DAILY DIRT: Blow out the candles, Daily Dirt reaches 1,000! 

Cheers-Leonardo-DiCaprio

Leo says "Here's to 1,000 Daily Dirts!"

Steve Eighinger and MRN Publisher J. Robert Gough discussed the origins of “Daily Dirt” on MRN This Week.

When we first started this daily journey, I had no idea where it might lead. Some 1,000 days later, I still have no idea where we are going, but this crazy trip has — and will always be — an enjoyable adventure … Welcome to today’s three thoughts that make up Vol. 1,000 of The Daily Dirt.

1. And they said it wouldn’t last …

Today we acknowledge the 1,000th edition of the Daily Dirt and its continued celebration of movies, TV programs, mass media in general, sports and overall nonsense.

I felt the best way we could pay tribute to this momentous occasion is to look back on 10 of our favorite topics over the past 2 1/2-plus years. If you’re a regular reader, you already know how much we enjoys lists, and today is no exception.

In no particular order:

1. Unusual town names: Since the dawn of The Daily Dirt, we have found great joy in bizarre city names across our great country and around the world: Here are a few examples:

There are six American towns named Turkey. They are in West Virginia, Texas, Kentucky, Arkansas, Ohio and North Carolina.

  • Boring, Oregon
  • Cheesequake, New Jersey
  • Condom, France
  • Fart, Virginia
  • My Large Intestine, Texas
  • Nowhere Else, Tasmania, Australia
  • Sexi, Santa Cruz, Peru
  • Toad Suck, Arkansas
  • Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, Australia

2. Celebrity birthdays: The Daily Dirt has always liked to wish many of our favorite entertainers around the world a happy birthday. This was one particular group earlier this year that ranked as one of our favorites, all turning 60 in 2024.

  • Eddie Vedder: Pearl Jam lead singer’s work on “Last Kiss” was/is/will always be legendary.
  • Sandra Bullock: Only pre-cosmetic surgery Meg Ryan ranked higher than Sandra on my list of female movie favorites in the early and mid-1990s.
  • Nicolas Cage: Always a bit eccentric, the actor has used his fortune to buy such things as two islands in the Bahamas, a dinosaur skull, a pet octopus and 15 homes around the world. 
  • Mariska Hargitay: I’ve been married to The Little Woman since 1998. Marisa Hargittay has been the star of “Law and Order: SVU” since 1999. Coincidence?
  • Laura Linney: Her best role ever? When she played Sarah in “Love Actually”.
  • Courtney Cox: She was 30 when “Friends” debuted in 1994.
  • Wynonna Judd: Best Wynonna song? That’s easy: “I Saw The Light”.
  • Keanu Reeves: He has never smiled. Really, he has NEVER smiled.

3. Found on Facebook: We love Facebook, especially what other people say on the social media giant, such as:

  • “Taking naps is so childish. I prefer to call them horizontal life pauses.”
  • “My favorite part of winter is watching it on TV … from Florida.”
  • “I know everything happens for a reason, but sometimes I wish I knew what that reason was.”
  • “Did you know replacing your potato chips with grapefruit as a snack that you can lose up to 90 percent of what little joy you have left in your life?”
  • “I’m thankful for all the different ways I can eat potatoes”.
  • “Tip: How to keep brownies fresh? Eat them all in one sitting”.
  • “When the waitress asked if I wanted my pizza cut into four or eight slices, I said, ‘Four. I don’t think I can eat eight.'”
  • “Marilyn Manson looks like Nicolas Cage disguised as Marilyn Manson.”
  • “My neighbor suggested I put cow manure on my strawberries, Tried it. I’m going back to whipped cream.”

4. Chuck Norris: Man, myth, legend? There is only one Chuck Norris, and he has always held a seat of great respect on The Daily Dirt. The following may be our 10 favorite references to The Man:

  • Santa Claus DID exist, until Chuck Norris stopped believing in him.
  • Chuck Norris was killed yesterday. Today, he’s feeling much better.
  • Chuck Norris went to a feminist rally, and came back with his shirt ironed and a sandwich.
  • Chuck Norris doesn’t turn on the shower, he just stares at it until it cries.
  • When Chuck Norris pays with his credit card, HE gets the money.
  • Chuck Norris can cook minute rice in 30 seconds.
  • Chuck Norris can clap with one hand.
  • Time waits for no man, unless that man is Chuck Norris.
  • How many pullups can Chuck Norris do? All of them.
  • Chuck Norris does not have a reflection. Mirrors are just too afraid to copy him.

