Thursday, August 31, 2006

"Fast and Furious"

I am an eternal optimist, especially when it comes to the Bills. They could have no shot at winning 3 games all season, and I'll still pick them to make the playoffs. That's what nearly a decade of AFC East dominance does, even ten years after the fact.

BUT (and I know it's only pre-season), the Bills looked good on Thursday night in their 20-13 win over the Detroit Lions, especially on the opening drive. Quarterback J.P. Losman was 5 for 5 to start the game, marching the Bills 85 yards down the field to score on the opening drive. And it's not just that his passes were accurate: he was confident. He looked like he knew where the ball was supposed to go at all times. He was not dancing in the pocket, he was not looking left and right. He was in control. I know, things could fall apart in the regular season, but Jonathan Paul Losman, the Adam Sandler lookalike, was clearly the best QB on the team. I also like the change in offensive philosophy. New offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild seems to be using the Mike Martz school of offense and spreading the field out. Not only are they utilizing the outside speed of wide receivers Lee Evans and (welcome back) Peerless Price, but they are having Willis McGahee run more to the outside. They could be a fun offense to watch; seem to have some precision.

Also (and again, I know this is all pre-season), they committed zero penalties and no turnovers in the entire first half (which is when the first and second strings play the most). No major mistakes. This is a good sign, and maybe a sign that new head coach Dick Jauron is getting through to a team that was heavily penalized over the last five years. Maybe I'm being way too optimistic. I know they aren't going to make the Super Bowl. Heck, the chance of them even making the playoffs this year is a longshot, but if they can make some strides, I think they are about 2-3 years away from being a very good team.

I'm really digging the new Tampa-2 defense they're running now too. There is clearly a lot more speed on the line and on the ends, which is something they didn't have with 300-plus lb linemen Pat Williams and Sam Adams over the last few years. Now they have guys who can disrupt the inside lanes and plug the gaps, but who are also fast enough to get to the quarterback. And all those who said the Bills reached too high for Donte Whitner and John McCargo in this past year's draft should realize that Whitner is going to be the starter at strong safety, and McCargo is making nice strides in camp. Plus, apparently this kid Kyle Williams out of LSU is a bit of a steal. I like the defense very much.

I know that this year will likely be a crushing disappointment, as every year since 1965 has ultimately been. But you gotta have hope. Otherwise, what's the point?


Thursday, August 24, 2006

Happy 2nd Blogoversary To Me!

I just realized that today is my second Blogoversary! It seems like only 730 short days ago that I first wrote my very first blog, musing as only a genius like myself can on the Olympics. Ruminating on such controversial topics as the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. Making a prediction that the Seattle Seahawks would be good one season too early. Am I clairvoyant? Perhaps. Am I eloquent. You tell me. Do I have a lot of free time on my hands? Without question.

Since many people remember everything I write down for the rest of their lives, this part will probably be superfluous, but for the rest of you, it's essential. Exactly one year ago today, I created a list of the many topics I would cover over the coming year. Well, the year is past, let's see how I did.

  • Football (check)
  • Stupid shit that I did (check)
  • Pictures of my newborn toddlers (nope, they ran away)
  • Bad things that happened to me (um, yeah)
  • Embarrassing things that happened to me
  • Celebrities I hate (check and check)
  • How much weight I've gained (keypad won't work, dammit)
  • My iPod (check and mate)
  • Ju-jitsu (and other forms of self-defense)
  • Celebrities I think are hot (are your ears ringing, Jude Law?!)
  • The boys my twin teenage daughters are dating (I killed them, sorry)
  • How to get one side of the Rubik's Cube (almost got it!)
  • Sneaking food into a movie theater (two words: big pockets)
  • Which baseball cards will appreciate in value over the next five years (baseball cards are dead)
  • Movie quotes ("you're fired Ed, bing-bong-bong")
  • An "irreverent" look at religion (maybe?)
  • Nutritious dishes you can make in under 40 minutes (I prefer to eat out)
  • A tribute to Lance Bass (seriously, I had no idea)
  • Cats (The animal, not the musical, silly!) (nope)
  • My soon-to-be annual pledge drive (still waiting for your donation)
  • World leaders Pat Robertson wants to assassinate now (not enough bandwidth)
  • Rants against the evils of corporate America and the way that big business runs our country (been done)
  • Crossword puzzles I've actually finished (hasn't happened)
  • Rappers to which I give mad respect (check)

(Kidding aside, I never intended to blog about any of those things, and haven't read that post in a year, but hey, I keep my promises, even when it's unintentional.)

