place. Four years ago, he wrote a book called, “The Revolution Was Televised,” in which he chronicled the rise of 12 TV programs that changed the modern television landscape. Unsurprisingly, 11 of 12 shows made the top 50 in this list. To that end, he interviewed 11 of the 12 showrunners, including David Chase (The Sopranos), David Simon (The Wire), Matthew Weiner (Mad Men) and David Milch (Deadwood). In fact, after the controversial finale of The Sopranos, David Chase granted only one interview. Guess who won the prize.

Can you really be objective about a show’s placement in a historical context when you’ve had coffee and chatted it up with a showrunner? The reader will have to be the judge.

The Simpsons as the best show of all time?! Really!? I was never a fan so I can’t comment on the particulars, but I do know that The Simpsons offers critical commentary on much of modern American life. Such criticisms are tame compared to South Park and Family Guy, but they are there nonetheless.

I am, however, thoroughly familiar with The Sopranos and The Wire. Aside from featuring excellent storytelling, both series offer a mostly bleak outlook on the American experience.

At its heart, The Sopranos offers a not-so-subtle indictment of excess; a failing that David Chase seems to view as uniquely American. Never mind that the story is told from the point of view of members of the mafia; a subculture that is undeniably criminal in our society. In Chase’s jaded view, the harsh truth about American hypocrisy and materialism still holds. The series finale is called, “Made in America,” a title that is not accidental. Nothing David Chase does is accidental, including the infamous black screen that still causes consternation amongst Sopranos fans to this day.

The Wire is a show about failure; specifically, the failure of institutions as reflected in America’s futile war on drugs. It was also a thinly-veiled commentary on the Iraq War and the post 9/11 war on terror. The title of the third season finale is, “Mission Accomplished,” which was a jab at President George W. Bush’s willfully misunderstood speech aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln in 2003.

If I seem contrarian in my own critique of the critics, I don’t mean to be. I loved The Sopranos and still find it infinitely rewatchable. I respect The Wire more than I like it. If the former had claimed the top spot, I wouldn’t have griped at all. The latter would have elicited more skepticism from me, though no surprise.

Then, we get to Cheers. I didn’t watch it in the ‘80’s, but I remember many adults constantly discussing it. My folks, my teachers, friends of my folks, babysitters…even my grandma loved the show. I could have swallowed Cheers as the best show of all time before The Simpsons.

This brings up the issue of, “The Pantheon,” which is Sepinwall’s and Zoller Seitz’s name for the grand list. This is an appropriate name, not just for the list, but for the book itself. It is intended as an affectionate, somewhat flippant reference to the list, but there is more than a touch of unintentional pretentious snobbery in it.

In writing about The Pantheon, our two heroes show us a transcript of a debate in which they try to rank the top five shows of the list. Why shouldn’t Breaking Bad be number one? Why is The Sopranos better than The Wire? Why is The Simpsons better than Cheers? In the end, after they’re finished, you get a lot of opinion dressed up as pseudo intellectualism. It is very fitting for the entirety of the book.

Why not Cheers, indeed? Again, I’m not a fan. I have always been curious to catch up on it; for nostalgia, if nothing else. Doesn’t Cheers capture the human experience just as well as The Sopranos, or is it too optimistic? Or maybe it’s just too ‘80’s. That wouldn’t surprise me one bit.

It will surprise none of my three loyal readers to learn that Breaking Bad is the ultimate deity in my personal pantheon. No TV series is without its missteps, but the flaws of Breaking Bad are so minor in comparison with its greatness in craft that I can overlook them. In contrast to the other two dramas in the top five, Breaking Bad is the ultimate story of change. Vince Gilligan said that TV is all about keeping its characters in stasis. This is true even of The Sopranos and The Wire. The Sopranos is all about the virtual impossibility of change within people. The Wire is all about the constant failure of institutions. Each season may look a little different, but it’s themes and basic execution never change.

Breaking Bad is more narrow in its focus as it tells the story of one man’s transformation from a hen-pecked husband and over-qualified chemistry teacher into a murderous drug lord. It is a character study, rather than a societal study.

Let me put it another way. You can watch the first season of The Sopranos and quit. After the viewing, you will have felt the fullness of The Sopranos experience. Some fans (myself included) would argue that season one encapsulated the show at its best. That doesn’t mean the rest of the series isn’t worthy, but only that the show becomes repetitious after a point. The same holds true for The Wire, though our heroes would prefer it if you watched the fourth season in a bottle if you so chose.

But you can’t stop at the end of the first season of Breaking Bad, because there is clearly more story to be told. See my point?

In fairness, I must admit that Breaking Bad validates my worldview. My father always said, “Life’s about choices.” That maxim illustrates Breaking Bad in a nutshell. Society did not turn Walter White into Heisenberg. He followed his own path based on deliberate, conscious choices.

Then, there’s Deadwood. I loved Deadwood. I was sorry to see it canceled before it’s time. Part of me still longs for it to be resurrected in those wrap-up movies that we’ll probably never get. That said, it has it’s weaknesses that our two heroes tend to gloss over.

This is where RyanO, TV Nerd extraordinaire, really shows his face. When I truly dig a show, I watch all of those behind-the-scenes DVD extras.

Series creator David Milch doesn’t write his scripts. He lies on a couch and dictates them to one of his other writers, who transcribes it on a computer. It’s important to note this so that you understand me when I say that, Mr. Milch loves to hear himself talk. This is why many of his characters are so loquacious. There are times when good old swearin’ Al Swearengen is delivering a soliloquy and you wish he’d just shut the fuck up and get on with the blood-letting. This excess of verbosity becomes apparent in the show’s third season as the language gets richer, but Calamity Jane and company bloviate more and more.

Also, the character of George Hearst is a walking card board cut-out of predatory capitalism. He is a cigar-chomping villain who does not contain the depth and breadth of his fellow townspeople. Compare Hearst’s actions in the finale of season two to his actions throughout the whole of season three and see if you don’t detect a swerve in Milch’s intent for the arc of the character.

And there’s the theater troop. But never mind…I don’t want to pile on, thereby giving a false impression that I didn’t love Deadwood dearly. Sufficed to say that I don’t think the show belonged in the top 10. I would’ve taken top 20, gladly.

Ditto for The Shield. It was a solid cop drama with one of the best finales in TV history, but it owed its existence and success to Tony Soprano. I would’ve placed it somewhere in the top 50, below Homicide and Hill Street Blues; either of which are far more realistic, less hyperbolic cop shows.

We also have another character swerve on the part of Vic Mackey, the show’s main anti-hero protagonist. The Vic who killed Terry Crowley at the end of the pilot was not the more careful, calculating Vic we came to know in the course of the series. Yet, Sean Ryan needed to top the evil antics of Tony Soprano in order to push the envelope so he could sell the show to FX. Ahh well. It was a great series

I was glad to see The Twilight Zone make the top 15. 51 years after it went off the air, people still recognize the term and the iconic theme song. I’m still waiting for some kindhearted sighted person to describe, “The Invaders,” to me.

Sepinwall claims that the finale of The Shield elevates everything that came before it. I agree. Many fans believe the opposite of Lost; the finale pretty much ruined the whole series. I never got past the first season because I didn’t buy the image of a guy listening to Mama Cass inside The Hatch. Everything after that point just seemed ludicrous to me.

Do you notice how Buffy, Freaks and Geeks and My So-Called Life are all ranked together? For those unaware, all three are dramas with teenagers at their center. Hmmm.

Despite my desensitization to the brutality of modern crime shows such as The Sopranos, Breaking Bad and Deadwood, there are certain lines I have no interest in crossing. Oz represents one of those lines.

Sepinwall and I disagree about the appeal of Homicide. He says the show was at its best in its early years when it stuck to the small moments, such as the banter between Munch and Stan ‘The Big Man’ Bolander. Yes, those moments are what gave Homicide it’s special texture, but even in later seasons when the series became more conventional and adopted more cop show clichés, it was still great TV. Yes, Alan, Luther Mahoney was a bit of a trope, but Homicide still did him far better than Miami freakin’ Vice. Whatever the case, Frank Pembleton will go down in my pantheon as the best TV cop ever.

