Thursday, March 21, 2019

First Round of the Best Power Ballad of All Time Tournament



Do Anything For You region
ROUND 1 HIGHLIGHTS
  • As the #1 seed it was plain to see that Chicago's You're the Inspiration would quickly dispose of the 16 seed Feel Like Making Love from Bad Company.
  • In a small upset, Peter Cetera's Glory of Love upends the higher seeded When I See You Smile from Bad English who won't have to wonder how to ever make it through, because they won't.  This creates a revenge match between Chicago featuring Peter Cetera, and Peter Cetera with his solo career.
  • With their only tournament entry, Sheriff's When I'm With You takes down Boston's More Than A Feeling. Boston looked out this morning and the sun was gone, as were their hopes of advancing to the final 4 with this entry.
  • As the only true Cinderella in the entire big dance, Cinderella pulls a not so surprising upset of Take It On The Run.  So it is that REO Speedwagon heard it from a friend whoheard it from a friend who that Don't Know What You've Got (Till It's gone) knocks them out of the tournament. 
  • These 5 words I swear to you I'll Be There for You proved to be too much for Eric Carmen's 11th seeded entry of All By Myself. who will continue to feel so insecure on the outside looking in.
  • Apparently the one thing Meat Loaf won't do is make it into the second round, as I Don't Want to Miss a Thing, on the shoulders of Bruce Willis saving the world in Armageddon advances past  I'd Do Anything for Love from the Loaf.  
  • Stryper promised to patiently stand by you faithfully, but but Chicago always knew that two hearts drawn together bound by destiny would prevail.  So as expected, Strypers' Honestly falls to the higher seeded Will You Still Love Me? from Chicago. 
  • Teamed up Ann Wilson from Heart , Mike Reno of Loverboy dominates Extreme's  More Than Words with the duet's smash hit Almost Paradise from the Movie Footloose. We know that these are not the words I want to hear from you Extreme, but your time is up.
ROUND OF 32 MATCHUPS

1 Chicago - You're the Inspiration vs. 9 Peter Cetera - Glory of Love
5 Sheriff - When I'm With You vs. 13 Cinderella - Don't Know What You've Got
3 Aerosmith - I Don't Want to Miss a Thing vs. 6 Bon Jovi - I'll Be There for You
2 Mike Reno w/Ann Wilson - Almost Paradise vs. 7 Chicago - Will You Still Love Me?




Full of Regret region 
ROUND 1 HIGHLIGHTS
  • Survivor will continue loving for a moment and taking on the world as their #1 seed The Search Is Over proves to just be too much for Poison, as Bret Michaels will continue to think how things coulda been while their 16 seed I Won't Forget You  is knocked out in the first round.
  • The months go by, and I know for certain that Winger and their 9 seed Miles Away upsets Mister Misters #1 hit in the US and Canada from 1985, Broken Wings.
  • There will be no 5 vs. 12 upset in this region since White Lion never had a chance to love you.  Wait will have to wait until next year as Chicago will hurry back into the second round with Love Me Tomorrow,
  • In a Canada vs. England match up, Bryan Adams shouldn't find it hard to believe that his 4 seed, Heaven, defeats the 13 seed Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad from Def Leppard. 
  • Paul Stanley from Kiss was out of his head over you, and now Forever is out the tournament as he and Gene Simmons are toppled by David Coverdale singing Is This Love? with Whitesnake. 
  • REO Speedwagoon will Keep On Loving You and they will keep on playing into the second round with an upset of the #3 seed High Enough by Damn Yankees.  This means that there will be either an 11 seed or a 13 seed playing in the sweet 16!
  • Eric Carmen had Peter Cetera in his sights as his Hungry Eyes from the Dirty Dancing soundtrack in 1987 squashes Cetera's solo career in the first round, leaving The next time I fall in love out in the cold.  
  • Mr. Big's To Be With You was one of the last 4 into the tournament and now has seen it all go down with their chances to advance, as Chicago's desire to not want to live without your love moves on. 
ROUND OF 32 MATCHUPS