I'm not going to be so bold as to predict the topics for 2006-07, but let's hope the next 12 months bring all of us everything we want and more. Happy blogging!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Herb Deluxe®

I know what you're thinking.

You're thinking, Sure, a guy like Bill Shannon is good to have around every once in a while. He's loud, he doesn't pay for anything, he'll finish what's on my plate when I can't have another bite. He's alright by me.

But [this is still you thinking], somehow there's something missing. And I can't quite put my finger on it. Is it his lack of hygiene? His unjustified arrogance? His unnecessary use of large words in incorrect context? No, that's not it.

Oh! you finally exclaim, I've got it! As adequate as that William Herbert is, he's just not diverse enough. Let's face it, the boy is white-bred.

Well I have read all your emails and letters and faxes and telegrams, and I have listened to all your concerns about my lack of diversity. And -- are you ready for a bombshell? -- you were right! I have been far too slow to embrace diversity in my own physical self. Every time you see Bill Shannon you see the same thing. White face, white face, white face, pasty, pale white face. Name another place you go where you see that much white? Besides the North Pole! Right? Am I right or what?

This is America. And whether you want to call it a melting pot, a fruit salad or a national mosaic, you can't go anywhere this day and age without seeing people of so many great and diverse ethnicities. I, much like the Boston Red Sox, have been reluctant to integrate myself.

So with the help of some focus groups, including some leading multiculturalism and anti-defamation organizations, I have come up with a Bill Shannon for the new millennium, a Bill Shannon that you can count on to represent not only fellow caucasians, but sundry other ethnic groups as well.

And as a special bonus, we have also had some well-known artists come in to give their own renditions of what a Bill Shannon might look like in their eyes. I think the results will surprise you.

Well enough pomp and pageantry, I would now like to unveil the Twenty-Ought-Six-and-Beyond version. The Herb Deluxe, if you will.

First, the control group. This is the Original Bill Shannon you have all come to know and tolerate.

Pleasant, timeless. It gets the job done, no questions asked. The slacked jaw, the poor eyesight. All your favorites are there. That's three decades of mediocrity all up in your grillpiece, son. Recognize!

But you've probably had enough of that. Let's take a look at something a little more dangerous. I mean, have you ever wondered, I wonder what a Bill Shannon would look like as an East Asian?

Wonder no further, simply cast your eyes just inches upward and enjoy the Bill Shannon that comes from the Land of the Rising Sun. Sure, the Original Bill Shannon has wee eyes that obscure his breathtaking baby-blues. But East Asian Bill Shannon's eyes belie a sort of exotic (perhaps dangerous?) effect, one that says, Konichiwa! Ichiban! Domo Origato, Mr DiGiacomo. (That is literally the only Japanese I know, and I don't even know it. East Asian Bill Shannon is going to need some tweaking.)

But let's say that language barrier is too much for you. Let's say your name isn't Mike "Beach Justice" Shannon, but you still would like Bill Shannon to be a "brother." I've just the thing.

Afro-Carribbean Bill Shannon does not mess around. You can tell by the look in his eyes that he is determined and ready to throw down. But he's not a bad guy, he's just misunderstood. That look on his face is not anger, it's the pain that generations of oppression and injustice have brought. Afro-Carribbean Bill Shannon is not interested in messing a brotha up, but he does demand your respect. And notice, that even the Afro-Carribbean Bill Shannon does not come with eyebrows. (Ratzin-fratzin-googly-moogly...)

West-Asian Bill Shannon is one of the good ones. You can let him on the plane. Trust me. He's with me (leather).

Let's say you're appreciative of the diversity I've provided (and with the copious examples I have provided, you should be!), but you are still not satisfied. Why don't we fire up the ol' Flux Capacitor and jump in the TIME MACHINE?! Once that Delorean hits 88, you will see the inexorable march that Bill Shannon has made (and will continue to make) through time.

There are five distinct stages of a Bill Shannon in his lifetime. I hope you enjoy all of them. I only really enjoyed two of them.

First there is Baby Billy. You just want to pinch his face and give him $5, don't you? This is apparently right after baby's first beard-trimming.
Then Pre-Pubescent Bill (and no that is not like five years ago, haters!). His whole life ahead of him, and a trail of bodies behind him. Forget I said that last part.

The Original Version (see above). Unbelievably handsome, sure, I mean scary handsome. But let's not forget that has a very efficient notecard filing system. (Boy I really wish I hadn't brought that up.)

And Old-Timer Bill. If you call him Gramps you're bound to get a rap to the kisser, wise-guy!