Notice that the reboot of Battlestar Galactica is ranked 34th, while the original Star Trek is way down there in 61st place? To paraphrase George Orwell, “That is so absurd that only a critic could believe it.”

Yes, by today’s standards, the original Trek was pretty clunky. Yes, the special affects and Shatner’s acting were cheesy. But how do you minimize the cultural impact that Trek had after it went off the air? Take the spin-off series, movies and novels out of the equation. Spock deserved better than a lower 50 rating.

Sidebar: People make the mistake of assuming that playing Spock was not a challenge for Leonard Nimoy due to the repressed nature of the character. Such people couldn’t be more wrong. I would place Nimoy’s acting skills on par with Patrick Stewart’s any day.

Meanwhile, I made it through three seasons of Battlestar Galactica before I threw up my hands in disgust. Starbuck as an angel?…meh.

This is what I mean when I talk about bias. Sometimes, our two heroes are clearly blurring the line between an attempt at impartial critique and fan service. Just like the three Davids (Chase, Milch and Simon), our heroes love Ronald D. Moore, creator and head writer of the BSG reboot.

Moore was also instrumental in the evolution of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Some elements of both shows are similar including overt themes of politics, religion and heavy serialization. It also may explain why DS9 made The Pantheon, while Star Trek: The Next Generation was excluded, even though Zoller Seitz admits that TNG was the best of all the series when it fired on all cylinders.

I’m not at all surprise that Deep Space Nine made the list, while TNG did not. Sepinwall and I had a Twitter debate once over which series was better. He lost. I mean…he’s got a major internet site and a few books published and decades of newspaper columns and he’s met Bryan Cranston in person and he rubs elbows with the cream of the TV crop on a regular basis. And I’ve got…this blog? But I don’t give a merry damn. He lost.

For my money, DS9 didn’t work because of flawed acting and mostly uninteresting characters. Avery Brooks was terrible as a leading man. I mean, I’d watch him in a scene and his stiff acting would pull me out of it. That was acceptable when Shatner was the only Federation starship captain in the universe, but after Patrick Stewart, the bar was raised and Brooks failed to clear it.

Yes, DS9 was more ambitious in its storytelling, but who cares about the Dominion War when you can’t care about Sisko, Kira and Quark? If Patrick Stewart was the only good apple in an otherwise bad barrel (a point that I don’t concede), then the same is true of René Auberjonois.

One of the most sadly moving parts of the book is when Sepinwall wrote about his decision to no longer hold viewing marathons of The Cosby Show for his kids. As a child of the ‘80’s, the unfolding saga of Bill Cosby’s downfall is a heartbreaker for me. I didn’t watch his sitcom, but I loved Fat Albert and his comedy albums. I know I shouldn’t convict him before his trial, but I think he’s already been rightly judged in the court of public opinion.

Most TV critics are liberal. Zoller Seitz is no exception and restrains himself less in his political expressions than does his writing partner. I suspect that it was very hard for him to acknowledge that 24 was the 57th best series of all time. At one point, Zoller Seitz says, “Torture rarely works in real life, but the version practiced by 24 got results.” Mkay, Matt. Tell that one to Kathryn Bigelow. To give you an idea of where Zoller Seitz comes down on the political spectrum, he just published a book celebrating the career of Oliver Stone.

Actually, I didn’t care for the torture scenes on 24 after a while because they began to smack of plot repetition and the controversy eventually overshadowed the better aspects of the series. Also, Zoller Seitz claims that seasons one, two and four are the peak of the series. He’s right about the first two, but Day Four is when the torture controversy got out of hand through its overuse as a plot device. He also ignored season five, which began with the death of David Palmer and ended with Jack being kidnapped and shipped off to China. In between, we got President and Mrs. Logan. The show didn’t get any better than that.

I was glad to see Gunsmoke on the list. I preferred the radio version to the TV, but the early scripts by John Meston were truly groundbreaking for their time. It’s also not inconsequential that Gunsmoke was one of only two TV dramas to last 20 years.

The other was Law & Order. I went through a two-year phase in college when I was obsessed with this show. Long after I got over it, I kept coming back to it because it’s TV comfort food. I’m not sure why it made this list because it’s really a cookie-cutter procedural. Maybe it was the two-part structure that made it unique? Maybe it was Jerry Orbach. I can except either explanation. That said, I did enjoy Sepinwall’s rankings of every cast combination over the course of the series from best to worst.

The Rockford Files deserved to be in the top 50, rather than at 65th place. During the first four decades of television, the private eye genre was a staple of entertainment. Rockford represented the best of that genre, just as Gunsmoke represented the cream of the TV western.

Jack Benny also deserved better than 73rd place. People wouldn’t remember it now, but he was considered the king of comedy from the ‘30’s through the ‘50’s. I guess I should be glad he made the list at all. The only reason I know this is due to my love for old-time radio.

I should also be glad Justified made it to 74th place. I loved this show, though it was very uneven at times. In their usual critic logic, our heroes seemed to value the dialogue of Elmore Leonard and themes of manhood and poverty over the show’s more basic elements. In truth, the plots were often overly-convoluted and too clever by half. Still, I’ll take it. I loved the show so much that I named my cat after Mags Bennett. “It was already in the glass, not in the jar.”

“Hey Rocky! Watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat!”

God bless Peter Falk! Columbo is an American treasure, though the original NBC Mystery Movies from ’71 through ‘78 were superior to the later AB C version, when the writers played up Columbo’s eccentricities until they reached farcical levels.

Whatever my criticisms of Zoller Seitz may be, he absolutely nailed it in his essay about Batman (1966). Tim Burton and Christopher Nolan took the comic book genre far too seriously. At least Adam West and company knew that they were doing campy comedy. This may offend WatchMojo.com, but they can just give me a great big “Pow!” in the jaw as payback.

P.S: God bless Frank Gorshin! Best. Riddler. Ever. And I still want to marry Julie Newmar. I don’t care if she’s 83!

Sometimes, I would smile when I came across a show, not because I was a fan, but because it reminded me of a friend. I never got into Hannibal, but Katy enjoyed it. I was glad to see Cagney & Lacey make the list because my friend Amy always loved that show.

No, Alan, Picket Fences was not David E. Kelley’s signature work. That was merely a legal drama masquerading as a quirky small town drama. Kelley’s best work came in the first five seasons of, The Practice (1997-2001), which does not appear in The Pantheon or in the honorable mentions section. Kelley was a former lawyer who knew the trade inside and out. The Practice served as an excellent counterpoint to Law & Order, which hit the height of its popularity at the same time that The Practice went on the air. The afore-mentioned quirky small town drama was done better by Northern Exposure and Twin Peaks, both of which made the list.

Two more of my favorite shows rounded out the top hundred; Boardwalk Empire and Terriers. Again, I love them both and long for the day when NetFlix announces that it will revive Terriers, but aside from personal prejudice, I don’t understand what made Terriers worthy of the list. Sepinwall even admits that every trope put forth in the show was done before. Could it be that it was a favored underdog because, like Deadwood, it was canceled before its time?

As for Boardwalk, it was more consistently solid than The Sopranos. Yet, it somehow lacked that emotional punch that would’ve made it water cooler conversation.

To my mind, there was only one obvious, glaring omission. Dragnet (1951). It received an honorable mention in the, “A Certain Regard,” section, but that’s not good enough.

It was apparent that Zoller Seitz, who gravitated more toward the historical programs, was judging Dragnet based on the 1967 revival series. This is unfair and did not represent Dragnet at its earlier peak.

Let’s take the categories one by one:

Innovation: Dragnet is the undisputed progenitor of the police procedural. Nothing like it had ever been done before. Prior to Dragnet, cops were mostly painted in crime fiction as corrupt, incompetent or mere window-dressing for the superior private eye. Jack Webb’s documentary-style approach was meant to depict a more authentic portrayal of police work.