5. License plates: Since its inception, The Daily Dirt has posted what staff members feel have been the most entertaining license plates found in West-Central Illinois and Northeast Missouri. Here’s a handful of those faves:

  • OH DEER 4
  • BOOYAH
  • LUV YADI
  • GOL D LOX
  • TAXED
  • CO XIST
  • BE A BETH
  • GEM CITI
  • U DRUNK

6. Around the world: Major world events have always been a point of interest for us here at The Daily Dirt. The following is an example of why Dec. 17 is always significant:

  • 1903: Orville and Wilbur Wright made the first successful man-powered airplane flight, near Kitty Hawk, N.C.
  • 1964: The James Bond film “Goldfinger,” starring Sean Connery as Agent 007 and Honor Blackman as Pussy Galore, premiered in London.
  • 1965: The Astrodome opened in Houston with a Judy Garland concert. The opening act? Diana Ross and the Supremes.
  • 1989: “The Simpsons” premiered on the Fox Network.

7. Strange signs: Signs, like license plates, can often be creative and The Daily Dirt appreciates a good message board or bumper sticker as much as the next guy. The following were posted by real people who obviously had a sense of humor — and a big sign:

  • “My housekeeping style can best be described as ‘there appears to have been a struggle’.”
  • “My wife thought our kids were spoiled, but I think most kids smell like that.”
  • “Respect your parents. They passed high school without Google.”
  • “Shoutout to anyone who got through today with a nap. Pulling an all-dayer is tough.”
  • “Who is Pete, and why do we do things for his sake?”
  • “Bad decisions make great stories.”
  • “My favorite winter activity is going back inside where it is warm.”
  • “When is ‘old enough to know better’ supposed to kick in?”
  • “I used to be a crastinator, but then I decided to go pro.”

8. Movies: Films are always a hot topic on The Daily Dirt, especially those from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. Here were the top three films from each decade that we shared earlier this year:

1960s

1. “Goldfinger” (1964): This was the film that established secret agent James Bond (Sean Connery) as a must-see product at the box office. By today’s standards, many of the special effects and overall storylines were rather elementary when compared to today’s secret agent storytelling, but no other family friendly movie —  before or after — has ever had a main character with a name close to Pussy Galore, the Ian Fleming gangstress portrayed by Honor Blackman (which, in its own right, is a pretty sweet moniker). 

2. “The Birds” (1962): Speaking of benchmark films, this one underscored the brilliance of director Alfred Hitchcock, who could repeatedly proved he could scare us half to death with nothing more than what is found in our everyday surroundings.

3. “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” (1968): Even though we all knew how this movie would end, the freeze-frame finale with gunshots heard in the background was a piece of cinematic excellence — as were the performances of Paul Newman and Robert Redford.  

1970s

1. “Dawn of the Dead” (1978): I know, I know, I’m going to take some heat for putting this zombie film atop the list. But you know what? Not only was it — to this day — the greatest of all films from that genre, but it possesses one of the most unexpected endings ever. After seeing it in 1978, it was weeks before I had the courage to go back to a mall (that was back when malls were actually a thing). If you’ve been fortunate enough to see this film, I’m sure you understand.

2. “Jaws” (1975): I have a theory about this classic … if it were released today it would be no big deal. Special effects have improved so much in the last 49 years that I don’t think a big fake fish would startle us all that much. Back then, however, it was terrifying. 

3. “The Godfather” (1972): If were around at this point in time, you probably remember all the attention this movie garnered — and rightly so. We were able to experience life behind the criminal curtain like never before. Marlon Brando, Al Pacino and James Caan led a tremendous cast that did not disappoint. If you have time, examine the overall cast for this film. No wonder it became an instant classic.

1980s

1. When Harry Met Sally” (1989): At this point in her career, I think the whole world was in love with Meg Ryan, and this movie illustrated why. In addition, one of the best lines from any film at any time came when Harry Burns (Billy Crystal said): “I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.” 

2. “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” (1982): Back before Sean Penn started to take himself so seriously, he was Jeff Spicoli and the world was a much better place.

3. “Die Hard” (1988): Bruce Willis as John McClane and Alan Rickman as Hans Gruber — arguably the best good vs. evil battle of the 1980s.