But what's the fifth stage? Ah-HA! It was a trick! For the fifth stage, we go not back in time, but back in the evolution of man! (This one is for you, Tracie my dear.) I present to you, Half-Monkey-Half-Bill-Shannon!
Note, even in his primitive homo habilis state, he is still wearing eyeglasses. That's a commitment to good vision.

Now, it's a sad fact that Bill Shannon is not going to live forever folks. I know I know, you don't even wanna think about that. Trust me, neither do I! Ha ha ha ha ha, ahhhhh.... But anyway, when Bill Shannon is no longer here in a physical sense, he will always be here in physical essence. His spirit, his aura, will always be with you. No matter what. Bill Shannon is like Obi-Wan Kenobi in that way, except if Bill Shannon saw a mofo like Darth Vader coming up to him with a lightsaber, Bill Shannon would get the **** outta dodge, yaknowwhatumsayin?

But when Bill Shannon's physical being isn't here on earth for others to enjoy, we have to with the next best thing: art. Now many have debated what true art is. Is everything art? Is nothing art? Who decides what art is? Whatever your opinion, I don't think there will be any doubt that the following creations are not only works of art, but works of exquisite art. Mainly because of the subject matter.

Since we couldn't afford any real, living artists to create a tribute to Bill Shannon, I had to create some myself, using the styles of artists of the past. For example, had you ever wondered what Bill Shannon would look like if he were painted by the immortal Botticelli?
Well we'll never know, of course, because Botticelli has been dead since the early 1500s, but I am confident that the master couldn't do any better than the above.

What about Modigliani?
Sure Bill Shannon looks a little, shall we say "priggish" in this picture, but he has been known to be that way in real life as well.

And the great El Greco wanted to have a crack at Bill Shannon, and I don't think anyone could have asked for anything better.
Plus I look skinny as hell.

There is only one more version I'm unleashing at this time, which doesn't really fit into any of the other categories, and that is Drunk Bill.

According to some sort of complex mathematical theorem, the above picture is a hypothetical approximation of what Bill Shannon would look like had he consumed a few alcoholic beverages. Is this what Bill Shannon might look like in that state? I guess the world will never know. (Apparently when it happens though, he will be using a mouthguard.)

So there you have it. I'm hoping that this, my mandatory sensitivity training and my 360 hours of community service will finally silence those who say that Bill Shannon doesn't represent them, and only caters to his own interests. Nothing, friends, could be further from the truth. Next time you say, Bill Shannon is two-faced, just remember: it's more like eight or nine!!!!!!!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

I Know This Isn't the Year, But...

I am very happy to see that the Bills didn't completely embarrass themselves yesterday. And apparently J.P. Losman is finally making some strides, ending the game going 13-for-13 passing. He started off slow but had a decent second half, including a couple of time-consuming drives. I didn't actually see the game, so maybe they did look like crap (and I'm soooo pissed I didn't DVR it) but at least the defense didn't allow any points in the second half and they only lost by one. Besides, it is pre-season after all.

I'm actually just happy to see that J.P. can actually get the offense into some kind of a rhythm, and controlling the ball in the second half is a good sign. I am more interested in evaluating the talent rather than the final score.

Bottom line: It's football season baby! And I'm finally getting excited about it! Finally seeing those red helmets made it kick in for me. I've gone without football for so long that I forgot how excited I get about it. For the first time in a while, I have not had that much anticipation for this season, but it's hitting me now.

Perhaps to exorcise the demons of the past, I am going to present the five most heartbreaking moments in Bills history from 1988 to present. I have narrowed this down from the thousands-upon-thousands from which to choose, and these are the ones that either made me cry, made me break something, or made me physically ill.

#5. Black Monday. This was the day in 2000 that the late John Butler, who was their General Manager at the time, released three Hall of Fame players -- Andre Reed, Thurman Thomas and Bruce Smith -- on the same day. These three players were the symbols of the Super Bowl years, and Butler just dropped 'em. Thurman found out about it on the news; they didn't even call him to tell him. One might say that the franchise has been on a downswing every since. You don't just drop the heart of your team like that.

#4. 1988 AFC Championship Game. This is my favorite Bills team of all time. They were 12-4 that year and would have had home field advantage throughout the playoffs (they were 8-0 at home that year) if they had won their last regular season game against the Colts. In fact, I'm tempted to say that the Colts game was actually the heartbreaker, since it cost them home field advantage.