Influence: The theme song aside, Dragnet was a cultural phenomenon in the ‘50’s. It was even parodied by Stan Freberg and later, Johnny Carson. It was a constant ratings success and even generated a feature film in 1954.

Consistency: For better or worse, Dragnet never changed its formula. Neither did Law & Order, Rockford and Columbo, all of whom made the list.

Performance: Webb wasn’t much of an actor and he insisted that all of his actors deliver an understated performance in the name of realism. For that matter, Jerry Seinfeld was a limited actor. I already beat up on Bill Shatner, so I won’t do it again.

Storytelling: The original author of most of the early Dragnet scripts was James E. Moser. He did not write Sgt. Joe Friday as the pompous, autocratic cop we would come to know in the later series of the ‘60’s. He wrote Friday as a soft-spoken, humble police officer who went about each case with the quiet intent to close it. The comical elements were lent by Ben Alexander as Frank Smith and were underplayed, unlike Harry Morgan’s over-the-top approach in the latter show. Moser also addressed many themes that were unheard of for their time, including sexual assault, pedophilia and child neglect.

Peak: I’m not fully certain what this means. There are far fewer episodes of the original Dragnet available today, whereas the entire 1967 series has been available since it was first broadcast.

Yes, based on style and substance, Dragnet seems dated today, but it’s no more fair to compare it to Hill Street Blues or The Wire than it is to compare Gunsmoke to Deadwood or I Love Lucy to Sex and the City. If we’re applying different standards to different eras, Dragnet should have been included in The Pantheon.

I’m also bummed that Perry Mason didn’t get a nod. It’s first three seasons were faithful to the spirit of Gardener’s novels. If you look at it from a sociological viewpoint, it was probably a subtle answer to McCarthyism, which represented the dark side of the 1950’s. If Joe Friday represented law and order, Perry Mason represented every American’s right to due process.

I’m glad I read this book, much as it frustrated me at times. It was a lot of fun to chew up and digest. Incidentally, there are many other bonus features outside of The Pantheon, including ‘Best Miniseries’ (remember those?), ‘Best TV Moms and Dads’, ‘Best TV Cars’, ‘Best Hair’, ‘Best Deaths’, and much more. If you want to learn about the exact rankings for each show, buy the book. It’s worth it.

Writing about it has exhausted me. Guess I’ll go watch The Flintstones and relax before I scour the internet trying to find copies of Wiseguy and The Rifleman.

Oh Say, Can You Stand?

Colin Kaepernick has every right not to stand during the singing of our national anthem. That is a freedom guaranteed to him by our Constitution and protected by the military and law enforcement officers whom he is choosing to disparage.

Fans across the country also have the right to agree with him, or to express their outrage at Mr. Kaepernick’s generalizations and mal-informed commentary. If they want to burn his jersey in protest, that is also their right. If they want to boycott the 49ers, or boycott any product that he has endorsed, they can go ahead and more power to them. That is how the marketplace works.

I hope the NFL doesn’t take punitive action against Kaepernick. That might have a chilling effect on his First Amendment rights. I hope the NFL remembers said rights when the Dallas Cowboys want to display pro-police decals on their uniforms, or when some closet white supremacist screams, “Make America great again!” as he runs through the goal posts. The NFL should stay out of politics and stick to policing quarterbacks who suck the air out of their balls, or slapping the wrists of wife-beaters.

My minimal research indicates that Mr. Kaepernick is a man of considerable wealth. If he wanted to have a meaningful impact on race relations, there were other, far less petulant methods he might have employed to do so. But given the recent climate of symbolism over substance that permeates our politics and our culture in this country, I’m not surprised he chose this route; a route that might very well backfire on him. He probably should analyze the career trajectory of The Dixie Chicks before he pulls more stunts such as this one.

Or, maybe I’m just over-thinking the whole thing. My minimal research also indicates that Mr. Kaepernick has spent a lot of time on the bench of late. Maybe he just got to like sitting down so much that he didn’t feel that the flag was worth stretching his legs.

My final thought…thank God Denver didn’t acquire him! In the aftermath of Von Miller and The Great QB Question, we don’t need any more drama. Thank you, Marty.

Grab the Domes and Ride

This blog entry is dedicated to all the ladies out there. Clearly, many of you desperately need to read this. I won’t bother with the men, because they already know what I’m about to write here.

I just heard the song, “It’s Different for Girls,” by Dierks Bentley. This little ditty from an artist whom I used to respect is further proof to me that country music is a genre in a state of decline.

But before we get to that, let’s examine the premise of the song by sampling a few of the lyrics:

“She don’t throw any t-shirt on and walk to a bar
She don’t text her friends and say, I gotta get laid tonight
She don’t say, it’s okay, I never loved him anyway
She don’t scroll through her phone just looking for a Band-Aid
It’s different for girls when their hearts get broke
They can’t tape it back together with a whiskey and Coke
They don’t take someone home and act like it’s nothing
They can’t just switch it off every time they feel something
A guy gets drunk with his friends and he might hook up
Fast forward through the pain, pushing back when the tears come on
But it’s different for girls”

The rest of this song continues in the same vein, piling on every cliché and gender-related stereotype in order to paint a picture that girls have it so much harder when it comes to matters of the heart.

I’ve had my share of relationships and break-ups, so I speak with more than a little authority when I call bullshit on this song. What’s more, I think Mr. Bentley knows it’s bullshit. He’s likely a man who’s been hurt by a woman before and he knows what a man’s pain is like. He is also an artist who understands his listener base.

Over the past decade or so, country music has had an increasingly large female audience. This explains the shift in tone from male-centric songs to those in which the emotions of a woman are featured front and center. The reasons aren’t so much a matter of male enlightenment as they are economic. Dierks wants to sell his music, therefore, he wants to give his fans what they want. So, let’s trot out a song that relies on every sexist cliché in the book to boost those sales.

I have no idea who wrote the song and I’m not inclined to spend any energy researching it. It was either a woman who is coming from a place of ignorance where men are concerned, or a man who wanted to spread bullshit like fertilizer in order to put TV dinners in his freezer.

Now, pay attention, ladies. Here’s what you really need to know.

I will start with the caveat that I am only speaking from my own experiences here. The following remarks do contain some generalities. In this age of bathroom wars and gender fluidity, the masculine and feminine concepts seem to be evolving. That said, it still holds true where most modern men are concerned.

When men set foot in the arena of love, they do indeed suffer. They hurt. They bleed. They cry. They carry guilt and regret. They try and fail and often chew on that failure like a well-worn bone in the jaws of a hungry terrier. Where then do women get the idea that men don’t bleed from the prick of love’s needle? The answer is, they get it from men themselves.

When a man breaks up with a woman, he will usually withdraw from her emotionally. The pullback is almost instantaneous. If the man is the one who dumps the woman, he often feels a sense of guilt because he knows he hurt her. If the woman dumps the guy, he feels the pain of rejection; a pain that is deep and real. Either way, he’s not going to be inclined to share his emotions with the person with whom he’s just burned a major emotional bridge.

The reason women operate under the erroneous assumption that men have it easier after a break-up is only because that’s how men want it to look. The song is accurate in that many men often do go out, get drunk, hook up with strangers or casual acquaintances and pretend like everything is alright. But it’s not. Women tend to wear their emotions on their sleeves, while men bury them.

But it’s never as easy as it may seem. Men lie awake at night and struggle with the demons of what might have been. They don’t often go out for coffee with their buddies and maybe cry in public. Instead, they will find someone close who they can trust and they will vent privately. It may be a family member, a close buddy or two or even a gal pal who is an emotional confidant. Whatever the manifestation, guys are far more selective over whom they choose to show their private face of pain to.

Like it or not, ladies, men simply process pain differently than women. Break-ups are very depressing affairs. Women tend to feel sorrow and display it openly. Men tend to feel anger and guilt. Yes, men may go out and bestow their carnal favors on another woman, but it’s usually rebound. Men have an easier time compartmentalizing when it comes to sex. Blame it on biology, or society, or the fact that Mercury is in retrograde. Whatever the reason, men can more easily separate sex from love.

