He is not making any of this up. Except maybe some of it…

Barry 2019

Yes, it’s time for Dave Barry’s annual look back at the year, which as one would expect in the era of Trump, both depressing and hilarious.

And occasionally educational. I, for one, didn’t even remember knowing that back in July, an asteroid with the potential destructive force of a large nuclear warhead passed uncomfortably close to the Earth. How close? Like, five times as close as the Moon.

Which is not, you know, “funny ha-ha.” But most of the piece is just fun stuff like:

Meanwhile as the 2020 U.S. presidential race heats up, several hundred Democratic presidential contenders gather in Miami for the first major debates. The front-runner is Joe Biden, but he suffers a setback when Sen. Kamala Harris, in what is clearly a planned attack, points out that Biden is wearing his pants backward. Biden’s staff hastily releases a statement explaining that the former vice president “thought it was Friday.” Also getting a lot of attention is Marianne Williamson, who qualifies for the debates based on the number of campaign donations she received from other dimensions.

And this passage shows that Dave still makes masterful use of his signature punchline, “I am not making this up:

In domestic politics, Virginia is rocked by a series of scandals involving elected Democratic state officials, originating with the publication of a 1984 photo from Gov. Ralph Northam’s medical-school yearbook showing a man in blackface. Northam initially says he is “deeply sorry” for appearing in the photo; the next day, however, he calls a news conference to declare that he does not believe he is in the photo, although he does recall one time that he was in blackface, that being when he entered a dance contest dressed as Michael Jackson and did the moonwalk. Northam further asserts that he won the contest, and at the request of a reporter appears to be on the verge of demonstrating to the press corps that he can still moonwalk, only to be stopped by his wife. We are not making any of this up.

As pressure builds on Northam to resign, Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax prepares to succeed him, only to become embroiled in a scandal of his own when he is accused of sexual assault. The third person in line is Attorney General Mark Herring, who, several days after calling on Northam to resign for wearing blackface, issues a statement admitting that as a college student he wore blackface when he went to a party as rapper Kurtis Blow. We are still not making this up.

OK, so in some other parts he exaggerates a tad (such as when he says a Trump rally in Orlando was “attended by 246 million people, as confirmed by Fox News”). But the funniest parts really do seem to be, as always, what he has to say about stuff that is, sadly, true.


19 thoughts on “He is not making any of this up. Except maybe some of it…

  1. Brad Warthen Post author

    Oh, about that asteroid Dave reminded us of. The one that just missed the Earth….

    Apparently, the astronomer interviewed by The Washington Post about this was trying to be reassuring when he said:

    First, there’s the issue of size, Duffy said. Asteroid 2019 OK is a sizable chunk of rock, but it’s nowhere near as big as the ones capable of causing an event like the dinosaurs’ extinction. More than 90 percent of those asteroids, which are more than half a mile wide or larger, have already been identified by NASA and its partners.

    “Nothing this size is easy to detect,” Duffy said of Asteroid 2019 OK. ″You’re really relying on reflected sunlight, and even at closest approach it was barely visible with a pair of binoculars.”…

    This does NOTHING to make me feel better.

    My first reaction is, You could see it with binoculars!?!?!?!

    My second reaction is, You haven’t even identified 10 percent of the asteroids out there that might be as destructive as the one that killed the dinosaurs?!?!?!?

    And as long as I’m ranting, being a word guy who greets with suspicion the efforts of number people to claim they know more than they know, I might go on to question how you know you’ve identified 90 percent of the big asteroids, seeing as how you haven’t, you know, identified the rest! You may have only identified 10 percent, or 1 percent, or, since you number people like to project a false sense of precision, 23.276589 percent!

    And even when you come to us and proudly announce that you’ve identified 100 percent of them, how will you know — really know — that there’s not one more out there that you missed?

    1. Brad Warthen

      I also love that they called it “Asteroid 2019 OK.” The last bit is their effort to reassure us that “it’s OK that we didn’t see it until it went whizzing past, close enough to see it with binoculars…”

      1. Doug Ross

        I’ve read pretty much all of Hiaasen’s Florida crime novels. He’s got a great sense of humor. And he should be awarded the Medal of Freedom for writing Strip Tease, which gave us Demi Moore in the movie version.

  2. Bryan Caskey

    Dave Barry is a national treasure. I loved this part:

    “In entertainment news, millions of Netflix users are watching Martin Scorsese’s film “The Irishman,” a sweeping epic that begins in the 1950s and ends at some point after you fall asleep on the sofa, because the running time is longer than veterinary school. Nobody, including Scorsese, has ever actually made it to the end of “The Irishman,” which takes place in the distant future and is rumored to feature an intergalactic battle between alien space Teamsters.”

    1. Brad Warthen

      I think “longer than veterinary school” is the comparison I was looking for. I’ve only gotten 30 or 40 minutes into it, and it already seems that long…

      1. Doug Ross

        Any critic who puts The Irishman on a top films of the year list is a poseur. It’s okay to say that Scorsese (and Pacino, DeNiro, and Pesci) have lost their fastball… Nobody is rewatching that snoozefest… and yet just the other night I was flipping channels and came across Goodfellas and had to stop and watch the scene where Ray Liotta takes Lorraine Bracco thru the back door of the Copacabana to his front row seat. THAT was excellent direction.

        Wait, it just came to me — Martin Scorsese is the analogy for Joe Biden — a popular old guy who is living on his past fame while all the elitists are still trying to pretend he’s still got it.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          I think that’s a silly analogy, but let’s explore it.

          Some might say Scorcese was at his peak with “Mean Streets” in 1973. It’s a respectable position to take, and anyone could have retired with honor after something like that.

