Monday, December 9, 2013

#86 Santa Steve's Nice List

In  case you've just dug out of the snow that has paralyzed  much  of the country, or your holiday shopping  has taken you out of the loop, the two Naughtiest Newsmakers of 2013 are  Borat and Borat (I  STILL refuse  to dignify them by writing their real  names!), the terrorists who almost turned America's birthday into a nightmare  and   instead  chose to  wreak havoc  on the Boston  Marathon.As  this is Number 86, I can think of no  better way to eighty-six 2013  than with a  countdown  of  the  Nicest Newsmakers  of the year gone by. Understandably, I  am  not donating ONE RED CENT to ANYBODY in  DIS-honor of those two idiots, but this year,  I  am  making donations to two different charities in honor of  the  Nicest Newsmaker AND his runner-up! (Sorry, I'm not trying to be  sexist, I'm trying to get you  to stay tuned!) This blog will  resume in 2014, although I'm not ruling out the occasional breaking  news event. I would  like  to thank all my readers  in  the  USA,especially Bettijane Eisenpreis,Gretchen  Muller  and  Judy Wilder,  for your continued  support,Nicole Vranzanian  for suggesting this  blog  in  the  first place, Google for  putting up  with my nonsense, and  China,Canada,the  UK, Serbia,Germany,  and  France  for stopping by! (As for the  Ukraine,  if you can't say anything nice...)

And now, without any further ado,  (I  just used  up my supply of ado!)  THE TOP TEN NICEST NEWSMAKERS  OF 2013!

HONORABLE  MENTION The New York Police  Department

You  keep  putting your lives  on the line  so we  can  live  ours in peace.  This  is  a natural segue  into...


When  he was Commish, he changed New  York from Crime City back to Fun  City. Now that Mayor-Elect Bill  DeBlasio  has  given  him his job back,  it's more  than  likely that the Big  Apple  will  remain  the  safest large city in the world. (But for  how  long?  Dum-dum-DUMMMMMMMMMM!)


The "e"  may be silent, but this  lovely New Zealander sure  isn't! Her  first  worldwide megahit,  "Royals," is the perfect antidote to all those  rappers  who  have regaled us with tales  of their stretch  limos, champagne,  and high-profile paramours! She  may not be a material  girl,but she sure  isn't Miley either, and  we can  all  be thankful for that!


This current  iteration  of the  Saturday Night Live gang has made  us  take  ourselves  a  little less  seriously with  their parodies of  everything from Al Sharpton to people  who  try to get in  the  holiday spirit three weeks  early,  which includes  just about everybody!


For seven years, he  co-anchored  WABC-TV Channel  7 Eyewitness  News on  the weekends  and  he  was dispatched to the scene of important breaking stories. As  he  returns to his  native Boston to  anchor WCVB NewsCenter 5, this blog joins his many viewers who thank him for his  selfless commitment to his craft  and his participation in our community and wishes him the best of luck.  The Marathon  taught me how to respect the resillience of the people of Boston, and,  although I hate to admit it, that town is a better fit for him.Good luck, Phil! We're leaving the door WIDE open  for you!

HONORABLE MENTION David Murphy (and  David Murphy)

This guy is one of my Twitter followers, and as a proud  resident of Delaware County,  PA, has served  as a weatherman  with  6abc Action News in Philly for twenty years,which was why I couldn't believe what I heard  one morning  during my recent trip  there. I know he's a  sports fan, and  we  sports fans  do tend to  make  analogies  in sports terms, like saying a  certain candidate is  "down for the count"  or that Carrie Underwood's performance on THE  SOUND  OF MUSIC  (More on that later!) was  a "home  run," but I was worried that he  pulled  a Phil Lipof just as soon as I came  in when he said, matter of fact-ly,"I have been  traded to Cleveland." I was  both shocked over the announcement and  happy that he was going to the home of the Rock And Roll  Hall of  Fame  and Progressive Field, (I would have  loved  to have  seen  a  publicity shot of him  with a Flo walkabout!) but then he pressed a  button  on the Action  News Big Board,
(the large screen monitor they use for weather and  entertainment stories)  and a  sports story right off, reporting that David Murphy OF THE TEXAS RANGERS  had been traded to Cleveland! I later tweeted, "Good  luck  in  Cleveland!" and added  LOL  and  a  little smiley face.  He replied, "Hope  I'm not riding the bench!" Here's wishing David  Murphy and David  Murphy a very Merry Christmas!


This New York Yankee  pitcher was called  the  Sandman  because he  put opposing batters  to sleep.  We  Yankee fans were  always wide awake and  giving  him a  standing  O every  time  he  came  to the  hill. Mr.  Sandman, thanks  for bringing New York five  World  Series dreams and good luck on your retirement!