Does that mean they don’t feel love? Hell no! Another harsh fact of life is that men are more selective about whom they fall in love with. Just because many men aren’t as discriminating over their sex partners doesn’t mean they aren’t subject to the most powerful emotion on Earth. Men feel love, but just as it is with the grief over the death of a relationship, so it is with love. Men process it and display it differently.

Several years ago, I was a part of a group of guys. Every so often, we’d hold a guys’ night; beer, cigars, sports, junk food and music. We were comprised of an alpha male jock type, one or two shy, geek types, and one or two more sensitive types. In other words, we were a fair cross-section of manhood.

Inevitably, women would become the focus of conversation. In fact, I’d say women were the main topic more than any other. On the surface, a female eavesdropper would have had her worst stereotypes confirmed. There was much talk of tits, asses, blowjobs, levels of hotness, speculation about moaners versus screamers and more about tits and asses. We would even play a game called, Marry, Fuck or Kill, in which a contestant was given three names, thereby being forced to choose which female he would engage in the three activities sited in the game’s title.

Yes, we were guys being guys and feminism be damned. Yet, if the eavesdropper had listened long enough, she would have heard things come out from beneath the crass surface. Certain women would emerge who would garner a softer approach. Certain names would carry with them a thoughtful pause, followed by a statement such as, “She’s really a sweetheart,” or “I’d take her home to Mom.”

One guy (the jock type) connected with a woman who was special in his eyes. Yes, we all heard about how impressive her bust size was, but it was clear from his tone of voice that she was more than just a casual conquest. She had taken out real estate in the domain of his heart. Today, he’s living with her. They may make it and they may not. My crystal ball is broken just now. But I will tell you this. If their relationship does meet its demise, he will be the poster boy for the guy in Dierks’ song. He may get drunk with his buddies, smoke a few bowls and bang a few women for comfort. Yet, when he takes a breather from his coping mechanism, she will be waiting for him in the night. No man escapes unscathed.

Another guy in the group (the loveable geek type), was relatively inexperienced in the sexual realm, yet he loved to fixate on a woman’s breasts. This makes him similar to 99.9 percent of men on the planet. He is now in a serious relationship. If it were to fail, he would be devastated. You wouldn’t catch him going to a support group for comfort. He’d just go home and sob into his pillow with a few empty beer cans strewn over his bedroom floor.

Then, there was the smooth-talking salesman type of the group. He was married for a while, but ran into the airplane propeller of divorce a couple of years ago. He chooses to be more open and expressive about his struggles with depression than the rest of us do. Yet, I’m pretty sure he doesn’t go out and get trashed and bang random women from the bar. Some would argue that they are better off divorced. This may be true, but no one can tell me that the parting did not take a major toll on him.

Then, there’s me. I’ve been through too many relationships. I’ve had serious ones in which I was sure I’d get married. I’ve had relationships that were more casual. I’ve had one or two that felt more like prison; when I got out, I drank in the sweet taste of freedom. Some women I’ve dated have been kind and genuine, some were damaged and some were just bat shit crazy. In the sexual arena, I’ve made passionate love to women, I’ve fucked a few women and I’ve been ambiguous when the sun came up the next day. I’ve approached certain partners with honest intentions and I’ve been less than honorable with one or two. I’ve been with women who went home to visit my folks and I’ve been with a few who required me to shower after they were gone in a futile attempt to wash away the shame. I’ve had relationships that ranged in duration from one night to two years. But all of them had an impact that went beyond the sad confines of this country music depiction of the gender gap.

As I write this, I am struck by an irony. Three of my ex girlfriends are getting married this year. One of them is a recent relationship that I terminated after it became obvious that she was using me as a distraction from her regular boyfriend. From her perspective, I’m a heartless prick who suddenly cut off communication with her for no good reason. From my perspective, she was a less-than-stable person who needed a good laugh and who resorted to subterfuge in order to get it. Who’s right? Who’s wrong? God can sort it out later. Until then, I won’t care if I never encounter her again.

The second woman represented a dark time in my life. I won’t trash talk her, save to say that she is a big part of the reason why I left Nebraska and why I took up cigar smoking as a full time vice. We don’t speak anymore and I’m fine with that, but I do wish her well and hope her future husband treats her well.

The third ex girlfriend slated for the altar is one of my closest friends. We dated for two years and they were often tumultuous, but I don’t regret a single day. We have shared much laughter, many tears and a lot of vulnerability. The passionate intensity of our sexual encounters were matched by those of our fights, but we weathered the various storms and have a strong friendship because of it. It will be my honor to watch her get married to a guy who is true, honest and worthy of her.

Sidebar: After our break-up, she dedicated the song, “Insensitive,” by Jann Arden, to me. This song carries more emotional credibility than the Dierks song because it comes from the female perspective after a break-up. She played it for me and I exploded like a virgin getting a tug by a hand other than his own. We talked it over and came to a better understanding about the grief and pain that the other person was experiencing.

These were three separate relationships that garnered three separate reactions. At no time did I ever grieve over any of these women by getting drunk and hooking up with random chicks. Does that make me an abnormal man? Oh well.

But what about the other side of the coin? If the lyrics of this farcical tune are to be believed, women never grieve the loss of their men by drinking and screwing. Again, I call bullshit. I know women who lie, cheat, drink and spread their favors around like promises at a campaign rally. Are they abnormal women? Oh well.

Seriously…haven’t any of you ladies ever reading this ever sat around over a few margaritas and played MFK? Be honest.

You never hear them anymore, but men in the country music genre used to be sad. Their hearts used to break over lost love and what might have been. You don’t even have to go back to the days of Waylon Jennings and Merle Haggard to hear men cry over a broken heart. Try some vintage George Strait, Randy Travis, Alan Jackson, Vince Gill or Steve Wariner. In my opinion, the ultimate break-up song from the male perspective is, “The Lights are On (But Nobody’s Home)” by Clint Black. It is the perfect illustration of a man who is clearly depressed by a failed relationship, but who hides it behind the façade of normalcy.

I had lunch with a former coworker and I told her I was writing a blog rant about this stupid song. “I love that song!” she said as we pulled into Wendy’s. I smiled to myself. She loves modern country music. I hope she reads this and finds it instructive.

Ladies, if you want to enjoy this song by Dierks Bentley, more power to you. You may crank it up loud, give a great big “huzzah!” to Mother Wicca and go to bed with a smile on your face. But you’re dead wrong. I know Mr. Bentley is offering a musical placebo that eases your pain, anger or frustration through the application of simplicity, but men ain’t that simple. There are men who are honest, noble and who puke after one shot. There are women who lie, cheat and do coke out of a man’s naval. Sleep on that.

I was just about to post this when Rosie walked into the control room. I give her a 7/10 on the hotness scale.

Marty, if you read that, ignore it. I give you 26/10 on the hotness scale.


Folks, while I figure out how to dig myself out of this hole, go YouTube Clint Black.


Several female friends read this and wanted me to clarify that not all women buy into the line of BS that Dierks and company are selling. Consider the point made. Yet, my original argument about the decline of country music stands. The themes have changed over the years, largely due to marketing toward a certain kind of female listener. I’m not saying all women…just some.

This addendum is your wedding gift, Alicia. Congratulations!

Waiter! There’s a Fly in My Vinegar!

This will be my last blog post about the current election until November 9.

You cannot rationalize with irrational people.

A therapist once told me that and, as I grow older, I find that this little maxim becomes more and more true.

It applies to the current political landscape. A gulf has emerged, as symbolized by the feud between pro-Trump pundits like Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham and #NeverTrumpers like Bret Stephens and Jonah Goldberg. These folks were once on the same side, bound together by common principles and political enemies, but the invasion of Trump into this election has thrown everything and everyone asunder.

It’s one thing for the left and the right to come into conflicts of personalities. This is the natural outcome of a system that was designed to be adversarial. The left excels at name-calling and dirty attacks. But when Republicans start doing it to each other, it’s time to withdraw. There is nothing to be gained by below-the-belt fighting. These tactics may suit Donald Trump, but I thought Hannity was better than that. Obviously, I was wrong.