Anyway, the Bills were so good that year. It was the year the tore the goalposts down when they won the division, and they were just great to watch. They had the #1 defense in the AFC -- the Blizzard Defense -- and all their great players were coming into their prime. So they won their first playoff game against the Oilers on New Years Day and then went to Cincinnati and just got beat up. Cincinnati's no-huddle offense was pretty potent that year but they were a bunch of assholes. I really hated that Bengals team. Douchebag David Fulcher, illiterate James Brooks, cheater Cris Collinsworth (oh yeah, he cheated in that game), flash-in-the-pan Ickey Woods. I hate them all. The Bills were so close that year and boy did that game hurt.

#3. Ronnie Harmon drops the ball. In the 1989 Playoffs the Bills were playing the Browns in Cleveland. This was the year of the "Bickering Bills," where two assistant coaches got into a fist-fight and Jim Kelly and receiver Chris Burkett got into a fight on the sidelines in front of cameras on Monday Night Football. Oh, and Thurman Thomas called Jim Kelly out on TV about being a leader and to stop pointing fingers.

So this game was really hard fought, and both teams were just trading touchdowns back and forth. Thurman had a huge game, with 13 catches and two touchdowns. But a missed extra point put them down by 4 instead of 3 points, which means they had to go for a touchdown. Late in the 4th quarter, Jim Kelly (who threw for 405 yards and 4 TD's) threw a perfect pass in the back of the end zone to Ronnie Harmon. But Ronnie dropped it. It was sickening, and a very cruel introduction to the decade of the 1990s.

#2. Super Bowl XXV. Norwood, wide right. Read about it here. I don't want to talk about it.

#1. The Music City Miracle OR The Immaculate Deception.

This is one of the most disputed plays in football history. End of the game, Bills march down the field to score what appears to be the winning field goal. Bills kick off with like a minute left, and the Tennessee Titans call a play called "Homerun Throwback," which entails a lateral throw from Frank Wycheck to Kevin Dyson. The ball is thrown from the middle of the field toward the sideline, the Bills are all caught out of their lanes and running toward the middle, and Dyson flies down the sideline for the touchdown.

You can watch the original broadcast here:

A few things about this game. First of all, it was 10 years almost to the day after Ronnie Harmon's dropped pass (see #3 above). And I have never felt more sick to my stomach after a sporting event. I remember that I was watching the game at Javen's Midler Ave house, and when the Bills scored that field goal, I was ecstatic. And when the Titans ran it back, I felt like someone had punched me in the stomach and then ripped my heart out of my chest. No single sporting event in my life hurt that much. I remember after the game ended, I just kind of left and got in my car and went home. I was in such a daze. I think I drove around the neighborhood for about an hour, just trying to make sense of it. I'll never forget it.

The other thing is that -- and I don't care what anyone says about this -- IT WAS A FORWARD PASS, which made it an illegal play. I will go to my grave with that knowledge. And if people can't admit that much, can't they at least acknowledge the possibility that it was a forward pass? I remember shortly after the game, the scourge of Western New York, Paul Maguire, said something like "there is no disputing it was a legal play." I don't think anyone would say there is no disputing it. I have wanted to put a knife in Maguire's face ever since. Wade Phillips was so stupid.

So goes the list of heartbreak. Let's hope we can avoid it this year, boys.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

A Couple of Wedding Pics (Not Mine)

We had a fine old time at the Holihan wedding a few weekends ago. (Karen Holihan is my cousin, although I don't think I have any pictures of her.) Rather, I decided to post a couple pics of my siblings, parents and future sibling-in-law. Your fearless author went stag, but maybe next time we bring a special ladyfriend. Please enjoy...

Sweet ShanFam Action

Me and my Mom and Dad

Danielle (Mike's bride-to-be), Kate, Eileen and Me in Front

Mike, Mom, Dad, Me

My brother and I showing the old man some love

All looking forward to a headache-laden Saturday

Puttin' out the vibe with one pissed-off old lady

Smile idiots

Monday, August 07, 2006

Turnpike Jackass

Just because I have an Intelligence Quotient in the mid- to high-130s does not mean that I am intelligent. I have mentioned this before, but I'm pretty sure I have some sort of a severe learning disability that affects my ability to negotiate spatial relationships. For example, I can't look at someone and tell how tall they are, or what their height might be. I am bad with estimating crowds and distances, and even worse when it comes to measuring things like ounces or liters. Yes, when it comes to figuring out whether a shirt would fit, or if pants go with a shirt, I am quasi-retarted. It's not really my fault.

When you take this lack of ability to figure out where you are in the world and combine it with a very slight case of A.D.D., and add driving into the mix, you have a recipe for hilarious disaster. Such was the case with my soujourn home to Syracuse from the great state of Delaware (which was the first state, for those of ya'll who don't know).

