In Holiday Guide Commentary

Just some moments from 2016.

The year that was 2016

Tis the season for Milwaukee merriment and BMO Harris Bank is bringing you happy holiday stories all season long.

We've written a lot of thoughts about 2016 as we've neared its end, mostly around the lines of "Oh god, oh god, please make it stop." Well, thanks to Earth's rotation around the sun, our wish will finally come true tonight, bringing 2016's vindictive wrath to an end and welcoming in 2017. But before the bells chime and the ball drops, let's take one final look at just a handful of the good, the bad and the ugly events that made up the past 365 days. And then let's never speak of this year again.


Rodgers/Munn non-engagement

Remember when Aaron Rodgers and Olivia Munn got engaged? Well, you shouldn't – because despite a report from OK! Magazine saying Aaron popped the question and the two were set to marry, it never happened. So no Packers version of the royal wedding for us ... for now (sorry, idiot unnamed sports agents).

Packers in the playoffs

Speaking of A-A-Ron, the Packers made it into the playoffs despite themselves and managed to defeat Washington in the Wild Card round before falling to the Arizona Cardinals, 26-20. While Rodgers summoned some of that Hail Mary luck at the end of the game, hurling two critical completions to Jeff Janis in the final minute to take the game into overtime – a very short-lived overtime thanks to a Larry Fitzgerald 75-yard touchdown pass. Can't Hail Mary your way out of that one.

WIAA rules

Because sports are no place for fun, the WIAA attempted to reemphasize its rules against high school students chanting such vulgar cheers as "Air ball!" and "Scoreboard!" much to the laughing derision of the entire internet.

David Bowie

Two days after the release of "Blackstar," his swan song, rock 'n' roll icon David Bowie died of liver cancer at the age of 69. Little did we know that his would just be the first in a year tragically filled with influential and unexpected celebrity deaths.


Some other memorable pop culture figures lost in January:

  • Alan Rickman
  • Glenn Frey


Super Bowl 50

In a game that constantly threatened to become exciting without ever doing it, the Denver Broncos defeated the Carolina Panthers, 24-10, in Super Bowl 50. Peyton Manning celebrated his triumphant final victory with Papa John, Cam Newton gave the grumpy press conference that launched a thousand pearl-clutching sports columns and Eli Manning gifted the world the Eli Manning-est of Eli Manning faces.

The halftime show

According to the internet, Coldplay headlined the Super Bowl 50 halftime show, but as many confused "Shazaam" fans will ardently argue, sometimes the internet is just wrong. Coldplay was originally announced as the headliner – and technically had the most stage time – but the NFL, perhaps in response to a nationwide yawn at the Brit rock band's selection, quickly nabbed up Beyonce and Bruno Mars to share the stage. The result quickly downgraded Coldplay from headliner to craft services – and also upgraded the show from background noise to must-see entertainment.

UWM debate

On Feb. 11, UWM hosted a Democratic debate between Bernie Sanders and eventual presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

Awkward GOP debate walk-on

Meanwhile, at the GOP's February debate ...

Domes close

In early February, Milwaukee County announced that the nation's largest tribute to "Total Recall," the Mitchell Park Domes, would be closed indefinitely due to concerns over falling debris. While the closing set off debates throughout the year over the viability and future of the Domes, the year ends with all three landmarks back open to the public.

The Oscars

Embroiled in a second straight year of #OscarsSoWhite controversy, the Academy Awards – hosted by an impressively tightrope-walking Chris Rock – handed out Best Picture to the unexceptionally exceptional journalism drama "Spotlight." Meanwhile, Leonardo DiCaprio finally got his Oscar for eating a buffalo liver and rolling around in snow in "The Revenant," "Mad Max: Fury Road" won six awards – which still somehow feels short – and poor sweet Roger Deakins lost for the thirteenth time. Also: Hopefully the awkward speech scroll thing was also one of 2016's deaths.

"Damn Daniel"

About 11 months ago, a short video of a friend constantly going "Damn Daniel!" to his sweet-shoed friend became a viral sensation. However, a month in internet time is like 13 years in real time, so "Damn Daniel" actually happened about 143 years ago.

Kanye's "The Life of Pablo"

After about three title changes, a few false alarms and what in retrospect was clearly the start of a year-long mental breakdown, Kanye West finally released "The Life of Pablo," debuting the (still-in-progress) work in a listening party/fashion show/thing at Madison Square Garden. The initial response was tepid – almost certainly due in part to his borderline unhinged social media posts and West's mid-stream fixes – but as the year has gone along, many music critics have grown to appreciate the album, placing it on several year-end lists. Oh, and he got back in a feud with Taylor Swift. More on that later.

