The Annual Journal Meme

Every year, I’ve posted the first line of each month on the blog. Here now are the first lines of 2012.

It’s that time of year again, the beginning.

As I’ve said in the previous four posts on the presidents, the gentlemen who held office from the end of Ulysses Grant’s term to the beginning of William McKinley’s tend to be obscure.

I actually got this book from the library after I saw Greene appear on The Big Bang Theory.

I finally saw John Carter yesterday.

A couple of years ago, I took an English literature class.

I had a little trouble with this one.

I remember a few years back when I worked at BigHugeCo when a coworker lamented that kids no longer have manners, that kids of our generation respected their elders.

I’ve always had mixed feelings about our 28th president.

He is the godfather of Cleveland organized crime.

Jackie Bouchaine has a small role in Second Hand Goods, but she is pivotal in both Northcoast Shakedown and is central to the third Kepler novel Bad Religion.

Robert Parker took a break from his Spenser series to craft this tale of three generations of Boston cops.


The Year In Review

2012 was not the suckfest most of the past decade has been. The economy got a little better. There were no Category 5 storms sinking Gulf Coast cities. Nobody blew up an oil well. Nobody slammed jetliners into buildings. Most importantly, the world didn’t end. There were some dark moments. We’re still trying to understand what happened in Sandy Hook.

For the most part, though, we spent 2012 nursing the hangover we’ve had since the 2000’s. Maybe we’ll be feeling better by 2020. Maybe.


  • The Iowa Caucuses and New Hampshire Primary kick off the presidential election season. It’s Mitt Romney vs. a cast of characters who make the Jersey Shore cast look like Rhodes Scholars.
  • The Arab Parliament tells Syrian leader Bashar el-Assad he’s on his own. Seriously, how big a douchbag do you have to be when a group that includes several repressive regimes tells you, “Dude, that’s just not cool”?
  • The captain of the Italian cruise ship Costa Concordia manages to beach his ship, tip it on its side, then says, “Screw this! I’m out of here.” Guess someone didn’t tell him the captain of the Titanic went down with his ship.


  • Mitt Romney is down to three opponents: Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich, and, inexplicably, Rick Santorum.
  • Whitney Houston dies.
  • The gay marriage ban in California is struck down. When asked about it, Coolest Gay Man in America George Takei says, “Oh, myyyy…”
  • Greeks riot when they realize their government spent all their money on strippers, blow, and M&M’s.
  • The Giants win the Super Bowl! The Giants win the Super Bowl! The Giants win the Super Bowl!


  • Vladimir Putin “wins” the Russian presidency.


  • Several Secret Service agents are fired for hiring hookers while in Colombia. Never mind that hookers are legal in Colombia.
  • North Korea threatens to launch a missile unless leader Kim Jong-Un is paid… One hundred billion dollars!
  • Tornadoes rip through Dallas-Ft. Worth because God is angry about Rick Perry’s presidential bid.


  • Barack Obama declares his support for gay marriage.
  • Facebook goes public. Stock tanks.


  • Former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak is sentenced to life in a pound-me-in-the-ass facility outside of Cairo.


  • Scientists discover the so-called “God particle.” It was in Sheldon Cooper’s spot.
  • Twelve people killed in a Colorado Theater by a guy who thought he was The Joker.


  • Syria erupts into a full-blown civil war.
  • Mitt Romney chooses Paul Ryan as his running mate. The choice makes Romney look so life-like.
  • The rover Curiosity lands on Mars, accidentally crushing Marvin Martian’s illudium PU-32 explosive space modulator in the process.


  • US consulate in Benghazi, Libya is attacked. Ambassador Christopher Stevens is killed, the first US ambassador in decades to be killed in decades.


  • If you live in a swing state, it pretty much sucks to turn on the television all this month.
  • Former Penn State assistant coach and serial teen rapist Jerry Sandusky is sentenced to pretty much die in prison.
  • Hurricane Sandy becomes a mutant superstorm and wreaks havoc on the East Coast. Happy Halloween, New York.
  • Felix Baumgartner jumps out of a perfectly good helium balloon. 24 miles up.


  • Barack Obama wins reelection. Mitt Romney has a temper tantrum. Paul Ryan polishes his Ryan ’16 signs. You know, it’s a sad day when a rich white man just can’t win the presidency.
  • The last Twilight movie is released. At last, our long national nightmare is over.
  • Hamas fires rockets at Isreal from Gaza. Isreal fires a lot more back. Same ol’ story. Same ol’ song and dance.
  • Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi declares himself Lord High Grand Poobah of Egypt in spite of no such office existing. This does not go over well, and Hosni Mubarak is told to prepare for a cell mate. Just sayin’, authorities tell him.
  • No more Twinkies? Nooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  • A deranged man shoots up an elementary school in Sandy Hook, Connecticut before turning the gun on himself. 26 people, most of them small children, are dead.
  • December 21: The world did not end.
  • America is still not Greece. At least we can say that.