9. ESPN: In my lifetime, one of the things I have been most thankful for is ESPN, which is why I often discuss the good, bad and ugly concerning the Worldwide leader. On one particular day in Daily Dirt history I offered my thoughts on the following:

“Best all-time ESPN anchors? I thought you’d never ask:

Gold medal: Keith Olbermann. In his prime, there were none funnier — or better.

Silver medal: Dan Patrick. He was always like the guy next door you enjoyed talking sports with on a Saturday afternoon during college football season.

Bronze medal: Kenny Mayne. Years ago, his dry with and off-the-wall assessments were boffo box office. His late-night schtick was priceless.”

10. Music: We’re always talking music at The Daily Dirt, and I have two favorite years when it comes to the body of work a particular 12-month period represented. 

One of the most overlooked years in pop music may have been 1971. Disco had not yet fully arrived (thank goodness) and the sounds were still influenced by the late 1960s. Here’s my personal top 10 from that year. I think it would be next-to-impossible to put together a more sild top 10 from any other year representing the rock era. (I’m pretty sure anyone of the boomer persuasion will smile more than once when perusing the following top 10):

  • 1. “Maggie May/Reason To Believe,” by Rod Stewart: This two-sided hit shot Rod the Mod to the top of the charts, where he has remained for 53 years.
  • 2. “Joy To the World,” by Three Dog Night: This was No. 1 for six weeks and sold 5 million copies.
  • 3. “How Can You Mend A Broken Heart,” by the Bee Gees: Remember the Bee Gees’ sound before they sold their soul to disco?
  • 4. “Tired Of Being Alone,” by Al Green: I bought a lot of Al Green records in the ’70s. This was the first.
  • 5. “Me And Bobby McGee,” by Janis Joplin: If she had lived long enough, I think Joplin and Rod Stewart could have been quite a duet.
  • 6. “Brown Sugar,” by the Rolling Stones: This is the son that ultimately knocked “Joy To The World” out of No. 1.
  • 7. “Want Ads,” by Honey Cone: Few people know Honey Cone lead singer Edna Wright was the sister of Darlene Love.
  • 8. “I’ve Found Someone Of My Own,” by Free Movement: And as great as this song was, Free Movement was never from again.
  • 9. “Superstar,” by the Carpenters: The best of many hits from this brother-sister act.
  • 10. “If You Could Read My Mind,” by Gordon Lightfoot: This song brought the sound of Mr. Lightfoot to the masses.

For my money, another somewhat overlooked year might very well be 1987, which was arguably the finest year of the Big ’80s when it came to pop music. Here’s my top five songs from that special year:

  • 1. “Alone,” by Heart: My favorite non-Rod Stewart song of the 1980s. Ann Wilson was a tremendous vocalist in her prime. And speaking of ages, she’s 74.
  • 2. “Walk Like An Egyptian,” the Bangles:  Did you ever notice how lead singer Suzanna Hoffs moved her eyes back and forth at different moments in this song? Hard to believe she’s 65 years old now.
  • 3. “Shake You Down,” by Gregory Abbott: One of the absolute smoothest songs of the decade. A tremendous vocal from Abbott.
  • 4. “I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” by Whitney Houston: This was Whitney in her prime. There were none better.
  • 5. “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now,” by Starship: Grace Slick and Mickey Thomas were co-lead singers at this point in their careers.

2. Being a senior citizen, watching the obituaries is always a must.

Boomers are always losing acquaintances and friends, and that includes those we consider “friends” through various entertainment outlets. 

The following 10 celebrities we have lost since the inception of Daily Dirt history have hit me the hardest:

  • 1. David McCallum: The former co-star of “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” and “NCIS” once e-mailed me about a story I had written that mentioned his name. I had always been a huge fan of his, which made that correspondence mean even more. In his e-mail, McCallum came across as a warm, caring person — just like I had always imagined. 
  • 2. Olivia Newton-John: I was always a fan of her music and felt she deserved Oscar consideration for her performance in “Grease”. But what I will always remember most is her battle with cancer. She was a warrior.
  • 3. Tina Turner: What a powerhouse singer. She embodied the 1980s music scene. And she always had great hair.
  • 4. Meat Loaf: No one, I repeat no one, owned a stage like Meat Loaf.
  • 5. Christine McVie: To me, she was always the “classiest” member of Fleetwood Mac, a group that was often caught up in the headlines surrounding Stevie Nicks and Lindsay Buckingham. McVie’s voice was always a perfect contrast to that of Nicks..
  • 6. Gordon Lightfoot: I was in college when I first saw Lightfoot in concert, and I was permanently hooked on the late Canadian’s style and grace. His music sounds as good today as it did in the 1970s. 
  • 7. James Caan: I always think first of Caan’s Sonny Corleone when thoughts of “The Godfather” cross my mind.
  • 8. Jimmy Buffet: I can’t imagine he ever had a bad day.
  • 9. Jeff Cook: One of the founding fathers of the Alabama super group. I saw the band in concert several times, and one of the highlights was always when Cook would pull out his “fiddle” for a solo during “Dixieland Delight”.
  • 10. David Soul: In the 1970s, Tuesday nights meant camping out in front of the TV for ABC’s “Starsky and Hutch”. Soul was Ken “Hutch” Hutchinson.

