IT WAS A CRUEL, CRUEL YEAR — a year that kept raising our hopes only to squash them flatter than a dead possum on the interstate.
Example: This year the “reality” show Jersey Shore, which for six hideous seasons has been a compelling argument in favor of a major earth-asteroid collision, finally got canceled, and we dared to wonder whether maybe, just maybe, we, as a society, were becoming slightly less stupid.
But then, WHAP, we were slapped in our national face by the cold, hard, frozen mackerel of reality in the form of the hugely popular new “reality” show Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.
Another example: As the year began, the hottest recording artist was the brilliant singer-songwriter Adele, whose popularity made us think that maybe, just maybe, after years of rewarding overhyped auto-tuned dreck, we were finally developing more sophisticated musical tastes, and then . . .
WHAP, we were assaulted on all sides by the monster megahit video Gangnam Style, in which a Korean man prances around a variety of bizarre Korean settings riding an imaginary Korean horse and shouting a song that, except for the words “Eh, sexy lady,” is entirely in Korean.
It was that kind of year. Remember back in 2011, when the big sex scandal involved Anthony Weiner, the ferret-like congressman who committed political suicide by Tweet? We all thought, “Oh well, at least there are SOME institutions, such as the Secret Service, the CIA, and the Army, where males in positions of responsibility can control their . . . ”
So, OK, basically we need to forget about 2012 as soon as possible. But just so we can remember exactly what it is we need to forget, let’s pour ourselves a stiff drink and take a look back, starting with . . .
. . . in which President Obama, in the State of the Union address, boldly rebuts criticism that his economic policies have been a failure by displaying the scalp of Osama bin Laden, which a White House aide carries in a special briefcase.
Meanwhile, the race for the Republican presidential nomination, which began in approximately 2003, continues to be a spicy political gumbo of excitement. The emerging front-runner is Mitt Romney, who combines a strong resume of executive experience with the easygoing natural human warmth of a parking meter.
In the new year’s first major disaster, the Mediterranean cruise ship Costa Concordia goes way off course, hits a rock, and sinks. The captain, Francesco Schettino, is immediately relieved of command and placed in charge of the Italian economy.
The economic news remains bad in . . .
. . . as American motorists struggle to afford ever-higher gasoline prices, prompting a pledge from Obama to do “whatever it takes” to bring relief at the pump, “including killing bin Laden again.” Romney responds that he, more than any other candidate, understands the consumers’ pain over this issue because he owns “at least 45 cars.”
Tensions between the United States and Pakistan mount after eyewitnesses in Waziristan claim that an unmanned US Predator drone robbed a convenience store. Meanwhile, in what international observers see as a red flag, Iran places an ad on Craigslist stating “WE PAY CASH FOR NUCLEAR BOMB MATERIALS.”
In sports, a little known athlete named Jeremy Lin scores numerous points in a professional basketball game despite having graduated from Harvard. Instantly, his image appears everywhere — on TV, magazine covers, T-shirts, etc. — and for a brief period he is the leading contender for the Republican presidential nomination.
In other sports news, Indianapolis, shedding its “hick town” image, shows that it is truly a world-class city as it hosts Super Bowl XLVI, in which the Giants seal a dramatic victory over the New England Patriots when Ahmad Bradshaw reaches the end zone by vaulting over a cow that wandered onto the field.
Speaking of dramatic, in . . .
. . . the endless slog for the Republican presidential nomination reaches Super Tuesday. It is now clear that Romney has won the nomination, but Newt Gingrich lurches gamely onward despite the tranquilizer darts fired into his neck by his own advisers.
In Europe, the economic crisis continues to worsen as the government of Greece, desperate for revenue, is forced to lease the Parthenon to Hooters. Meanwhile, Moody’s Investors Service officially downgrades the credit rating of Spain to “putrid” after an audit reveals that the national treasury consists entirely of Groupons.
In sports, the National Football League imposes stiff penalties on the New Orleans Saints following the shocking revelation that some players might have deliberately committed acts of violence against opposing players for monetary gain, which is of course totally contrary to the spirit of professional football.
The scandals continue in . . .
. . . when the US Secret Service acknowledges that agents sent to Colombia to provide security for Obama at the Summit of the Americas allegedly engaged in some unauthorized summiting, if you catch our drift. The agents are immediately recalled to the United States and reassigned to Bill Clinton.
