The good and the bad.
For every story in 2016 that rattled your faith in our species, there was also one to inspire.
• Stupid is as stupid does - Swimmer Ryan Lochte pulled a boozy, Rio all-nighter (captured on security cameras), then made matters worse with his deceitful brain farts, “over-exaggerating” stories, and strong-arming of teammates. Soon afterwards, he was stripped of his Speedo and 3 other endorsement deals.
• Lou Marsh would have been proud - Swimmer Penny Oleksiak faced the wall at the end of each race to gather her composure before turning to glance at the clock. Her smiles and reactions were the pinnacle of the games and the very definition of wholesome.
• Putting on airs and graces? – Toronto United Church minister Gretta Vosper fought to hang on to her position in spite of not believing in Jesus, God or much of anything. The uhmm… “Reverend” is not a Christian who suffers from bouts of doubt – but a very public atheist. I have no problem with her views, but for God’s sake, put your money where your mouth is and choose a new vocation. Had she been an employee of the SPCA, I suppose she’d be leading the fight for puppy mills.
• I’ll take “Heroic” for two thousand, Alex - Cindy Stowell, of Austin, Texas, had a lifelong dream come true when she became a contestant on Jeopardy. At the time of taping in August, her opponents were unaware that she had been diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. She passed away on December 5 prior to airing – all of her winnings (more than $123K US) donated to cancer research.
• I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now - Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize for literature and then behaved like a Jokerman. For weeks he chose to not return messages and then literally mailed in his acceptance speech.
• Hey, that’s the way to say Goodbye - Leonard Cohen passed away shortly after releasing an exquisite and foreshadowing album. He was deferential, humble, and poetic in his final interviews.
• Anybody seen my baby? - Rolling Stones frontman and great-grandfather Mick Jagger is a dad again at age 72. Jagger and ballerina girlfriend Melanie Hamrick welcomed Deveraux Octavian Basil Jagger Dec. 8 (his eighth child and her first). In 1986 (almost two years before Hamrick’s birth), The Stones were awarded a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
• Courage - The Tragically Hip announced a tour of Canadian cities. Lead singer Gord Downey’s terminal brain cancer diagnosis did not hold him back as he worked tirelessly to raise awareness for Canada’s aboriginal peoples. The tour’s final gig in hometown Kingston attracted one third of all Canadians for the CBC’s live broadcast.
• Playing with matches - Two teenagers have been charged with aggravated arson in connection with the wildfires that ravaged two East Tennessee resort towns, killing 14 people and leaving nearly 150 others injured and damaging or destroying more than 2,400 properties.
• Rising to the occasion - The wildfire that forced nearly 90,000 to flee the Fort McMurray region and burned thousands of homes to the ground was so ferocious and unpredictable that it was nicknamed the Beast. Within six months of the fire, the Red Cross raised $319-million between donations and matching government funds – the largest domestic appeal in the organization’s history.
Ted Markle, a media industry veteran of more than 30 years, is a keen observer of the humorous side of the human situation. He appears in this space every Monday. You can reach him at email@example.com. – Twitter : @tedmarkle