Journal Meme For 2009

“Happy New Year!”

“Don’t have a plan for the Big Game tonight?”

“Legendary broadcaster Paul Harvey, he of the pregnant pause and the ads for CIT-rocallll – has died.”

“Yes, I’ve been building up to this for some time, with little nuggets of hyperbole like “evil” and “awesome” (which, admittedly, I stole.  ‘Cuz I liked it.)”

“Let’s face it.”

“It spans the Ohio River between Sawyer Point in Ohio and Newport-on-the-Levee in Kentucky.”

“Yes, Mark Sanford is still a punching bag for his affair (and his bone-headed attempt to cover it up) a week later, even after the deaths of Ed McMahon, Billy Mays, Farrah Fawcett, and Michael Jackson (but sadly, not Axl Rose).”

“Y’all can read this:””

“[One of the earliest blog entries here, it reveals a sad chapter in my IT career.]”

“Recently, I’ve been going through what I’ve been calling ‘The Magnum Opus,’ a big honkin’, sprawling novel that might have been a bit beyond my ability to manage.”


“Maybe another six weeks or so and they’ll have reached the top floor.”


“Of all the Christmas specials I watched as a kid, the trippiest was A Year Without a Santa Claus. “

The Decade That Was…

The decade for me can be summed up like this:

Early decade:  I had a solid IT job after 5 years of contracting despite the dotcom bubble bursting.  I offloaded a parasitic roommate.  I wrote a book.

Mid-decade:  Orphaned, divorced, and publisher turned out to be an idiot in his garage.

Late decade:  Bought a house, met and married the love of my life, went back to school at 42, all despite a crappy economy.

The decade for the world at large:

2000 – Florida can’t count, so the Supreme Court tells them not to, making George Bush president.  On the other hand, there’s no kaboom.  There was never a big, earth-shattering kaboom on January 1, 2000.

2001 – Meh.  Dotcom boom is over.  I can live with 2001 up to about 7 AM, September 11.  And while I’m in the shop getting my tire fixed, some suicidal cowards sneaked in and blew up downtown Manhattan, the Pentagon, and a cornfield in my ancestral home in Pennsylvania.

2002 – Much saber-rattling.

2003 – Shock and awe.  Mission accomplished.  OK, maybe not.

2004 – What weapons of mass destruction?  Um…  Well, Saddam’s in a hidey hole.  That count?  Tsunami wipes out enough people to populate a mid-sized city, just in time to make 2005 the crapfest of the decade.

2005 – Aftermath of the tsunami.  Hurricane Katrina.  Rumor has it there was a mythical city called “New Orleans” along the Gulf Coast, but now there’s a lake.

2006 – America has enough with fear and “Oh, um, we had bad intelligence” and Donald Rumsfeld telling kids to get off the Pentagon’s lawn.  Downside?  The Democrats offer us Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid as alternatives.  And how many in Congress got kicked out of the closet that year?

2007 – The Surge!  The One!  The Patriots undefeated season!  And Hillary is inevitable.

2008 – OK, Hillary’s not inevitable.  Barack is not superhuman.  McCain is retiring (sorta).  And Sarah Palin is not going away.  Unfortunately, neither is the mess made by Wall Street.  Plus Eli Manning stops the Pats with the most impossible play in football history.  And $4 for a gallon of gas?  WTF?

2009 – Bank bailouts.  Health care reform.  Ford doesn’t take any money, builds better cars.  GM does and starts to turn it around, builds better cars.  Chrysler takes the money and…  um…  Whattaya mean you spent it all on Nutty Buddy Bars?  You were supposed to put out a flying Jeep!

2010 – To quote Monty Python, now for something completely different.

I hope.

The Year In Jim…

January – I get weirded out by the fact that I’m filing a joint income tax return a year after I thought I’d filed my last joint income tax return.  Of course, I like who I’m joined to now.

February – Jim Winter: 42-year-old freshman.  Sort of.  I’m taking remedial algebra.

March – Tax refund + Internet shopping for furniture = bitching new couch and recliner.

April – Bye bye, wisdom teeth.  Hello, vidodin.

May – I have a major nerdgasm when the new Star Trek comes out the weekend of my birthday.  Wife and kid watch nervously, expecting me to suddenly break out the old Klingon gear and go to the theater in full costume.  (Actually, I went to the Irish place at the Levee before the movie for a shot of Jamie and a Bass Ale.)

June – Mark Sanford:  Says he’s hiking the Appalachian Trail on Father’s Day when he’s getting some strange in South America.  Jim Winter:  Says he’s hiking the Loveland Bike Trail on Father’s Day when he’s…  um…  having breakfast at Loveland’s Paxton Grill after a long walk on the Loveland Bike Trail.  Hmm…  Mrs. Sanford asked for a divorce.  Mrs. Winter painted the living room.  Guess who treated his wife better?