The Greek Parliament, meeting in an emergency session, votes to give heroin a try.
In domestic business news, Facebook, a company with a business model that nobody really understands, spends $1 billion to buy Instagram, another company with a business model that nobody really understands.
On a sad note, beloved entertainer Dick Clark dies, although he will continue to host his popular New Year’s Eve special.
Speaking of sad, in . . .
. . . Gingrich finally suspends his presidential campaign, despite an emotional plea to keep fighting from his base of supporters, namely Mr. and Mrs. Elrod Pomfurter of Oklahoma City, who, after months of deliberation, had just invested in a bumper sticker.
Obama, who supported same-sex marriage when he ran for the Illinois Senate in 1996 but opposed it when he ran for the US Senate in 2004, clarifies his evolving position, which is that he once again fully supports same-sex marriage, for now. Romney reaffirms his longstanding position on the issue, which is that he is in favor of sex during marriage but only at night.
Voters in the French presidential election, rejecting the austerity program of incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy, choose, as their new leader, Charlie Sheen.
In New York, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, having dealt with all of the city’s other concerns — disaster preparation, for example — turns his attention to the lone remaining problem facing New Yorkers: soft drinks. For far too long, these beverages have roamed the city in vicious packs, forcing innocent people to drink them and become obese.
Another major health-related story breaks in . . .
. . . when the US Supreme Court, handing down its much anticipated ruling on “Obamacare,” decides by a 5-4 vote that the Affordable Care Act is constitutional. Moments later, the justices discover that, because of a clerical error, the document they have spent the past three months reviewing is actually the transmission-repair manual for a 1997 Hyundai Sonata. By a 9-0 vote, they decide to say nothing more about this.
Abroad, England celebrates the reign of Queen Elizabeth II with a massive Diamond Jubilee blowout bash lasting several days, at the end of which members of the royal family are found wandering around naked as far away as Croatia.
In sports, Roger Goodell announces that the NFL is investigating disturbing allegations that some members of the Saints do not sing during the national anthem.
Speaking of disturbing, in . . .
. . . the Mexican presidential election — won by Enrique Pena Nieto of the wonderfully named Institutional Revolutionary Party — is tainted by allegations of voting fraud after independent observers note that the “optical scanners” used to count ballots are, in fact, Sunbeam toasters.
In science news, physicists announce that, after decades of research costing billions of dollars, they believe they have confirmed the existence of the Higgs boson, which, according to them, is an extremely exciting tiny invisible thing next to which all the other bosons pale by comparison. This is breathlessly reported as major news by journalists whose knowledge of science is derived exclusively from making baking-soda volcanoes in third grade.
In London, the Olympics get underway with a spectacular opening ceremony. The only glitch occurs when a streaker runs onto the track and passes out. He is identified by police as Prince Philip, still in Diamond Jubilee mode.
The partying continues in . . .
. . . when Hurricane Isaac fails to dampen the mood at the Republican National Convention. The Republicans — eager to disprove the stereotype that they are the party of old, out-of-touch, rich white men — give their highest-visibility prime-time TV spot to: Clint Eastwood. Eastwood delivers a series of fascinating sentence fragments to a chair that he either does or does not realize has nobody sitting on it.
Tensions continue to rise in the Middle East when Iran unveils a surface-to-surface ballistic missile named Conqueror, which, according to an Iranian spokesman, will be used for “agriculture.” Elsewhere in the troubled region, an unmanned Predator drone hacks Waziristan’s Twitter account and posts pictures of itself naked.
In space news, NASA scientists cheer as the Mars rover Curiosity finally makes a safe landing. The cheers quickly fade, however, when an analysis of images transmitted back by Curiosity indicates that because of a glitch in the navigational software — which coincidentally is the same type used in the soon-to-be-released iPhone 5 — the Rover has actually landed in Waco, Texas.
In sports, Jamaican Usain Bolt dominates the London Olympics, picking up gold medals in three sprint events and winning a world record eight seats in the House of Lords. Great Britain’s team ignites a national celebration of patriotism, winning medals in many events, including rowing, croquet, darts, skiffles, whist, the pudding toss, the 50-meter lawn rake, and the men’s umbrella furl.
Speaking of celebrating, in . . .
