Welcome to My Final Blog of 2016 Featuring the Best of the Best and the Worst of the Worst!
What a year! Glad it’s almost over. I’m working hard to finish this year-end blog tonight before they Drop the Ball (No, I’m not talking about the election!) Over 24,000 people signed up to read 10 Minutes of Brilliance. Our best year ever! But let’s get right into our last post of the year. Today, we’ll cover:
1. The Bravest Man in America 2017
2. The Worst American Company 2017 (Spoiler Alert: I don’t want to give away who won this shameful award for the second year in a row, but I will tell you this, the company’s name rhymes with Fells Wargo!)
3. Best Trump Parody
4. The Worst Congress Ever (Until the next one)
5. The 10 Rules for Being Human-the most requested blog post since 2010
6. Best New Restaurant (New to Me): Nom Wah Tea Parlor
STAN: Damn, Harriet, he did it again!
HARRIET: What are you talking about Stan?
STAN: Goldman. Goldstein. Goldenbloom. You know, what’s-his-name. The guy who writes this blog.
HARRIET: You mean Jack Goldenberg?
STAN: That’s the one. That B*st*rd is taking credit for the writing 10 Minutes of Brilliance. Everyone knows his Readers wouldn’t give a damn about this blog if it weren’t for ME! And my charm, comedic humor and great looks.
HARRIET: Stan, for the last time. You are NOT real. Jack writes everything you say. You are just an imaginary character.
STAN: Yeah, right. And next I suppose you’re gonna tell me that the guy from The Apprentice is President of the Free World.
HARRIET: Nah, that would be too scary to even think about.
7. Oh, I almost forgot. We’ll of course have some words from our resident imaginary characters, STAN and HARRIET.
And now, let’s go right into our last blog of the year:
Meet Yuri Gridnyev, the Bravest Man in America 2017
As a certified optimist, I’ve always tried to make my year-end blogs on 10 Minutes of Brilliance upbeat and positive. But as years go, 2016 was pretty ugly. (Do I have to remind you of that?) Sure, there were positive things I could mention, but there was no singular personal event that imbued me with hope for the New Year.
Then a couple days ago, it hit me. In fact, it was staring me right in the face. Literally. I had just met the bravest man in America. Yuri Gridnyev.
Now the Ukranian-born Yuri is not a policeman, fireman or a member of our military. He hasn’t pulled any children out of cars that just burst into flame. But he is my symbolic choice for the bravest man in America 2017. Without a job, a place to live or more than two month’s meager living expenses, he moved his wife, Olena (aka Helen), and their nine year-old son, Bogdan, to The New World, America.
Like a lot of my friends I have never met, Yuri and I met online. I’m a Copywriter and he’s an Art Director, an exceptionally talented Art Director, so he was my natural counterpart. We met through LinkedIn (Damn, I knew it was good for something!) and hit it off instantly. Since the only word I can say in Ukranian is “Ukraine,” we spoke in English.
While Yuri’s English is quite good, until he met me, he’d never spoken to an American before, so I presented quite a challenge. If you’ve ever met me or if we spoke, you know that I’m what Larry David would call a “fast talker.”
How fast? Well, when I said something to Yuri, I’msureitmusthavesoundedlikethis!
Yuri told me he’s been dreaming about coming to America since 1992. Three years ago, Yuri applied for a Green Card to work in the USA. If he were wealthy, he could have bought a Green Card for a princely sum. But instead, he had to wait until he won a special American lottery which afforded him the right to leave his home country and work in the US.
When Yuri told me he wanted to start a new life in America, I championed his decision. But when he said, “I want to move to America with no problems,” I cautioned him that wouldn’t be possible. Changing your entire lifestyle, home, job, living quarters, language and more is bound to be fraught with roadblocks. But Yuri was determined to give his family a better life and nothing would stop him from trying.
Apparently, news of King Trump’s victory had never reached the former Russian city.
Even winning the Green Card and the right to work in America, Yuri’s victory was far from complete. He was forced to leave his oldest son, Vitaly, in the Ukraine since he was over 21 and considered an adult. So his “victory” at this point was still bittersweet.
Not divine. Not a hotel. And definitely not the Riviera.
When Yuri chose where he was going to spend his first night in America, he wanted to be close to New York since he hoped to get a job in Manhattan. But the high cost of NYC lodging meant he had to start off his American journey in New Jersey.
An upscale room in Manhattan costs about twice what the average Ukranian makes in a month. So, he thought Newark might fit the bill. And what better place to see all the New World has to offer than the swanky, not so aptly named, Divine Hotel Riviera.