Contrary to popular belief,  country singers CAN sing Broadway! Cases in point,  Reba McEntire who  filled  Bernadette  Peters' king-size  cowboy boots in the revival  of "Annie  Get Your Gun," and  a  former
Oklahoma  school teacher  named Carrie Underwood who played  Maria  vonTrapp,  the mother of the famous  Austrian  musical family,  in  NBC's live TV production  (the first live presentation  of a musical in  50  years!)of  Rodgers  and Hammerstein's  heart-warming  THE SOUND OF  MUSIC. Although she doesn't quite live up to the standards Julie Andrews set as an  actress,she stands on  her  own merits, although she  truly shines  the brightest as  a singer. From American  Idol to  governess.  Not too  shabby!
Kudos also to Laura Bennanti who has  finally shed  her  image as  the Bunny Mother on  NBC's late,  largely unlamented  account of  life  at THE  PLAYBOY CLUB with  her  witty portrayal of Captain  vonTrapp's fiance Elsa,  especially on  her two major  numbers, "How  Can Love Survive?"  and  "No Way To Stop It." Rainn  Wilson,formerly of THE  OFFICE,tweeted  to  his old  boss,"If  you  need  a  Pippin,I'm  ready!" Bring it on,  O  Peacock,although  it will no  doubt pale in  comparison to THE SOUND  OF  MUSIC!


The World's  Most Famous  Arena finally completed  its  transformation,  and it looks better than ever  with a brand  new lobby,  HD video  displays, and  a state of the  art scoreboard,  as well as monthly concerts  from


the first Artist-In-Residence  in the more-than-150-year  history of  the Garden  as  well  as any arena in the   world.  New York's  Piano  Man  has become MSG's fourth  franchise  (after  the  Rangers, Knicks  and Liberty),  and the  Big Shot is  about to get HUGE! I  had the  pleasure  to meet Billy and  his  then-wife Christie Brinkley at the  Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade  in  1992, and  with  him,what you  see is  CERTAINLY what you get! It couldn't happen  to a  nicer  guy!

And  now, we're up to our Top Two  Nicest Newsmakers  of 2013. For reasons  I  will explain later, I am making a donation  in both their  names to We  Can  Be Heroes,  an initiative  of DC Comics  dedicated  to fighting hunger  in  the  Horn  Of  Africa.  For more information  on this initiative, and  how it can  win you cool DC  Super  Hero  merchandise, log onto


Holy Wish  Fulfillment,  Batman!  Move  over, Robin, the  Caped  Crusader  has  a new sidekick in  five-year-old Miles  Scott, a cancer  survivor  currently in remission  who wished to fight crime  alongside his  hero.  Make-A-Wish and local  San  Francisco  businesses got together to turn  the beautiful  City By The Bay into dark  and gritty Gotham  City (no  rhyme  intended) and mild-mannered Miles became Batkid,  untying a damsel  in distress  from the cable car tracks,  freeing the  Baseball  Giants'  mascot, and  protecting the  populace from  the  likes of the Joker, Penguin  and Riddler. For showing us that we, as  David  Bowie sang, all  can  be heroes  if only for a day, Miles  Scott is our  SECOND Nicest Newsmaker  of 2013,  and a  donation will also be  made  in  his  name  to the Make-A-Wish Foundation  so more  terminally ill  children  can realize their  dreams.

I'd also like to send a  shout out to Debby Ryan  of Disney's JESSIE  (She  plays a musician trying to make  it in New York who works  as a live-in  nanny.)  for proving that Disney stars CAN be  well-adjusted, normal  people!

BUT, it's time to unveil the Nicest Newsmaker  of 2013,  and the award  GOES TO...


True,  Nelson Mandela was no saint. He was divorced,  branded  a terrorist,  imprisoned, maybe  more  like one  of Shakespeare's characters than Batman  or  Superman, but he brought down  the corrupt government of South  Africa and helped turn one  of the biggest countries in Africa  into a  true democracy  as its first duly elected  President.For making  Doctor King's Dream  a  reality  and uniting a house divided, "Madiba" is the  (posthumous) STEVE'S BLOG NICEST NEWSMAKER  OF  2013.In  addition to making a donation in  his name to We  Can Be Heroes  to end  the hunger crisis in his beloved  continent of Africa,I celebrate  his special relationship with  New York by also donating in  his name  to the Garden Of Dreams  Foundation,  Madison Square  Garden's charitable arm dedicated  to  funding  after-school  sports  and  cultural  programs for the  disadvantaged  kids  of New  York. For  more information,  visit .

And so we bring to  a close  the first calendar year of  Steve's  Blog.  Once  again, thank  you to all our readers  coast to coast and around  the world.  Barring any unforseen circumstances (including breaking news  stories) we will be back on  or about January 2,2014. I  hope our Jewish friends  had  a happy Chanukah, and  I  hope  the  rest of you have  a Good Kwanzaa,  a  Happy Solstice,  and,  OF COURSE,  a Merry Christmas  and a  Happy New Year.