. . . the Democrats gather in Charlotte, North Carolina, for their convention, during which they declare their near-carnal passion for the middle class and celebrate the many major achievements of the Obama administration, including the killing of bin Laden, the winning of the war on terror by killing bin Laden, the Chevy Volt, and bold presidential leadership in the form of making the difficult decision to order the killing of bin Laden.
Abroad, the big story is a deadly 9/11 attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. It soon becomes apparent that the attack either was or was not a spontaneous protest over a movie, or possibly it was an organized terrorist attack and either could or could not have been prevented if there had been better intelligence, which maybe there was not, although if there was, it was not acted on, possibly for political reasons. Or, not.
In European economic news, Greece abandons the euro in favor of a new currency, the gyro, which is backed by some kind of grayish meat.
Meanwhile the NFL comes under increasing pressure to settle the referee strike in which the replacement refs call four balks and three traveling violations. The National Hockey League locks out its players, lending credence to rumors that there is still an NHL.
Apple releases the much-anticipated iPhone 5, which receives some criticism for its glitchy map software. Nevertheless Apple fans line up to buy it, even as they eagerly anticipate the forthcoming iPhone 5s, which, rumor has it, will require 3-D glasses.
Speaking of criticism, in . . .
. . . Obama is widely faulted for his performance in the first presidential debate, during which he appears moody and detached, several times stopping in mid-answer to go outside and smoke a cigarette. This leaves the field wide open for a confident and assertive Romney, who manages to explain his five-point economic recovery plan a total of 37 times.
In the vice presidential debate, Joe Biden gives Paul Ryan a noogie.
But the month’s big story is Superstorm Sandy, which devastates a large swath of the Northeast despite the courageous efforts of hundreds of TV news reporters standing on the beaches telling people to stay off the beaches.
In the World Series, a team with a payroll about $65 million lower than that of the Yankees is defeated by a team with a payroll $80 million lower than that of the Yankees, leading to the inescapable conclusion that the Yankees need a bigger payroll.
Austrian daredevil Felix Baumgartner jumps from the Red Bull Stratos helium balloon 24 miles high and breaks the sound barrier in free fall, thrilling a worldwide audience before being shot down by a Predator drone sponsored by a competing energy drink.
In entertainment news, The Walt Disney Co. purchases Lucasfilm Ltd. and releases a trailer for the forthcoming Star Wars Episode VII, in which Darth Vader is a talking penguin.
Speaking of surprises, in . . .
. . . after an election cycle in which an estimated $6 billion was spent on races for the presidency and Congress, the American voters — who by every account are disgusted with Washington — vote to keep everything pretty much the same.
With the federal government headed toward a “fiscal cliff,” Congress, realizing the urgency of the situation, rolls up its sleeves and gets on with the crucial job of remaining gridlocked.
Meanwhile, a bankruptcy court grants Hostess Brands permission to close its business, posing a serious threat to the nation’s strategic Twinkie supply. Fortunately, an agreement is worked out under which Twinkies will be produced by a new entity. Unfortunately, that entity is: Iran.
In other disturbing national security news, David Petraeus, director of the CIA, is embroiled in scandal for engaging in unauthorized covert action with his official biographer, Paula Broadwell. Petraeus resigns and is immediately placed in charge of the Secret Service.
Toward the end of the month, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is dispatched on an urgent mission to try to bring peace to the Moultrie, Georgia, Walmart, where mobs of crazed Black Friday shoppers are assaulting one another over discounted cellphones. Clinton soon heads for the Middle East, where people are more reasonable.
On a brighter note, in . . .
. . . electrical power is finally restored in New York. But it is immediately turned back off by order of Bloomberg on the grounds that electricity can be used to watch television, which the mayor notes is a leading cause of obesity.
In science news, NASA scientists announce that their analysis of data transmitted back to Houston by the Curiosity Waco rover shows conclusively that the Earth is uninhabitable. In a related development, on December 21, exactly as predicted by the Mayan calendar, the entire planet is devastated, but everyone is too busy texting to notice.
As the year finally draws to a close, a festive crowd gathers in Times Square for the traditional New Year’s Eve illuminated ball drop. As 2013 dawns, there is hope that maybe, just maybe, the new year will be better, that this will be the year when we finally break the cycle of perpetual idiocy, the year when, at long last, we find a way to . . .
Dave Barry writes for The Miami Herald, though he no longer produces a weekly column. Send comments to email@example.com.