The Grammys

Welcome to later! Taylor Swift won Album of the Year for "1989," which Kanye was unable to interrupt because Kanye was not in attendance. The pop star went on to throw shade at Kanye during her acceptance speech for his controversial lyric in "Famous." It was fun drama that did not interest Tori Kelly one bit.

Meanwhile, Kendrick Lamar dominated the night, winning the most Grammys with five and captivating with a literally fiery performance that could only be upstaged by "Hamilton."


After years of getting turned down by studio execs, "Deadpool" finally made his big screen debut (nope, don't know what "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" is, shut up, shut up) with a mammoth box office take – $783.1 million worldwide – solid reviews and an eager fan base clamoring for more. If the gritty, bloody trailers for Fox's "Logan" show anything, the raunchy R-rated blockbuster's success appears to have made studios more brave about trying new things with their superheroes. Fine by me; thanks, Mr. Pool.


Some memorable pop culture and political figures we lost in February:

  • Maurice White
  • Antonin Scalia
  • Dave Mirra
  • Harper Lee


New "Pee-wee" movie

A new Pee-wee Herman movie, "Pee-wee's Big Holiday," came out on Netflix. You probably forgot that – like most of Netflix's original movies. The streaming platform still feels like it's in the business of serving potato chips, not steak.

Matthew McConaughey is not moving to Milwaukee

"Fake news" became a hot topic this year thanks to the election, but like family relatives at Thanksgiving, let's avoid talking politics and instead talk about something fun – like that time people were tricked into thinking Matthew McConaughey was moving to Milwaukee. Spoiler alert: He didn't.

"Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice"

DC's much anticipated "Batman v Superman" movie hit theaters in March. It was not good, but at least we got a good laugh this year out of yelling, "Martha!" at people, awkwardly eating cherry Jolly Ranchers and trying to explain what the hell Lois Lane was thinking with the kryptonite staff at the end there. Here's to Warner Bros. and DC learning their lesson from this – and the only slightly less abysmal "Suicide Squad" – for next year's "Wonder Woman." Signs point to yes, so look at that; 2017's already an improvement.


Some memorable pop culture and political figures we lost in March:

  • Nancy Reagan
  • Garry Shandling
  • Phife Dawg
  • George Martin


"The Walking Dead" finale

After spending most of the season teasing and leading up to Negan's infamous batting practice entrance, "The Walking Dead" finally reached the climactic scene ... and then dropped a cliffhanger, the second time the creators had done so in the season. After an already divisive year, the next season's premiere would better be worth it ...

Villanova buzzer beater

March Madness is no stranger to buzzer beaters. But in the actual championship game? Far less common – and therefore even more awesome. A game-winning three from Villanova's Kris Jenkins was a perfect moment of sports excitement to top off a final minute of insane intensity – and it says a lot about this terrific year in sports that we've mostly forgotten about it.

Milwaukee flag debate

Milwaukee had a flag. Many people wanted a new one, so we had a contest, flew around some designs – ourselves included – and found a winner. Now Milwaukee has two flags. I think? I'm not actually sure what we did here.

Boaty McBoatface

The National Environment Research Council (NERC) made just one small mistake when they decided to name its new mother ship: They asked the internet to do it. So, of course, they named it Boaty McBoatface – which, really, dodged a bullet there, NERC. Being no fun, NERC ditched the name, instead calling the mother ship the RRS Sir David Attenborough and giving the internet's delightful moniker to its remote controlled submersibles. Boo – though better to nip this joke in the bud now than let some hipsters eventually ruin it by naming their firstborn child Boaty.


Somehow managing to outdo her surprise album drop for "Beyonce," the queen of pop released her sixth record, the visual album "Lemonade," on April 23, blowing the minds of critics and fans with its impressive artistry and brutal honesty. The album is now up against Adele's "25" for Album of the Year at the Grammys, a smackdown only to be rivaled by the race for Record of the Year between – you guessed it – Adele's "Hello" and Beyonce's "Formation." It's going to really suck when Lukas Graham's "7 Years" wins.


Shocking reports come in that music icon Prince has died at the age of 57 of an accidental overdose. The world is stunned, unexpectedly losing yet another essential artist way before his time.


Some other memorable pop culture figures lost in April:

  • Merle Haggard
  • Doris Roberts

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