This kind of dirty pool has even crept into my personal life. Several friends and family members have started to sharpen their arguments with personal coercion when I state that I will not vote for Donald Trump. This disappoints me, but it is indicative of a larger truth that has shown its ugly head this year. It is best expressed by Bill Kristol who says, “Trumpism corrupts.” There is ample evidence of the truth of this statement. I have never seen an election so rife with pettiness and ranker than this one. Yes, that includes the Bush/Gore fiasco in 2000.

So, as of right now, I am done. I am finished posting various rants and raves about a political contest that started in the basement and has graduated to the sewer. I am following my dad’s example and am going to be a class act in the face of further bullying from the Trump camp. I am secure in my decision not to vote for Trump and have nothing to prove to anyone. I suggest those of you #NeverTrumpers adopt the same mentality. Hunker down and ride out the next two-and-a-half months quietly and gracefully.

I will impart one final truth before I conclude. In a free and open society, no one is obligated to vote for a candidate. A vote is the most valuable form of political currency. The best politicians learn how to woo voters, not bully them. In other words, you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. Sadly, Donald Trump never learned this very basic lesson and it will be his undoing (and that of his loyal base) in November.

If you want to continue to take an interest in my political machinations, you can follow me on Twitter at RyanO218.

Finally, a note of hope in these murky times. Despite the fear and anger from both the right and left, our country will survive, no matter the outcome in November.

There is No Sulu. Only Zuul!

I have no plans to go see the Ghostbusters reboot. It’s not because I’m sexist. Melissa McCarthy doesn’t do it for me, but whatever.

The reason I’m not going is the same reason I have no intention of wasting time and money on the latest Star Trek installment. I don’t care that Sulu is gay. I mean… George Takei doesn’t like it, but what does his opinion matter, right?

I was talking with Joe and we were commenting on the fact that we never go to movies anymore. It’s not the cost that is prohibitive. I’ll pay $12 to see a good movie. It’s not the visual medium. Most major theaters have audio description for the blind now (and sometimes, it actually works.)

The reason is more basic. I officially have reboot/sequel burn-out. I firmly believe that Hollywood no longer has any originality when it comes to blockbuster entertainment.

Let’s take a look at the biggest movies from the Spring/Summer season of this year:

Superman vs. Batman: Dawn of Justice
Captain America: Civil War
The Jungle Book (this is the third film interpretation of the Rudyard Kipling novel)
Warcraft (based on a videogame)
Finding Dory (sequel)
X-Men: Apocalypse
Star Trek Beyond
The Legend of Tarzan
Suicide Squad (another comic book movie)
The Purge: Election Year (sequel)
Jason Bourne (sequel based on the Robert Ludlum novels)
Independence Day: Resurgence (sequel)

The only two original movies I can find that have done well at the box office this season are Zootopia, and The Secret Life of Pets; both animated movies geared for kids.

Now, let’s contrast this list with the top 10 grossing films from 1984; the year the original Ghostbusters was released:

1. Beverly Hills Cop
2. Ghostbusters
3. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (sequel)
4. Gremlins
5. The Karate Kid
6. Police Academy
7. Footloose
8. Romancing the Stone
9. Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (sequel)
10. Splash

Let me clarify that those 10 films were from the entire year, not just the summer season. Only two sequels out of 10. Not one animated flick! Videogames were still B-grade entertainment. Honest to God… Can you imagine a movie based on Pac-Man?

In closing, let me say that the glut of sequels and reboots shows no sign of ebbing. Coming soon, we will be treated to remakes of Ben-Hur and The Magnificent Seven.

If there’s any justice, the ghosts of Yul Brynner and Charlton Heston will send a giant marshmallow man to Hollywood. There, he will take a giant, sugary crap all over that festering town, because ghosts love symbolism. And it won’t be no wimpy 50-foot marshmallow man. Since Hollywood has to do everything bigger and better, it will be a 500-foot version.

If it survives an attack on Hollywood, maybe Seth MacFarlane could talk it into stopping by Trump Tower for one final push. Wouldn’t it be great if that Staypuff stud could do what the GOP couldn’t and, dump Trump?

Pick Your Poison

I recently received a message from a former student named Sai (pronounced Sigh.) Yes, you read it correctly. I used to be a teacher at the Colorado Center for the Blind. My job lasted for about two months. I’d love to share a story about how I got fired and went out in a blaze of glory, but truthfully, the job was temporary. It was a summer counseling job. I had the (ahem) honor to work with blind teenagers as a cane travel instructor.

Sai was one of our best. She was quiet, thoughtful and she never broke curfew. A lot of our male students had a crush on her, but she couldn’t be bothered with boys. She was too busy figuring out how to plan her cane travel route, cook a meal and memorize Braille contractions.

As often happens, I kept in touch with some of my students through social media. To that end, Sai wrote me privately a few days ago and asked this question. I will paste the relevant portion below, then give my response.

Since you mentioned that you wouldn’t mind answering questions about politics, I’d like to ask one thing I’ve been curious about. Because you consider (or maybe used to consider) yourself a republican, but you don’t support Donald Trump, what are you planning to do when the election rolls around in November? I heard that some democrats who don’t like Hilary would bite their lips and vote for her anyway because they don’t want trump as president, so I was just wondering what republican supporters who don’t like Trump would do. Please let me know if you don’t feel comfortable answering any of my question, or if you’re already planning to address it in one of your future blog post. In the former case I’ll just wait to read your article.
End quote

Sai, here is your rather protracted answer.

I am a part of the Never Trump movement. That means exactly what it says. Under no circumstances will I ever be persuaded to vote for Donald Trump for president. He has had almost 14 months to convince me and he has failed miserably. Many Republicans disagree with me and I will try my best to illustrate their position later in this post.

I don’t believe that Mr. Trump has proven himself to be temperamentally suited for the Oval Office.

Serving as the President of the United States is the most difficult job in the world. It requires the ability to have a vision of what you think America should be. It requires the ability to compromise with many competing agendas. I don’t merely mean the Republicans and the Democrats, but you have to manage hundreds (sometimes thousands) of people, all with their own selfish interests in mind. A truly gifted leader has the ability to maintain his or her own vision while simultaneously respecting the goals and views of their opponents. If you want examples, study Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan.

Most leaders are not truly gifted. If they are merely good, they possess the ability to steer a steady course in order to keep our country safe from harm, whether that harm comes from internal or external forces.

Donald Trump has demonstrated that he is completely bereft of these characteristics. He is a petty bully when he feels attacked, resorting to name-calling and blame displacement that is more befitting an adolescent than an adult. When he is asked about his views on issues of substance, he often dodges the questions, resorting to slogans and shallow political rhetoric to smooth over his very obvious deficiencies in his knowledge of political affairs.

He is capricious in the making of promises that have no chance of ever being kept. There is no practical way that we will ever build a wall along our southern border and compel Mexico to pay for it. There is no pragmatic way that we can ever start a trade war with China without suffering major financial repercussions. There is no legal or ethical way we can ever ban an entire religion from entering this country.

There are many other objections I have to Mr. Trump, but we don’t have enough time to go into all of them.

The other major red flag I will discuss here is the fact that Trump refuses to release his tax returns. It is pro forma for all presidential candidates to disclose their financial records to the public. Trump has made it clear that he refuses to do so. He blames an IRS audit for this, but that is a dodge. An audit does not prevent anyone from making their tax returns available for public scrutiny.

One of the biggest reasons that Trump inspires his supporters is because they believe that he is a rich man who creates jobs and builds things. Trump is, by nature, a braggart. If his tax returns would flatter his image as a self-made billionaire, he would release them in a heartbeat. Moreover, he wouldn’t just casually release them. He’d throw them in the faces of his skeptics, adding his middle finger to boot.

Yet, his campaign manager, Paul Manafort, recently indicated that the Trump campaign had no intention of releasing his tax returns during the current cycle. I’m sure there are sound reasons for this. I believe that, if he were to show them to the public, we would learn a good deal about his finances that would not flatter his not-so-carefully crafted façade as an economic stimulator.