Doug and Rachel and Catherine (their infant) and I had a glorious weekend of carousing, boozing and walking in the beautiful hot weather. Finally, regrettably, I had to go. I wanted to make sure I got onto Route 81 North before the sun went down and I got completely fucking lost.

I reached route 476 North at about 6PM, still with plenty of sunlight to be had. I saw a bunch of signs that the Penn Turnpike was coming up quickly, with lots of lanes and arrows pointing to areas where I could pick up a ticket and get on the 'Pike. But as the twisty road turned and zig-zagged, I somehow ended up on some sort of "express" lane which contained no ticket-machines. By the time I realized this, I had gone far too far beyond them and could not back up. It turns out I had reached a high-speed EZ-Pass lane, and because of my procrastination (go figure) I have not received my EZ-Pass yet, so I was traveling on the PA Turnpike completely ticketless. Oh the danger!

When I got to the end of the Turnpike, I flashed a $20 to the toll booth operator and told him I never got a ticket and how much do I owe him? I had expected him to simply shout out the maximum amount and I would just have to fork that over. But surprisingly, the toll booth operator (a younger guy wearing a backward baseball cap, of all things) took his time. He asked me where I had gotten on, how much it was going in the other direction, etc. He told me the fee would only be $5.25, which was the exact amount I had paid going into Delaware. He got out of his booth, quickly jotted down my license plate number and driver's license info, and then charged me the $5.25, made me sign a letter and then sent me on my way. Scanning the letter quickly, I saw the amount of $22.75, which I was sure was the amount I would be fined for traveling the 'Pike without a ticket.

But when I got on the road, I realized that what I was given was a one-time waiver, saying they would only charge me the normal fee this time, but if I ever did this again, I would get charged the total amount. WHAT? Was the state of PA giving me a break? The state I have always railed against for being such a horrible drive? I will no longer refer to you as Pennsyl-tucky, great Keystone State, for I truly do have a friend in thee.

Unless I get a bill for $22.75 in the next 6-8 weeks. Then it's ON.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Ben Frankin's Thirteen Virtues

When I was reading up on my last blog post (see my mastery of vocabulary and thought below) I came upon the Thirteen Virtues that Benjamin Franklin created as a young man. I am trying to better myself all around, and could think of no better starting point than the one's Old Ben came up with. And yes, those of you who know me know that I have a long way to go. But it's a good starting point, I think.

Keep in mind, Franklin came up with these when he was just 20 years old. Oh, if I could only be one-tenth as brilliant as Ben, even being that I am 50% older now than he was then. (The spelling errors are his not mind. Don't forget I'm a brilliant speller.)

1. "TEMPERANCE. Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation."
2. "SILENCE. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation."
3. "ORDER. Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time."
4. "RESOLUTION. Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve."
5. "FRUGALITY. Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing."
6. "INDUSTRY. Lose no time; be always employ'd in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions."
7. "SINCERITY. Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly."
8. "JUSTICE. Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty."
9. "MODERATION. Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve."
10. "CLEANLINESS. Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloaths, or habitation."
11. "TRANQUILLITY. Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable."
12. "CHASTITY. Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dulness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another's peace or reputation."
13. "HUMILITY. Imitate Jesus and Socrates."

The Greatest American - Deconstructed and Disemboweled

In 2004 and early 2005, a survey called "The Greatest American" was conducted. It was a compendium of who we considered our all-time greatest citizens. I had never heard of this until a few days ago, though I had heard of the "100 Greatest Britons" and
"The Greatest Canadian." I always thought, what an interesting idea, why didn't they do that for America? It's only the greatest country on earth!

Now I'm sort of wishing they hadn't. I don't know who they were polling for this, but my guess is either a) nobody smart, or b) nobody intelligent.

I decided to pore through this list and give a YES, NO or MAYBE as to whether each person listed deserves to be counted among the twenty-five greatest citizens this country has ever known. (MAYBE=DEBATABLE) Before I get to the top twenty-five, let me do a quick blow-thru on the 75 nominees who didn't crack the top quarter, and give them a glib YES/NO/MAYBE rating as to whether they deserve to be counted among the top centenary of citizenry.

I don't know what the criteria is, but for me it would either be someone who either invented something, revolutionized a certain field, incapsulated a time period or movement (ie. is/was an icon), great leader, or was a hero in one field or another.

Now remember, and I cannot stress this enough, this is not about the last century, or the last decade. This is about the history of the nation, all 228 (at the time) years of it. Keep that in mind. I certainly don't claim to be a scholar on all things American, but if some of these choices don't boggle the mind...

