A toast to those who made 1994 weird, wonderful

THE BALTIMORE SUN

This is the season for forgiveness, which explains why I have the nerve to send out holiday greetings and expect you to pay for them. So, forgive me.

(And please forgive Kurt Schmoke, too, for sending holiday greetings at taxpayer expense. Mayors who get $100 million grants are easy to forgive.)

Happy holidays:

To the remaining Beatles, for yesterday.

To Ollie North, for reaffirming my faith in the American people.

To Woodstock II, for remembering to rain.

To Michael and Lisa Marie, for showing us what true love is all about.

To Ellen Sauerbrey, for teaching us a lesson in sportsmanship.

To Parris Glendening, for the ghost of gubernatorial boredom to come.

To George Foreman, for refusing to grow up.

To Howard Stern, for defining our decade by his willingness to tell jokes about a guy who's about to jump off a bridge.

To Jimmy Carter, for teaching Bill Clinton how to be a great ex-president.

To the Counting Crows, for showing that the '90s aren't all bad.

To Hillary, for the tip on pork bellies.

To Quentin Tarantino, for giving violence a good name.

To Denny's, for giving bad service a bad name.

To Paula Jones, for helping to clear up the boxers vs. briefs argument.

To the guv, for all the laughs, however unintended.

To Ken Burns, for intellectualizing what many of us thought was simply a game.

To the baseball owners, for stealing from us what many of us thought was simply a game.

To Kenny G, for popularizing jazz lite.

To Judge Cahill, for teaching us the similarities between the law and a country-western song.

To Jackie McLean, for making me depressed.

To Charles Murray, for ushering in the new millennium with a return to family-values orphanages.

To Judge Ito, for being so darn cute.

To Barbara Bush, for all the gush.

To all American writers who aren't Tom Clancy and Michael Crichton and Robert Waller.

To Canada, for Grey Cup fever.

To Alan, Dave, Heis, Hoff, Mitch and Tony. They know why.

To Eli Jacobs, just because I miss the big lug.

Prediction No. 1 for 1995: As in every year this decade, Baltimore will almost get an NFL team.

Prediction No. 2: After months of depression, Helen Bentley resurfaces on the World Wrestling Federation circuit.

Prediction No. 3: Very early in the next Congress, Sonny Bono will introduce a bill making it illegal for Cher to visit a plastic surgeon. He promises, if the bill is passed, that he will retire immediately. Ike Turner runs for Sonny's vacant seat.

Prediction No. 4: The baseball owners, citing labor costs and the new GATT agreement, move the major leagues to Thailand.

Bonus question, worth 35 points: Who was Jesse Helms' favorite character on "The Jeffersons"?

Now, the gift list.

Newt Gingrich, love beads from the counterculture.

O. J. Simpson, one more lawyer -- just to make sure.

Cal Ripken, a record without an asterisk.

MacNeil or Lehrer, a fond good-bye to whichever one is actually leaving.

Forrest Gump, a copy of "The Bell Curve."

Jennifer Capriati, the childhood she never had.

Bill Clinton, an upgraded home alarm system.

Louisa May Alcott, the comeback writer of the year award.

Peter Angelos, an NFL team for Baltimore to go with his baseball team. He has two sons, doesn't he?

Barry Levinson, one more chance.

Patti Davis, a nude cover shot on Parents magazine.

John Turturro, an Oscar for "Quiz Show."

NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue, treble damages.

Finally, we present the annual Mike Littwin Person of the Year award.

The nominees are Newt Gingrich, Rush Limbaugh, Kato and, of course, Mike Littwin. The winner is Kato, in a very close call over Rush, as the person who best exemplifies America's fascination with news.

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