I am sad to say that many people who voted for Trump in the primaries were not smart. They chose not to employ their critical thinking skills, choosing instead to fall for his populist line of bs. After he became the Republican nominee, many who did not initially support him came reluctantly over to his camp. This is not because of his skills of persuasion, but rather, they are taking a desperate stand against the alternative to Trump, Hillary Clinton.

From an experience perspective, Hillary has Trump beat hands down. She was the First Lady for eight years, a senator from New York for six years and she spent four years as Secretary of State. Yet, many people on both sides of the aisle view her resume as a weakness. They believe that Hillary represents a broken and corrupt system that badly needs to be reformed. She does very little in her conduct to effectively counter this image.

Hillary badly mishandled the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, she put our national security at risk by storing classified E-mail messages on her private server, then blatantly lied to the public, the press and FBI investigators in order to cover it up. The recent revelations that the DNC tried to stack the deck against Bernie Sanders came as no surprise to me. I am hard pressed to think that Hillary didn’t have a hand in it.

The feminist fanfare about Hillary shattering the glass ceiling by being the first woman nominee for president rings hollow with me. Her husband, former President Clinton, is a proven sexual predator. I firmly believe that she enabled and covered up his atrocious behavior, thereby putting many women in jeopardy, in order to advance her career. I have no doubt that she will perpetuate Obama’s liberal agenda for the country by appointing left-of-center Supreme Court justices, by federally funding abortion and by adding to our already staggering national debt.

I’ve heard a few Republicans say that they would rather bite the bullet and vote for Hillary, rather than support Trump. Frankly, I don’t know how any self-respecting Republican could ever pull the lever for Hillary. Trump exemplifies the stark fact that desperation makes people do crazy things. Whatever the case, I am too conservative for this option. In these perilous times, I could be persuaded to vote for a moderate Democrat, but such a breed doesn’t exist anymore, thanks largely to Bernie Sanders. At any rate, Hillary sure ain’t it.

Many Trump supporters have tried to pressure me to change my mind, invoking the anti-Hillary arguments. Sometimes, their attacks have become personal. One Trump supporter called me, “Narrow-minded,” because I refuse to back Trump.

I am not an inflexible person. I have made compromises in the voting booth in spite of my conservative world view. In 2008, I supported John McCain for president, even though he was not my first, nor second, nor third choice during the primaries. I disagreed with his stance on immigration, manmade global warming and campaign finance reform. That said, I believed that, at his core, he was a Republican who cared about the welfare of our country.

In 2012, I voted for Mitt Romney, even though his involvement with socialized healthcare in Massachusetts and his past pro-choice views made me nervous. Once again, I perceived Romney as a decent person who would do what was best for the country.

But for me, Donald Trump is a bridge too far. He is an opportunistic, narcissistic bully with no real sense of what it takes to serve as the leader of the free world. Bill Kristol, a political pundit and father of the Never Trump movement, has a saying that I have found to be accurate. “Trumpism corrupts.” He is saying that Trump’s bad behavior has infected, not only the leaders of the Republican Party, but his supporters as well. If the high-pressure tactics of those who show a preference of the stick to the carrot is any indication, Kristol is dead right.

Trump’s tactics may have been effective in the primaries when the voters were fragmented between 17 candidates, but they have only served to backfire on him since the Indiana primary. Instead of instigating and provoking, Trump should be wooing disaffected members of the conservative base, as well as right-leaning independents. The fact that neither Ted Cruz nor John Kasich would endorse him is very telling.

He should have made amends with Ted Cruz, thereby courting his endorsement at the GOP convention in Cleveland. Instead, his supporters tried to bully Cruz once again from the floor, only to discover that it was all for not. Cruz refused to endorse Trump, gaining my respect along with many other rock-ribbed conservatives. Even though the convention was hosted in Cleveland, Ohio Governor John Kasich refused to attend, declining an opportunity to associate himself with Trump’s antics.

As we head into the final three months of the campaign, Republicans now find themselves weathering one gratuitous controversy after another as Donald Trump attacks judges of Hispanic heritage, Gold Star families who happen to be Muslim and babies at his rallies. I don’t even want to talk about Putin. I understand that many want to shake up the political establishment in Washington D.C., but Trump is a walking, talking hand grenade who serves as the wrong kind of disruption.

This is the dilemma our country now faces. We get to choose which poison we’d rather drink. Would you rather sip a cyanide shake, or arsenic juice? I choose neither. My party affiliation creates no obligation for me to vote for any candidate, particularly when he (and many of his supporters) presume that they are entitled to my favors.

I was praying that a viable third-party alternative would emerge before the Republican convention, but my hopes have been repeatedly dashed. I investigated Gary Johnson, but in these troubling times of ISIS and the fatally flawed Iran nuclear deal, I feel the libertarian approach of non-intervention is willfully naive. So, I will do what Ronald Reagan did in 1976 and leave the presidential contest blank when I go to vote in November.

To my Trump-supporting comrades who would accuse me of a proxy vote for Hillary, nice try. That is a manipulation tactic worthy of The Donald, but it is not a positive argument in favor of a candidate. It was appropriate in 2008 when I cast a pro-McCain vote that was really anti-Obama, but it won’t fly this time. Trump is just too unstable to be given the nuclear codes. Yes, I remember Marco Rubio’s words, even if he doesn’t.

You asked whether or not I still consider myself a Republican. The answer is a hesitant, yes. I’m not ready to leave the party of Lincoln, Eisenhower and Reagan just yet. That said, I am particularly angry at the way the GOP silenced descent on the floor of our convention two weeks ago when the anti-Trump delegates tried to have their say. I will remember those actions with bitter irony the next time some GOP official is censored from speaking on a college campus.

Despite our recent difficulties (which were largely self-inflicted), I still believe that the GOP is the best apparatus to keep this country on the right track. If we are still in chaos four years from now, I will give up my long-held Republican registration and become an Independent until such time as a viable conservative third party can be established.

Finally, Sai, let me slip briefly back into my role as your instructor. You’re in college now and you indicated to me that the pervasive sentiment on your college campus is liberal. I won’t presume to tell you how to think. I can only give you the facts as I see them and let you draw your own conclusions. Any good teacher or friend who truly cares about you will adopt this same approach. The structured discovery method is the best, whether we’re talking about cane travel, or life in general.

That said, the reason that the Democrat party is being pulled to the left is due to Bernie Sanders; a self-described socialist. Many of your professors and fellow students agree with the core tenants of socialism. I strongly urge you to employ your critical thinking skills that I know you have and analyze socialism.

When Bernie Sanders says that he wants to make college free for all, is it possible? I submit to you that there is no such thing. Someone, somewhere, will always have to pay the bill, whether it’s for college, entitlement benefits such as Food Stamps, or mass transit in a big city like Denver. When Bernie Sanders talks about breaking up the banks, is that something that a president should be allowed to do? When he talks about defunding the military, do you think Russia and ISIS would welcome such a thing?

Then, ask yourself, your friends and your teachers where socialism has succeeded in the world. I’ll give you a hint; take a hard look at Venezuela.

I appreciate your questions, Sai. You were a joy to work with two years ago and I hope you are well now. I apologize that this was so long, but I wanted to give you as thorough an explanation as possible.

Take care, Sai, and please do keep in touch.

Your friend and former instructor,


Burned Out

The following is excerpted from my Facebook page. It is self-explanatory, so I will do very little editorializing throughout, save to occasionally expound on the credentials of a certain poster. I will include my original remarks, then selected comments that were left in response to what I said. I will save further editorial remarks until the end.