Hmmm, let's see.  I  counted down  the  Naughty Newsmakers, I  counted  down the Nice  Newsmakers,  I announced  my donations,  I thanked the readers, guess there's one thing left to  do.

Roses are  red,violets are blue.
This  blog is over,  so  it's


#85 Santa Steve's Naughty List

Before I kick off my first annual Naughty List, I would like to say "Feliz  Natal!" to our friends in Brazil and "Shengdan jie  kualia!" to our friends  in China. Welcome to  SteveNation!

As the year races to its conclusion,I would like to recognize this year's newsmakers, both the naughty and the nice. This blog will  make a donation in the name of the Nicest Newsmaker of the Year to a charity to be named later, but as for the Naughtiest, I would like to quote Mr. Willy Wonka:

"You get NOTHING!
Good DAY,SIR!"

DISHONORABLE MENTION The New York City Panhandler

Yeah, I know,we're supposed to help the  poor,but this is one instance when patronizing secondary sources (The Salvation Army or, in my case, Congregation Emanu-El of the City of New York's Sunday Lunch Program) beats going directly to the source. These people pop up on streets and subways and ask us for dimes and quarters so they can "get something to eat." A lot of them either are or claim to be (I vote for "claim to be.") Veterans. I keep hoping and praying for the day when I  hear one of them  say, "Excuse me, I'm a homeless food critic who got kicked out of every restaurant in Manhattan after I gave Le Cirque only one star. Can you  help me get a New York cut sirloin,  medium rare?" ORRRR, maybe they're just plain scam artists. Whatevs.  Next time you see one,  either walk on by or say no. (If you MUST say something other than no, whip  out your Zagat book or Guide Michelin and start throwing names at him. Unless he's a bonafide foodie,  he's going to run away faster than a speeding bullet. Works for me!) And stop asking us if we have a cigarette, Mr./Ms. Panhandler! Call 311 or 1-866-NY-QUITS for help in getting off those things!
I would also LOVE to hear one of those guys asking us for Nicorette!

Speaking of which, let's kick off the Bottom Ten Countdown with,


That's the name my friend Scott Shannon gave those glorified panhandlers who put on cheap, skanky costumes and pass themselves  off as Mickey and Minnie, Buzz Lightyear, Papa Smurf and Batman, and let me tell you, Nation, it fits them like the sub par gloves that cover their tip-grubbing hands. They've been known to get aggressive, often threatening groups such as the Girl Scouts and they've  even  been  known to TAKE THEIR HEADS  OFF  IN  PUBLIC! ON  TIMES SQUARE! Hey,F.A.'s, if you REALLY want to be these beloved  characters,  (A)  take  a legit theme  park job or  (B)  audition  for  a traveling  show  such as Disney On Ice  or  Disney Junior Live, and  remember,  DON'T TALK  IN YOUR OWN VOICE! (One  exception was the actor  who played Teenage  Mutant Ninja Turtle Raphael  and  asked  me, in Raph's tough guy voice, "Aaaaay, How ya doin'?")People  know animal characters and characters such  as Buzz Lightyear and their unmistakable voices, and  the F.A.'s must be  doing  their best to  make  sure the  reps of Mickey, Minnie, SpongeBob and others are irreversibly damaged.One more thing, F.A.'s :THOSE  CHARACTERS ARE  COPYRIGHTED! Hope you've saved enough tip  money to pay off those lawsuits!


The first time  I saw the Jonas Brothers in concert was on the corner of 79th and Third. No,  they weren't singing for their supper like the performers on  subway platforms!  They had just inked a contract with  Columbia  Records  and Radio  Disney put on a free concert at the  Third Avenue  Street Fair.  This  was BEFORE they became superstars with the Mouse House,and even before that link was forged, I noticed they were  nice  guys, devoid  of the angst of the grunge acts and the bells and whistles  of the  arena acts.
Simply put, before they were  the JoBros, the JB's  and  the  Jonai, they were  Joe, Kevin Jr.and Nick,three  guys who  loved  their family,  their  fans,and  their music.Six years,  three TV shows, and  a veritable plethora  of albums,singles  and concerts  later,the Jonas  Brothers have been dissolved  (as an act)  and Joe has "interviewed himself"  for New York magazine saying that the whole nice guy image was fabricated by Disney (Mr.Nice Guy said  WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT?!?!?!?!?!") and that Demi Lovato turned  him onto  pot. (TMI!) Hey, JoJo, you MUST be  high, because Papa  Kevin,  not Disney, made  you squeaky clean  nice guys,  nobody gives  a rat's  rear about your sex life,and we  couldn't care less about your pot habit. Such  things  are best discussed with therapists,  not in the  Court of  Public Opinion.