The best of the rest (remaining 75, in alphabetical order):

* Maya Angelou (NO)
* Susan B. Anthony (YES)
* Lucille Ball (MAYBE)
* Alexander Graham Bell (YES, even though he was Canadian)
* Barbara Bush (NO)
* George H. W. Bush (good lord NO)
* Laura Bush (Jesus Harold Christ, NO)
* Andrew Carnegie (YES)
* Johnny Carson (YES)
* Jimmy Carter (of course NOT)
* George Washington Carver (YES)
* Ray Charles (NO)
* César Chávez (MAYBE)
* Hillary Rodham Clinton (are you kidding me? NO)
* Bill Cosby (NO)
* Tom Cruise (NO)
* Ellen DeGeneres (NO, what?)
* Frederick Douglass (YES)
* Amelia Earhart (YES)
* Clint Eastwood (MAYBE)
* John Edwards (NO)
* Dwight D. Eisenhower (YES)
* Brett Favre (I like him, but NO)
* Mel Gibson (NO, he had an Australian accent for years)
* Rudy Giuliani (MAYBE)
* John Glenn (YES)
* Alexander Hamilton (YES)
* Tom Hanks (NO, but he's good)
* Hugh Hefner (NO, maybe if he had died young, now he's just sad)
* Katharine Hepburn (MAYBE)
* Howard Hughes (YES)
* Michael Jackson (NO!)
* Steve Jobs (MAYBE)
* Lyndon B. Johnson (NO)
* Michael Jordan (MAYBE, if only for his dominance)
* Helen Keller (MAYBE)
* Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (NO)
* Robert F. Kennedy (MAYBE)
* Rush Limbaugh (NO)
* Charles Lindbergh (YES)
* George Lucas (NO, not even the best director in America)
* Madonna (NO, and not just cuz of her new British accent)
* Malcolm X (MAYBE)
* Phil McGraw (NO, ummm... that's Dr. Phil)
* Marilyn Monroe (YES)
* Michael Moore (NO)
* Audie Murphy (YES)
* Richard M. Nixon (MAYBE, he did a lot of good stuff besides Watergate)
* Barack Obama (NO, way too soon, c'mon!)
* Jesse Owens (YES)
* George S. Patton (YES)
* Colin Powell (NO, though ten years ago I may have said maybe)
* Christopher Reeve (NOPE)
* Condoleezza Rice (ugh, NO!)
* Jackie Robinson (YES)
* Theodore Roosevelt (YES!)
* Babe Ruth (good lord YES)
* Carl Sagan (YES)
* Jonas Salk (oh hell YES)
* Arnold Schwarzenegger (um... NO... he's from Austria)
* Frank Sinatra (YES)
* Joseph Smith, Jr. (MAYBE, depending on how you feel about Mormon)
* Steven Spielberg (YES)
* James Stewart (YES)
* Martha Stewart (NO)
* Nikola Tesla (YES)
* Pat Tillman (NO, sorry)
* Harry Truman (YES)
* Donald Trump (NO)
* Harriet Tubman (YES)
* Mark Twain (YES)
* Sam Walton (MAYBE, only if for his business cunning)
* John Wayne (YES)
* Tiger Woods (NO)
* Chuck Yeager (YES)

Now after that, can you see how there may have been some questionable choices? Okay, now to the top 25. Remember, this list compiles what are the twenty-five greates people to have ever been a citizen of the United States. Does that concept hurt your brain a little? Cuz it does mine. We are talking about 230 years of presidents, science, sports, art, literature, music, film, war, business, entertainment, exploration, civil rights, you name it. Just keep that in mind on this list, ok?

The Top 25

25. Neil Armstrong. Okay, YES. He was the first human being to land on the moon, not only striking a blow for American pride, but also science. He is an icon of American ingenuity and excellence. Good choice. (ICON)

24. Henry Ford. Again, YES. He was a controversial figure. From "welfare capitalism" to Union-busting to mass-production to possible anti-semitism, there is no denying that the man is an icon of the auto industry, and therefore an icon of industrialization and modernization. (REVOLUTIONARY)

23. The Wright Brothers. YES. Wow, three-for-three so far, America! Orville and Wilbur Wright (counted as one person here) were not only the first to fly, but the first to fly repeatedly. They were the first to consistently get an aircraft to fly (not just glide) under its own power. National travel would not be the same without them. Or maybe it would have, just not as soon. (INVENTORS)

22. Rosa Parks. YES. Her refusal to give up her seat on a bus started a boycott that galvanized the country into taking one more step toward integration and equality. Can't really say much more than that. (ICON)