1 Survivor - The Search Is Over vs.  9 Winger - Miles Away




Lost Without You region 
ROUND 1 HIGHLIGHTS
  • They say that the road ain't no place to start a family, and it ain't no place for a 16 seed to fare well against the top seed in the bracket.  The Search Is Over from Survivor barely breaks a sweat as they take down Beth from Kiss.  I guess that you can come home right now after all. 
  • Look into your heart, and you will find that there was never any doubt that (Everything I Do) I Do It for You from Bryan Adams would steamroll Stealheart's I'll Never Let You Go as the tears start to fall in this minor upset of a 9 seed over an 8.  
  • Remember after the fire, after all the rainThe Flame from Cheap Trick is extinguished by the lower seeded Amanda from Boston who took them by surprise and made them realize.   
  • This might be our last goodbye to Europe, as Warrant's Heaven surpasses Carrie .  We will always be your biggest fan Jani Lane, even posthumously. 
  • You don't know how long I have wanted Alone by Heart to upend Without You from Motley Crue, proving Vince Neil really is a sailor lost at sea.
  • In their bid to try anything to keep it workingHeaven In Your Eyes from Loverboy ousted Rosanna from Toto, proving that now she's gone.
  • If I could have let you know somehow that Poison's 10 seed with Every Rose Has Its Thorn was too much for Alias as they really did lose their mind over this loss from their 7th seeded More than Words Can Say.  
  • Peter Cetera predicted the future when he sang now there's no way that I can lose in Chicago's We Can Last Forever as they demolish The Ballad of Jayne from L.A. Guns and their wishes slowly turn to sadness.
ROUND OF 32 MATCHUPS




Love Hurts region 
ROUND 1 HIGHLIGHTS
  • I know you were right believing for so long that the 16th seeded I'll Remember You never had a prayer against the top seeded All Out of Love by Air Supply.  Sebastian Bach will have to paint a picture of the days gone by and start looking for another cameo in the Gilmore Girls reboot, reboot as Skid Row is out of the tournament.
  • Babe you're not leaving!  Styx upsets Journey's Open Arms. Apologies Steve Perry, but we don't need you to stay in the tournament any longer. 
  • Nothin' lasts forever, but GNR will sure as hell try, as November Rain eliminates the 12th seeded Always. We don't guess, we know Jon Bon Jovi, that you're not that good anymore
  • I guess it's over, baby.  It's really over baby for Nazareth as they take a lot of pain when their anthem Love Hurts is thrown out off the tournament by the 4th seeded Look Away from Chicago. 
  • Love does really bite and so does being upset by an 11 seed.   Apparently Chicago needs a little time away as Hard to Say I'm Sorry bows out to Love Bites from Def Leppard.
  • When you just won't give me reasons it makes it tough to advance Breathe's How Can I Fall into the second round.  Maybe REO Speedwagon can hold out forever as the 3 seed Can't Fight This Feeling advances.  
  • This may be the most uninteresting match up on the entire board.  But I can't stop now, I've traveled so far to see Foreigner's I Want To Know What Love Is moves on and Boy Meets Girl's Waiting For A Star To Fall goes home.
  • Sister Christian the time has come for you experience being on the winning side of one of the biggest upsets in tournament history.  Separate Ways (Worlds Apart) will NOT survive the tide to play in the next round as Night Ranger stuns Journey.
ROUND OF 32 MATCHUPS





Other Tournament Notes

Amazingly, all four 9 seeds were able to defeat the slightly higher ranked 8 seeds in every region.  Beyond the 9's advancing, there were 6 double digit seeds who upset the lower seeded favorites in the first round.

The first round of the tournament feels like a blur as 64 entries are now paired down to 32.  By the end of the weekend, we will be ready for the sweet 16.  Stay tuned for more results as we continue to count down to the best power ballad of all time!

Friday, March 8, 2019

Best Power Ballad of All Time Tournament


This project has been under development for nearly two years.  Two years.

After all, you can't just willy nilly put together a March madness style 64 entry tournament to declare the best power ballad of all time.  It requires exhaustive research to ensure that you have the right songs that capture the true essence of the power ballad.  Then determining how the entries are seeded into the right regions describing their lyrics was a full time job.  My play count on these songs exceeds triple digits for the 200+ division 1 songs considered.  I have lost my grasp on reality for modern music with this power ballad obsession.  So yes, two years and it was worth every second.

What really defines a power ballad? The selection committee has said that they look for sentimental, melodic songs that tug on the listeners heart strings. Love, or loss of love is a common subject matter as artists convey their emotions through lyrics. But in the end it is really all about the slow, fervent build up before the guitar riff or drum smash climax of the chorus, which truly defines the power, in power ballad.

There were so many questions to answer with this endeavor.  The strength of schedule in the early 80's was much tougher than today, so should the number of weeks on the Billboard chart be considered, giving the 90’s an unfair advantage?  What about the automatic entries?    Should songs that were featured on movie soundtracks or greatest hits albums which earned extra airplay be penalized?

So just like my top 20 cereals of the last 40 years blog series of 2018, I wasn't going to do this unless I could do it right.  It is with great pride that I announce the entries into the tournament.

Do Anything For You region



Starting with the top left bracket, Chicago sits atop the Do Anything For You region.  If the boys from the windy city can make it to the elite 8, it will make for an epic battle against the 2 seed Loverboy to represent the bracket in the final 4.

A sleeper to watch in this bracket is Peter Cetera, who if he can overcome the 8 seed Bad English, is on a crash course for his former band, the 1 seed Chicago in the round of 32.

