December, 2015 – Ninth Annual Scroogie Awards


Cantankerously Yours

Ninth Annual Scroogie AwardsWendell Abern - Cantankerously Yours

By Wendell Abern

Dear Holiday Revelers,

Happy holidays to you all!

Scroogies are awards I inaugurated in 2006, as 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 – Donald Trump.

Yeah, yeah, I know:  too easy, too obvious.  However, it is not The Donald’s rhetoric or bombast that has incurred my disgust, but the fact that he has denigrated our entire electoral process.

Single-handedly, Trump has made the election of an American president look like a carnival side show.

2 – The political press.

          You have been so deftly manipulated by Mr. Trump that it has never dawned on you that his real motive is to make you all look like fools. And won’t you be surprised next spring when he says, “Hey, you guys, I was only kidding; I just wanted this all to look like a carnival side show!”

3 – My bridge partners.

          A few weeks ago, I developed some kind of problem with my voice. I felt fine, but as soon as I spoke, I sounded like an airplane taking off. In a whisper, I announced to my bridge partners that I thought I had laryngitis, so I wouldn’t be talking very much.

They all cheered.

4 – The Veteran’s Administration, newest member of my prestigious Scroogie Hall of Fame.

For those of you already familiar with my travails with our illustrious VA, I invite you to once again step through the Looking Glass with me and take another dizzying whirl through Wonderland.

Late April:

“I’m sorry, sir, but you are no longer eligible for benefits. We have no record of you having served active duty.”

“What!? I served on a heavy cruiser! I was seasick for two years!”

“You’ll have to contact Archives for your discharge papers.”

“I sent my discharge papers to Miami 15 years ago!”

“You’ll have to call them, sir.”

Early May, I call Miami and talk to a young woman.

I ask, “Who do I have to sleep with to be declared eligible again?

“We need to see your discharge papers.”

“You have my discharge papers! I sent them to you fifteen years ago! That’s how I became eligible for benefits in the first place!”

“I’m sorry, sir, we have no record of that.”

I make copies of my discharge papers and mail them to Miami. Ten days later, a pleasant young woman calls and tells me I am once again eligible for benefits.

I thank her and say, “Can you tell me why the discharge papers I sent you fifteen years ago did not suffice?”

“We lost them.”

5 – My fellow condo owners.

          I live in a very small condo association; Only 62 owners.

However, some owners have found loopholes in our contract agreements, and have been renting out their units for substantial amounts of time.

To prevent this, our board’s lawyers drew up an amended contract, created to close said loopholes; in order to pass this new amendment, we all had to attend a meeting and sign the new document. We needed 40 signatures.

Eight of us showed up.

Another meeting has been called for some time next month. In order to make sure my fellow owners understand the seriousness of this issue, I have rented out my condo to Donald Trump.

6 – My old friend, Bernie.

          I recently visited Chicago. Saw my kids, my grandkids and a lot of old pals. Including Bernie, the first friend I ever had in Chi, and long overdue for a Scroogie.

We moved to the city in 1943, when I was ten. I came with 1,387 marbles, including 37 glassie boulders and 56 peewee glassies.

My first day there, I met Bernie, who was a year younger. We were both holding a bag of marbles.

“Wanna play?” he asked.

“Sure,” I said.

“Ten marbles a game?”

I had been the playground champion in Omaha, Fargo and Pierre, South Dakota.

“How ‘bout 20 marbles?” I asked.

“I don’t know … “

He was scared. I had him.


“Okay,” he grumbled. “Twenty marbles.”

We started play, and just as I was ready to nail his shooter with mine, Bernie shouted, “Moundsies!”

“What’s that?” I asked.

“You didn’t say, ‘No moundsies.’ I get to build a mound in front of your shooter.”

He built the mound. And won the game.

“Okay,” I said, refusing to believe I was being hustled by a nine-year old, “This time we play for 50 marbles.”

Bernie shrugged.

This time, as I prepared to shoot, I said, ‘No moundsies.’ I knelt in the dirt and Bernie yelled out, ‘Sticksies!’”

“What the hell is ‘Sticksies?’”

“I get to pile sticks in front of your shooter.”

Inside of one week, Bernie had every single marble I’d ever won.

However, that’s not really the reason Bernie has earned a Scroogie.

Bernie is one of those people who screwed up his life by taking a lot of wrong turns. Today, he is an internationally-known psychologist, author of three books on psychology and Chair of the Psychology Department at UCLA.

What a shame. He could have been the greatest con artist in history.

Cantankerously Yours,

Wendell Abern


Wendell Abern can be reached at