I mean no offense to the people forced by circumstance to reside at the Divine Hotel Riviera, but that dump (I taught Bogdan a new word, “dump.”), that hotel, that dump, was neither Divine. Nor a hotel. Nor the Riviera. Really no one reading this blog would feel safe stepping foot inside the Divine Hotel Riviara, much less spending the night there. The Divine Hotel Riviera is so scary, the guard dogs have guard dogs.
And so the next morning, when I met my three new Ukranian friends in their room. It was pretty evident that none of them slept in the beds and when I asked them how their dinner was the night before, they said they hadn’t eaten anything since their flight to America. And yet they were all full of hope because they were finally in here.
Since Yuri’s goal was to get a job in America, the first thing we did after having his first meal in the U.S. was to search out an American cell phone so he could accept calls from recruiters. He had a good reason to assume he’d soon be in contact with a number of them. From his home country, Yuri contacted over 60 recruiters and 15 said they’d like to meet him when he arrived in the states. That’s a direct reflection on how talented and passionate Yuri is.
I never saw the letters Yuri used to entice recruiters to interview him. But I have a feeling that his indomitable spirit came through based on the emails he sent to me. When I brought up the roadblocks he would have to overcome to get his first American job, he wrote back, “I understand this is a lot to do. But we will solve our issues one by one. That will open the way to BIG things. It will be in such way because two VERY CREATIVE HEADS are involved in this.”
Then he added, “Every new morning gives us new hope. Our mission is to make our dreams come true, right?”
So even with a majority of the U.S. population viewing 2017 with some trepidation, there will are bright spots in our future — even in the coming year. Because millions of other brave immigrants like Yuri continue to flock to America to make their dreams come true.
Wells Fargo Pulls Off a Repeat. Worst Company in America 2016 and 2017
I know what you’re thinking.
STAN: That’s impossible. How could Goldman know what I’m thinking?
HARRIET: Not you, STAN, Jack wasn’t talking to you. He was talking to his Readers.
HARRIET: And his name is not Goldman, STAN, it’s Goldenberg. Jack Goldenberg.
STAN: Goldman? Goldfarb? Goldenstein? What the difference?
HARRIET: Look, STAN, I wouldn’t be such a wise guy if I were you.
STAN: Yeah, why not?
HARRIET: Because Jack will kick you off the blog. You know, you’re not real, STAN. You’re just someone Jack made up. For comic relief.
STAN: So you think I’m funny, huh, HARRIET? You think I have wit?
HARRIET: Yes, STAN, you’re a real wit. A nitwit actually.
STAN: See Harriet, I knew you were starting to fall for me.
HARRIET: All right, STAN, that’s just enough. Now, let Jack finish. He’s trying to get this blog up before 2017.
STAN: I’m not stopping him.
HARRIET: You can say that again.
STAN: I’m not stopping him.
HARRIET: I didn’t really mean…Oh, never mind. Just shut your pie hole and let Jack continue.
Where was I? Oh yeah, I was sayin’ that you (my Readers) must be wondering how I can give out 2017 Awards when the year is just starting?
Well, I only give out awards to deserving recipients. And what Wells Fargo did in 2016 was so evil, malicious and anti-consumer that I think it’s fair to carry over the award for their maleficent behavior to 2017.
What did Wells Fargo do to deserve such an ignominious (look it up!) reputation? For years, Wells Fargo management forced their employees to commit illegal acts or risk losing their job because they didn’t meet sales quotas. Wells Fargo employees opened up over 1.5 million deposit account their customers hadn’t asked for. Wells Fargo employees also submitted applications for over half a million credit card accounts without their customers knowledge or consent.
This resulted in overcharging customers almost half a million dollars in annual fees, interest charges and overdraft-protection. But that wasn’t all. After they were caught, they agreed to stop the management practices that led to these abuses by the end of the year! BY THE END OF THE YEAR!
In other words, they wanted to continue their abusive behavior for another couple months, THEN they would come clean.
Finally, when that caused a new scandal, they agreed to stop their illegal, abusive activities immediately.
Oh, but that’s not all! Over a couple years, they fired over 5,000 employees for cheating their customers, but not one member of the management team who orchestrated the illegal activity received even a reprimand. Hell, they probably got bonuses for creating their ill-gotten gains.
So it is with great pride (and a heap of disgust) that 10 Minutes of Brilliance awards Wells Fargo The Worst Company of 2017.