Speaking of Chicago, they bring a record breaking 7 entries to the tournament.  The next closest band would be REO Speedwagon and Journey, each with 3 entries.  More than half of the tournament (34 entries) are represented by a band with just one chance to earn the title of best power rock ballad of all time.

The Do Anything For You region also features the tournaments only true Cinderella, with Cinderella earning an automatic bid with Don’t Know What You Got Till It’s Gone.



Full of Regret region


Survivor is number 1, number 1 seed, coming into the tournament as one of the favorites in the Vegas books.  They face a weak opponent in the first round of the Full of Reget bracket, with Poison's I Won't Forget You.

Much attention is being paid to the 7 seed with Eric Carmen having made a strong showing in Dirty Dancing, which is my Dad's second favorite movie.  

Whitesnake and White Lion will vie for first round upsets to take their lack of colorful band names into the second round.



Lost Without You region


The Lost Without You region on the upper right is being dubbed as the bracket of death, where any of the top 4 seeds could be heading to Minneapolis for the final 4.

Ironically or perhaps coincidentally, the selection committee has seeded the two Heaven entries (Warrant and Bryan Adams) as 4 seeds in their respective regions.

The Lost Without You bracket also features singles named after females, with Amanda, Carrie, Rosanna, (The Ballad of) Jayne and Beth.


Love Hurts region


Air Supply may have the easiest path to the final 4 of all the number 1 seeds as early reports have the Love Hurts region being the weakest of the regions.  But they will have to still have to work if they want to cut down the nets out of the lower right bracket.

Nazareth earns an automatic bid in the Love Hurts region, with their 1975 power ballad Love Hurts, which defines the theme for the bracket.

Def Leppard feels slighted by their double digit seeds for their two entries, but comes into the tournament on a hot streak, having recently toured with Journey and will undoubtedly play with a chip on their shoulder with Love Bites.


Other Tournament Notes

The selection committee has shared their notes that the last 4 into the tournament were bubble entries from Boston (More Than a Feeling), L.A. Guns (The Ballad of Jayne), Mr. Big (To Be With You) and Night Ranger (Sister Christian).

The first 4 out that didn’t make the cut were Scorpions (Send Me an Angel), Eddie Money (Take Me Home Tonight), Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes (Up Where We Belong), and Phil Collins (A Groovy Kind of Love.)

As expected the 80’s represents the strongest decade with 45 of the 64 seeds.  The 90’s are next with 14 entries and the rest were from the 1970’s.

So, there it is.  Do you agree with the seeds?  Were there any glaring omissions or bubble teams who came on late in their careers who should have gotten an invite to the big dance?  Will there be any perfect regions where all the favorites hold true to their seed or will we see the typical 12 seed that upsets a 5?

Leading up to the NCAA Men's Basketball finals, I will blog about the power ballad match ups and post the winners as we make our way through the round of 32, down to the sweet 16, into the elite 8 and lastly the final 4 in Minneapolis.  Only by reading along for the next few weeks will we find out who will reign supreme as the best power ballad of all time!

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Final Destination

You could not make this up if you tried.

This story is based on factual events and no details have been changed for additional dramatization.  To the best of my memory, these are the chronological events that took place beginning on Wednesday, February 20, 2019.



12:40 pm central time - After business meeting concludes, I ate tacos for lunch with fellow traveler and colleague Mike Baker.  Unbeknownst to us, this would be our last meal of the day.

1:22 pm - Delta Alert for delayed flight due to weather, moving the original 3:36 pm departure time back an hour to 4:35 pm.

1:40 pm - While attempting to refuel rental car, first gas station attempted had all pumps closed, so we had to find an alternative.

2:01 pm - Arrive at airport

4:15 pm - Boarded flight at Austin Airport enroute to Atlanta.  As it stands, we have 2 hour layover in Atlanta before leaving for our final destination of Huntsville at 9:22 pm.

5:01 pm - Boarding doors are closed and captain announces that due to weather, there is a ground stop of all air traffic into Atlanta.  Updates from dispatch indicates the ground stop will last 1 hour.

5:03 pm - I phone Delta and get on standby list for the 11:48pm flight from Atlanta to Huntsville as an extreme backup, should we not make our connection

6:01 pm - Captain informs us that the ground stop will continue until 7:01 pm.

6:22 pm - There is a mechanical problem on board the plane; the 1st class bathroom is out of order.  Maintenance is required to check it out before we can proceed.

6:30 pm - I phone Delta and confirm standby seat for the 11:48 pm flight from Atlanta to Huntsville since making the connection for the original flight is no longer humanly possible.

7:01 pm - Ground stop is lifted, but Austin maintenance still has not arrived.  Captain has talked to Delta maintenance in Atlanta and they are talking to Austin trying to get them to review the problem.

