As any self-aggrandizing blogger ought to, I have created some new annual awards in my own image. Don’t worry, Jay Feaster, I didn’t design them with me in my underwear. This is a classy affair.
I present to you, Brent Stephen Smith’s First Annual Awards of Excellence and Triumph of the Human Spirit, otherwise known as The Bernies 2011.
Arts & Sciences
The William Sanford Nye Award for Achievement in Science
Winner: The OPERA Neutrino Anomaly
Without question, this was the scientific discovery that got me jazzed up this year. Basically, without getting too technical (because I can’t), the CERN lab on the Franco-Swiss border sent neutrino particles to the LNGS lab in Gran Sasso, Italy and measured their travel speed as faster than light. Let me repeat that: they travelled faster than light. Otherwise known as faster than we believed travel to be possible. The experiment has a bunch of sceptics in the scientific community and will try to be replicated to prove/disprove the existing findings, but for the time being I’m awarding the good people at CERN/LNGS the Bill Nye the Science Guy Award.
The Star Wars Holiday Special Award for Making Unwanted Art
Winner: Lulu by Lou Reed and Metallica
Before I even attempt to discuss Lulu for its merits (and demerits), let’s just all agree that this time last year if someone had told you that Lou Reed and Metallica were going to release an album, would you have been in favour of the idea? Would you have had an opinion? Would you have cared? Probably not.
That being said, now that the cat is out of the bag, we can all enjoy what can be described as Metallica’s most avant-garde and Lou Reed’s most commercial album. Maybe enjoy isn’t the right word. It’s pretty unlistenable. In any case, it’s what Chuck Klosterman outlines as the natural result of a free society where music has no monetary value.
Runner-up: The Beaver, starring Mel Gibson.
The William Shakespeare Award for Contributions Towards the Advancement of Civilization
Winner: New words.
Some of the gems that Merriam-Webster added in 2011 include: Americana (the music genre), bromance, cougar, parkour, social media, and tweet. While none of these words were first uttered in 2011, this is the year that they reached official status, much like when the Bard would add a word in one of his plays. It will of course remain to be seen how many of the newly added words will continue to be used in even five years time, but I’d like to think that it’s a walk-off home run (walk-off being another new word).
Runner-up: Siri, the creepiest feature of the iPhone 4S.
The Nicole Polizzi Award for Contributions Towards the Decline of Civilization
Winner: American television viewers who choose to watch something other than Community.
Generally, I’ll admit that I’m a snob, and I’ll quietly go about my life enjoying things I enjoy without forcing them upon others. But seriously, the sad fact that Community is the fourth most watched network program in its 8pm Thursday timeslot is just hurtful (that’s ignoring all the other cable channels, too). How a show that is consistently the most daring (and funny) program on television (on any network, on any night) is ignored to this degree is unbelievable. And while the typical boosters of this type of show (e.g., The A.V. Club) do their best to pump up this show online, it still finds itself outside of traditional critical and commercial successes (No Emmy nominations for Outstanding Comedy? Really?!?). I don’t need all of you to change your habits, but it would be nice if some of you did and appreciated one of the best shows ever made before it is cancelled. Oh wait, it’s on indefinite hiatus. Thanks.
Runner-up: Siri, the creepiest feature of the iPhone 4S (this could be the first step towards the robot uprising).
The Sam Pollock Award for Outstanding Sports Non-Athlete of the Year
Winner: Terry Pegula, Buffalo Sabres owner.
He put his large wallet in a small market and gave them hope that a new era was dawning, one in which they’d be able to trade for and sign the best players available. In came Ville Leino, Robyn Regehr and Christian Ehrhoff. The results: ummm, well they’re not settled yet. It should be said that the currently outside of the playoff picture Buffalo Sabres were hoping to be among the Eastern Conference leaders. Those are aspirations they never would have had without Big Peg’s money. Now they can truly compete with the overspending/underachieving teams in the NHL. Congrats! You’ve made it!
Runner-up: Warren Gatland, New Zealand All Blacks coach.
The Mike Milbury Award for Worst Sports Non-Athlete of the Year
Winner: David Stern, NBA Commissioner.
How do you compete with a man who had to salvage a shortened professional sports season due to a lockout, who managed to cancel the trade of a star player from the bankrupt team under his (the league’s) control due to “basketball reasons” only to trade him later to a different team for lesser parts? You can’t. You simply can’t.
Runner-up: N/A (Gary Bettman gets a pass due to his flexibility shown during NHL realignment).
The Wayne Gretzky Award for Athlete of the Year (Traditional)
Winner: Tim Thomas, Boston Bruins goaltender.
To truly appreciate Tim Thomas, let’s look at who he beat out in:
-Novak Djokovic, the winner of three tennis grand slam titles in 2011, all while still competing against Nadal, Federer and Murray.
