As has been the proud tradition of this Pulitzer-Prize-denied publication since 1952 – except for 2012 (when the Mayan Calendar predicted the world would end, so I figured, what was the point) – it’s time for VFTB’s Annual Year in Review for 2014.
In keeping with one of the hottest trends of the year, here’s your chance to binge read the important news stories of the past twelve months which you missed because you were too busy playing Candy Crush. Every week, I scour the hot stories, mainly by watching The Daily Show. There’s a lot to get you caught up on, so let’s get started.
January: A Gallup poll shows that for the first time in history a majority of Americans (55%) now favors legalization of marijuana. Pro-pot proponents postulate this number would have been even higher had several million stoners not been too high to locate their phone when the pollster called.
National retailing giant Target admits to a massive security breach in which hackers steal credit and debit card information, exposing more than 70 million customers to risk of identity theft. In a PR move aimed at stemming customer outrage, the retailer hurriedly announces that for the next month Target shoppers will be eligible for a free soft drink upgrade to 20 ounces (with a credit card purchase of $50 or more). Critics say that in retrospect Target should have offered 5% off dish towels, too.
February: This month sports stories become the main event. The Seattle Seahawks rout the Denver Broncos 43 to 8 in Super Bowl XXXLVMMXIVXXIVVXIX (okay, I could be off by a couple of V’s), thus proving after decades of futility that Seattle is no longer the Biggest Loser Sports City in the country. In a private ceremony, Seattle officially passes the crown of desperation to Cleveland.
Later this same month, Russia hosts the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. Concerns about possible terrorist attacks turn out to be completely without basis, as the games go off without a hitch, in what turns out to be an incredibly successful PR gambit for Vladimir Putin.
March: In what turns out to be an incredibly unsuccessful PR gambit for Vladimir Putin, continuing concerns about possible terrorist attacks turn out to be well-founded after all. In a surprise move, the attacks come from Russia itself through its military support for pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine. Putin’s invasion and annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region officially become the worst PR moves by a Russian leader since Joseph Stalin came up with his unusual idea for Stalinland, a network of family-oriented forced labor camps in Siberia.
In Hollywood, the 86th Academy Awards is a rousing success. Matthew McConaughey wins Best Performance by an Actor Taking Off a Shirt. And 12 Years a Slave wins Best Picture, narrowly beating out Anchorman 2. Much to this writer’s dismay, Sharknado, a 3-D disaster film about a tornado that lifts sharks out of the ocean and dumps them in Los Angeles, gets completely snubbed. Rumor has it that Sharknado 2 is even better.
April: NBA player Jason Collins comes out, thus becoming the first openly gay professional athlete in any American sport. A few months later, Collins will announce his retirement from the game, allowing sports fans to breathe easier knowing that there are no longer any gays in professional sports.
In a related story, Donald Sterling, the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team, comes under fire for a series of racist remarks. NBA commissioner Adam Silver bans Sterling from attending any future NBA games and forces Sterling to sell his team – which he does for a whopping $2 billion – smashing the record for the biggest price tag ever received for a professional sports team. A few weeks later, the owner of the Milwaukee Bucks makes public a series of secretly recorded comments he made in which he declares all Bulgarians to be liars and thieves. Despite this noble attempt, Commissioner Silver refuses to force him to sell his team.
May: The Middle East erupts in violence as Syria’s army attacks rebel groups. Syrian rebel groups in turn attack Iraq. Iraq in turn attacks Hamas, which in turn attacks Israel, which in turn attacks Lebanese militias, who in turn attack Syria, thus completing the Middle East’s version of the Circle of Life. For the fourth month in a row, however, nobody attacks Yemen, causing Yemen’s ruler to denounce this slight by angrily asking, “Hey, what are we – chopped liver?”
In science news, global warming takes center stage again as a White House Report declares global warming to be a crisis that is affecting “every part of the US right now”. But some people are skeptical of this report, arguing that less than 99% of scientists concur with this dire assessment. Leading critics include oil industry executives, Republican members of the Energy and Commerce Congressional Sub-Committee, people who can’t spell their own name, and my seven-year-old nephew Kevin.
June: Brazil hosts the World Cup. Millions of soccer fans the world over are glued to their televisions for four weeks, except in the USA where millions of viewers are glued to their TVs watching re-runs of Keeping Up with the Kardashians. Germany defeats Argentina in the final, or maybe it was Uruguay, or perhaps Holland. Who really cares? It’s just the World Cup. It’s not a real sport like the World Series of Poker.
In politics, speculation builds about who will throw their hat in the ring for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016. Jeb Bush creates a buzz by announcing that he is considering thinking about the idea of mulling over the possibility of contemplating the notion of envisioning a possible exploratory committee to evaluate the feasibility of changing his last name to something other than Bush. Hillary is spotted eating a hot dog in Iowa, thus essentially proclaiming her candidacy.
Stay tuned for Part II (July – December) in next week’s post.
That’s the view of the first half of 2014 from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.
© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2015