7:42 pm - Maintenance problem has been reviewed and all paperwork is complete.

7:43 pm - Delta Alert that 11:48 pm flight to Huntsville is delayed until 12:50 am.

7:44 pm - Flight departs Austin for Atlanta, which is normally an hour and 40 minute flight wheels up to wheels down.  ETA on arrival is 10:32 pm eastern.

8:47 pm - Somewhere north east of New Orleans we begin to fly into the weather pattern

9:22 pm - We begin circling around Montgomery in a holding pattern as the weather is too bad to land in Atlanta.



9:39 pm (now 10:39 pm eastern time) - We fly further east, then begin circling around Columbus Georgia.

11:24 pm - We finally land in Atlanta, having been on board the plane for just over 6 hours.

11:31 pm - Deplane.  All restaurants and shops are closed, Mike Baker has a vending machine dinner of cheese crackers and Vitamin Water.

11:40 pm - Delta Alert that our 11:48 pm flight which was delayed until 12:50 am is now delayed until 1:30 am.

11:58 pm - After walking from T terminal, we arrive at gate B27.

12:45 am - Inbound flight from Chicago lands and passengers deplane.  Only about a dozen flights remain yet to depart with most others having been cancelled.

12:51 am - Panic spreads as the monitors change the departure time from 1:30 am to 6:30 am, which means the flight has been cancelled.  Delta gate agents goes to talk to the pilot.

1:15 am - Delta gate agent returns and indicates that the time posted is correct and even though they are laboring to find another crew, it is highly unlikely that the time will change.  He indicates that all hotel vouchers have been given out for the day, and there are not hotels in the area that have any vacancy.  Most passengers will sleep at the gate and wait for the morning flight.

1:16 am - Phone the after hours travel agency and after they go through 4 rental car carries, finally find one that will honor a one-way rental from Atlanta to Huntsville.

1:19 am - While on the phone with travel, I mistakenly get off the train at T terminal, while Mike Baker continues on the the correct baggage claim area.  Trains have reduced service, so it takes 9 minutes for the next train to arrive versus the normal 90 seconds.

1:29 am - Make Baker and I walk over to tram entrance, leaving the airport for the rental car center.

1:31 am - I realize that not only do I not have my wallet, but in my groggy state, I have left my backpack at gate B27.  I leave Mike and head back into the airport.

1:49 am - TSA will not allow me to re-enter the terminal without a valid picture ID, which is in my wallet, which is in my backpack, which is HOPEFULLY, still at gate B27.  My cell phone battery life is down to 8%.

1:52 am - I go to Delta baggage service and talk with a nice gentlemen who calls "someone" at Delta, who finds a lady named Mona who will look for my bag.  His eyes are as bloodshot as mine, both going on very little sleep.

1:54 am - A random stranger comes up to me and asks if I am going to Huntsville, indicating he saw me at the gate.  He is not a frequent traveler, but trying to get home to surprise his daughter for her birthday after leaving a work meeting in Dallas.  I offer him the backseat and Will who owns a pest control business in Madison, becomes a band of our weary travelers.

1:57 am - I call Mona and she has my bag and will return it to me at the top of the escalator at the security checkpoint.  She describes herself as 5'5" with dark hair and wearing a Delta flight attendant uniform and I take note.

2:19 am - I realize that to my tired eyes, every flight attendant coming up the escalator is 5'5" with dark hair and wearing a Delta uniform, so I text her a picture of myself.  Seeing my face I realize that I look like death warmed over.  Phone battery life now 2%.



2:32 am - I finally see Mona and she hands over my bag.  I ask her if it would be ok to give her a hug since she literally has saved my life.  I could not get back into the airport or back home without it.

2:37 am - Will, Mike and I head over to the rental car center.

2:42 am - The National stand refers us to the Alamo stand.  They indicate that they have no cars and their system has mistakenly issued a rental agreement to me for a one way rental that they can not support.  I manage to talk with the agent and finally we have a car.

2:57 am - We load our luggage into the car and approach the car rental exit.  The National attendant can find no record of a car rental in the name of Eric Charette.  However they can find one for Christopher Charette of Salt Lake City Utah.

2:59 am - After backing out of the exit line, I call our work after hours travel.  Since they support multiple companies, they made the reservation for the wrong person.  I try to convince Hope that she should just change the name on the reservation, since we are sitting in the car, and there are no other cars left.

3:11 am - Hope issues a new rental contract in my name and we exit the airport.

3:12 am - We proceed to battle torrential rain and head west on I-20 toward Birmingham.

5:10 am (now 4:10 am central time) - We arrive in Birmingham where I-20 westbound is closed for construction, so we detour through the city, getting lost a little.

4:12 am -  I now have been awake for 24 straight hours.