-Robin Van Persie has scored 34 goals in 2011 (split between seasons) on an Arsenal team that looks unconvincing on the best of days.
-Aaron Rodgers started the 2011 calendar year by finishing the 2010-11 season as Super Bowl Champion and MVP and continued by starting the 2011-12 season undefeated until Week 14, capping a 19 game unbeaten streak, all while setting individual statistical standards as the league’s best quarterback.
Thomas’ exploits are just as impressive. His record in the 2010-11 season was an impressive 35 wins (in just 55 games played), 2.00 Goals Against Average and .938 Save Percentage – one of the best regular season save percentages ever. He capped that off by winning the Stanley Cup with the Boston Bruins, with a dominant playoff performance (it pains me, as a Vancouver Canucks fan, to say) that included a 1.98 Goals Against Average and a .940 Save Percentage. For his efforts, he was given the Conn Smythe Award as playoff MVP and the Georges Vezina Award as best goalie. The start of the 2011-12 season has been just as good – if not better – for Thomas as his stat line reads (as of writing): 16 wins (in 23 games played), 1.84 Goals Against Average, and .943 Save Percentage. He is quite simply playing at an otherworldly level.
And he is doing this all while he is 37 years old, whereas Djokovic (24), Van Persie and Rodgers (both 28) are much younger and still in their “prime”.
Runners-up: Novak Djokovic, tennis star; Robin Van Persie, Arsenal forward; Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers quarterback.
The Chad Ochocinco Award for Athlete of the Year (Non-Traditional)
Winner: Tim Tebow
I don’t follow American football. Really, I don’t. And yet – here I am. I haven’t read so many articles about any single individual in my life. Ever. Whenever something about Tebow appears on my Twitter feed or on Google news results, I click it. It’s a compulsion, I guess.
I don’t know what it is, but the whole Tebow thing is really intriguing. First let’s start with the obvious: he’s not a terrific thrower, in a position that by the dictionary definition seems to require that occasionally. This is interesting to me. It shows that even if I am not very good at my job, I might rise to the very top. I like that. It’s inspirational.
Second: apparently Tebow is a Christian. Did you know that? Of course you did. You’re not an idiot. Tebow also happens to be a very theatrical Christian with his “Tebowing” knee bent praying on field, etc. I find this fine, I guess, if he actually believes that God is helping him in the 4th quarter to win games (see: SNL sketch), but makes me wonder about the other teams (except for Oakland, who are clearly Satanists). Does God love them, too? Or, is it really a matter of who can pray the hardest, the loudest, the most on their kneeingnest? Tebow probably thinks that in his aww-shucks, golly-whiz way.
This will eventually end, right?
The 1980s Edmonton Oilers Award for Team of the Year (Traditional)
Winner(s): Tie: Boston Bruins and Green Bay Packers.
Uggh. I give away these awards and it makes me sick to do it, but I gotta give props where they are due. Both of these championship teams won their respective leagues last season (partially in 2011) and are well on their way to looking like legitimate contenders again this season. It just pains me to say it.
The 2010 French National Soccer Squad Award for Team of the Year (Non-Traditional)
Winner: French national rugby squad.
Wow, what an awful group of misanthropes and sourpusses who openly disgrace their country and the sport of rugby only to against all odds make it to the Rugby World Cup Final and actually challenge the best team on the planet in a real match. For that, you have some consolation. Captain and flanker Thierry Dusautoir was the rare gem that showed up every game. But you still lost to Tonga.
Runner-up: NBA’s Miami Heat.
The Oprah Winfrey Award for Media Personality of the Year
Winner: Stephen Colbert.
This is an award that isn’t far off from being renamed the Stephen Colbert Award for Nailing It. Colbert is probably the best living satirist. That is not an overstatement. He manages to do everything a good satirist is supposed to do (expose the follies of society while being funny/clever), and he does it four nights a week in character.
I’m not one for getting into the argument over whether Colbert Report or The Daily Show are better than one or the other (I watch both religiously). But, gun to head, I had to say it, I’d say that Colbert is operating on a different plane than the rest of us.
This year he managed to take his act to its natural conclusion: dismantling the American electoral system. With the Colbert SuperPAC he delved into the murky waters of elections and is attacking head-on the issue of corporate personhood. And it’s damned funny, too.
Runner-up: Don Cherry Piano Desk (not Don Cherry, but the piano desk. Hilarious).
The Silvio Berlusconi Award for Most Entertaining Public Figure of the Year
Winner: Silvio Berlusconi.
Who else? Mark my words, he’ll be back in power within two years.
Runners-up: Kim Jong-Il (deceased), Kim Jong-Il (living).
The Euphoria Award for Feeling of the Year
Specifically, the freedom that was brought about by the amazing liberators in the Middle East this year. Treasure it. Respect it. Treasure each other. Respect each other. Keep it up.
Runner-up: Frustration (Specifically, the frustration of the Occupy movement).