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HOW WE WASTED OUR TIME IN '99

Once again, the end of the year draws near, and all I want for Christmas is my time back.

That's right. Here in America, Home of the Hype, we give up so many hours to subjects that seem SOOOOOOO important at the moment, yet turn out to be a colossal waste of time.

I want mine back. I want it now.

For example, every minute spent talking about "The Phantom Menace," an overblown, big, fat zero of a film that was nonetheless on the cover of every magazine and paper and on the lips of every TV broadcaster, radio host and McDonald's Happy Meal dispenser this summer?

I want it back. All those hours. The film was a joke. And those people who stood in line for months? I want my time back -- and yours. If you're that dumb, you don't deserve it.

I want my time back for all the impeachment experts I had to listen to in the first few months of 1999. I want my time back for every Bill Clinton denial. I want my time back for every second that little weasel George Stephanopolous wasted telling us how he felt betrayed by Clinton -- after covering for him for years, and taking a multimillion-dollar book deal for his story.

And I especially want back every second spent on Monica Lewinsky -- her hair, her weight, her lipstick, her cosmetics line and especially the mountains of time wasted on her interview with Barbara Walters, as if Monica had anything to say besides, "Yeah, we did it."

Ricky Martin? I'm sorry. He's a singer, OK? Not the second coming. I want my time back on him. Every Vida Loca minute. I also want my time back on Ally McBeal. I don't care if she's too skinny. I don't care if she kisses co-workers. She's not real. Why are we debating her?

Same goes for "The Blair Witch Project." I listened to all the hype. I swallowed all that talk about "brilliance" and "cutting edge." Then I saw the movie. And I wanted to kill that woman long before the ghost did. Time wasted. Give it back.

Jesse Ventura? Hey. He's a wrestler. He thinks like one. He acts like one. If the people in Minnesota are that desperate for a governor, that's their problem, not ours. All those hours spent talking about him? Give them back. NOW!

Same goes for Donald Trump and Warren Beatty. Come on. Running for president? On the list of "subjects we should take seriously," how high can these two rate?

I want the hours back wasted on Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman and all that yap about how "Eyes Wide Shut" was going to change the world. The cover of Time? Did anyone even see that movie? My eyes are wide open. And I want my time back.

The guy who wrote "Dutch," that Ronald Reagan biography? Let's face it. He found Reagan boring, and he needed to sell his book. So he created a controversial narrator. In the end, it was more hype than history. I want those minutes back.

Same goes for the ESPN Athlete of the Century countdown. Come on. I voted in that thing, and I still want my time back. How long can you stretch out a list? Same goes for Best Boxer of the Century, Best Pitcher of the Century, Best Guard of the Century, Best Jockey of the Century . . .

And while we're on sports, I want my time back wasted on anything having to do with Mike Tyson, Latrell Sprewell or George Steinbrenner. It's never worth the breath it takes.

And the U.S. women's soccer team? I know the women had a nice moment. I'm glad they won. But all those hours crowing about how that win was going to change the country? Come on. Look around. Be honest. Give me those hours back.

Woodstock? Let's get over it. It happened 30 years ago. We can't keep reinventing it. REFUND! And Garth Brooks owes us the hours he spent trying to convince us he was someone else.

George Clooney left "ER." You know what? We all lived.

And Y2K? Well. The jury's still out. But if we wake up Jan. 1 and everything works just fine, somebody's going to get a bill for my time. And it's going to be big.

Detroit Free Press

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