The Year In Jim

As 2012 winds to a close, it’s time to take a look back and see where we’ve been and how far we come. Today, I’ll share where I’ve been – ‘Cuz it’s all about me, of course. Tomorrow we’ll look at the world.

January – I boldly predict I will have a short story a month published and six science fiction sales. G’wan. Ask me how that one worked out. Ask me.

February – Nita and I celebrate the fourth anniversary of our first date.

March – You know that superbug that’s supposed to decimate the human race in a matter of weeks that scientists keep warning us about? I think I catch this in March. It takes me a week to fully recover.

April – New Android!!!! I am such a geek.

May – AJ graduates high school. I’ve only been a stepdad for four years, but it’s overwhelming watching him become an adult.

June – Four months after the fourth anniversary of our first date, Nita and I celebrate our fourth wedding anniversary.

July – At our high school reunion, an alarming number of my classmates now look like their grandparents.

August – AJ starts school at UC Blue Ash. I start at Wilmington College, Cincinnati. We now have three college students under our roof.

September – I buy an iMac. It’s awesome!

October – I attempt to fix the fence in the backyard. I’ll finish it in the spring.

November – I voted for Obama. Because I didn’t feel like setting women’s rights back to 1950 when daylight savings ended this year.

December – Work on Holland Bay resumes in earnest. Maybe. If I can find time.

New Year’s Goals

I don’t do resolutions. Resolutions have a habit of evaporating by Valentine’s Day. In years past, when I had gym memberships, I could watch this in action. The day after New Years, I’d have to cut workouts short because the gyms would be packed. By the end of January, it would be crowded, but I could get to all my machines and not have to fight for shower space. By Valentine’s Day, the place would be deserted some nights. Slackers.

So I set goals. I’ll share a few here, but not all of them.

The first is obviously weight. I managed to nail this one pretty good in 2011. In 2012, I maintained, but I need to really get serious again. To that end, I plan to…

  • Lose twenty pounds. This weight will likely curb the amount of medication I take, since almost all my problems come from basically being a fat ass.
  • Run. I started to get a leg up on this one last year, but I could never schedule it very well. This year, I’m ditching the “100 books” goal. Sure, I need to read, but I need to do other things, too.
  • Ride the Little Miami Bike Trail to its Yellow Springs terminus. I didn’t do that last year, and I really regret it. It’s the easiest exercise I can do. My goal one day is to ride from Yellow Springs all the way down to Newport, Kentucky on my fiftieth birthday. I’ll get a hotel room to shower and change, then meet Nita for dinner in Newport when I finish. 76 miles. That’s a few years away, though. For now, I’ll do it in segments.

My day job is programming, but right now, I program what’s called “web forms” in Microsoft’s C#. Basically, you make up a web page, then write code behind the page to make it do stuff. My current boss doesn’t even like this technology, and my old department is moving to a more modern version of C#. So, it’s time for me to learn how to write for…

  • Android
  • iPhone/iPad – You didn’t think I bought a Mac just to play iTunes, did you?
  • Windows 8

It’s a mobile world. I need to write mobile.

Speaking of writing, 2012 was an eye-opening year for me writing-wise. I realized that academic efforts are the biggest conflict I have with meeting writing goals. To that end, I intend to…

  • Shop the long-talked-about Holland Bay
  • Draft a science fiction novel
  • Sell 12 crime short stories, 6 science fiction shorts (under another name), and at least two literary shorts

“Wait a minute! You’re shopping Holland Bay? Why not self-publish it?”

I am so far not impressed with the independent route. Call it ego. Call it disappointment. I think I can do better, though.

As I said, these are goals, not resolutions. Resolutions fail to take into account that life is random and unpredictable. This is the greatest lesson I have ever learned. If you don’t accept and embrace uncertainty, you will always be disappointed and frustrated. Hell, I can get disappointed and frustrated easily enough without dodging uncertainty. Why add it to the mix?

Happy New Year, all. May you get everything you want this year and more.

Annual Tradition: A Very Tom Waits Christmas

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 lonlieness, the lonliness 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 lonliness
The lonliness 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.

‘Twas the Night Before Festivus

jerry stiller‘Twas the night before Festivus
And all through my pad
We were scrounging every scrap
Of mystery meat to be had

We looked to the west
We looked to the east
For the perfect loaf to serve
For the Festivus feast!

Tomorrow we dine
On questionable fair
And then the grievances
We shall each air

My girlfriend, she’ll recallmysterymeat
Something I said
Two years ago
And smack me in the head

And I, in return,
Will turn up the heat
Reminding her she leaves
Down the toilet seat

The feats of strength
Astound us a lot
For I once carried her mother
As though she weighed naught

Myfestivus elf girlfriend moved,
Not to be outdone,
Took off her clothes
For some Feat of Strength fun.

For her Feat of Strength,
A Festivus Miracle,
Was to do her stripper dance
On the Festivus pole!

Hanakkuh is somber,
Christmas too crass.
But a Festivus for the rest of us
Is always a blast