Friday, January 01, 2010

1 JAN 10: Happy Award Season

The start of this blog entry admittedly is very difficult for me to write. Some people I know would warn I'm sinning if I write it. But a precedent has been set by my role models, so I'm going to dare -- and you can write me if you're offended. Happy New Year.

You may be puzzled by my trepidation about writing, uhhhh, what I wrote above. But my church movement taught for decades that New Year's celebrations should be avoided. We were told it's a pagan event that Christians should avoid -- and besides, God's calendar really starts in the spring. So there, the Jews need to repent as well....

But as 2009 began, my pastor actually wished the congregation a "Blessed New Year." This was so stunning to me that I asked him about it after the service. He didn't seem to understand my surprise. Maybe he'd been saying it to his wife and children for years -- in a whisper, in the privacy of their home.

Now the church association I attend has posted a New Year's video commentary which ends, "Have a happy and successful 2010." They didn't even attempt my normal compromise - wishing everyone a happy Bowl Season.

On top of that, the video commentary declares it "the first year of a new decade." Many church members around me would object to that -- saying the decade really begins in 2011, because there was no year zero. And we sometimes make a big deal out of being a persecuted church.

The congregations I've attended over the years never have put on "Watchnight" services. We were on our own for marking the new year. And my late Dad liked to stay up much later than I did -- although my Mom would keep me away from the kitchen, to see exactly what he was doing with some friends.

So I haven't been a "party animal" when it comes to the new year for a long time. In fact, I've been at work around midnight on New Year's several times. And there was the classic moment at 12:00 midnight on 1 January 88, when I was in a Krystal drive-through lane on the way to an overnight shift. Yes, there WAS a line for burgers - and a few people honked horns in celebration, not impatience.

But for the last several years, we've had a blog tradition on this day - announcing the winners of the annual BURKARD AWARDS. We strive to be the first awards show of the new year, because so many people have attention deficit disorders nowadays....

I was slightly concerned about this year's awards, after watching ABC's "Nightline" Wednesday night. It marked "The Year of Behaving Badly" by handing out Bernie Awards. But they had bobblehead dolls of Bernard Madoff. I'm a "Burkie," not a Bernie -- and I can't afford to make special orders of bobbleheads for anybody.

The Burkard Awards honor the best, worst and most unusual moments in our area over the last year. And for the start of 2010, the award winners are....

+ Biggest political winner: Dr. Susan Andrews. The Muscogee County Superintendent persuaded voters to approve a school sales tax, while somehow muzzling the entire school board.

+ Biggest political feud: Phenix City Councilor Jimmy Wetzel against.... well, sometimes it seems he's ready to take on almost anybody.

+ Most audacious political move: Columbus city officials, for requesting federal stimulus money to cover the new NCR plant. Imagine if they had brought a real minor-league baseball team back to Golden Park.

+ Most brilliant political move: Rep. Sanford Bishop, for leading a prayer at the start of his town hall meeting on health care reform. The crowd apparently was so stunned that it calmed down for about an hour.

+ Carpetbaggers of the year: The complainers who spoke out at Sanford Bishop's town hall meeting, even though they didn't live in his district. But maybe that's unfair -- because Rep. Lynn Westmoreland didn't even bother having a public event to let them vent.

+ Most fair and balanced judge: Clay Land. So balanced that he took retaliatory action against both moderate Republicans who oppose Mark Shelnutt AND radical Republican Orly Taitz.

+ Most puzzling judge: Doug Pullen. This blog uncovered evidence the Muscogee County Judge declared himself a spokesman for God in open court -- and may have said in another case he doesn't have to abide by any laws. Is Pullen seeking a court show on TBN or something?

+ Scariest admission by a public official: West Point Mayor Drew Ferguson, who confessed to a CNN reporter he sometimes calls his city "Kia-Ville."

+ Biggest fall from fame: Phyllis Jones. The once-praised Rigdon Road School Principal was stripped of her teaching certificate for a year. May she enjoy her regular ringside seat at the wrestling matches.

+ Best corporate change: Carmike Cinemas, for becoming more friendly with the community and open to Columbus media. President David Passman might as well put a portrait of Mikhail Gorbachev in his office.

+ Saddest business decision: The Dolly Madison outlet store on Victory Drive. It stopped selling the lowest-priced gasoline in Columbus - yet the bread prices still haven't gone down.

+ Most desperate marketing move: Port Columbus, for claiming it's infested with ghosts. The National Infantry Museum has put the Navy in its place again.

+ Sneakiest strategy to avoid bad publicity: The Columbus Civic Center. The staff hoped no one would notice if Fiesta Columbus disappeared. One blogger with a good memory changed all that.

(Honorable mention: The Liberty Theater - for handing out plenty of awards, but somehow forgetting to name new members to its Walk of Fame.)

+ Worst media decision: Clear Channel Radio, for dropping its news partnership with WTVM because WTVM made Clear Channel layoffs a news story. It's a wonder Richard Hyatt isn't anchoring the morning news these days, with his own stories.

+ Saddest decline in local journalism: WRBL. It dropped about half of its daily newscasts, and even canceled the 11:00 p.m. news Thursday night for a weather special which also appeared on Thanksgiving. At least Thursday night, the special didn't appear nine minutes late.

+ Most improved news department: WLTZ. On some evenings it has more local news than WRBL. And the single guy in me is thrilled that Stefanie Tiso is still reporting.

+ Best blog competition: Dick McMichael's "Dick's World." The former TV news anchor scooped the world, by attending the coming-out speech by William Calley. He seemed to be the only reporter at a Columbus dinner with all the Democratic candidates for Governor. And he's even hired musicians to do theme music for his podcasts.

+ Worst TV commercial: In a big upset, the "Bang Bang Lady" does NOT win. Instead the award goes to Boomtown Fireworks in Smiths Station, for selling explosives with a talking dog.

+ Nicest downtown expansion: The Riverwalk extension, between 12th and 13th Streets. An ugly fence was replaced by a rock wall at the Eagle and Phenix dam. But this jogger wishes that next expansion under construction wasn't all uphill.

+ Store most in need of express lanes: Piggly Wiggly. I only wanted a bag of corn chips Thursday, but it would have meant standing in long lines behind people with carts full of beer and black-eyed peas.

+ Most curious robbery: The stealing of a Salvation Army red kettle from Columbus Park Crossing. If someone offers to put a giant artistic tomato outside a farmer's market, call police.

+ Strangest speculation: The blog reader who saw a "Chamberland" promotion on TV, and thought Mike Gaymon of the Columbus Chamber of Commerce might announce he's homosexual. I have yet to see him in that animated fairy suit -- at least in public.

+ Beggar of the year: Our count dropped from 12 to nine in 2009 (including one we haven't posted yet) - and we give this award to a man outside the downtown Money Back store. He asked for two dollars, even after we offered him a bag with food inside. He wouldn't have been satisfied, even if we bought him the entire store.

+ Hottest local athlete: Northside High School catcher Casey Googe. I'd better just link to the reason why, or I might get in big trouble....

+ Joke of the year, as nominated by blog readers: The federal prosecution of Mark Shelnutt. If a field goal kicker went 0-for-40, he wouldn't be on the team anymore.

To offer a story tip, make a PayPal donation, advertise to our readers or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

BURKARD BULK MAIL INDEX: 403 (+ 21, 5.5%)

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author -- not necessarily those of anyone else in Columbus living or dead, and perhaps not even you.

© 2003-10 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

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