OK I am fashionably late with this post, but who is counting? Usually I limit my annual list to books, but this year I am going to expand it to life in general. It was a year of up’s and down’s, humor and horror, education and stupidity.

Oh, and as education seems to take such a low position in our current society I am not sure that my list is just 10 (I am not good at math).

Sexiest Man Alive  – Well other magazines can do it, so why can’t I? Without doubt I am in complete agreement with the satirical web site The Onion. North Korea’s young ruler Kim Jong Un is without doubt the Sexiest Man Alive. Of course neither North Korea nor their good buddy China understand humor and certainly not satire.


In what was a rib tickling and eye watering event, China took the story seriously and published a 56 page photo special of Kim Jong Un. Alas the fun only lasted a few days. China realized they had been duped, and pulled down the online coverage. You can enjoy the original story here. Of course 2013 has welcomed in a new Kim Jong Un. He may be only 29 years old, but he is creating havoc. Atom bombs and missiles. What a great combination for world peace.

Best Concert Rider – This was a hard decision. In recent years Concert Riders have become almost an art form. Van Halen for example demand a large bowl of M&M’s, but the brown ones must be removed! My absolute favorite is the 2012 Rider for Iggy Pop.

Of course Iggy ‘popped’ many years ago, but his enthusiasm for the slightly strange continues.  Not only does he make demands about food and beverages, stage access, lighting, etc. He also finds room in the 28 page manifesto to include a pitch for a Reality TV program, Dead Dog Island! You can read it here.

Best Crime Story That Backfired – This one was easy, Casey Anthony. It was billed as ‘the trial of the century’. Everyone and their dog was set to make big dollars. Excuse the pun, everyone was working ‘Pro Bono’. While Casey herself was declared indigent, it was the ultimate gravy train. Books, movies, interviews, would bring riches to all involved. None of this has come to pass. Casey was found not guilty, but it is unlikely that she could even get a job picking up dog crap. The books published have fizzled. Casey has the value of a rotting fish!


Lets face it, Casey is done. Casey has now filed for bankruptcy. I was not entirely shocked by this move. But she filed for almost $800,000 in debts! I had to peek. $500,000 apparently is owed to ‘smirking’ Jose Baez. Now I could be wrong, but didn’t Jose blow through $200,000 in real money from the sale of photos to ABC? Didn’t Jose file an indigence status on Casey? Didn’t the courts agree to it? So Jose got his money, the tax payers picked up the tab. Tax payers probably even payed for his dry cleaning bills and trips to Starbucks. Even Casey admits that she doesn’t think Jose wants the money. Haha, if Jose went after that money, he would have a complaint before  he could even order a drink at his local bar. Bar Complaints are serious and if my memory serves me, he has been down that road.

Best Scientific Discovery – The world if full of scientific discoveries, and they are lauded almost every day. Learned journals publish learned articles all the time. Organizations as the Nobel group recognize great work and reward the pioneers in whatever their field may be. A group that is less well known are the Ig Nobels.  They also ferret out the very finest of human science. I for one was not aware of the possibility that a Colonoscopy could cause an explosion! I thought that only a really good Indian curry could do that.

OK, I have my silly comments out of the way. 2012 was an interesting year. A year of meeting new friends, and enjoying old ones.

It is hard to know where to start, and it is even more complex to describe it.

Although it is not the beginning, I will start with Youngstown, Ohio author, activist and bar owner Sam Moffie. I knew Sam through his earlier books, so when he asked me if I might be interested in reading his latest book To Kill The Duke, I obviously said yes. While the story is fiction, Sam took great care to frame it around actual events.

Historical fiction is a hard road, Sam had selected a road where some of the people were still alive, they could comment on his depiction of events.

Suddenly To Kill The Duke left the review world and became a quest. With Sam’s help I talked to two of the very few people involved in the making of the movie The Conqueror. It was a disaster when it was released in 1956, not even John Wayne as the star could salvage this picture.

Without doubt though, my favorite trooper involved with The Conqueror is Jack N. Young. Were it not for Sam Moffie, I would never have met this irascible and most delightful man. Sure he is 87 years old, but you would never know it.

So the book of the year award goes to Sam Moffie. To Kill The Duke is a delightful work of fiction wrapped around some cold hard facts.

Musician Of The Year – Music is a far different world. In school we had a class called music appreciation. It was a good name. At the time, many decades ago, I could find little to ‘appreciate’. Today I have a different opinion. I will remain firm that rap is crap! But everything else is ok. People that know me, know that I like prog rock. I also love the wonderful sounds that are made by a craftsman playing a classic Pipe Organ.

My choice this year, may come as a surprise. Actually a double surprise. A 60’s pop icon and a purveyor of modern Americana share the award. The Pop icon is the always fun King Of Bubblegum, Tommy Roe. 2012 was the year that Tommy decided to ‘unretire’ and do some shows. Sure he has a loyal fan base who would be as happy as clams to hear him play his great hits, Dizzy, Sweet Pea etc. He complied, but upped the ante, he released a CD of brand new music. It is ‘all growed up’. But to take you back:

As I said, the award this year is a tie. For several years I have followed the career of Tokyo Rosenthal. Obviously this is a stage name, but it is so ingrained that apparently even his mother calls him Toke. Tokyo Rosenthal is a character. Americana is not a music genre that I dwell in, but Toke has a way of drawing you in. Biting social commentary, combined with great music, it is a perfect combination. His love of life is infectious. Earlier this year he released a video What Did I Used To Be:

Watch it, listen to it, and learn. Later this year Toke is headed for another European tour, and he is in for a real treat. There is an award waiting for him.

Attorney Of The Year – OK I will be the first to admit that this is an unusual category! Who the hell likes lawyers? Certainly the average person with an IQ that exceeded their hat size was appalled when Casey Anthony was found Not Guilty. I salute Jose Baez and Chaney Mason on a fine (if strange) defense. I think Chaney Mason said it best:


I would not entertain either of these people in a woodshed!

More soon

Simon Barrett

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