December, 2013 – Cantankerously Yours


Cantankerously YoursWendell Abern - Cantankerously Yours

Seventh Annual Scroogie Awards

By Wendell Abern

Dear Revelers,

Happy holidays to you all! Scroogies are awards I inaugurated in 2006, as an homage to my idol and favorite role model, Ebeneezer Scrooge. This happens to be my favorite column to write all year, because I don’t feel constrained to be funny — merely nasty.

I award Scroogies only to those who have proved themselves worthy through acts of inconsiderateness, boorishness, stupidity, arrogance, or any other trait that just plain rankles me and deserves my curmudgeonly wrath.

And each year, I confront the same major problem: hundreds of worthy candidates, limited space to include them all. Following are this year’s very  deserving winners:

            1 – The Tea Party.

Ordinarily, as a favor to my editors, I avoid writing anything political.  However, this collection of obstructive blackmailers is such a runaway, I could not exclude them.  We should all be grateful to The Tea Party for providing us with living object lessons of the kind of politicians we should vote for only if they run for Dog Catcher.

Special mention goes to Senator Ted Cruz, who, on returning to his home town of Houston, said, “It’s nice to be back in America.” Oh, shut up.

2 – Spirit Airlines.  An open letter.

Dear Spirit: I bought into your “inexpensive” con game.  I even signed up for your hoop-de-doo credit card that automatically gave me 15,000 free miles.  Fifteen thousand free miles! Wow! That’s three round-trip flights to Chicago! 

Then I developed severe migraines trying to navigate through your website, which was clearly designed by the same wizards who created the National Health Care software.

Then I discovered I could only fly free when you permitted it, which eliminated the entire summer and every national holiday.  Then I took my first free flight, which cost me $146 by the time I got through paying for my overhead bag, my seat reservations and a few other incidental items.

And just today, as I was reading the paper, you managed to augment my frustration. The headline, “Spirit’s profits soar in quarter.”  This infuriating article quoted CEO Ben Baldanza as saying, “It is becoming clear that Spirit’s customers understand that our ultra-low fares plus optional services offer them a total price that’s tough to beat.”

Oh, really? I just took out my calculator and determined I will not be able to afford my next free flight.

3 – Sportscasters.

I watch a lot of ball games, and realized long ago that it is too much to expect professional athletes to be able to conjugate verbs, even though many of them have college degrees.

But somehow I thought professional sportscasters knew something about our language.  Heard this year during broadcasts of baseball, football and basketball games, college and professional:

“Without that tackle, he might have ran for a touchdown.”

“He shouldn’t have did that.”

“If he had tooken that pitch, he would have walked.”

Tooken!  He actually used the word, “tooken.”

I have deliberately omitted the names of the guilty broadcasters, lest I give my editors heartburn.

4 – Novelist Iris Johansen.

Fine writer. I’ve read several of her thrillers. Last week, I picked up her most recent effort, “Taking Eve.”  Eve gets kidnapped by a psychopath, and after 341 pages is escaping his clutches.  But he is closing in on her as she races down a mountain.  Suddenly, the book ends.  It ends with no conclusion! And on the page adjoining the last page is an announcement:  “Coming November 13, 2013, ‘Finding Eve.’”

Many of you know that last year I named Lisa Jackson the first inductee in my Scroogie Hall of Fame for her book entitled, “Left to Die” ,,, which ends with the author telling the reader if he/she wants to know what happens, buy her next book.     

And now Ms. Johansen has perpetrated the same evil trick.  Is this some new marketing ploy by publishing companies?  Or has Lisa Jackson contaminated the entire literary world?

5 – Elderly drivers.

Yeah, yeah, I know all about the fact that I’m elderly and I’m a driver. However, unlike many of my compatriots, I actually know how to drive. Meanwhile, there are a gazillion older drivers down here who never exceed twelves miles an hour, and I’ve driven behind every one of them.

6 – Commercial Vacuums, Inc. and Ase Communications.

I wrestled with myself for many weeks over these two nominees. Initially, I was in awe of their incredible accomplishment: they had figured out a heretofore unheard-of way to make money by charging people for using air!

But eventually, my anger over having to pay 75 cents to fill my tires won out.  They are definitely worthy of Scroogies.

7 – Borbick.

For those of you unfamiliar with this tyrant, he is the miniaturized terrorist who lives inside my computer. This last month, he outdid himself, frying my hard drive on a year-old computer and necessitating purchase of a new computer.

Brad, my computer expert, explained that my computer failed because of all the “flickers” that occur in our neighborhood. All power goes off for perhaps two or three seconds.  Everything shuts down. “Worst thing in the world for electronic components,” he said.  “You should file a claim with FPL.”

I have done so and am waiting to hear.  Meanwhile, Brad is completely unaware that the real culprit is Borbick.

8 – People Magazine.

Once again, I was not named one of the 100 most beautiful people in the world. Nor was I even mentioned in the list of “World’s Sexiest Men.”

In retaliation, I have arranged to send Borbick and an elite group of his terrorists to infect all of your computers.

Cantankerously Yours,

Wendell Abern

Wendell Abern can be reached at