Celebrities we lost in 2023: Matthew Perry, Ryan O’Neal, Norman Lear, Richard “Shaft” Roundtree, Suzanne Somers, David McCallum, Jimmy Buffett, Bob Barker, Paul Reubens, Sinead O’Connor, Tony Bennett, Tina Turner, Gordon Lightfoot, Jerry Springer, Harry Belafonte, Richard Belzer, Burt Bacharach, Raquel Welch, Lisa Loring, Cindy Williams, David Crosby, Gina Lollobridgida, Lisa Marie Presley, Jeff Beck.

Celebrities we have lost so far in 2024: Carl Weathers, Melanie (Safka), Dabney Coleman, Louis Gossett Jr., Toby Keith, Eric Carmen, O.J. Simpson, Martin Mull, Donald Sutherland, Mandisa, Steve Lawrence, Richard Lewis, Charles Osgood, David Soul.

3. Before we put a wrap on today’s 1000th edition, I felt we needed to touch on our favorite TV programs, too. Wealways spend a lot of time discussing that subject, so …

Best Programs during the Daily Dirt Era

  • 1. “Yellowstone”: Finally, in November, we’ll once again be able to enjoy Beth and Rip. Together again.
  • 2. “The Walking Dead” universe: I just grouped all the flesh-eating zombie shows together. 
  • 3. “Archer”: For 14 seasons, we celebrated the antics of Archer. You will be missed, my friend.
  • 4. “Blue Bloods”: I just realized this has been/will be the final season(s) for of our top four programs. The character I’ll miss most from this classic will be Donnie Wahlberg’s Det. Donny Reagan.
  • 5. NCIS: It’s not quite the same show without Mark Harmon/Leroy Jethro Gibbs, but it’s still quality entertainment.
  • 6. “Mayor of Kingstown”: Can you say … “gritty?”
  • 7. “NCIS Hawaii”: Breakout star from this show? How about Vanessa Lachey, who portrays Jane Tennant.
  • 8. “Tulsa King”: The jury is still out on whether Sly Stallone is wearing a toupee or had some sort of transplant work done. That aside, this show has proven to be a pleasant surprise when it comes to the gangster genre. 
  • 9. “Reacher”: The movie was great, the TV show has been even greater.
  • 10. “1883”: A star was born in Isabel May, who portrayed Elsa Dutton.

All-Time Best Programs

  • 1. “All In the Family”: From the first time Archie Bunker opened his mouth, this program was assured its place in television history.
  • 2. “The Walking Dead”: This is the program that revolutionized TV horror .
  • 3. “Yellowstone”: This program could easily be described as “Breaking Bad,” the western version.
  • 4. “Seinfeld”: Ironically, the least valuable member of the Fab Four, as far as importance to the series, was arguably Jerry.
  • 5. “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”: One of the few shows in sitcom history where every major character could have had his/her own spinoff.
  • 6. “American Idol”: Talk about must-see TV back in the day, this was it. This mish-mash that is today’s version of this one-time classic is simply  painful to watch.
  • 7. “Breaking Bad”: If you insisted to me that this was the greatest series in TV history I would not argue.
  • 8. “Married … with Children”: Long live Al Bundy.
  • 9. “Knots Landing”: Long live Abby Ewing.
  • 10. “Saturday Night Live” (the early years): Do you remember those early seasons with Eddie Murphy, Bill Murray, John Belushi … holy crap, THAT was comedy.

Steve Thought O’ The Day — Here’s to the next thousand Daily Dirts!

Steve Eighinger writes daily for Muddy River News. He’s not even halfway to Cal Ripken.

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