4:14 am - We get back on I-65 heading north.  After we get under a hundred miles to go, Mike reads off the distance every 5 miles to keep us awake.  Until we get north of Cullman, visibility is near zero as the rain intensifies.

5:52 am - We finally arrive at Huntsville airport.  Mike agrees to return the car, which is now almost empty of fuel so that I can start my 30 minute drive to south east Huntsville.

6:31 am - I finally pull up to my house, 17 hours after arriving at the airport in Austin, having flown for 6 hours, driven for 4 hours, not eating since lunch the day before.

6:31:07 am - I have no recollection of getting into bed, but I fall asleep.



Monday, October 15, 2018

A letter to my best friend Sirius Beagle

Dear Siri Beagle

From the first day I brought you home from Stevens Point in 2014 to the walk we took this morning, you have been my best friend. That spans 5218 days, which to a human is 14 years but in the dog world that means you are well over 100 years old.

Every day in between, I have made sure that you have lived the grandest of all lives. Because every 52 days for me, is like an entire year for you, so I wanted you to see the world and experience everything. Often I have put your needs well above my own; that is how much you mean to me.

As a pup, we spent countless hours together where learned to obey, listen and do several tricks. I don’t know if it is a beagle trait, but the way you lay down by pushing your face onto the carpet and then flopping your butt down before happily accepting a treat as a reward is priceless. You are super smart which means that you are very stubborn! Sometimes I think that you were training me, and not the other way around.

I named you after the Harry Potter series, with your full name being Prisoner of Azkaban, Sirius Beagle. You were Siri before Steve Jobs and Apple ever thought of the name Siri. You were the first.

You’ve had dozens of nicknames over the years, including Prissy Paw because of the way you sat as a puppy, with a slight bend in your front right leg. For awhile I called you Abby when I wanted to talk about you but didn’t want to use your name because you were wake up. But you have always been Siri Beagle.

We’ve been on hundreds of miles of walks together in the neighborhood. Your personal best distance is 11 miles when you were a younger pup. But you really love being a beagle and running on single track trails. Your nose drops to the ground and you gallop with the greatest of ease. For the longest time I wasn’t able to keep up with you, but you would always stop and look back, waiting for me to catch up. In those miles I’ve shared my inner thoughts with you on long walks, and together we’ve solved all the worlds problems.

At 100 years old, you are still walking 10-15 miles a week; That is more than most humans. I know you don't know what miles are, but you know the smiles that you get from being outside.

And when I wanted to go on longer walks and you weren’t able to, I started pushing you in a dog stroller, stopping to take you out from time to time. You love being in the dog stroller, holding your head out the front as the wind blows in your face and making your ears flair out like you are an airplane taking off.

The good doctors at Valley Animal Hospital have taken care of you like you were their own since we moved to Huntsville. They welcome you with love when you go there to play and they recognize your howl when I show up for you to come home. I truly believe that it is because of Dr. Wilson MacManus and others that you have had such a long and health life. They have said that for all these years you were the healthiest beagle in all of Huntsville and I truly believe them.

It is a good thing that we have Dr. Mac, because along the way, you had your share of health issues. They started with your incurable allergies as a pup back in Wisconsin when we discovered you were allergic to grass and dust mites which meant you could not go outside or stay inside. Luckily you out grew them!

We were worried that you had ruptured a ligament in your hind leg when you were a few years old, but that was hundreds of miles ago and it healed without surgery.

But you have had a number of surgeries, including the most recent back surgery after some age-related nerve damage that caused your back right leg to stop from working. With the best medical care and the surgeons were able to get you back to running and walking.

After your back surgery, I sat in a cold bathtub with you, so you could work through your rehab. Swimming was non-impact and the icy cold water helped with your pain as you built of the strength in your leg. So, I sat in there with you, holding you just right so your legs would make the swimming motion. You were able to get back on your feet, literally and today you walked 4 miles pain free.

Earlier this year you lost your hearing, but because we spent time training all of those years ago, you still know hand signals. And nothing can take away your sense of smell and you know what your dad smells like. You know when I hold you close.

You were there for me after I had me known knee surgery, with the torn meniscus during Mountain Mist 50km. I was in so much pain in the recovery, that I remember hobbling on crutches for a ¼ mile walk, and crying the entire time that I would never run again. But you walked next to me and gave me hope that I could come back, which I did, qualifying for the Boston Marathon on the final race of my career.

You welcomed a new baby sister when you were just 4 years old yourself. And you served as a great big sister for her. Even when she is a pesky little sister and refuses to lay next to you on the couch, but wants to lay on top of you, you didn’t just tolerate her but you love her back. You even welcomed another sister when Lyla moved six years ago. With Rachel as the mom of all three girls, we formed a family.