21. Muhammed Ali. YES. Perhaps the greatest athletic presence of all time, he was dominant in his sport, and outspoken outside of it. He was a larger-than-life presence and an icon of American sports. (ICON)

20. Lance Armstrong (Named America's "Greatest Athlete"). A-ha. Now the first chink in the armor. Say what you want about Lance Armstrong, but is he really one of the greatest Americans of all time? Are you going by his beating cancer? That's great but a lot of people have beaten cancer. Are you going by his dominance in the sport over several years? Where is Bill Russell or Michael Jordan or Jim Brown or Babe Ruth? Are you really telling me that over 100-plus years of athletics, Armstrong is the greatest? Sorry, I say NO.

19. Eleanor Roosevelt (Named "America's Greatest First Lady"). This one is a toughie for me. I admire her a lot, but who knows how famous she would have been had she not been the First Lady. And let's not forget, the First Lady is just someone who is married to the Prez. But she re-defined the role of First Lady, taking an active role in politics and not just being a trophy. Plus, she actually helped FDR get elected due to her connection with black communities across the country, garnering millions of votes. I'll say MAYBE (but leaning toward yes). (REVOLUTIONARY)

18. Bill Gates. YES. Criticize his business practices if you must, but you have to admire the guy's ingenuity and entreprenurial spirit. Plus, even though he was once worth over $100,000,000,000 (that's one hundred billion), he has given more than half of it away to charitable organizations. Not to mention that he helped usher in the new computer era, which has brought not only the country, but the world, a more effective means of communication. Wow, this list ain't as bad as I thought.

17. Bob Hope. NO. Okay, I'm sorry. Just because Bob Hope remained visible for six decades does not mean he was excellent for that long. (Forget that he was born in England.) Let's face it, he hasn't actually been funny since about 1968. He is to be praised for his longevity, but for advancing the comedy artform, give me Johnny Carson, Ernie Kovacs, Groucho Marx or Jack Benny any day. Sorry Bob.

16. John F. Kennedy. This one is a tough one for me, believe it or not. But I am going to say YES, and not because JFK was such a great president (he didn't really have the chance to become a great one) but because his death represents the death of American innocence. His life (and that of his family) plays out like an American tragic novel. All-American guy from large Irish-Catholic family, becomes president, is gunned down in his prime. By all accounts he was a great leader of men, though he had his missteps like the Bay of Pigs. He basically skated on charisma, from what I know, though he was not a weak man in any way. He makes my list as an icon, not necessarily as a president.

15. Thomas Alva Edison. YES. The Wizard of Menlo Park is one of the greatest and most prolific inventors in human history. Though he didn't invent many of the items he is credited for, he often improved those inventions. He had over 1500 patents. He is a symbol of intelligence and ingenuity. (SCIENTIST/INVENTOR)

14. Albert Einstein. (Named "Greatest American Scientist" and "Greatest Jewish American". Double-threat!). YES. Forget that he was born in Deutchland (that's Germany to you and me), this man's name is literally synonymous with "genius." (Or "idiot" if you are being sarcastic.) In fact, this guy should be way higher than 14th. He was voted the 10th most influential person in human history in one poll. Time Magazine named him "Person of the Century." He is considered one of the elite intellects of our or any other time. He should be like top 3. (SCIENTIST/INVENTOR)

13. Walt Disney. I would have to say MAYBE. I wouldn't put the guy who revolutionized quantum physics slightly below the guy who invented Goofy. Yes, he has become an icon in his own right, but in a way, hasn't his name become synonymous with everything that is wrong with America? Watered-down entertainment product? Evil corporate empire? Walt Disney is far more influential as a corporation than it was as a man. If you are going to go for entertainers, wouldn't you go for W.C. Fields or P.T. Barnum for more authentic American showmanship? He started an iconic corporate identity, but Walt himself? Iffy.

12. Thomas Jefferson. YES. Oh my YES. Not only is he an iconic president, overseeing the Louisiana Purchase and the Lewis and Clark expeditions, but he is one of the great philosophical thinkers of our time. Though he was a man of contradictions (an equalist who owned slaves), he is considered by many to be the greatest mind to ever occupy the White House. If it weren't for Jefferson and the rest of the founding fathers, who created an impenetrable set of rules for America to go by, who knows if this great experiment would have lasted. (LEADER)

11. Billy Graham. NO, certainly not top-fifteen. I admire him as a person, and he has had a long career of spreading gospel (however you might feel about that) but he hasn't had that one moment, that one iconic event to set him apart from other evangelists (though he appears to be refreshingly squeaky clean). I would say he is perhaps top-100, but #11 is pushing it.

