2011 Year in Review

Truth is that no one does a better year in review than Dave Barry. And everybody’s getting into the act of the year-end review. But that’s not going to stop me from giving the past 365 days a spin of my own. These are just some of the things that caught my attention in 2011.

In January…on New Year’s Day, 2011, the TCU Horned Frogs defeated the Wisconsin Badgers, 21–19 in the 97th Rose Bowl Game. Two days later the Virginia Tech Hokies fell to the Stanford Cardinal (can’t they afford another “s”?)

Also on New Year’s Day, the Oprah Winfrey Network premiered, replacing the former Discovery Health Channel. But unlike her long running talk show, OWN has not been a major ratings success.

On January 8, a gunman opened fire on a Tucson, Arizona supermarket killing six and wounding thirteen. Among the wounded was Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. Hysterics on the left tried to blame Sarah Palin who of course had nothing to do with it. President Obama called for a new tone in politics and then promptly forgot about it. Congresswoman Giffords continues to make a remarkable recovery.

Leaving us were Anne Francis who took her last ride to the Forbidden Planet. David Nelson joined Ozzie, Harriet and Rick for a new adventure. And fitness guru Jack Lalanne had his final workout. At 96 he was still in better shape than most of us.

In February, after Christina Aguilera sang the Star Mangled Banner, the Green Back Packers defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers, 31-25 in Super Bowl XLV.

Oscar nominated Betty Garrett left us for her final role, and Jane Russell flew off to be fitted with her full-figured wings.

In my home county of Giles, Virginia a battle of epic proportions raged as the community defied a handful of disgruntled parents and a Wisconsin based advocacy group to keep the 10 Commandments posted in county schools.

Actor Charlie Sheen did his first of several bizarre interviews and proved that his version of “winning” was anything but. A man in search of a rehab facility, Sheen was replaced on his hit television show “Two and a Half Men.” To show that they meant it, CBS killed off Sheen’s character.

In March 11, an 8.9 Earthquake hit off the coast of Japan and a tsunami slammed the cost of the island country. The images were devastating. Complicating matters were level 7 meltdowns at three reactors in the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant complex. Over 15,000 people died, thousands were injured and more than 3,000 were missing.

On March 23, Elizabeth Taylor took the last barge to the sky.

In April…the world attended another royal wedding as Prince William of Wales married Kate Middleton.

My family attended the Picasso exhibit at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. The exhibit which included selections from the Musée National Picasso in Paris ran from February to May and was wildly successful for the museum.

David Wilkerson was the founding pastor of Times Square Church in New York City. In the late 1950s Wilkerson went to New York to minister to gang members and drug addicts. His story is told in the best-selling book The Cross and the Switchblade and was made into a movie starring Pat Boone and Erik Estrada. Wilkerson gained his heavenly reward on April 27.

In May… contrary to the predictions of Harold Camping, the world didn’t end. It didn’t end in October either.

Thankfully the world did end for Osama Bin Laden. He was finally found and killed in a compound outside Islamabad, Pakistan. I hope those 72 Virginians gave him a proper greeting.

In the arts we lost Jeff Conaway, known for “Grease” and “Taxi.” After years of battling addictions Conaway fell into a coma and passed away.

Playwright, screenwriter and director Arthur Laurents (Gypsy, West Side Story and The Way We Were
) died at the age of 93.

“Our Gang” child star Jackie Cooper, later known as Perry White in the Superman films died at the age of 88.

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward was the winner of the 12th season of Dancing with the Stars.

In the last step before sainthood, Pope John Paul was beatified in a ceremony in Rome.

In June…Columbo actor Peter Falk completed his last investigation. And suicide doctor Jack Kevorkian got his final reward.

In July…in the trial we couldn’t stop hearing about Casey Anthony was found not guilty of murdering her daughter, however she missed the “Mother of the Year” award…by a long shot.

In Washington, finger pointing stopped long enough for Congress to say “we’ve got a deal, even if it’s crap.” In the next breath, the blame game started all over again.

The final chapter of the Harry Potter movies, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2” had an amazingly successful opening. Yes, we were there. The books are still better.

In one of the stupidest marking screw-ups since New Coke, Netflix tried to perform their own suicide by saying they were changing their rates, and separating the streaming from the DVD by mail.

Amy Winehouse was found dead in her London home. She died of alcohol poisoning at the age of 27.

Former First Lady Betty Ford, who had her own battle with alcoholism, died at the age of 93. She was known for her outspoken views on addiction and breast cancer. She founded The Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage, California for the treatment of chemical addictions.

August wasn’t a very happy month.

A U.S. helicopter in Afghanistan was shot down, killing 38. Among the dead were 30 Americans including almost two dozen members of the elite Navy SEALS, seven Afghans and an interpreter.

A 5.8 magnitude earthquake hit central Virginia on August 23 and was felt up and down the east coast. Days later, Hurricane Irene hit the coast of North Carolina and did extensive damage all the way up the coast and into Canada.

In September…on the eve of the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Vice President Joe Biden, and former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush attend a dedication ceremony for the memorial to United Flight 93 near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

Controvery surrounded the ceremonies in New York City as Mayor Bloomberg excludes prayer and first responders from the “civil” event.

In October…two unbelievable events occurred…Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi is capture and killed by rebels and wild card team the St. Louis Cardinals win the World Series.

Chairman and Co-Founder of Apple, Steve Jobs died due to complications of pancreatic cancer at the age of 56. The world mourned his passing and marveled at how he changed the way we communicate.

Indy Car driver Dan Wheldon died from injuries received in at 15-car wreck at the Las Vegas Indy 300. The two-time Indianapolis 500 winner was 33.

November…at the polls in Mississippi, The Personhood Initiative fails.

Herman Cain, after failing to deliver a credible campaign in 30 minutes or less, suspends his quest to be President.

Leaving us were Austrian-born American philanthropist Evelyn Lauder, creator of the pink ribbon symbol who died from ovarian cancer at the age of 75. Former Heavyweight Champion Smokin’ Joe Frazier died from liver cancer at the age of 67. Cartoonist Bill Keane, creator of the “Family Circus,” died at the age of 89.

And Emmy Award winning Andy Rooney of 60 Minutes fame died at the age of 92. In a completely non-related event, I almost literally ran into Rooney while rounding a corner at the 1996 Republican Convention in San Diego.

Television host Regis Philbin exited stage right after his final appearance on Live with Regis and Kelly.

In the other widely televised trial that we thought would never end, Conrad Murray, Michael Jackson’s private physician is sentenced to four years for involuntary manslaughter in the pop star’s death.

In December…after a nine-year engagement that took 4,500 U.S. lives and cost $700 billion the last of the U.S. combat forces leave Iraq.

In the trifecta of evil men who left us in 2011, North Korea’s Kim Jong-Il was pronounced dead. Maybe he won’t be so ronery anymore.

In an actual loss, playwright and former President of both Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic, Vaclav Havel died in his home at the age of 75.

Writer and politico Christopher Hitchens finally learned if he was right when he passed away from cancer at the age of 62. Even those who disagreed with him will miss his writing and his brilliant mind.

Colonel Sherman T. Potter, (a.k.a. actor Harry Morgan) finally bugged out at the age of 96.

And in our final loss, Cheetah, the chimpanzee seen in the Tarzan movies of the 1930s, died at roughly the age of 80.

So long 2011, here’s to the New Year.

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