We’ve driven across the country together countless times where we spent summers in Michigan. You love to sneak off down the stairs and swim in the Menominee River. You are loved by my parents as my mom refers to you and your sister as her grand doggies. She had pictures of you on her desk at work.

When I wanted to start sharing my thoughts on running with the world, I created a blog, aptly named SiriusUltraRunner, after you. You’ve had your own email address, Facebook page and Twitter account @SiriusBeagle ever since.

When I come home, you have welcomed me lovingly with a bark and a face lick every time. Even if I had to be at work all day and you peed on the floor before I got home, it is hard to be mad at you for very long. Even if I was only gone a few minutes, to you it was like welcoming me home after I had been gone for a week.

So I want you to know that I don’t have a single regret about anything with you in the last 14 years. Everyday I have told you that I love you. I have not once walked past you and not stopped to pet your head. I have given you the best care and shown you the best dog life imaginable.

And now, we face the greatest challenge of your entire life. A recently discovered growth on your right cheek warranted a trip to the vet where they said that they did not like what they saw. We don’t have all the answers yet, but the doctors are being aggressive with your diagnosis. On Thursday we will head to Blue Pearl in Nashville to have the mass looked at by a surgeon and meet with an oncologist. I promise you that they will take good care of you and I will be there with you every step of the way.

Siri you have so many miles left in your legs. You have a million more wags left in your tail. You have enough barks and howls left to drive the neighbors crazy. You are still a vibrant, healthy, active and beautiful little beagle and it is not your time to leave us. You are a tough old girl and will put up a very good fight. Please know that you have a lot of people praying for you.

Please also know that if the time comes when you are in pain, or can no longer have a quality of life, we will have to have a very difficult talk about what will come next.

I know that you may not understand all of what is going on; it is difficult to understand. I tried to explain this to you during our walk on Sunday, but a combination of your loss of hearing and my shaky voice and falling tears, I don’t think that I did a very good job.

But until that day, we will do everything we can to give you the best care known to man’s best friend. Because you are my best friend. You are my daughter. You are my family.

I love you Siri Beagle. Yesterday, today, tomorrow and forever. You will always be my girl.

Your Dad



Sunday, September 9, 2018

My Favorite 42 Actors of the Last 42 Years

What is the best part about making a list?  The reader is at the mercy of the writer!

This is my personal list of the top 42 actors within the last 42 years, representing the span of my lifetime.  You can argue that my first movie watching impressions were not made until the mid-80's, but this is my list, so it's my rules.  Let's call the time period of 1975 to the present, the "Modern Era of Movie Making."

I tend to watch more drama than comedy.  More action than horror.  More adventure than sci-fi.  So, while I do enjoy a good Dan Aykroyd and Billy Murray movie, not many actors who focus on the comedy genre made my list.  It is comprised mostly of movies that have had some sort of impact on me in my younger, impressionable years.  The list involves mostly movie actors, but there are some actors I nominated because of tv roles they've played, and some who did both movies and tv, excelling at both.

The best part about my list, is that it is my list.  I can guarantee you that no one on earth has the same list, in the same sequence.  That is because each person has their own movie watching history, and while you may appreciate what I have assembled, you will likely disagree somewhere along the way.  The uniqueness of each person in this world is one of the many things that fascinates me. It's what makes lists of this nature, so much fun.

With any list, there are going to be snubs.  Despite endless hours of research on this project, I inevitably overlooked or forgot someone.  And it is probable that if I start over, the sequence of the list may change.  But eventually you just have to drawn the line in the sand and call it done. I've drawn my line.

Before you start leaving comments about my choices, note that I am able to separate the craft from the person.  I am not looking for role models in my movie stars.  So, if they lean one way or the other politically, or have had other issues off stage, I've put those things aside.  And I am sure that someday I will take the time to create an actress list, but there are only so many hours in the day and I had to start somewhere.

Without further ado, here is the list of my 42 favorite actors from the last 42 years.


42. Heath Ledger

Reasons why: A Knight's TaleThe Dark Knight.  His portrayal of the Joker is one of the best acting performances I have ever seen.  It is likely how much he got into character for this that brought about his demise.

41. Mel Gibson

Reasons why:  MaverickBraveheart.  While I enjoyed his ability to play an insane cop in the action and adventure series Lethal Weapon, it was his role in Maverick opposite James Garner that I preferred.

40. Al Pacino

Reasons why:  HeatInsomnia.  Watching Will Dormer try to stay awake, while hiding secrets in the Alaskan thriller, Insomnia, was one of Pacino's most masterful performances and it totally flew under the radar.

39. Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Reasons why:  Inception, The Dark Knight Rises, 500 Days of Summer.  With a host of credits from his youth that include 3rd Rock from the Sun, Roseanne, and Family Ties, JGL has been at it for a long time with his best roles to come.