          Fifteen years later, he lets you know he’s not in a rut with “The Last Temptation of Christ.” Love it our hate it, you have to admit the guy’s got range.

          Two years later, WHAM! “Goodfellas.” (And if you liked the Copacabana scene, have you seen the tribute in “Swingers?“) So this is definitely not a guy who’s said all he has to say about the Mob. And wow, as awesome as “Mean Streets” was, this is what a guy with decades of experience under his belt can do. The polish of this film is something to behold.

          Five years later, “Casino.” And you can see how Doug might say at this point, the guy’s past it. He’s repeating himself, and it doesn’t work any more. And doesn’t he know any other actors?

          And then, THIRTY-THREE YEARS after “Mean Streets,” he produces the gem that is “The Departed.” Which I put on the level of “Goodfellas,” if not slightly above.

          So a few years later, he resorts to CGI tricks to get the band back together, and it doesn’t work.

          So what? I’m not giving up on Scorcese….

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            I just noticed something. Scorcese served as director, producer and writer of only three of his feature films: Two were “Mean Streets” and “Goodfellas.”

            Looks like I’d better check out “Silence.” That’s the third. And by the way, it was made in 2016, by which time he should have been washed-up, a has-been, in Doug’s analogy. Another reason for me to see it, to test the theory…

  3. Realist

    Dave Barry, one of my all-time favorites. After reading his take on 2019, one July observation summed up the tone of civility, degradation of order and honor, and the sinking of any moral authority by any Republican or Democrat who engages in finger pointing and name calling one against the other.

    “The president also finds time in his busy July schedule to issue tweets attacking — among other targets — Baltimore, the Federal Reserve, the mayor of San Juan, CNN, the mayor of London, Paul Ryan, Fox News (!) and Sweden, but if we’re going to go into detail on every single one of the president’s Twitter beefs we will never get through this year. Suffice it to say that the Resistance is so frantically busy refuting Trump tweets — this being the activity that consumes 99.9 percent of the Resistance’s time and mental energy — that toward the end of the month prominent Democrats find themselves reflexively defending the integrity and moral righteousness of Al Sharpton.”

    In order to convey a more positive approach to the new year, want to wish everyone one a “Happy New Year”. Prosperous was left out. That will be left up to you to determine whatever definition you want to assign to prosperous.

  4. Bill

    So pass that bottle, now give it here
    There’s so many reasons to drink it dry
    Numb my pain maybe even kill me
    Hey have another one let’s go
    And would you believe
    That it happens more often than not
    And here’s to all the bottles
    That I’ve drunk in my time
    Whatever they were…

  5. Karen Pearson

    To celebrate this 7th day of Christmas, I choose to wonder what that thing sitting atop the ‘state Christmas tree’ is. A Rorschach blotch? An alien from outer space who crashed there? An attack on Christmas by the godless? I’ve looked carefully. It’s not an angel. It’s not a star (unless depicting one going nova, maybe). Perhaps an escapee from the movie “The Blob”? Any thoughts on this weighty question? Are we such a poor state that we can’t afford Christmas decorations on our State tree?

  6. bud

    Some of the things I’d like to see in the new decade:

    1. Universal health care for all to include an end to exorbitant drug prices for necessary drugs such as insulin
    2. Effective gun control laws including a ban on assault weapons
    3. Repeal of the electoral college, voter suppression and other electoral reforms
    4. A dramatic narrowing of income inequality accompanied by an improved standard of living for the poor, working class and middle class
    5. A huge cut in the U.S. military including an end to overseas involvement in the middle east
    6. Effective policies to finally end the population explosion and the side effects of this problem especially global warming
    6. An end to fossil fuels as transportation fuel along with an end to coal usage to generate electricity thereby sharply reducing carbon emissions
    8. An end to Trumpism and the creation of a Republican Party that I could actually respect and maybe consider voting for
    9. A comprehensive, compassionate immigration policy
    10. An end to animal cruelty especially the slaughter of big game animals
    11. An end to hate crimes
    12. A big decline in student loan debt along with affordable college for all who are qualified. For those who aren’t college bound a general availability of trade schools
    13. An end to discrimination against women and an end to sexual assault
    14. A final codification of the right to choose
    15. An effective approach to mental illness treatment
    16. A nation and world that accepts MLKs concept of judging people by the content of their character and not by race, religion, creed or other irrelevant factors
    17. An end to nuclear proliferation

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Bud’s No. 5, as ill-advised as it may be, reminds me of something I heard on the radio this morning that gave me a bit of hope.

      A woman was talking about how, in this election year, Trump really, really wants to fulfill his campaign promise of disengaging militarily. She was speaking of Afghanistan in particular. (This of course puts the Taliban in the driver’s seat because they KNOW he wants that, but that’s not what this comment is about… but in the meantime, if you’re interested, read Trudy Rubin’s piece about America’s retreat from the world.)

      What I liked was the way she spoke of it. I’m not going to go back and listen to all of The Takeaway to get the exact quote, but basically she said something like something about Trump’s promise to “withdraw American troops from foreign war zones.”

      What’s good about that? She did NOT say, “end the war in Afghanistan.”

      This is good because too often people in broadcast media, and sometimes those in print, echo the rhetoric of the Wishful Thinkers by saying something like “end the war in Afghanistan.” When all they really mean is end American involvement in the war that, with us out of it, will certainly continue until our adversaries triumph. Like Vietnam. For two years after we “ended” that war, the fighting continued, until our allies were utterly crushed and subjugated. (Oh, and I’m not saying we didn’t need to get out of Vietnam. But we should speak realistically about what it was we were doing.)

      She was being honest about what was under discussion. I appreciate that…

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