Also, wonderful first anniversary with Nita.

July – Staycation, all I ever wanted; Staycation, had to… er… um… stay away.

August – Jim attempts to write a hit man novel

September – And still working on the hit man novel

October – My first Bouchercon in 3 years.  Great to reconnect some old friends.

November – After a scolding from Ken Bruen, abandon hit man novel and resumed work on “The Magnum Opus”

December – The Enterprise continues…  Also, flirted with 300 pounds because Nita feeds me well.  Too well.  (That and we eat out a lot in December.)

My Town Mondays: The Decade In Cincinnati

2000: The Queen City abandons the ceremonial mayor system, in which the top vote-getter for council is named mayor, and opts to vote for a “strong mayor,” who functions as a chief executive. Charlie Luken, the sitting mayor at the time of the change, is elected.

The Bengals move from Riverfront Stadium to Paul Brown Stadium.

Junior Griffey comes home to Cincinnati, where he will play for the next eight years.

2001: Before 9/11, there were the riots in Over-the-Rhine, Cincinnati’s decaying inner city neighborhood. Racially charged and centered on police treatment of black suspects, the Queen City adopted a siege mentality for three days. A long boycott ensued, but fizzled out less than two years later.”

2002: Great American Ballpark becomes the home of the Reds.

2003: The agony is over! The Bengals hire Marvin Lewis as head coach. Two seasons of 8-8 followed by a winning season and a playoff appearance follow.  Even when the Bengals falter, the Lost Decade of the 1990’s becomes a distant memory.

2004: The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center opens on the city’s riverfront. Sadly, the surrounding development called The Banks doesn’t even see a shovel turned.

Marge Schott dies.  Ironically, at Jewish Hospital.

2005: Local Congressman Robert Portman joins George Bush’s cabinet.  Unfortunately, he’s replaced by Jean Schmidt, who promptly goes to Congress and calls a decorated Marine a coward.  Thanks, Jean.

Bob Huggins is fired as Bearcat coach, making University of Cincinnati president Nancy Zimpher the single most unpopular woman in Cincinnati.

2006:  The late hit heard ’round the world:  The Bengals, hosting their first playoff appearance ever in Paul Brown Stadium, suffer the loss of Carson Palmer after a late hit by Pittsburgh’s Kimo Von Oelhoffen, rupturing Palmer’s ACL.  Palmer would come back, but it’d take three more seasons before the Bengals would return to playoff form.

2007: Reds broadcast Joe Nuxhall dies. The city was a darker place for weeks afterward.

The Cincinnati Post folds.

Radio legend Gary Burbank retires.  Fellow blogger and Burbank sidekick Duke Sinatra begins a career of writing booger jokes for precious little money.

2008: Ground is finally broken on The Banks!

Ground is also broken on Queen City Square, the city’s tallest building.

Hurricane Ike reaches Cincinnati. Unfortunately, the last time Duke Energy, which sent its crews to Galveston to deal with the storm there, did not exist the last time a hurricane reached the Queen City.  So to say they were caught off guard is an understatement.

2009: Ohio gets casinos, which means Broadway Commons, once a leading contender to host Great American Ballpark, gets a casino.

The Bearcats go undefeated in football under Coach Brian Kelly.  However, Kelly absconds to Notre Dame to take “his dream job” when the Bearcats don’t make the National Championship.  They will, however, play Florida in the Sugar Bowl.

THE BENGALS MAKE THE PLAYOFFS!  EAT IT, RAVENS!  (Sorry.  Couldn’t resist.)  Unfortunately, they also have to deal with the loss of Chris Henry, the formerly troubled player who came back and had a spectacular season until a broken arm sidelined him.  Henry died in a car accident while recovering in North Carolina.  We miss you, Slim.

2010:  Big building goes up.  Buildings on The Banks go up.  Bearcats in the Sugar Bowl.  Bengals in…  the playoffs.

More at the My Town Mondays Blog.

Annual Tradition: A Very Tom Waits Christmas

[Originally posted on Northcoast Exile, December 24, 2006]

I pulled on Santa’s sleigh
Christmas Eve was dark, and the snow fell like cocaine off some politician’s coffee table
Rudolph looked to the sky. He had a shiny nose, but it was from too much vodka
He said, “Boys, it’s gonna be a rough one this year.”