38. Andrew McCarthy

Reasons why: Mannequin, Pretty in Pink, Less Than Zero, St. Elmo's Fire.  An original brat-packer, McCarthy's role as the rich kid falling in love with the girl from the wrong side of the tracks in Pretty in Pink earns him a nomination.

37. James Spader

Reasons why:  Blacklist, Stargate, Less Than ZeroPretty in Pink.  One of the actors who played such a bad boy in his youth, then went on to reinvent himself later in life with his role in Blacklist, which is must watch TV.

36. Donald Sutherland

Reasons why:  Without Limits, A Time to Kill, Outbreak, JFK, M*A*S*H.  Ironically the movies that earned him a spot on the list are mostly in supporting roles like JFK which he plays so convincingly.

35. Jon Voight

Reasons why:  The Rainmaker, Mission: Impossible, Deliverance.  Jon Voight's career was mostly before my lifetime so I've seen him play the role of dad (National Treasure) quite a bit, but some of his early stuff like Deliverance is A+.

34. Christian Slater

Reasons why:  Pump Up the Volume, Gleaming the Cube, Heathers, Young Guns II.  Always playing the rebellious teenager during my rebellious teen years meant that I couldn't get enough of Christian Slater.  

33. Richard Gere

Reasons why: Unfaithful, The Jackal, Primal Fear, Pretty Woman.  I will be honest that I have never seen An Officer and a Gentleman (*gasp*), which I've read may have been peak Richard Gere, but otherwise his resume is stellar.

32. Ben Affleck

Reasons why: Changing Lanes, Gone Girl, Runner Runner, Argo, The Town, Good Will Hunting. Ben really should be ranked higher on this list, but has a series of bad movies from Gigli to Batman, which are forgettable roles.

31. Anthony Hopkins

Reasons why: Fracture, Silence of the Lambs.  Sir Anthony's role as Dr. Hannibal Lecter makes my skin crawl just thinking about it.  While he has had other good films, Lambs is one of the most epic acting performances of all time.

30. Tommy Lee Jones

Reasons why: The Fugitive, Double Jeopardy, Blown Away, Lincoln.  Chasing down Dr. Richard Kimble, Tommy Lee Jones as Samuel Gerard in The Fugitive has some of the best 1-liners as that character was written for him.

29. Kiefer Sutherland

Reasons why: Flatliners, A Time to Kill, A Few Good Men, Young Guns, Stand by Me. Kiefer from the mid-80's to early 90's are what trip my trigger, especially playing bad ass roles like Lt. Jonathan Kendrick and Ace Merrill.

28. Nicolas Cage

Reasons why:  National Treasure, Con Air, The Rock, Gone in 60 Seconds, Face/Off.  Sure it is an 8 to 1 ratio of bad movies to good, but when Nic was in his prime fighting bad guys, no one did it better.

27. Kevin Spacey

Reasons why:  The Usual Suspects, A Time to Kill, Se7en.  Who better portraits the criminally insane than Kevin Spacey?  The twist (spolier alert) at the end of The Usual Suspects is one of the great movie endings of all time.

26. Edward Norton

Reasons why:  Fight Club, Primal Fear, Rounders, The Italian Job.  When someone with an innocent smile can play the role of such a bad guy, it is such a rare combination that you just never see coming, aka Tyler Durden.

25. Mark Wahlberg

Reasons why:  Lone Survivor, The Departed , The Perfect Storm.  I couldn't believe it either until I started the research and realized all of the movies that this former New Kid was in I really enjoyed--Thanks Marky Mark!

24. Tom Berenger

Reasons why:  Last of the Dogmen, Platoon, Major League.  Probably an actor that is left off many lists, Berenger was meant to wear a cowboy hat.  His role as Lewis Gates in Dogmen opposite Barbara Hershey was one of his best.

23. Daniel Day-Lewis

Reasons why:  Lincoln, The Last of the Mohicans, Gangs of New York.  Day-Lewis doesn't do it often, but when he is aleading man, prepare to be blown away.  I really thought I was watching Abraham Lincoln for 2 hours and 28 minutes.

22. Brad Pitt

Reasons why:  Spy Game, Money Ball, Fight Club, Sleepers, Se7en.  Screaming "What's in the box?!" before shooting John Doe was a great movie ending, but Pitt has countless other roles (Tyler Durden) that earn him a top 25 spot in my list.

21. Andy Griffith

Reasons why: Matlock, The Andy Griffith Show.  I could watch Ben Matlock with his southern charm crack murder mysteries in an Atlanta courtroom all day long and twice on Sundays.

20. John Krasinski

Reasons why: 13 Hours, The Office, A Quiet Place.  Definitely a newcomer to my list, but John proved his versatility as he went from goofy Jim Halpert playing pranks on Dwight in The Office to a six-pack of muscle in Benghazi.