Next, the best Trump Parody (not counting the next four years in office)
The TRUMP Who Stole Christmas
By John Pavlovitz – with apologies to Dr. Seuss
(accompanying artwork from various artists)
In a land where the states are united, they claim
In a sky-scraping tower adorned with his name
Lived a terrible, horrible, devious chump
The bright orange miscreant known as the Trump.
This Trump he was mean, such a mean little man
With the tiniest heart and two tinier hands
And a thin set of lips etched in permanent curl
With a sneer and a scowl and contempt for the world.
He looked down from his perch and he grinned ear to ear
And he thought, “I could steal the election this year
It’d be rather simple, it’s so easily won
I’ll just make them believe that their best days are done!
Yes, I’ll make them believe that it’s all gone to Hell
And when I am done, their souls they will sell.
I’ll use lots of words disconnected from truth
But I’ll say them with style so they won’t ask for proof
I’ll toss out random platitudes, phrases, and such
They’re so raised on fake news, it won’t matter much!
They won’t question the how, or the what, why, or when
I will make their America great once again!”
The Trump told them to fear, they should fear he would say
“They’ve come for your jobs, they’ll take them away.
You should fear every Muslim and Mexican too
Every brown, black, and tan one, everyone who votes Blue
And he fooled all the Christians, he fooled them indeed
He just trotted out Jesus, that’s all Jesus folks need
And celebrity preachers they crowned him as king
Tripping over themselves just to kiss the Trump’s ring.
And he spoke only lies just as if they were true
Until they believed that those lies were true, too
He repeated and Tweeted and he blustered and spit,
And he mislead and fibbed—and he just made up sh*t.
And the media laughed but they printed each line,
Thinking “He’ll never will win, in the end we’ll be fine.”
So they chased every headline, bold typed every claim,
‘Till the fake news and real news they looked just the same.
And the scared folk who listened, they devoured each word,
Yes, they ate it all up every word that they heard
Petrified that their freedom was under attack,
Trusting Trump he would take their America back.
From the gays and from ISIS, he’d take it all back
Take it back from the Democrats, fat cats, and blacks.
And so hook, line, and sinker they all took the bait
All his lies about making America great.
Now the Pant-suited One she was smart and prepared,
She was brilliant and steady but none of them cared,
No they cared not to see all the work that she’d done
Or the fact they the Trump had not yet done thing one.
They could only shout “Emails!”, yes “Emails!” they’d shout,
Because Fox News had told them—and Fox News had clout.
And the Pant-suited One she was slandered no end
And a lie became truth she could never defend.
And the Trump watched it all go according to plan
A strong woman eclipsed by an insecure man.
And November the 8th arrived, finally it came
Like a slow-moving storm but it came just the same.
And Tuesday became Wednesday as those days will do,
And the night turned to morning and the nightmare came true
With millions of non-voters still in their beds,
Yes, the Trump he had done it, just like he had said.
And the Trumpers they trumped, how they trumped when he won
All the racists and bigots; deplorable ones
They crawled out from the woodwork, came out to raise Hell
They came out to be hateful and hurtful as well.
With slurs and with road signs, with spray paint and Tweets
With death threats to neighbors and taunts on the street
And the grossest of grossness they hurled on their peers
While the Trump he said zilch—for the first time in years
But he Tweeted at Hamilton, he Tweeted the Times
And he trolled Alec Baldwin a few hundred times
And he pouted a pout like a petulant kid
Thinking this is what Presidents actually did
Thinking he could still be a perpetual jerk
Terrified to learn he had to actually work
Work for every American, not just for a few
Not just for the white ones—there was much more to do.
He now worked for the Muslims and Mexicans too,
For the brown, black, and tan ones,and the ones who vote blue.
They were all now his bosses, now they all had a say,
And those nasty pant-suited ones were here to stay.
And the Trump he soon realized that he didn’t win
He had gotten the thing—and the thing now had him
And it turned out the Trump was a little too late
For America was already more than quite great
Not because of the sameness, the opposite’s true
It’s greatness far more than just red, white, and blue
It’s straight, gay, and female—it’s Gentile and Jew
It’s Transgender and Christian and Atheist too.
It’s Asians, Caucasians of every kind
The disabled and abled, the deaf and the blind
It’s immigrants, Muslims, and brave refugees
It’s Liberals with bleeding hearts fixed to their sleeves
Yes we are all staying, we’re staying right here
And we’ll be challenge the Trump for all four years
We will be twice as loud as the loudness of hate
Be the greatness that makes our America great
And the Trump’s loudest boasts they won’t ever obscure
Over two million more of us—voted for her.