I pulled on Santa’s sleigh
The elves scrambled to pack up the last of the lumps of coal for deserving suburban brats
And a bottle of Jamie for some forgotten soul whose wife just left him
Santa’s like that. He’s been there.
Oh, he still loves Mrs. Claus, a spent piece of used sleigh trash who
Makes good vodka martnis, knows when to keep her mouth shut
But it’s the loneliness, the loneliness only Santa knows

I pulled on Santa’s sleigh
And the workshop reeks of too much peppermint
The candy canes all have the names of prostitutes
And Santa stands there, breathing in the loneliness
The loneliness that creeps out of the main house
And out through the stables
Sometimes it follows the big guy down the chimneys
Wraps itself around your tannenbaum and sleeps in your hat

I pulled on Santa’s sleigh
We all line up for the annual ride
I’m behind Vixen, who’s showin’ her age these days
She has a certain tiredness that comes with being the only girl on the team
Ah, there’s nothing wrong with her a hundred dollars wouldn’t fix
She’s got a tear drop tattooed under her eye now, one for every year Dancer’s away

I pulled on Santa’s sleigh and
I asked myself, “That elf. What’s he building in there?”
He has no elf friends, no elf children
What’s he building in there?
He doesn’t make toys like the other elves
I heard he used to work for Halliburton,
And he’s got an ex-wife in someplace called Santa Claus, Pennsylvania
But what’s he building in there?
We got a right to know.

I pulled on Santa’s sleigh
And we’re off Off into the night
Watching the world burn below
All chimney red and Halloween orange

I’ve seen it all
I’ve seen it all
Every Christmas Eve, I’ve seen it all

There’s nothing sadder than landing on a roof in a town with no cheer.

What Not To Get Jim

Since I know most of you are last minute shoppers, and most of you are just dying to know, here is a list of things you should exclude from your list when buying me a Christmas present.

  • Anything by Hammett, Chandler, McDonald, or Parker.  I have almost all of them.  And the Robert Parkers I don’t have I don’t really want.
  • Ditto Ken Bruen, Laura Lippman, or John Scalzi.  If you see their name on the spine, assume I already own it.
  • I do not want CD’s by Tom Waits, Pink Floyd, Deep Purple, or Garbage.  See above.  I own them all.
  • In fact, if you’re thinking of anything resembling the above, just get me a gift card to Barnes & Noble or your favorite indie shop.  ‘Kay?
  • A smart phone.  Really, I need to try before I buy with these things.  The LG touchscreen I got last year was a lemon, so I’m tolerating a Jitterbug-like Motorola flip until my carrier will give me a discount on a phone made after Y2K.
  • A watch.  I used to know a guy who was big on watches and said everyone should own three.  That’s a wonderful hobby, and I would tend to agree.  Except putting a watch on my wrist will doom it.  Virtually every watch I’ve owned since high school has ended up destroyed within six months of me receiving it.  The fine craftsmen at Casio are usually outraged.  So I stick with my cell phone. [Note:  I wrote this before my unemployed brother-in-law bought me a watch for Christmas.  Oh, damned delayed posts!  Damn you!]
  • Subscriptions to Maxim, Playboy, or Stuff. Please.  The women in those pages are airbrushed beyond recognition.  My life is not so miserable that I have to self-gratify to the Photoshop equivalent of a blow-up doll to make it all better.  Besides, Nita gets the Victoria’s Secret Catalog anyway and promptly hands it to me when it arrives.  Now that’s a secure marriage.  Of course, I’ve been known to point out items I think would look good coming off Nita.  Occasionally, she’s been known to buy them.
  • Wine.  I don’t know enough about wine to know if it’s any good or not.  Which means my palate is probably not developed enough to appreciate fine wine.
  • Writing aids and books:  I own exactly four books on writing:  Lawrence Block’s three brilliant volumes on the subject and Stephen King’s On Writing.  I don’t need any writing software (That’s what Word is for.), cute little writing trinkets, Moleskine notebooks, or fountain pens.  Nobody writes with a fountain pen anymore, despite the fact my eighth grade English teacher insisted they were necessary to write letters with.
  • Candy.  Hey, I won’t say no, but I am trying to cut back.
  • DVD’s of Hee Haw.  Yes, Hee Haw is the only form of child abuse I’ve ever endured.  Same goes for Mama’s Family.
  • Star Trek paraphenalia, books, DVD’s, etc.  For starters, when I was a big Trekkie, people got me the stupidest things like the Dr. McCoy bath mat or the Captain Kirk Collectible Dinner Plate(TM) (painted with lead paint, so you couldn’t use it for anything but making any room look tacky.)  Second, I burned out on Trek when Brannon Braga decided to foist Voyager on us.  Third, and this goes back to a running theme here, if there’s something Trekkish I really want, I probably already owned it at one time.  In fact, I gave away virtually everything.  Nita informs me Santa is bringing forth the JJ Abrams DVD, so I’m covered.  Thanks.
  • Cologne. I hate cologne.  I have a bottle of Aramis I bought for my first date with Nita, and she gave me a bottle of her favorite fragrance.  So if I’m wearing cologne, it’s likely I’m trying to get Nita to wear nothing at some point that evening.  So let Nita pick what gets her in the mood.  The rest of you can make do with the unscented stick of Sure I use daily.

That’s pretty much it.