19. Sean Connery

Reasons why:  Medicine Man, The Rock, DragonHeart, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, The Hunt for Red October, James Bond.  The list is never ending for Connery, but I love him most as Indiana's dad in Last Crusade.

18. Tom Hanks

Reasons why: Saving Private Ryan, Apollo 13, Big, Splash.  Hanks was the go to leading man in Hollywood for two decades, and deservedly so.  But I think it was his crossing dressing role in Bosom Buddies that helped launch his stardom.

17. Robert De Niro

Reasons why: Heat, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Goodfellas, Cape Fear, The Deer Hunter, Taxi Driver.  Most people didn't know that De Niro played the Creature in Frankenstein, which was far and away the best adaptation of this story.

16. Matt Damon

Reasons why: The Departed, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Saving Private Ryan, The Rainmaker, Good Will Hunting.  The story of Will Hunting makes me want to go out and conquer the world.  Thank you for writing and starring in it Mr. Damon.

15. Neil Patrick Harris

Reasons why: How I Met Your Mother, Doogie Howser, M.D.  The original blogger and child doctor prodigy with a crush on Wanda Plenn went on the play a womanizer in HIMYM.  Two totally different roles showing great diversity. 

14. Billy Crystal

Reasons why: City Slickers, When Harry Met Sally, Throw Momma from the Train.  Watching Mitch Robbins yell "moo cow" in a river during a mid-life crisis while he search for the meaning of life on a cattle drive with his best friends = priceless.

13. Robin Williams

Reasons why: Insomnia, What Dreams May Come, Good Will Hunting, Dead Poets Society, Good Morning Vietnam.  A life cut tragically short, I have never been so moved (queue the tears) as I was with his role as Sean in Good Will Hunting.

12. Bruce Willis

Reasons why: Die Hard, Unbreakable, The Sixth Sense, Armageddon.  Known as a blockbuster movie guy, it is the roles of David Addison on Moonlighting and Paul Stevens on Friends that move Demi Moore's ex-husband near the top of this list.

11. Alan Alda

Reasons why: Murder at 1600, ER, Blacklist, MASH.  Alan Alda's laugh is utterly infectious and his portrayal of Hawkeye Pierce is one of my favorite on screen performances.  Goodybe.  Farewell.  Amen.

10. Morgan Freeman

Reasons why: Kiss the Girls, Se7en, Unforgiven, The Shawshank Redemption, Batman Begins. The old joke is that if you could have anyone narrate your life, it would be Morgan Freeman.  Ellis Boyd 'Red' Redding for the win.

9. John Cusack

Reasons why: Love & Mercy, Runaway Jury, Identity, Serendipity, Con Air, Say Anything...  His role as Brian Wilson from the Beach Boys is so stunning that it took this top 25 guy and vaulted him into the top 10 for me.

8. Harrison Ford

Reasons why: Star Wars, Raiders, The Fugitive, What Lies Beneath.  Maybe the one actor on this list who has been on top for all 4 four decades.  When they killed him off in Star Wars, I shed more than a few tears.

7. Kevin Bacon

Reasons why: The Following, Mystic River, Stir of Echoes, Wild Things, Apollo 13, A Few Good Men, Footloose.  No one else can claim to have a "six degrees..." game named after themselves, but Kevin Bacon.  He is Kevin-freaking- Bacon.

6. Scott Bakula

Reasons why: Quantum Leap.  The highest ranking of any actor largely known for a single role.  Yes, yes, yes, I know he has a few other credits, but leaping from life to life, striving to put right what once went wrong is legendary for me.

5. Kevin Costner

Reasons why: JFK, Tin Cup, Field of Dreams, Dances with Wolves, The Bodyguard, Bull Durham.  "If you build it, they will come."  And as long as Kevin Costner keeps making movies about my passion, I will be in the front row.

4. Patrick Swayze

Reasons why: Ghost, Point Break, Dirty Dancing.  Three of my favorite movies of all time.  Swayze is the first person on my Mount Rushmore of actors.  Nobody puts Bodhi in a corner.

3. Matthew McConaughey

Reasons why: Lincoln Lawyer, A Time to Kill, Dazed and Confused, Sahara.  If there is such a thing as one man having a man crush on another man, I have one on Mattew McConaughey for his role as Jake Tyler Brigance.

2. Tom Cruise

Reasons why: Top Gun, Mission Impossible, American Made, Rock of Ages, The Last Samurai, Minority Report, A Few Good Men, The Firm, Risky Business.  Jump on as many couches as you want Tom.  You've earned your ranking.

1. Leonardo DiCaprio

Reasons why: Shutter Island, Inception, The Revenant, Titanic, The Beach, Growing Pains.  Team Leo has starred in more of my favorite movies than another other actor, putting him on the top of the mountain for this list.


Editing credits courtesy of Rachel Charette.