Original Remarks:

There are some things that blind people just can’t do. I hate to say it and I know it will anger many of my NFB friends, but it does no good when we ignore the hard facts.
One of the things we can’t do is adequately grill meat.
I was working the CCB summer program two years ago and I asked a coworker who was known for his boastful nature if he would show me how to grill burgers.
“Sho thang! Sho thang!” he retorted in his usual pompous, loquacious manner. “I’m the only guy who can show you how to do it without vision.” I hasten to add here that said coworker was a high partial, which means that he had a fair amount of useable vision.
So the appointed time came when he and I stood over the propane grill with a plate of raw burger patties. He showed me how to turn on the gas, light the burners and arrange the burgers on the grill.
He kept going on and on about using the sound of the sizzling meat to know when it was time to flip the burgers. Then he suddenly grabbed the spatula out of my hand saying, “H’oh! Whoa! Ya got a fire under one a dose! Le’me get it.”
I pause in my narrative to add that my esteemed coworker was not wearing sleep shades.
Anyway, he handed me the spatula back and showed me how to flip the rest of the burgers and remove them from the grill when cooked. But what would’ve happened if he had been blind and had not seen the grease fire? I guess the smell of charred meat would’ve eventually clued us into the fact that there was a serious problem.
I do have a friend who is almost totally blind and he does grill, but he doesn’t have any control over the temperature of the meat. It’s a crap shoot as to whether or not you’re going to get your burger rare, medium or well-charred.
Look, I don’t enjoy saying this. There is a long tradition of grilling in my family. My dad is an expert in grilling steaks, burgers, hot dogs, chicken breasts, salmon and many other kinds of meat over charcoal, propane and wood pellets. I want to follow in that tradition, but as Dirty Harry always said, “A man’s got to know his limitations.”
Now that I’m depressed, I guess I’ll go to Burger King and get a flame-broiled Whopper. It’s better than nothing. *sniffle*

Note: The following comments were just some that were left in response and, in my view, represent a fair cross-section of the discussion. I am leaving only their first names out of regard for their anonymity.

From Katy:

So true. *sad puppy sniffles*

From Lauren:

The grill and all the noises it makes stresses me out too much. I feel you.

From Karly:

I am blind and a home management instructor teaching the structured discovery model. I grill, and teach my students how to grill all the time. Yes, I was very intimidated to use the grill at first, but I have learned it really is trial and error and figuring it out with patience and practice. I finlally was able to purchase my first grill earlier this summer and literally have not used my stove since. I use a meat thermometer at times, I also use my spatula and tongs to tell when the meat is done, as well as timing, which is very very important. You can also do what I like to call the tap method, (I dunno if that is a technical term) LOL, but if you tap your finger on the meat, or whatever you are grilling you can tell the texture of the food you are cooking to tell doneness as well. I have caught burgers on fire, and realized it by smell and sound, but I turned the grill off and the flames did subside. If you heat the grill on high before placing your food on it, cleaning the grill first, then turning it down to the required tempature to cook your food, you will not have as many flare-ups because you have already burned off any left over grease. I was taken -a-back by this post, because with proper instruction and lots of practice, I find grilling to be a very enjoyable and delicious way to cook. I have cooked many different types of food, (burgers, steak, tuna, pork chops, corn, portobella mushrooms, onions, squash, eggplant… I could go on and on. I hope that those who are apprehensive about grilling, will find this post helpful.

From Alicia:

While this may seem unrelated on the surface, bear with me. This comment thread reminds me of something that happened at CCB. I came to the Center knowing very well that a blind person could do things like rock climb, white-water raft, sky dive, and all manner of other thrill-seeking activities. I also knew I could learn the daily living skills the Center taught. It was mostly that I’d never had the opportunity to learn, but I knew once the opportunity was there, I could do it. However, when a pair of blind friends said to me, “Let’s go play air hockey,” I looked at them like they were nuts, and said, “No way can a blind person play air hockey.” they showed me differently. It was just kind of interesting that I knew a blind person could do all this other big stuff the sighted world doesn’t think we can, but I never thought we could play air hockey. Now there’s this thread. I’ve known we could do all manner of things, but like Ryan, didn’t think something like grilling burgers was one of them. It’s just curious how sometimes we know we’re capable in the big areas, but don’t think we are in the smaller ones. And then we start sharing tips and tricks, and sometimes figure out we are after all.

From Jeff, who is also an instructor:

Ryan, I do understand that it can be very challenging, but each of us has to resist the impulse to give in to the initial frustration, or the erge to believe that our personal experience is the only possible outcome for anyone that is blind. I have successfully grilled many times over the years, and once in a while, things have not gone as well as I would have liked, but these have become the exception, rather than the rule. in fact it was one of the saddest days of my life when our grill gave up the goast, and we were reduced to using a Forman grill. I am planning to buy a new one, that will run on house gas this time, so I don’t have to mess with those bottles that always manage to run out of fuel at the worst possible time. My first suggestion is to purchase a grill basket. This is perhaps one of the greatest inventions in human history, well there are a few better ones I suppose, but it is up there. This allows you to perfectly place the meat and keep it in place. It also allows you to flip the meat without the slightest difficulty. Now each grill cooks a little different, but as mentioned above, there are only a few things you need to have control over, and timing is the most important one. Once you have the knowledge of how long your grill takes to cook to the degree of doneness you want, you have become the master of your domain! So, hang in there my friend, each of us deserves to have the joy of grilling a burger or steak over a fire, and savering that smoky flavor with our friends.

From Briana:

Honestly Ryan, even sighted, I go based on the springiness of the meat. Rare is a squishy spring all the way to well done which has very little to no spring at all. I can usually tell how cooked it is by how my fork pierces the meat. You always want a clean grill and if you know how your grill cooks (the hottest and coolest parts of the grill ) you can rotate meats as needed. Keep practicing, and ask questions, I have faith you will do well.

From Dave, another sighted person:

Why I was always happy to man the grill at the annual cookout each year!!

From Martin, yet another instructor:

The 3 t’s of cooking for blind people
And taste if needed.

From Ryan O:

Martin, have you done it? How the hell do you touch a burger while it’s grilling without burning your fingers?

From Martin:

Oh, there will be scorched fingertips from time to time, but you have to ask yourself… Is this burger worth it? The answer is inevitably yes!

From Grace:

No, totally not worth it. Plenty of cook outs to go to put on by sighted friends where I can have a burger without the burns.

From Ryan O:

I remember a friend used a burger basket and it was very effective. I’ve never even seen a meat thermometer. Is it accessible?

From Martin:

Yes, Carina actually has one that talks.

In closing, let me say that I fell into a trap that I have avoided for years. About 15 years ago, I chose to discard my electric razor and start shaving with a safety razor. I was nervous about cuts and nicks, but now, I would never go back to the electric model.

About 10 years ago, I took up smoking cigars as a full time vice. Some sighted and blind friends expressed skepticism that I would be able to light the cigar without burning holes in my clothing or setting my apartment on fire. A decade later and I can boast of a few holes in clothing, but no fires.

My new goal is to grill myself and a friend or two a burger before the summer is over. I will let you know how it turns out.

We never stop learning.

Shoot it Black! Shoot it Blue!

I am an unapologetic supporter of the police. I think they are doing a thankless job in a society that values their worth less and less with each passing generation. My heart bleeds for the 12 cops in Dallas who were shot last night when a peaceful protest over the latest shootings of black suspects by white cops turned deadly.

I came into work this morning and two of my Boulder coworkers were opining that a federal investigation should be launched every time a police officer fires his/her weapon. Really? Would said investigation be conducted by the FBI, who just let a terrorist slip through their fingers; a terrorist who went on to shoot over 100 people in an Orlando night club? Or maybe the DOJ, who is likely going to no-bill a high-ranking official who carelessly, deliberately passed classified information through her private server, despite warnings not to do so? I am unsure of much in this life, but I am damned sure that the tensions between the police and minority communities will not be eased by our federal government. I firmly believe that they are best addressed on the local level.

As people view the videos of the shootings in LA and MN, it is important to remember that we are not getting the full context of the situation. Civilian videos are generally taken after an incident starts, so we almost never see the prelude to the shooting. This problem would be solved if body cameras were mandatory for all law enforcement officers, whether they live in New York City or Beatrice, Nebraska. In our instant digital age, body cams would provide constant video footage for both perpetrators and victims to use as evidence. It would give the general public a far better picture of what cops have to deal with on the streets where ambiguities are omnipresent.