10. Franklin D. Roosevelt. YES. For my money this man is the greatest president in the history of the United States. The sheer volume of things he accomplished (getting us out of the depression, through World War II, social programs, rural development) is staggering. The New Deal alone was revolutionary. Unemployment shrunk a little every year of his presidency, and the United States's Gross Domestic Product soared. And no, this was not cyclical; this was in direct response to many of FDR's programs. One of the great men of the 20th Century. (LEADER)

9. Oprah Winfrey (Named "Greatest Woman in American history"). Who is a greater American than the man who defeated the Nazis? A daytime TV talk show host of course! The fact that Oprah cracks the top 1000, let alone TOP 10 GREATEST AMERICANS OF ALL TIME (ARRRRGGGHHH MY BRAIN) is a testament to a woman who can market herself, even though she has little discernible talent. Seriously, what does this woman do? She has guests. Umm... she has a magazine with her own alien-like mug on the cover every issue. She tells people to read books (that she herself has not written, mind you). If this selection doesn't insult you a little, I have to seriously question your patriotism. Here's hoping Ricki Lake or Sally Jesse Raphael is on next century's list! NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

8. Elvis Presley (Named "America's Greatest Entertainer"). YES. I am not a fan of Elvis's music. I personally would take John Lee Hooker or Furry Lewis any day, but as an icon and a tragic figure, he is nearly unparalleled in modern entertainment. He is an example of the legend exceeding the product, especially in his later, Vegas years. In a way he stole black music, and made it popular though it wasn't authentic. But his status as a legend is indisputible. (ICON)

7. Bill Clinton. NO. I like Bill Clinton and think he was an above-average president. #7 American ever? I don't think so. I'll move on from here.

6. George W. Bush (Named "Greatest Living American"). NO. The fact that there are people out there who actually belive this not only makes me sad, it makes me angry. This list just lost all credibility for me. I'm not sure I even want to go on. Where is Herbert Hoover or James Buchanan or Warren G. F**king Harding? Future generations will look upon this listing and laugh. Maybe we will be known as.... "The Dumbf**k Generation" over this.

5. Benjamin Franklin (14.9% of votes for Greatest American). YES. He wasn't a president, but he was one of the true renaissance men of early America. He was an inventor and a scholar, a writer, a philosopher, a newspaper printer and editor; he was the first true "polymath" of the United States. A no-brainer (irony not intended). (SCIENTIST/INVENTOR/ICON)

4. George Washington (17.7% of votes for Greatest American). YES. One of the most humble, yet virtuous and capable men in the history of our country, George Washington was basically coronated (he won the electoral college unanimously to become president), but he parlayed his status as a war hero not to be a dictator, but a benevolent ruler, setting the bar for all those who came after him (whether they adhered to it or not). He is clearly one of the three greatest presidents we've ever had. He is the very essence of American liberty. (LEADER)

3. Martin Luther King, Jr. (19.7% of votes for Greatest American, Named "Greatest African American"). YES. The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is THE African American of note in this country. No black American has had more impact or influence on the course of race relations and civil rights in this country. He promoted non-violence, but absolute racial equality. His assassination made him a martyr, but his legacy has lived on long after him. (ICON)

2. Abraham Lincoln (23.5% of votes for Greatest American). YES. Abraham Lincoln is one of the most virtuous men to ever lead this country. He helped not only end slavery, but to keep the nation together when it was crumbling. The Civil War was something he didn't want, but when it happened, he committed to it. Perhaps no president was more polarizing at his time, which is why he was so hated and then assassinated. I couldn't possibly do his presidency justice, other than to say that he is one of our three greatest presidents. (LEADER)

1. Ronald Reagan (24.0% of votes for Greatest American, Named "Greatest American"). YES. There is no way I consider Ronald Reagan to be the greatest American that ever lived, nor do I consider him to be our best president. Maybe not even top 10. But as an icon of American prosperity and the end of the Cold War, he stands alone. There were a lot of problems with his presidency that I believed were glossed over after his death, but he does remain an indelible icon of 1980s America, which is why I would include him, but not that high, and not as a president. (ICON)


Okay, so maybe I didn't savage the top 25 as much as I thought, but I thought many of the choices (Armstrong? Oprah?? W???) are terrible, terrible choices. And there were even more questionable and/or flat out godawful choices in the top 75. Feel free to list your agreements/dissent in the comments section.

(And please, make it educated and not some stupid partisan, ad hominem attack, thanks in advance.)