Johnny Torts WAS the Head  Coach  of the New York Rangers until they were bounced out of the Stanley Cup Playoffs by the Boston Bruins, thus ending a strike-shortened season that will go down in Ranger history as one of the all-time  worst. Good  luck with Vancouver, J.T. YOU'LL  NEED IT!


The 2013 Super  Bowl  was  SUPPOSED  to be a  testament to the resillience  of New Orleans  and its  people,  and for two quarters  and one handsomely-produced  Beyonce  halftime show,  it was, but early in the third quarter,  the  power  went  out in the  Mercedes-Benz Superdome, suspending  play and beginning  a  performance of  Theatre  of the Absurd,  starring CBS  Sports reporter Steve Tasker, who  signed on  as a sideline  reporter for the radio  network and  had to blabber  incoherently before tossing it to the NFL  Today crew  and THEIR  incoherent blabbering! (At  least this  made great material  for Charissa  Thompson  on ESPN SportsNation and the SNL gang!)

6. LUCKY 7

This drama, following the  adventures of  seven  friends who each shared  a  winning lottery ticket, was supposed  to capitalize on the country's LottoMania epidemic.  It only lasted two  episodes. How very UN-


The Audience-0.

4. MILEY CYRUS  (To  the tune  of "Best Of  Both Worlds" from  HANNAH  MONTANA)

She  had a  top  rated  show.
She was  Disney Channel's  Hannah  Montana.
But when  they told  her, "It's time to go,"
She  cut her hair and  went all  kinds  of bananas.
Who  would have thought that a girl like that,
Would turn into a twerkin' jerk?
It's  just the WORST IN THIS WORLD!
Without the  shades  and  the  wig,
Got a whole  'nother gig.
It's  just the WORST IN THIS WORLD!
Get your  act together,
'Cause you  know you're  just the  WORST IN  THIS WORLD!


When Alexander Emanuel Rodriguez arrived in the Bronx to assume the  hallowed  Yankee  pinstripes,  he was accepted by  fans and players  alike  as a  power hitter and  all-around nice guy. Unfortunately, Kryptonite for THIS  Superman was performance enhancing drugs, and  after Major League Baseball  conducted  a  conclusive investigation, this player who  likes to be called A-Rod was suspended. Goodbye and good riddance,  A-Roid!


The Mayor of Toronto  was  originally going to be my Number Two Naughtiest due to  his excessive drinking and drugging,  but he was  bumped  down by...


You know  the expression, "You  snooze, you lose?" Well,  Billy Boy "zoned  out" and thanks  to him, four innocent  riders of  his Metro-North Harlem Line  train lost their lives, many more were injured,  and the whole  sorry affair got the attention of the  National Transportation Safety Bureau!  As the late,great Soupy Sales  once opined,  "A good day's work  never hurt anybody, and neither did a good day's  rest!"


Actually, this award is SHARED by Borat and Borat,  (I  STILL refuse  to  dignify them  by saying their real  names!)  the Boston  Marathon   bombers. Fool US once, shame on you. Fool US  twice, not gonna happen!

NEXT: The Nice List!


Monday, December 2, 2013

#84 For Many, Christmas Has Been Cancelled

Sunday, December 1,2013. The dawn  of the last month of the year under sunny skies. Winter's Eve, the last major street fair of the year, and the Lincoln Square  Neighborhood Association's celebration of the neighborhood's rich cultural  history,  was  ready to light up the Upper  West Side, the Jets were getting ready  to play (and  lose to) the Miami Dolphins, and Bryant Park and Rockefeller Center were also making lists and checking them twice  to insure their respective tree lightings went off without a hitch. In short, it was just another holiday weekend morning in the World's Greatest City.

Until 7:30 AM.

That was  when an early morning  run on the MTA Metro-North Harlem (commuter) Line took a turn for the deadliest. The train tried to round a curve in the all-too-aptly-named Spuyten Dyvil section of the Bronx and derailed,  taking four and leaving dozens injured.

As  far as we know now,  terrorism is  not an issue, and the  weather was  too mild to have played a part, so either human or mechanical  error is a possibility, but, the fact remains, too many people will not be able to enjoy the holidays with their loved ones. It's  too early and too risky to point fingers now, but all we can do is
watch,  wait, keep putting two and two together to come up with the answer, and, of course,  pray for those who recover, wait for their loved ones to return, and mourn their losses.

Oooooookay, on a happier note,  congratulations to the Giants who scalped the Redskins  (BTW,keep the name, guys, and don't succumb to political correctness!) and still have a shot at the playoffs.

Until the next pandemonious post, this is your pronouncer reminding you,shop responsibly, drive carefully, you have two more days of Hannukah so hurry up, AND...

...Bye, Buckaroos!
(And  say a prayer for the families of the derailment victims, OK?)