The sniper who shot the 12 cops in Dallas did the Black Lives Matter movement no favors. If BLM took a King-style approach of ‘peace and love through strength’, they would’ve gotten much further with their message. Riots, looting and the retaliatory murders of police officers, who were merely trying to protect those exercising their First Amendment rights, changes the focus of the narrative and sets them back. As long as they continue to take their cues from Malcolm X., and as long as President Obama continues to lend them his tacit approval, they will be rightly labeled as a fringe organization bordering on terrorism.

As an aside, can someone please tell me what the hell Mark Fuhrman (a documented racist) is doing giving commentary on Fox News? I don’t care what his theories are about the O.J. case. He is part of the problem, not the solution.

God bless the five police officers who gave their lives in the performance of their duties. Prayers to their families and comrades who will never see them again. God bless the other seven officers who are recovering from their wounds. God bless Alton Sterling and Philando Castile and prayers for their loved ones.


Witches Make the Best Fertilizer

A lot of people are shocked when they learn that I get up every morning at 5 AM and commute from Littleton to Boulder. I take two buses and one light rail to accomplish this. The round-trip time comes out to about 4 1/2 hours daily. What can I say… I get a lot of books read.

When I first took the job, I knew I would never give a single tax dollar to what we conservatives affectionately call, “The Peoples’ Republic of Boulder.” I have worked there almost 2 years now and I can tell you that the stereotypes are all true.

One example is blatantly obvious. Boulder recently banned the selling of ice cream at all municipal parks and swimming pools. They did it for, “health reasons.” This is the textbook definition of a nanny state. Don’t let Mom And Dad decide if their kids should eat an ice cream cone in the hot sun. Leave it up to the government.

If you use plastic over paper at any Boulder grocery store, you’re going to get taxed for it. The potheads can stink up the Pearl St. Mall with no consequence, but tobacco is a mortal sin.

Speaking of foul odors, my coworkers imposed a new recycling program at our workplace about a month ago. Now, we get to sort all of our trash into various containers, including a compost bin. The compost bin, which contains all organic items, sits right outside the control room where I work. It’s supposed to be put out once a week for pick-up, but no one ever does it.

Last week, the smell of rotting food wafted into the control room and down the hall. On Thursday, I finally snapped and moved the bin outside the back door. My coworker (the crazy Wiccan), threw a hissy fit because I left the bin outside her office window, thereby blocking her view. She didn’t care that the smell of rotting food was stinking up our office, as long as she got to enjoy the blessings of the sunshine from Mother Earth.

This is the environmentalist movement in a nutshell. 53 square miles surrounded by reality, indeed.

OK, so why don’t I just move to Louisville, Broomfield or even Westminster? After six months of working there, I realized I don’t want to leave Littleton because I love living here!

I would describe the political vibe here as libertarian; as long as you obey the law, we don’t care what you do. But more to the point, it feels like a community here.

I have within walking distance, a grocery store, my bank, a dental office, my doctor’s office, a UPS store, a post office, a vet clinic, a liquor store, an antique gallery, a park with a duck pond and much more.

I eat out a lot, and neighborhood restaurants include Mexican, Italian, Middle Eastern, Indian, Thai and American cuisine. Yes, there is a Starbucks nearby. Duh!

I live a block away from a major bus route and a light rail station is a 15-minute walk on a nice day. Even though I don’t really have any reason to go there anymore, I also like living near the Colorado Center For the Blind. I respect their basic mission of teaching blind people the skills of independence.

So, I will continue to grown and gripe as I turn off the 5 AM alarm and stumble to the shower. The job kind of sucks, but the paycheck is worth it if I can stay comfortable here in Littleton.

In the meantime, I will pass the hours in Boulder trying to figure out if Wiccans make better fertilizer since they are more earth-friendly.

Roll On, God’s Will

I’ve tried to hold my tongue on this because I haven’t read the book or seen the movie, but the plot is spoiled out there, so let me address some of the hysteria surrounding “Me Before You,” from the disabled community.

For those of you who are guilty of being, “Ablest,” and may not recognize the reference, here’s a friendly nudge. “Me Before You,” was a romance novel written by Jojo Moyes, which has now been adapted into a movie. The story takes place in merry old England and follows an active rich guy (Will) who is paralyzed in a motorcycle accident. A young girl (Louisa) who is a bit of a dim bulb takes a job as his caretaker. Long story short…Will encourages Louisa to become more educated and learn more about the world. She tries to convince him that he can still live a full life, even though he’s confined to a wheelchair. After six months, he admits that he’s had a better life than he has ever known, but flies off to Switzerland, where a doctor helps him drift off into the big sleep. But he leaves Louisa a nice nest egg so she can continue her education.

First, this is not an anti-disability movie. It is a pro-right to die movie, just as “Million Dollar Baby,” was. Where was the outrage over that? Could it be that Clint Eastwood just makes euthanasia look much more sexy? For all of you disabled leftists out there who support individual choice in the right to die arena, congratulations. You got what you wanted. How do you like it?

Sidebar: Get ready for the time (it isn’t too far away) when the abortion of disabled fetuses becomes much more common. Same concept… Other end of the spectrum. But it’s about personal choice so it’s all good, right?

Second, many so-called disabled activists are outraged because Hollywood depicts other minorities in a favorable light, while still looking down on the disabled. People, are you really surprised that we are at the bottom of the pecking order? The game of identity politics burst onto the scene in the 1960s. It was elevated to an art form in the 1990s. Why do you suppose the disabled haven’t gotten very far in the entertainment arena? Think hard. This is not a rhetorical question.

Third, many disabled bloggers (who often traffic in sanctimony) trumpet The notion that Jojo Moyes had no business writing this novel in the first place. One blogger says, “This wasn’t her story to tell.” This is a spurious argument that smacks of more than a little arrogant condescension. Larry McMurtry wasn’t alive in the 19th century. Does that mean he should’ve foregone the writing of Lonesome Dove? Dennis Lehane has written several novels dealing with racism. Should we burn his novels and lambaste his credibility because he’s white? Of course not! You can argue that Moyes’ novel was poorly researched or poorly written, but in a free society, you don’t get to decide who should and shouldn’t write what.

Finally, you know what Internet petitions are good for? Nothing! If I was really feeling generous, I could print one out with all 56,000 signatures, wipe my bum with it, crumple it into a filth-smeared wad and leave it in the compost bucket at work as a token for my greenie-weenie coworkers. One petition author whines, “Hollywood! Why do you want me dead?” Another calls this movie, “a disability snuff film.”

Folks, a snuff film is a movie in which someone is actually murdered for the purpose of exploitation. Nobody died in this movie. I know it’s common to employ hyperbole to garner attention, but for god’s sake, at least be accurate!

Ok, I’m done. Rant over. I’ve worked out all my stress, as well as other things while composing this on the toilet. Can somebody grab me that petition from Change.org out of the printing tray? I just ran out of toilet paper.

P.S.: As I stated at the beginning of this entry, I’ve not read the book or seen the movie. I have no intention of doing so. I have a lot of Hardy Boys books to get to before I’ll get around to reading a romance novel. I also don’t know anything about the writing abilities of Jojo Moyes. That said, irony often escapes the masses and subtlety is often drowned out by the megaphone of social media.

That said, some disabilities are involuntary and some are self-imposed. That is very likely the over-arching theme of the novel, if not the movie. Will chooses to allow his disability to rule his life and ultimately, his death, but he gives Luisa the wisdom and the tools to make a different choice for herself. Life is about choices, no?

I originally wrote this rant on Facebook. No one shared it; not even Evaney From Miami. I did get called, “A confrontational dick,” by Kevin; a guy who doesn’t even follow me. Thanks, Kev. Love your passion. You must be a Trump supporter.

Yeah…Trump. There’s a real handicap right there. Who am I to judge Will Traynor? If The Donald wins in November, maybe I’ll fly off to Switzerland for a consultation with Dignitas.