The 114th Congress: The Worst Congress Ever (for Now)
You know how people used to say that the First President Bush, George Herbert Walker Bush, was a terrible President? Then along came the Second President Bush, George W. Bush, and suddenly the first President Bush wasn’t such a bad President after all.
Well, the same analogy applies to the 114th and 115th Congresses. The 114th Congress is considered the Worst Congress Ever because they were the Do Nothing Congress. But pretty soon, when the new Congress takes office, the 115th Congress, we’ll look back on the 114th Congress fondly and wish they were still in office.
Because when we say HELLO to the 115th Congress, we can say GOODBYE to serious work on climate change, healthcare for All Americans, equal pay for women, women being able to control their own bodies, clean air and water, voting rights for minorities, fair immigration reform, and sane gun control rights.
The 10 Rules for Being Human by Dr Cherie Carter-Scott, from “If Life is a Game, these are the Rules”
1. You will receive a body. You may like it or hate it, but it’s the only thing you are sure to keep for the rest of your life. So take care of it. You’re not getting another.
2. You will learn lessons.
You are enrolled in a full-time informal school called “Life.” Each day in this school, you will have the opportunity to learn lessons. You may like the lessons or hate them, but you have designed them as part of your curriculum.
3. There are no mistakes, only lessons.
Growth is a process of experimentation, a series of trials, errors and occasional victories. The failed experiments are as much as a part of the process as the experiments that work.
4. A lesson is repeated until learned.
Lessons will be repeated by you in various forms until you have learned them. When you have learned them, you can go on to the next lesson.
5. Learning lessons does not end.
There is no part of life that does not contain lessons. If you are alive, there are lessons to be learned.
6. “There” is no better than “here”.
When your “there” has become “here,” you will simply obtain another “there” that will look better to you than “here.”
7. Others are only mirrors of you.
You cannot love or hate something about another unless it reflects something you love or hate about yourself.
8. What you make of your life is up to you.
You have all the tools and resources you need to succeed. What you do with them is up to you.
9. Your answers lie inside you.
The answers to Life’s questions lie inside you. All you need to do is look, listen, and trust.
10. You will forget all this.
You can remember any time you wish.
Harriett: Stan you’re crying.
Stan: I’m crying because that was so…beautiful.
Harriet: It was.
Stan: I kept waiting for the joke, the punchline.
Harriet: I’ll give you a punchline, Stan! How’d you like a nice Hawaiian punch?
HARRIET GIVES STAN A NICE HAWAIIAN PUNCH. STAN GOES FLYING OFF THE BLOG.
HARRIET HAS A SHEEPISH LOOK ON HER FACE. SHE RUNS OFF THE BLOG SEARCHING FOR STAN.
Nom Wah Tea Parlor The Best “New” Restaurant 2016 (Well, new to me)
When Thanksgiving 2016 rolled around, only four of us were scheduled to attend. I can’t tell you the names of who I dined with because Peggy, Jessica and Eric don’t want to be mentioned in my blog.With the rest of our family scattered over the Eastern Seaboard, it didn’t make sense to have a traditional Thanksgiving Day dinner with turkey, cranberry sauce and stuffing. So instead, we drove to the city and had a great Thanksgiving Dinner at the Now Wah Tea Parlor in Chinatown, NY.
Nom Wah Tea Parlor first opened at 13–15 Doyers Street in 1920 as a bakery and tea parlor. For most of the 20th century, Nom Wah served as neighborhood staple, offering fresh Chinese pastries, steamed buns, dim sum, and tea.
After it lost its lease at 15 Doyers in 1968, the restaurant moved into a brand new kitchen next door, occupying 11-13 Doyers Street ever since. Eventually, the restaurant became most famous for its almond cookie, lotus paste, and red bean filling, which is used for moon cake during the Chinese autumn festival.
Everything we ate was great. And the dim sum was the best I’ve ever had!
Our Thanksgiving Dinner at Nom Wah was delicious and fun. Here’s a sampling of what we ate for our traditional T-Day Dinner:
Well, Readers, Thanks for hanging around until the end. We hope that 2017 is a healthy, happy and prosperous year for you and that you’ll put up with us for a little while longer. We promise to write shorter blogs.
STAN: Damn, I hope so. This blog went on forever.
HARRIET: You can say that again, Stan.
STAN: Damn, this blog went on forever.
HARRIET: All right, all right, that’s quite enough. Now say Goodnight, Stan.
STAN: Goodnight, Stan.
HARRIET: Happy New Year, Readers! And HAPPY Imaginary New Year to all you imaginary characters out there, too!